These days, with technology changing rapidly and digital cameras becoming more and more ubiquitous, it becomes very easy to be confused by so many voices when it comes to keeping your growing media collection organized. However, there are few principles that will help you stay on track and be able to grow and organize your media collection without worrying about the next new technology or next new program that claims to do it all for you. Read on about the principles that will help you keep media collection organized and protected from technology changes. Doing this will also help keep your sanity.
1. Understand and Organize Your Hardware
You must take inventory of your hardware! Do you have multiple phones, cameras, desktop computers, laptops and tablets? With photos on all of them?
There is no easy way to say it, but you must bring order to the chaos. You must understand and organize your hardware. What does this mean?
a. Identify Your Main Computer
This is the computer that usually has lots of storage space and probably a better processor. This is the piece of hardware that stores your media library, all your photos and videos. Think of it as the main store for your media.
What about all the other devices? Your tablet, phone and other computers can take and hold pictures but you have to think about them as holding copies of your photos. They are secondary devices. Just labeling them that way in your mind will help you understand how you should use them.
You do need to have a mental plan for every device you use. This plan will help you know what to do with the photos from these secondary devices.
b. Have a Hardware Plan
Firstly, you need to know how you get new photos from your secondary devices to your main computer.
Secondly, your hardware plan needs to include what to do after you transfer your pictures from the secondary devices to the main computer. Do you erase them? For example, I erase my images from both my cameras after transferring them to my main computer. This is the simplest way to ensure you don’t have duplicate images.
If you decide to keep your pictures on the secondary devices, after you have transferred them to the main computer, you have to think how you make sure you don’t transfer them again to the main computer, when you forget you have already done that. This is not an easy task to accomplish. If you don’t come up with a solution for this you will end up with a lot of duplicates.
2. Organize Your Folders
Many people and quite a few software programs want to ignore folders when it comes to storing your media. However, folders are here to stay. Even though they are messy, folders are not going away anytime soon. All devices, whether computers or mobile devices, use them still. You can’t ignore your folders, but must organize them.
Folders are the main storage containers for your pictures on your computer. They are the containers that help you keep your pictures organized at the low level. So you must create an efficient folder structure and stick with it.
Do not ignore your folders but rather keep them organized. This is how you ensure you do not depend on any particular software and this is how you make sure you can backup your pictures correctly.
3. Backup Your Main Computer Often
You must backup your main media library from your main computer (see step 1). This is probably the most important step after organizing your folders. Digital photos and videos represent a record of your life and this record of events and memories can disappear immediately when your main computer crashes. Computers and hard drives do crash, believe me they do.
Set up an automatic backup plan to make sure you backup your media files frequently and securely.
Read More: 5 Reasons I Backup My Photos Every Day
4. Create Efficient Photo Metadata
Creating efficient metadata for your photos is powerful but optional. Metadata will help you organize your photos in multiple categories and dimensions. However, without implementing the first three principles, you cannot simply rely on metadata to organize and backup your photos.
The most important principle is to make sure you save your metadata in the photo files themselves. Do not rely on any (really…not any) software program to save your metadata in some custom format or database. It is your metadata for your files and it should reside in your files, not anywhere else.
Read More: Essential Guide to Photo Metadata
Essentials for organizing your digital photosHere are the essential products and services I have come to rely on for many years to keep my media collection organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac (60% off until September 23, 2020) 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.
If you do a lot of image editing like I do, 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. But if do image editing, Adobe Lightroom is my favorite.
I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup for affordable & reliable unlimited cloud backup. I have been using Backblaze for backing up all pictures & videos for more than 4 years now. All my invaluable digital memories are safe and secure.
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.