Back in the old days – say, 10 years ago – we used to store our photos in albums and shoe boxes. Now, we put them on Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Shutterfly.
It works out great. They're easy to find and easy to share. But they are also a bit more vulnerable to loss than a shoe box kept in your closet. After all, someone else owns those Web sites, and there's no guarantee they'll be there forever, or even next week.
Kyle Monson at PCMag.com, offers a guide (www. pcmag.com/article2/0,2817, 2346720,00.asp) to retrieving and storing all of those treasured images you've scattered across the Web:
“If you're a heavy user of a photo-sharing service like Flickr or keep everything on Facebook, having a local backup of your online photo collection is crucial. You probably already have most of those photos on your PC, and if you don't, there are lots of free tools online that can grab them for you. But what should interest you is storing not just the photos, but all the work you put into them: the titles, descriptions, tags, and so on.”
An external hard drive is a great storage option, but all hard drives fail eventually.
Give some thought to storing them in different locations. Keep one copy on your hard drive and one copy on an external drive. Or keep copies on archival disks.
Or look at one of the many sites out there, including idrive.com and carbonite.com, offering online storage. It's not terribly expensive, costing just a few bucks a month for several gigabytes of storage space – easily enough for most users.