Category: File Organization


Organizing Digital Photos

Organizing Photos12 Stones Technology Bridging the Gap To Your Organized Digital Photos

We no longer live in the days of a single camera with film, producing precious few paper copies of photos that we stored in shoe boxes and photo albums. In the digital age, we take thousands of pictures on multiple devices.  Trying to locate a photo among thousands becomes a monumental task!  Or we try to back them up, only to create multiple copies in multiple locations, compounding the problem of trying to find that one particular photo.

Keeping the photos taken by a single person with a camera and an iPhone organized can be tough enough, but when an entire family is involved, the problem can grow out of control.  There are some basic steps for organizing digital photos and making them accessible.

In order to assess your situation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are all the photos located and how many are there? (The number of photos is less important than the size of all the photos.)
  • Do you have one central place with enough file space where you can store all your photos?
  • How fast are you adding photos?
  • Will you have enough space for at least one year of additional photos?
  • How much is your photo collection worth to you?
  • Do you need to share them and with whom?

For most people, storing all your photos online is not an option unless you are willing to pay for storage. This is where the “how much is it worth” comes into play. If you absolutely can’t afford to lose photos, then uploading them to a cloud storage can give you some peace of mind. If you don’t want to pay to store your photos, then you definitely want to have one or more backups. You may also opt for both. You can store some important photos in the cloud while others are kept locally.

If you have a newer desktop computer with enough storage for all your photos, that is the best place to start for your base storage location. A laptop can be used but since it can be carried around and out of your home, it is not the safest location for your treasures.  If you need to share the photos from your base storage location, you will need to set that up on your local area network to make it available to other devices.

All current operating systems offer a location specifically for photos, so begin consolidating your photos there.  Many photo programs can organize photos for you but they don’t usually organize the actual files.  Actually placing files in directories that make sense to you is the best way to go.  Try using a folder structure starting with years and then months. You can break the months down with special event folders or a specific day or whatever you want.

01 Jan
02 Feb
03 Mar

By limiting the number of photos in a directory, it makes it simpler to find the file you need access to for sharing, printing, etc. Fewer files in a directory also reduces problems with similar file names.

So how do you get all your photos onto one computer?  With all the devices we have to take photos, it can be difficult to get them all into one place. There are multiple methods of accomplishing the same thing but here is one method:  For those with iOS devices, a file manager program needs to be installed so you can access your picture files and transfer them to another device. FileExplorer Free is a program that can be installed to do just that.

For those with Android devices there are many options for network explorer programs. One I like to use is ES File Explorer.

Once the app is configured to access your desktop computer or network share, just copy all the photos on your phone to the remote computer.  This should be a photo dump; this is not the time to organize.

After getting all your photos moved to the desktop computer you will need to sort through them and place them in the appropriate directories.  Next, you will need to eliminate duplicates. Duplicate files can cause confusion as well as consuming additional storage space. Running a de-duplication program can help clean up your photos and reduce the storage space required. I have used Super DeDupe  You can download and try the program for 30 days.  If you wish to use it longer, you will need to purchase it for $19.95.

Now that all your photos are organized in one place and you have removed duplicates, it’s time to back them up.  An external hard drive, Network Attached Storage, or even a home server can be used for this.  If the photos are highly important, you can also back them up to a cloud storage solution.  Another off-site backup solution is to give a copy of your files to a family member not living with you. This can be done via an external hard drive you physically give to them or using other file transfer methods to create a backup on their computer.

Once you are all organized you can relax and peruse your photos any time you like.  And, after a filing method is set up, adding new photos becomes much simpler.  If you need help with some or all of this process, please contact me.