I used to do freelance technical support a few years ago. I’d help customers with their computer problems and get paid. It was a great source of extra income and I met plenty of interesting people. One of my old clients had called me yesterday in desperation. He had explained the problem he was having and I immediately knew what was wrong without even having to see the computer.

His hard drive had been wiped clean and years of photos, videos, and personal documents had been erased. Now, I did meet up with him and manage to recover a few of his files, but the majority were gone forever. It’s tough to break this kind of news to someone and I could see his eyes start to water up as I explained what had happened. It was crushing. However, all of this could have been easily prevented, had my client take some preventative measures.

You’re at Risk.

We all are. Hard drives aren’t exactly the safest storage medium. They are susceptible to viruses and mechanical failures. It’s best to back up what matters to you in a safe location. CDs and DVDs are a good start, but they too can fail if not store properly. Hard copies of your pictures and documents may not be economically feasible and an external hard drive is just as likely to fail as the hard drive inside your computer.

A secure alternative, that can also be entirely free, would be to back up your files online. Online storage has a number of benefits including daily backups, the ability to access your files anywhere, sharing documents or pictures with others, and an overall sense of security knowing your files are safe.

Keep Your Memories Safe

Here’s a brief list of websites that offer secure file storage. All of them offer free solutions and plenty of space.

For photos:

  • Google’s Picasa – My personal favorite. Really easy to use and share photos.
  • Shutterfly – Lots of cool features with this one. They claim to host unlimited pictures and you can print directly to your local Target.
  • Flickr – No frills photo hosting. Safe and secure.

For files:

  • Dropbox – A free account comes with 2 gigabytes of storage and a fairly easy to use program to manage your files. Highly recommended.
  • Box.net – Free storage up to 1 gigabyte. Share, edit and access from any computer.
  • Yuntaa – Similar features to Box, but it is still in beta.
  • Steekr – Same as the above two websites.

Trust me, take some time and backup your files. Just how heartbroken would you be knowing all of your digital memories have been erased forever? All it takes is just a few minutes of your time to ensure the safety of your files. Stop delaying.

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Join the Discussion

  • Kat

    This is a good article. The hard drive on my old laptop failed… and I lost everything. I’ve always told people, “back up your stuff, hardware fails”. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my own advice.

    A friend of mine had folders and folders of pictures… somebody broke into her apartment and took all of her electronic items- including her external hard drives and computers. All that she has now were photos she’d uploaded to various sites, such as photobucket.

    I think it’s a good idea to back up your photos on sites. There are a lot of free storage sites out there, as noted in this article. Sites fail too, but it’s a good backup option to have. As I am writing this entry, I’m backing up some photos online. :)

    • Joe

      I lost a hard drive a couple of years ago and lost a lot of pictures and songs and writing. I just recently took it into a computer repair store and they were able to recover the data, though. So yeah, now I’m a backer-upper.

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