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The best photo storage: Preserve your images for posterity with these archival and cloud-based resources

The best photo storage: Preserve your images for posterity with these archival and cloud-based resources




Best cloud storage Amazon Photos provides the best photo storage solutions. Amazon Photos

For Amazon Prime members, take advantage of the free and unlimited cloud photo storage system that can declutter your phone and keep your memories safe.

Pros

The app can be set up to automatically save photos.

Cons

You’ll need a Prime account—but this also comes with perks of free two-day shipping and more.

Best HDD storage The Seagate Expansion 12TB External Hard Drive provides the best HDD storage. Seagate Expansion 12TB External Hard Drive

This 12 TB drive can store all your photo data, so images remain high-quality without any lost information.

Pros

Even with a massive amount of storage, this pick is compact and easily portable.

Cons

The writing speed may be slower than with other picks.

Best SSD storage The SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD is one of the best photo storage solutions when you’re on the road. SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD

This ultra-portable pick is compact enough to take on any trip—and with 1 TB of storage to keep your favorite photos on-hand.

Pros

The hardware encryption software allows you to protect private information.

Cons

Make sure to format your drive before storing photos for optimal use.

We live in a time where everyone has a camera in their pocket and it’s never been more affordable to shoot digitally. Film photography is also making a big comeback and if you love shooting the more traditional way, it won’t be long until you end up with a backlog of negatives in addition to all your digital files. Shopping for the best photo storage solutions may not be as exciting as picking out a brand-new camera or fancy lens, but it’s really important. Getting your archives backed up and stored properly means you will be able to better enjoy those memories that you’re capturing for years to come.

Best Photo Storage: Digital Solutions

Whether you’re a digital shooter or a film shooter you should be storing your precious images in a few different ways. Every style of photographer should be utilizing some kind of cloud storage solution and an external hard drive to preserve their images. Why two? If you’ve been shooting for a long time, you know that there are two types of hard drives—one that has already failed and one that’s about to fail. Keeping your work in the cloud and on a physical drive means that your work is stored in two places. If one goes down, you’ve got the second place where you can restore the files. 

What’s more, cloud services can help you organize your archives with features like tagging and AI that will sort and categorize your images. Cloud services provide a low-cost way to store tons of digital files and because they live online, as long as you’re backing up consistently, you don’t have to worry about losing access to your files even if you can’t access your hard drive. 

For short-term storage, you should consider an SSD (solid-state drive). This style of drive is smaller than a traditional hard drive, more durable, and typically operates with much faster transfer speeds. Although we wouldn’t recommend an SSD drive for long-term, archival storage, it’s a great tool for quickly creating a duplicate of the images on your SD card while you’re on location before you back up to your HDD (hard disk drive) at home and whatever cloud service you may subscribe to. If you’re a photographer who has damaged a memory card (it happens!), you know how important it is to always be backing up.  

Analog Storage

If you’re primarily shooting film, in addition to using a cloud service and having a hard-drive backup, you’ll want to store your negatives and prints in an archival way to prevent them from getting damaged. 

Saving the negatives may seem like overkill—especially if you already have high-quality scans that are backed up in two places. But believe us, you should hold on to them! Here’s why. If you ever find yourself with access to a darkroom (they do still exist), having copies of your negatives means that you’ll be able to experience the true magic of film photography by making prints from those original pieces of film. Holding onto your negatives also means that you’ll be able to rescan at higher resolutions in the future. 

Make sure that you’re storing your negatives properly though to protect them from being damaged by moisture or getting scratched up. Negative sleeves are relatively inexpensive and provide your negatives with an added level of protection. Plus, they make it easy to examine what’s on a roll of film before you start scanning. 

Looking to store a bunch of old prints or family photos? Ditch the old shoe box and invest in an archival acid-free box to ensure that those pictures continue looking nice for years to come. 

Top pick overall: Amazon Photos

Unlimited Storage for Members

Store unlimited photos at any resolution with a membership. Amazon

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If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you automatically have access to unlimited photo storage with Amazon Photos. This cloud service allows you to make minor adjustments to your images, auto tags photos based on image content, and can use facial recognition to automatically group images together. A feature called “Family Vault” lets you share specific images with friends or family members. Plus, the Amazon Photos app can be set to send you notifications about images that are stored in the cloud-based on the anniversaries of when images were taken. The app can also be set up to automatically back up everything on your smartphone’s camera roll—a big time saver when it comes to maintaining an archive. 

Runner up: Seagate Expansion 12TB External Hard Drive

Massive Capacity

This easy-to-use gadget can hold plenty of photo data. Seagate

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A large-capacity hard drive is an excellent choice for having a tangible copy of whatever has been backed up to the cloud. The 12TB Seagate Expansion drive is compatible with Windows or Mac, has fast file transfers with USB 3.0, and even includes Rescue Data Recovery Services. Because of its generous storage space, it requires a power adapter to operate, meaning it’s best to store this one at home. But it’s a reliable choice for keeping a tangible copy of all of your digital files. 

Great storage for film: Print File 35-mm. Archival Negative Preservers

Dust-Free Storage

These sleeves will keep your work safe and sound. Print File

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Film negatives are delicate and if you want them to last a long time you need to make sure you’re storing them properly. Print File’s Archival Negative Preservers are one of the most reliable choices for doing just that. The binder-size negative pages are made without PVC, which makes them archival-quality, and they’ll protect your negatives from dust, scratches, and fingerprints. Each sheet can hold up to 42 frames and allows photographers to make digital or traditional contact sheets without having to remove any negatives from the page.

Great storage for prints: HG Concepts Art Photo Storage Box

Archive Quality

An acid-free box will keep your pictures and negatives safe and secure. HG Concepts

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If your old family photos and negatives are sitting in dusty shoeboxes, do yourself a favor and upgrade to a photo-storage box. An acid-free archival storage box will keep your photo prints, negatives, and other important documents safe from the ravages of time. This box is made from sturdy board that won’t bend or dent, is bound in black-book cloth, and is lined with matte, black archival paper. It has a clamshell lid for easy access and comes in a variety of sizes. Plus, because it’s acid-free, you don’t have to worry about prints becoming discolored over time.

Also consider: SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD

Transportable Storage

An excellent tool for storing on the go. SanDisk

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Solid State Drives are typically smaller and faster than a traditional external drive. They’re a great option for backing up and storing files when you’re using your camera away from your studio or office. This palm-sized 1TB-drive from SanDisk is one of our favorites. It has 1050MB/s read speeds and up to 1000MB/s writ speeds. It’s drop-resistant up to 2 meters, has an IP55 water-resistance rating, and is dust-resistant too. It uses a Type-C USB and has a carabiner loop so that you can easily secure it to your belt loop or attach it to your backpack when in transit.

FAQs

Q: What should I do with all my old photos?

If you haven’t already, we recommend scanning your old photos and backing them up to the cloud and an external hard drive before you do anything. If you want to hold onto the original prints and negatives, invest in an archival acid-free storage box to keep the prints from degrading over time.

Q: What is the best free photo organizer?

If you’re already an Amazon Prime user, you can store unlimited photos at any resolution through Amazon Photos. The service automatically sorts images based on content and can use facial-recognition features to sort your images by the people who appear in them.

Q: Should I keep negatives from old photos?

Even if you aren’t interested in working in a dark room, we highly recommend holding onto the negatives of your old photos. Keeping the negatives means that you can rescan at higher resolutions or print bigger versions of the photo down the line. Ultimately your original negative is the key to creating higher-resolution versions in the future. 

Final thoughts about photo-storage solutions

Whether you only shoot with your smartphone, regularly shoot digitally, or only on film, having a variety of ways to back up and store your images is one of the most important aspects of photography. We recommend utilizing multiple storage solutions in the digital and physical realms because, quite frankly, you can never have enough backups. Keep your memories safe by using a combination of cloud storage, hard-drive storage, and archival storage of your physical prints and negatives to preserve your images for years to come.

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