Every memorable moment of our lives can be captured by a photograph. Now that all of our mobile devices have cameras attached, we can easily capture all of those moments and more. But do you ever think about where a photo might end up after you take it? Maybe you are planning on posting it to one of your social media profiles. Maybe you want to send it to a loved one, or a group of friends. Or maybe you’re planning on keeping it to yourself.
No matter where you intend to put that photo, if it’s taken with a digital camera and is stored in the cloud or physically on the camera/phone, that photo file (along with all others) is at risk of being copied, destroyed, or lost. Your photos represent personal memories that you will no doubt want to keep safe. It’s good to pause and think about the potential life cycle of your photos: where will they go and who will see them once the shutter has snapped? Being able to answer these questions will help keep your photographic memories secure.
So what can you do to protect your pictures?
Storing Your Photos on a Hard DriveThe first step in protecting your photos is proper storage and backup. There are plenty of ways to do this, but one of the easiest ways to keep photos safe from digital thieves and snoops is to store them on an external hard drive.
These days, for only $50, you can get external drives with at least 1 terabyte of storage, meaning they can hold up to 2 MILLION photos; imagine how many memorable days you can fit in there! No more picking and choosing which photos (and videos!) saved on your phone you want to keep, because you will always be backing them up to your hard drive. And as long as that hard drive stays safe, so will your photos.
You may want to also have your photos saved in the cloud. Use the cloud as a secondary backup in case the external drive fails, damaged, or lost. There is secure cloud storage that is as safe as any digital file storage, but any of those can eventually be hacked. Unless you have compromising photos you don’t want anyone to see, there should be no worry when using cloud storage as backup, just find a service that has reasonable security protocols set.
Think About Where You’re Posting ThemBefore you post a photo, ask yourself: who will have access to it? Future employers, current friends, and family all may be able to find your most embarrassing moment if it’s ever been posted to the internet. A good rule of thumb: never post anything online you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see!
Take a moment once a year or so to clean up the photos you have posted on your social media profiles. You never know when you might look back on a memory and find it… not so flattering anymore.
If you must post a picture that you don’t want everyone to see, make it private! Password protect the photos, add stricter privacy settings, or only invite certain people to view it. But you still need to consider what those people could do with the photo themselves!
Think About When You’re Posting ThemWhile you’re thinking about who will have access to your pictures once you’ve put them online, also consider the timing. For example, will posting a vacation photo give away your location or imply your house is unattended? You don’t want to alert criminals that you’re on vacation, and there may even be some people that you wouldn’t want finding out your whereabouts.
Remember, even if a photo doesn’t give away your location by just looking at it, cybercriminals can always find the Geotag metadata assigned to your image!
It might be disappointing to have to wait, but it’s always better to wait to post photos when you’re home safe or have switched locations.
Protect Your Photos By Securing Your DeviceKeep sticky fingers from peeking at your pictures by protecting your phone. Start by locking down your mobile device by following the steps below:
iPhone: Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Add a Fingerprint… or Turn Passcode on
Android: Settings > More > Security > Encrypt Device
Now anyone who has access to your phone won’t be able to see your photos, or any other data, without your encryption key!
Before digital photography became an everyday phenomenon, we’d store our photos in old shoeboxes and decorative photo albums. It was easier to control who saw what, but storing photos this way did not guarantee their immortality. Today it is much easier to store millions of photos and preserve millions of memories, but if we want to share them, we must learn to deal with the risks involved in living a digital life.