I have put off backing up my photos for sooo long. Just the thought overwhelmed me - how do I decide what to back up? How do I do it? And how much will it cost?
Two things finally got me moving on this: My daughter needed to do a photo board for school with photos from her whole life - all 6 years of it ;). I went back to look for photos of her as a baby and I couldn't find them on my computer! When I switched to a Mac computer a few years ago, I started using iPhoto to organize my photos. At some point, iPhoto changed over to Photos and as far as I can tell, I can't access my old catalogs through the app. I eventually found them on my computer, but not until after the project was due!
I was freaked out and worried that I "lost" 5 years of photos. Well, I wasn't that worried, because I still had all the important photos in scrapbooks (we'll get to that in a minute). Then, I was helping my parents clean out their basement and I discovered a flash drive that I had stored down there for safe keeping! Yay for all my photos up to 2014!
Then, a couple weeks ago, my computer let me know that my hard drive was almost full. Over 60% of it was photos and I knew that I had to do something. This is what I do now (and it's certainly not perfect, but at least it's something)....
I upload all of my photos into Lightroom on my computer and organize by month/year.
Recently, I went back through my 2014 photos (that's when I started using Lightroom) and deleted everything I didn't need (blurry, just practicing, boring, etc.). Then I went through again and picked out the ones that I love - the ones that I would cry if I lost them. Those were uploaded to Amazon's Photo Storage. Amazon now offers free unlimited photo storage to Prime members, which is awesome! It even stores RAW photos. If I ever need to do anything with those photos, I can simply download them to my computer again.
Then, I bought this external hard drive from Amazon and moved all of my 2014 photos to it. I plan to do the exact same thing with my 2015 photos, but it's going to take me longer to go through over 4000 photos (2016 will be even tougher since there are over 14,000 photos and the year's not even over yet!).
This way, I have a double back up of the photos that are most important to me.
I've tried various things over the years to back up my photos - CDs (which I can't find now), flash drives (yep, can't find them) and online cloud services such as Carbonite. Carbonite sounded like a good idea in theory, but since our internet is fairly slow, it took over 2 months for it to fully back up my computer. And even then, whenever we made any changes, it would make everything run slower.
Until recently, I've been ok with not having anything officially backed up - I have enough photos stored or posted in various places (DropBox, Facebook, Instagram, on my iPad) that I wouldn't be completely without important photos. Plus - I scrapbook. The most important photos are printed in books and albums - THAT'S where all my memories are!
In my opinion, printing photos is the best way to back them up. Yes, they can get lost, wet, dirty, whatever...but there's no technology involved. In 2009ish, I put several years of photos on CDs when I upgraded my computer. Now, just 7 years later, my current computer doesn't even have a CD/DVD drive. But, all my photos from that time period are in scrapbooks, so I don't feel the need to be obsessive about storing the photos. Even if you don't scrapbook, print your favorite photos every month and throw them in a box. Someday your grandkids will appreciate it :)
And my project this winter? Figuring out a way to digitally back up my scrapbook pages, because I would cry over losing those.