~ How to keep your family photos safe ~

Let me start by saying life is just really un-predictable,  so I can't promise what I'm about to tell you will 100% guarantee to keep your treasured family photos safe forever.  But folks ask me what I do with our family photos all the time so here is my 2 cents on the subject. 

Meet my sweet friend Jodie, her husband Josh and son Aiden.   You've met them on my blog before here.   But they recently had a beautiful baby girl, Harper,  so here are some more recent photos of them. 

And here is what her house looks like right now.

Jodie left early in the morning last week to drop her son off at school,  with her newborn baby in tow, and returned to house full of smoke and flames.  I can't imagine how scared she must have been.  They lost nearly all their belongings.  Clothes, furniture, electronics, her wedding rings,  all gone.  The only things that were salvageable were items on their lower level.  Luckily the fire was contained to the first floor.

My first question walking through her home with her was "Where are Aidens baby pictures" she pointed to 2 photo albums that were literally about 5 feet from where the firefighters put out the fire.   However, all the discs of her daughters birth were on the kitchen table and destroyed.

 But luckily she uses this awesome photographer who still has back-ups of all that ;)

Oh, and here is what a burned up Ipad and Ipod look like. 
And here is her daughters precious nursery,  covered in soot.   Moms,  come on,  we know how hard we work on those nurseries :(   The smoke damage throughout the house is astounding.  Their home was declared un-livable for 2-3 months and they are staying at a hotel.  (With a newborn,  how fun do you think that is?)
Jodie was very lucky,  I'm so happy that her family is safe and their photos are still in tact but it could have been much worse.   

So what should you do to make sure your family photos are safe and how should you organize them?  

Here is the system I use,  it's not perfect,  but it works for me.  It's pretty simple, feel free to borrow it.

Every year I make a new folder for our family photos and label it by the year.
Open up any of those folders and the inside looks like this.   Everything divided by month.   

Alot of times when I dump photos to my computer I'm either in a hurry, or the disc has a whole hodge-podge of crap on it and I don't know how to label the folder.  So it's much easier to seperate everything by month instead of "Rockys Birthday"  or "Trip to the Zoo" - if I ever need to go back and find those photos I obviously know what month my sons birthday is and could probably guess on the 1st or 2nd try what month we went to the zoo.   It makes looking for everything much easier.

Now,  you'll notice a "best of" folder at the bottom. I put all my favorites in there.   If you don't really edit your photos too much you don't need that folder.  But that folder comes in very handy for me when I make this book at the end of the year. 

Then, about twice a year  I pull my external hard drive out of a fire and water proof safe, plug it into my computer and copy all my files onto it. 

For those you who are not tech savvy that little black box that says "Manno Family Memories" is my hard drive,  plugging into my computer and all you have to do is copy and paste the folder from one to the other. 

And then that hard drive goes back in the fire and water proof safe.   The hard drive will run you about $70-$80 and safe will run you $70-$80.  So you are looking at about a $150 investment total to protect your families memories. 
As I said before, there are many ways to back up your files,  this is just one of them.   

I know the cloud thing is kind of popular -  (a secret external server in the sky that I can't figure out how to use for the life of me).  I also don't trust technology that much yet,  and I would rather have a hard drive I can hold in my hands.   But if you can figure out how to work one of the clouds I'm sure they are lovely.  

 There are also plenty of online photo hosting pages like flickr, shutterfly, snapfish, etc..  you can sign up for any number of those as long as you commit to uploading your photos every month they will be safe.  But again with the technology thing,  I have no promises those websites are going to be around in 20 years,  so I prefer to just keep them in my safe. 

Just remember this - If your photos don't exist in 2 places they don't exist at all!  

Happy Memory Making :)

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