Snap happy

cornwall-2013-28It’s starting to feel decidedly autumnal, which means it must be time to tackle the task of getting all the photos I took on my summer holidays off my phone/ camera and on to my computer. For some people this is slightly daunting and so gets put off until the point when your camera can’t take any more pictures because the storage space is full. But it’s really quite simple and if you do it regularly you’ll find you can organise your photos into lovely albums that make it easy to find and show off your best shots to your friends.

pict0099Alternatively (or as well) you can use a cloud-based service to store your photos, and these can be set up so that they upload photos automatically from your phone. This means that should the worst happen (a spilt cup of coffee, leaving your laptop on the bus…), you’ve still got your lovely pictures safely stored elsewhere.

Here’s how to do both:

Manually upload your photos using a USB cable. The process for importing and transferring photos from a mobile device basically hasn’t changed for a decade. The process varies slightly between ecosystems and operating systems, but it’s typically a matter of plugging your phone or tablet in to your computer using a USB cable, and clicking the Import button, (or some version thereof). Once imported, you can delete the photos from your phone and free up space to take more.

Here’s how it works on my Mac: plug my phone into the computer with a USB cable and the Photos app (or iPhoto, depending on the age of your computer) opens up (you need to tick the box that says ‘Open Photos for this device’ to make this happen each time)screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-10-54-13The app will show all the photos on your phone, separating them into those that are already on your computer and any that are new.
Choose the photos you want to import by clicking on each image, or choose ‘Import new’ to upload all of them. Then click ‘Import selected’ and the process of uploading begins. This could take a few minutes depending on how many pictures you’ve got.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-10-55-46The process will be much the same if you’re using a PC and the Windows Photo app. Once the pictures have been imported, it’s a good idea to organise them into albums, so that you can find them easily later.

google-drive-logo-2esegzlUse a cloud-based service to have your photos automatically uploaded as you take them. This is a fantastic way to make sure you never lose any of your photos, even if you drop your phone in the swimming pool. There are hundreds of cloud storage services, and you may already be subscribed to one. If you’ve got an iPhone the chances are you already have an iCloud account and if you’ve got an Android phone, you’ve probably got a Google Drive or Google Photos account. Another dropbox-logopopular and easy to use service is Dropbox, and they all work in much the same way. The key is to make sure that you are signed in to the same account on your phone as you have on your computer, and to turn on the ‘automatic upload’ facility.

dropbox-camera-uploadI have my photos loading to Dropbox automatically which means that every time I am in a wifi area, any new pictures will be sent to my Dropbox account. To do this, I have the Dropbox app installed on my phone. Then in the settings section of the app (look for the little ‘cog’ icon) go to ‘Camera uploads’ and make sure this is set to ‘On’. Once this is set up, it means that if you delete a photo from your phone, it will still be on your computer, in your Dropbox account – genius! So you can take as many pictures as you like on your holiday and you should never run out of storage space.

icloud_ios7Google Drive and iCloud work in a similar way – just go to the settings in the apps and choose the ‘auto-add’ function for Google Drive, or switch ‘Photos’ to ‘on’ for iCloud. For this to free up space on your device, do not check the box next to iCloud Photo Library, but do check ‘Photo Stream’.

Be careful with iCloud  – if you use the relatively new iCloud Photo Library to store your photos, deleting images from your phone or iPad will remove them from the cloud too. You can find more information about how to use iCloud here. And we will talk more about this slightly complicated system another day.

As always, if you have any comments or queries, please get in touch. Until next time… happy snapping!

What’s your Plan B?

BackupFor most people, backing up the computer doesn’t rank high on your to do list, a bit like going for a check-up at the dentist or reviewing your pension. But like those tasks, if you put it off for too long, you could find yourself with a much bigger headache later on.

All computers are susceptible to viruses, damage, theft or simply old age – any of which could result in you losing your library of photos, movies, music and other precious files. So you need a backup. The question is how to back up and to where?

The answer to ‘how to back up’ is best answered by the type of computer you have.

Time Machine1If you’ve got a Mac bought after 2007, you’ll have ‘Time Machine’ as built-in software that lets you save a full copy of everything that’s on your computer to wherever you choose (see below). Time Machine then keeps on looking at your files to see if any have changed, and backs those up too. So if you accidentally delete a file, or you want to go back to an earlier version, you can retrieve it through the Time Machine.

file-history-windows-8If you’ve got a PC running Windows, you’ll also have built-in software – File History in Windows 8, or System Backup in Windows 7 or earlier. These work in a similar way to Apple’s Time Machine – you tell the computer which files you want to back up, where to copy them and how often, and the software will do the rest automatically.

The next question is ‘where’ to store your backup and this is where it can get a bit more complicated. There are 3 main options – CDs or DVDs, external hard drives or the ‘Cloud’.

DVDbackup1. You can use CDs or DVDs to make a single copy of your valuable files and then store them somewhere away from your computer. You’ll need to replace these every few months as you add to your computer library, to keep your backup up-to-date.

hard drive2. External hard drives come in many shapes and sizes. Choose one based on how much storage space you need and your budget. If you’re using Time Machine or Windows backup software, it’s a good idea to have an external hard drive that has at least twice as much space as the data you want to store on it, so that there is room for regular backups.

skydrive3. A ‘Cloud’ backup stores your data ‘offsite’, protecting your files against something like a fire, or theft of your computer. It’s essentially your own space on the Internet. Again, there are hundreds of options for a cloud backup: some are free and included with your computer software (iCloud, SkyDrive), whilst others are free for small amounts of storage and then you can buy more space if you need it (eg Dropbox, just cloud, CrashPlan).

cloudboxThere is another backup solution that combines an external hard drive and the cloud – it’s known as NAS or network attached storage. A NAS device links to your wi-fi so that it can back up more than one computer in the house, and it can act as a central library for your music, movies and photos to be accessed by any device connected to your home network. The  great bonus with some NAS devices is that they also give you access to your files when you are away from home.

Once you’ve decided how and where to back up your files, you can relax, safe in the knowledge that your digital world is protected. We strongly recommend that you have at least one of these solutions in your home; to be doubly safe, use two.