|Recommended Backup Methods|
|Prints||70+ years if the right combination of ink and paper is used or if printed commercially||Unlimited!||10 to 39 US cents per standard size (4"x6") print||Most suitable for your most valuable photos that you absolutely do not want to lose. Human-eye readable - no device required to view photos!|
|External hard drive||Variable, generally 4-5 years, but may fail without warning||Up to 750 GB||$100-$500 (prices continue to drop)||Easy to store and backup large numbers of photos. Backup process can run unattended.|
|CD||Use 'archival or photo grade quality' only.||Low, only 600 or 700 MB (less than a 1GB camera card)||CD discs and burners are relatively inexpensive. Most personal computers are now sold with CD burners (CD-RW drives).||May need dozens of CDs to store all the photos in a typical collection, and thus difficult to search. Some compatibility issues reading discs on different computers.|
|DVD||Use 'archival or photo grade quality' only.||4.7 GB (stores photos from four 1 GB camera cards). Blu-Ray and HD DVD versions available with higher capacities (need special drives)||DVD discs and burners are relatively inexpensive. Blu-Ray and HD versions are currently relatively expensive.||Probably need several DVDs to store all the photos in a typical collection, and thus difficult to search. Some compatibility issues because of different formats and from reading discs on different computers. The lifetime of Blu-ray and HD DVD discs may be less than the lifetime of standard DVDs.|
|Online storage||As long as the company lasts, and the customer meets purchase or subscription requirements. Also depends on the quality of the company's own backup procedures||Varies: may be limited in terms of total capacity or number of photos. Resolution/quality of stored photos may also be limited.||Can be free, but be sure to read terms & conditions. For example, you may have to make a regular purchase. Paid services may offer more storage and guaranteed data backup ($15 - 20/mo).||Requires uploading. Downloading of photos back to computer may not be possible, or may require a payment. Usually possible to order CDs or DVDs as well as prints, albums and other photo items|
|*Note: One gigabyte (GB) of storage capacity will hold about 850 photos from a 3 MP (megapixel) digital camera or 400 photos from a 5 MP camera.|
|Other Backup Methods|
|Networked hard drives for centralized home storage||Variable, generally 4-5 years, but may fail without warning. Special techniques such as 'RAID' can be used for greater security of your photos||Up to 1 Terabyte (TB) = 1,000 GB||Relatively expensive ($600-$2000)||May be complex to set up and maintain, may be more reliable than a single hard drive|
Backing up digital photos onto film will soon be provided as a service to consumers. Specially designed film should last for decades to 100+ years with proper storage methods. Film IS recommended for long-term backup; however at this time services are not readily available to consumers. Keep an eye out for this type of service to become available soon.
Methods NOT recommended for long-term backup include regular camera cards, USB flash drives, magnetic tape, and floppy disks.