Terri from West Virginia writes: Is an external hard drive the best place to store pictures?

It’s difficult to say where the absolute “best” place to store pictures might be. What’s best for you might not be best for someone else. An external hard drive is a good place to store photos. Photos can take up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive, especially if you have archived years of family photographs.


An external hard drive is nice because you can dedicate room to your images and also because you can access it from multiple computers in your home. And normally, there are really only a few images you need  immediate access to on your computer at a time. If you decide you want to share or print some old photos or perhaps use them in a project, you can retrieve them from your external drive as needed. That leaves the hard drive space on your computer free for your current needs. And you can get a whole lot of hard drive space at a fairly reasonable price in an external drive.

Also, if your computer hard drive fails, you’ll want to have those memories backed up somewhere. I would suggest keeping digital copies in more than one location.  Not only do you have hard drive failure to think about, but what about a fire or natural disaster?

You can also keep photos on storage devices such as a flash drive or memory card. But you’ll likely be able to find more space on an external hard drive and it’s a lot harder to misplace hard drive than it is a memory card or flash drive.

Cloud storage is another good option for backing up photos. The great thing about cloud storage is that your photos would be easily accessible from multiple devices and you could get to them from anywhere.

Some space comes free with your Google or Microsoft account, but there are a lot of options to pay for a little more if you need it.  You can check out this article and this one to learn more.

Since family photos have a tremendous sentimental value, in this case I’d be willing to say that storing them on an external hard drive for everyday use, backing them up in cloud storage and even having an additional back-up external drive that you keep in a lock box or safe deposit box is not a bad idea.

But it’s important to remember to regularly transfer your new photos to storage. Also, get the photos off your phone. As camera phones become the primary camera for many people, we can often just leave the photos sitting there. Then you drop your phone in a puddle or someone steals it and your pictures are gone.

It’s not a bad idea to just pick a day  of the week or month (depending on how many photos you take) and schedule some time to back them all up.

~ Cynthia