Here are some tips and a simple "system" to use for saving your images.
1. Constantly Back-Up Memory Cards and Phone Photos. If you use a digital camera, aside from your phone, chances are that you don't back up "new" pictures every time you use it. I had a friend who would wait until the 16GB card was full before she would download her images to the computer. That same memory card stopped working...and it had months of memories on it. Don't let that happen! We tend to trust technology, but we all know that it isn't always reliable.
2. Use an External Hard Drive. Now that I made you fear your memory card, I have to tell you, that photos take up some major real estate on any computer or mobile device! That warning pops up and tells you that your storage is low.....annoying, I get it! I don't keep ANY photos on my computer. Crazy, I know, but I use Toshiba External Hard Drives, and I haven't had any issues with them. For my super special photos, like our wedding images, Braxton's newborn photos, etc., I back them up to my external hard drive, as well as upload them to Dropbox. (See #4 for info on this.) It's important to move images off of your phone, too! How many people have ever dropped a phone in water, off of a mountain, ruined it somehow?! Don't let it happen - protect your memories! Retaining these images, if possible, can be super expensive and more stressful than you think!
3. Create Folders and Name Them Accordingly. Then Create Subfolders. And Even Sub-Subfolders. This process will be different for everyone, depending on how many photos you have to organize. If we're talking years of images, you may want to start with a main folder for each year, then break out subfolders with events, months, milestones, etc. Somehow this needs to work for your life and the current number of unorganized photos. Chronologically, things are easier to find, so you can start there! Below is an example that I used for events. After I save photos on this hard drive, I will move it to my Dropbox, and place it in the folder that is labeled, "2016."
4. Use an Online Storage Space, Like Dropbox. I feel like a negative person in this post, but I have to say it.....what if your house caught fire. You're not going back in for a computer or hard drive. Keep your most important photos somewhere online. I use Dropbox. I love it because it's also an app on my phone that my phone images save to automatically, easy to email folders and collaborate, and accessible anywhere in the world.
5. Purge the Bad Ones. I find this easier to do when my photos are on a computer, and inside of a folder. I know it's hard, but it's like keeping a sweater that you don't wear. It's just taking up space on your device and if it's blurry or if you have better photo that's similar, get rid of it! Just rip the band-aid.
6. What to do With These Pictures? I am as guilty as the next person when I say this: I have lots of organized photos in organized folders, but I don't print everything. However, that may not be ideal years down the road. I remember as a little girl, going through my parent's old photo albums and loved the memories. In correlation, l highly doubt our children are going to scroll through pictures/folders on a computer. There's something about holding an album, photograph, or tangible item that make it an heirloom.
Something I have used a few times is Groovebook. It's $2.99 per month and you can print 100-4x6 cell phone photos that come in a 4x6 bound book. The quality is ok for cell phone shots and a small memory book, but most of all, it's convenient. I selected my images and submitted the order through the app, while I laid in bed at night. I haven't used this in awhile, but plan to soon!
You could also order through Mpix, my favorite print lab, but I would suggest purchasing a lot of old-fashioned photo albums! You also could try making a photo book, but I will warn you, this will soak up more time than you're probably willing to allow. I spent six hours creating a "First Birthday Book" for my son, using Shutterfly's software. I could have designed it in half the time, using Photoshop, but I had one of those dang coupons, where you feel like you're losing money not buying it! I still think printing 4x6 images and putting them in a photo album is somewhat fun and it's easy to grab and show people.
Do you have any tips or systems that have worked for saving digital images? I would love to hear them!