Where did my pictures go?

You are on vacation. The sun is shining, drinks are flowing, and the ice cream is cold. Everyone is happy and you take a lot of nice pictures in the sunshine. Finally, you have several thousand pictures stored on your phone.

Photo: Natalya Zaritskaya, Unsplash

Then you lose the phone. You forget it on the flight or in the taxi. Someone steals it. It falls into a sewer or over the ship’s railing. It happens thousands of times every summer. All your pictures are gone.

No, they are not, because you have played it safe and uploaded them to Google Drive or any of the countless other free storage services available on the Internet. Or, you may have put them on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. These companies have big computer rooms all over the world. They’ll be safe there.

Not! From time to time, the storage companies change their terms and conditions and your images may be as good as gone. One day when you log in, the storage area is empty. Or you might have forgotten the password, or accidentally erased it in your browser so you can’t log in again. Wave goodbye to your treasure.

Sure, but it has never happened to me. Exactly. But one day it happens. It will happen to everyone, sooner or later. And when it happens, you will be so sorry.

The Catch

The storage service companies have put careful disclaimers in power to avoid having to store your photos safely. Should the images disappear, you will have nothing claim from them. In addition, there may be other clauses stating that they have the right to use your images for their own purposes, such as advertising or sales to third parties. You didn’t bother to read the fine print because there were many hundreds of clauses and you lost patience when you got halfway, and just approved and accepted.

You have to realise that nobody gives you gigabytes and gigabytes for free on the Internet, though it may seem so. Data storage is not a matter of charity. The supplier wants something in return, such as your personal data or pictures. The pictures are worthless if they cannot be resold. Assume that they are resold, sooner or later.

It is not uncommon for images stored for free on the Internet to start appearing in advertisements. And if you have your pictures in Facebook, you can almost take for granted that someone will use them for something that you don’t want.

Your pictures are yours and yours alone

Only you can ensure that your treasure is safe for the future.

The solution is called backup. Your phone is really just a USB memory and can be copied, either onto a computer, or to another USB memory. USB memory sticks are cheap and small and can be stored in a safe place without taking up too much space. Sure, they cost a few pounds, but your pictures cost a lot more.

Photo: Charles Deluvio, Unsplash
  1. Get two memory sticks. Always get two, because one could break, although it may seem unlikely. The probability that they both break, is low.
  2. Copy all images to the memory sticks.
  3. Label the memory sticks accurately.
  4. Make sure all images are on the memory sticks and that no images are broken.
  5. Stick to the insurance company requirements. Store the data securely, separated from the computer. Preferably in a fireproof safe. Not just lying around in a chest of drawers.
  6. Then, remove the images from the phone, partly to free up space and partly to make sure they’re gone in case someone steals the phone.

This is the only completely safe solution. Sure, it may seem awkward, but rest assured it will be much more awkward one day when the images disappear.

By Jörgen Städje, Hidden24