Is there anything that Google cannot help us with?
A little while ago, I wrote a blog post about backing up your files. You can read it here, if you missed it.
I thought I’d share a story about my own situation. As a VA, it’s doubly important that files are backed up.
In my naivety, I thought that having files backed up to an external hard drive would protect those files for life. Suddenly, the hard drive couldn’t be read by any computer in our house. I was devastated because the majority of the photos on that drive were photos of my second son. Baby photos.
After some calling around, my husband and I learned that for $300, Best Buy could take a look at the hard drive. Just to take a look. That was with no promise of retrieving anything, and depending on what they were dealing with, it might even cost more than that.
The hard drive is still sitting here, in my office. It’s been about three years since, and I’m just as disappointed by it as when it first happened.
In the post I mentioned earlier, I talk about ways to back up information and what might be some tell-tale signs that your computer might be breathing its last breaths.
I’m starting to see those signs on my laptop. A couple of screws connecting my monitor to the keyboard have broken on one side. I have to be careful about how I open (or travel with) my computer. Opening and closing my laptop needs to be done very carefully. Once, I wasn’t very careful, and the screen went all funny and my heart was in my throat, because I didn’t have everything backed up. I didn’t want to go to Best Buy to shell out a fortune for them to save my stuff! Fortunately, I restarted it and everything was fine. But, I had some work to do, because it’s gonna go eventually.
So, I took matters into my own hands and in my spare time, I looked at storage options. I really wasn’t ready to amp up my Google storage amount, but I needed to, really. My free 15 GB was nearly full. I had about 4 years’ worth of photos stored there, and had no idea that those were what was taking up the majority of my space.
This led me to look into Google Photos. After some research, I discovered that Google Photos has unlimited storage, and none of it counts towards your Google Drive storage, despite Google Photos putting a folder within your Google Drive. It’s more like a bookmark to easily access Photos from Drive.
Project Time With Google
Then began a lengthy project. I went to Facebook and downloaded each and every album I had on there. I may or may not get that external hard drive looked at, but Facebook contained much of my life, and I found several baby pictures within those albums.
Over the years, since 2006, I had uploaded almost 23 GB of photos to Facebook! And it cost me nothing. It was like having free photo storage. However, the compression for uploading/downloading photos to and from Facebook lowers the quality of the photos. I really didn’t care. I now had photos on my computer that I thought I’d lost. It’s hard to believe, but it’s amazing how you can forget what you’ve shared on social media!
I downloaded each album from Facebook. Thankfully, I had most albums sorted by season and year. I did hit a few snags with Google. Uploading in smaller batches, rather than all at once, helped. Sometimes the uploads froze. Sometimes it got stuck on “Preparing Photos”. Eventually, I uploaded all of them.
Afterwards, I checked Google Drive, and did the same thing with the photos I stored there. I downloaded each, organized them, and uploaded them to the appropriate albums on Google Photos.
Then, taking a big, deep breath… I deleted them from Drive. Then I deleted Drive trash.
Suddenly I had freed up about 11 GB of space, just by getting rid of those photos!
After tinkering, reorganizing and deleting files, I was down to 1 GB. I felt like a champ! Then I uploaded my client files, since I now had space to do so. I’m happy to report that I’ve still only used less than 2 GB of my free 15 GB.
So, thank goodness for cloud storage – Google Photos. I am using Google Drive way more efficiently.
But I still wasn’t ready to select all photo folders on my computer and hit delete.
Why? When my external hard drive had the nerve to stop working, I didn’t know that it was even a possibility for it to do so. I figured I was safe because I had a backup solution, and that was all I needed. So, when we bought another hard drive near the end of 2016, I created a folder on there for all of my backup files. That hard drive lasted 6 months. But I still had everything on my computer.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
I vented on Facebook about the loss of my first external hard drive when it happened, and learned a lot from people’s comments. The one that stands out in my mind the most is from a girl I went to high school with who is now a photographer. If anyone understands the importance of baby photos, it would be her. She said, “Always back up your photos in more than one place, so if one backup fails, you have another to fall back on.”
In summary, don’t rely on any one source of file backup. Don’t trust your photos and files to always be there. Backup your files to a cloud-based storage system, in addition to having a physical backup.
Questions or comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk!