Popular opinion on the internet suggests that the Tags and Folders based methods for picture organization are mutually exclusive. This means that if you decide to use Tags then you will not be using folders. Or if you’re using Folders to organize your picture, you cannot use Tags. This is very far from reality and in fact Tags and Folders are NOT mutually exclusive.
The reality is that even if you’re using Tags, you will be using Folders by default ! You have to have some folders where you’ll be transferring your pictures. Even if you put all your pictures into one folder you’re still using folders as your basis. The folders system is the basis of any computer operating system and every software (even picture tagging software) will be using the folder system on your computer.
The reality is that any Tags you’re using are based on an underlying folder structure that you’re creating when you’re transferring your pictures from your digital camera. Granted, tagging will allow you not to pay attention to the names of your folders, but you’re still using folders even if you’re using tags.
Now, that being said…I strongly maintain that even if you’re using tags you should be creating a consistently named folder structure as the foundation on which to create your tags. Without a strong folder structure your tags will not be very useful in the long run.
Essentials for organizing your digital photosOver the years I have come to rely on only a few products for managing and backing up my large media collection. These are my essential products and services I have been using for many years to keep things organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has excellent photo editing capabilities. Yes, Lightroom has a steeper learning curve as you have to learn to keep your catalogs in sync with your hard drive. However, Adobe Lightroom makes most sense especially when you do lots of image editing.
If you don't like the subscription, you can get also download the last standalone Adobe Lightroom 6 for Mac or Windows (while it is still available). However, the product is no longer maintained by Adobe.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Pro for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing your media on your computer. It has a very fast browser, beautiful image editing capabilities and you don't work with catalogs at all.
In addition, make sure you have an inexpensive and reliable external hard drive for backing everything up. It is absolutely essential for backing up your media regularly.
If you're looking for a reliable unlimited cloud backup service, I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup. I have used Backblaze for my online backup for more than 3 years now. All my files are safe and secure and I have never had any problems with them.