Keep your memories safe: How to back up your most important files and photos

Hard drives fail. Phones get lost. iPad minis get dropped into toilets by inquisitive 2-year-old grandkids on Christmas day (don’t ask). It’s a sad reality that data can be lost and destroyed, and with it, precious photos, important documents and valuable memories.

Have you ever lost something important because of technological failure? Are there any tips you’d like added to this list?

Sign up for Dropbox

This is one of the most effective ways to keep your data safe, and will work for PCs and Macs alike.

Dropbox is a cloud storage service that can keep your most precious data in various secure locations far away from your computer. It’s free to sign up, and we strongly recommend doing so now.

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Once you have installed the Dropbox program, a Dropbox folder will appear on your computer. Anything in this folder will automatically be backed up to the cloud.

Next time you save an important document, make sure it goes somewhere inside your Dropbox folder. Simple as that! The program will handle the rest for you.

If you have multiple computers or devices, this Dropbox folder will synchronise across all machines – add a photo on one computer, and it will soon appear on the other. Even if your computer has a catastrophic meltdown, you can install Dropbox to your next one; it will seamlessly pick up where your broken computer left off.

You can even install a Dropbox app on your phone or tablet and – if you choose – have it automatically save all your photos as you take them. We cannot recommend this enough.

Sign up for iCloud
If you have an iPhone or iPad, chances are your data is already being backed up well. But it’s always worth checking. Go to your device’s settings and scroll down until you see “iCloud”. Follow the instructions from there to ensure your photos, contacts and notes are automatically backed up.

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Note that iCloud will only store your most recent 1,000 photos, so if you’re a more avid photographer, it will be worth regularly connecting and saving to your computer (learn how here) – or backing up with Dropbox via the instructions above.

Buy an external hard drive
The old fashioned way isn’t necessarily going to be as consistent or reliable as the more automated processes above, but for added peace of mind, we recommended periodically copying the contents of your computer to another drive – even a simple USB stick can suffice for smaller needs.

While this won’t help you get back up-to-the-minute documents and records, it’s very useful for larger collections – old photos, home movies and personal writings – that you might not necessarily access regularly.

Have you ever lost data important to you? Do you regularly back up your photos and documents? What other tips would you add to this list?