Welcome to the age where photos are files and memories can be deleted within a millisecond of a virus or a bad keystroke.  When I was a kid we could drop off rolls and rolls of film at the camera store and pickup hundreds of prints (most junk) and the few good one we’d store into photo albums (remember those).  Now I dont even print 1/100th of the photos that we take. Even although they’re priceless memories of my son growing up they sit on my harddrive.  No I’m not about to tell you a story of how I lost my drive and along with that the history of my son. My Aunt had me rush out to Long Island a few weeks ago to save her from that fate (she got a virus that ruined the computer) and I was able to boot into safe mode long enough to copy 40 gigs of photos.  Thats eight years of digital images of my cousin growing up that would have been lost.

Think you should stop reading because of your external harddrive? answer me this do you leave it plugged in 24/7? do you leave in the same house as the computer if its not plugged in? then you’re at risk – 1 lighting strike fries all electronics and 2 a fire will melt all plastic/metal/computers to toast.  Sure you can spend thousands of dollars trying to recover, but rarely will you get 100% of your data back.

Think its just photos how about those iTunes Music files that you’ve spent the last 5 years buying at .99 cents each (dont they add up to an investment).  Yes, I’ve heard the rumors of really amazing applecare allowing users to redownload but that isnt always the case (actually its not even the norm).

What can you do to protect your digital self? you can purchase an external harddisk and backup and store it offsite (away from home) avoids fires and electrical issues but you’ll download new files before you hook that up again for a backup and worst what happens if that harddrive just fails right when you need it.  This is by far the most popular way its very cost effective and in the long run what are really the odds of the external harddrive failing right when you need it? Slim but the odds are still there.

The way I protect myself is in the cloud.  [Wikipedia CLOUD]. In this cloud I found complete happiness from a product called SugarSync it works on PC, MAC and mobile platforms (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and WinMobile). They even offer 2 gigs free which will store a ton of word or excel documents but wont be suited for pictures, music, or video files.

Pros of SugarSync: Ability to use website to access files remotely, mobility platform for access or share, unlimited computers (account based on storage), and versioning (for same files ie. all those file saves on a draft of a legal document or revisions on an excel sheet are saved).

Cons of SugarSync: Lengthy first sync (would be similar with other services as well), No ability to run multiple accounts from one computer (ie. I save to my account and my wife would save to hers)

There are other options out there but I do highly recommend a cloud based solution one that does your file storage offsite. Think about all your pictures, videos, music and documents – what if they were gone tomorrow and how much is it worth to protect that!