How do you archive/store your photos/video?

I need at some stage to embark on archiving lots of old DSLR photos.

I have numerous CF cards for my Canon cameras but have a sneaking suspicion I’ve lost a few.

The first problem with any method I choose is that I’m a hoarder, physical and digital, and unless photos or videos are utter dross I tend to keep everything, even very similar photos.

In the past I’ve made multiple copies of various CF cards by date/location/event on multiple internal/external hard drives, though as yet have not kept offsite copies which I really ought to.

Just wondering what others do (noting my sticking point of not culling photos/video footage, partially as I don’t have the patience to do it), do you use physical media, upload somewhere?

I’d really like a decent cloud based service for resilience but most seem to be limited to a couple of TB unless paying silly money per month.

I’ve increasingly wondered with the cheap cost of CF cards/SD cards etc these days whether using the actual cards for storage as digital ‘negatives’ sensibly catalogued is an option for primary archival, supplemented by copies/cloud storage.

Amazon I believe offer unlimited photo storage for Prime members which is great, though something is up with my account and this facet seems to go to a US version not a UK one.

The other problem is smartphone images - I’ve avoided all automatic cloud based libraries for iPhone as I think you could easily catastrophically lose things, and i like doing things manually, though I appreciate most youngsters lap these services up. I tend to fill devices up with photos/video, and am reluctant to delete things on the phones.

Disk space is very cheap these days.

I transfer all my digital photos and videos to a Synology NAS connected to my home network. This enables me to very easily a) view the photographs (and videos) on any of the computers in my home, and
b) stream the videos (or indeed photos) to all of the TVs in my home.

I keep a backup on a large USB hard drive that is stored for me in a separate location by my brother, and updated periodically.

I would potentially consider cloud storage, but my current arrangement is so straightforward and easy to maintain that I don’t feel the need.

I certainly would not rely on storing my photos on flash drives. I once lost approximately half the photos on one of my SD drives (in a Nikon digital camera). Quite a large number of files on that specific drive were somehow corrupted, and I have not been able to find a means of recovering them successfully. I had a similar occurrence with a micro SD card on an HTC phone during a motorcycle trip around Ireland.


I store all my RAW files on a desktop, backed up onto a NAS drive and also on to a portable drive. There is also often a copy on a laptop if I have done some editing away from home.
Edited copies tend to be kept on the desktop and backed up onto the NAS every few months.

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Yes, disk space is very cheap, and for years I used to keep around 3 copies of photos on different drives, though as noted I need to have an offsite copy. In recent years I’ve got a bit slack about backing things up.

Culling photos/video footage is time consuming simply due to my hoarder mentality, but I suspect I could get rid of 85% of stuff if I had to be ruthless - maybe that would work for the cloud, in the sense of kepping cheap local copies of everything but being very selective about what’s stored online due to cost!

While the flash drive storage may seem an odd idea I just feel that they are cheap/small form factor storage which could be used as ‘event storage’ provided you’ve actually made backups in case they fail.

Interestingly I think it’s simply because digital storage has been comparatively cheap for ages that I have all the digital clutter but not the time to organise it well.

NAS is probably good (for me) for culled selected images/video whereas the external portable drives would work for keepin all, rubbish and all.

Perhaps a lot of this is about breaking the clutter habit, but when you have photos of young kids/family it’s somewhat harder to be selective as even the bad pictures can be fun!

as long as you have backups on a more reliable device format.

I’m a bit like you. Disk space is so cheap that I rarely bother to get around to deleting the dross from my collection of photos and home videos. Ever improving digital photography has been a wonderful advance. However, it has a closely related bonus and drawback all at the same time.

It’s now possible to take multiple photos to get one or more that are just right, but the temptation is always to take far too many and simply not take the same amount of care one would have taken with an older film camera. I’m afraid I very much fall into the category of wasteful and careless photographers.

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That resonates.

Many years ago I had a Maxtor drive fail and lost quite a few images I’d unusually for me not backed up on something else. That made me rather overzealous about keeping copies of copies of most digital media.

I think my problem was that at the time different kinds of things would be copied onto an external drive which would run out of space quicker than if i had several dedicated for specific media types - I tried so maybe my external music library had some space I needed to copy photos onto when another drive was full, and media then got fragmented by type.

I have a Qnap NAS that automatically copies images from my camera. Automatic backup software copies these every week up the cloud aka Google Drive. Same for my files and music

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I have big HDDs in my PC which easily accommodate all my photos plus those I have inherited. Archiving is ongoing and can be slow because I have to ask other family members about some of the photos that came from my parents and grandparents.

All my music is ripped and stored on another HDD in the same PC. The originals are packed up and in storage. Ditto my videos, DVDs and BDs. Downloaded music resides in another location on my PC.

Everything is automatically backed up to NAS daily. Another NAS in a different location takes a back up of my primary backup, weekly. I used to use USB HDDs. These had a relatively short operational life compared to NAS drives.

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NAS with seperate NAS backup.
I use Adobe Lightroom to manage the archive, grouping into year or project directories with meta data for querying.
Touch wood it has worked well for 12 years.
I also use my Apple smartphone as a portable camera, it’s jolly good, I simply use the Apple cloud ecosystem to archive the photos… I will occasionally bring photos across into my Lightroom archive.

In 12 years I have had to partially recover from backup twice…I never underestimate the importance of backup.


I have an old Mac I filled with 4x4TB drives with drives dedicated for music/photos/video. Video is naturally the big storage hog and can take over. It’s quite old and not being used much currently, as I don’t know how long it’ll last or be repairable.

I know what you mean about the photos now my parents have passed away, there will be many I don’t recognise/know.

Seems similar to what I was trying to achieve a few years ago, but I’ve rather lost the appetite to organise it all now due to time involved.

Again I’ve used loads of USB drives too, so far few issues, but they are far from organised.

WIth the NAS, do you use 2 similar models with a proprietary feature to allow for the backup from one to the other, or do you just configure the second to access the first? Presumably this is automated and does not need the PC to shuffle the data between the two NAS devices?

Similar query to above do they backup automatically, one accessing the other without the need for manual copying or automated app on a PC/Mac to do so?

I was a bit cross when LR moved to subscription and I missed getting LR 6 or whatever the last verson was you could buy. I have a few earlier versions which I can probably resurrect.

I agree that the smartphones are excellent these days and are the main reasons for me upgrading phones. I’ve never really trusted Apple’s cloud services for photos, but that may be without good reason. Mrs AC dropped her old iPhone 6s and cracked the screen - it still works but is no longer syncable over lightning cable. The cloud backup was excellent and allowed restoring the data to her new phone - a surprisingly good experience.

It’s maybe worth mentioning for anyone who doesn’t know about tho that the iPhone camera apps include a “Live” mode, where you take the photo, but the app stores a few frames before and a few frames after. This is great for photos of kids (or animals come to that) for example, where you can go back half a second to the exact expression you are looking for.

And on the top phones they also have a built in facility to change the depth of field of a “portrait” photo, which means you can often greatly improve the bokeh effect after the photo has been taken.

This may seem off topic, but it does change your attitude to taking and keeping multiple copies of similar images. I find I rarely use my Nikon camera these days because the iPhone is just so convenient.

And of course I just back them all up to iCloud.



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Yes, it backups weekly. I set some macros up, the backup NAS wakes up, connects to the main NAS over the network, does the backup, then shuts down for another week.
It also backs up my CD rips and some other documents and databases.

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Indeed, I also like the geo tagging on the smartphone. I do have a geo tagger for my Nikon, but I find it does drain the battery.

The depth of field effect is quite good, but really only simulates depth of field focus from what I have seen as well as simulate relative lighting, I have never seen it simulate bokeh, which can be beautiful on my Nikon, especially with my 50mm f1.8 Lens and my 200mm f2.8 Lens

But remember that having backup copies of your photos and other precious files on multiple devices in your house is not enough, no matter how reliable these devices. You should also keep a backup in a location other than your own home, whether that be with a relative or friend or somewhere in ‘the cloud’ with a reputable cloud provider.

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I use a backup utility which runs on the main PC. The choice is endless. I use Bvckup 2.

We run a quartet of 4 bay NASs, all QNAP, various models, at various locations on site. All with M2 cache. Each NAS is configured into two mirrored arrays. So we’ve got 8 mirrored arrays in four boxes. One does Minimserver. One does Asset. One does general data and video storage for streaming at home

The remaining five take all the backed up data, one handling client client/work stuff. If I wasn’t so retentive I could probably do it with a couple of NASs. But like many gadgets (at least the ones that don’t get thrown away) you start with one, it doubles, then you have a house full of them!

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I don’t touch photography myself leave that to the other half but I have set up stringent backup procedures as she’s technically inept at this stuff. All photos from the proper camera go on laptop first, this location is watched by my NAS and syncs them automatically. Also have OneDrive accounts for each user and pc backs up to here also. Nas itself also backs up to the cloud. Phones and such automatically get backed up to OneDrive. We have on CF card and never needed another. Never been able to convince her that taking raw photos will get better results so she sticks with jpegs.

I’m not sure that RAW photos will necessarily be better than jpegs unless you devote a lot of time working to optimise those RAW images. In fact, they well look worse.

I used to set my camera to take both RAW and jpegs simultaneously, but gave this up many years ago when I realised that I never had enough time nor the inclination to work on the RAW images. They were just being wasted. I now only ever (or at least most of the time) just set my camera to take jpegs.

Yet I bet you won’t rip or buy an MP3 or AAC :slight_smile: