Should you buy one of those smart USB photo sticks/thumb drives to back up your photos and free up space on your computer?
No! Absolutely not! How would you feel if a device copied half of the photos on your computer, deleted them from your computer while it was backing them up, and then failed and lost your photos?
In the TV ads it sounds like a great idea. Plug it in, it finds all your photos, backs them all up, and frees up space on your computer. But there are serious potential problems involved. Does it work. Is it reliable. How do you know if the photos on the USB drive haven’t been corrupted?
This article started last night with a phone call from a friend who saw these advertised on TV. I had no opinion of them at the time of his call, so I read a bunch of reviews for several different devices, all claiming to do pretty much the same thing. While some people had success with these devices and really like them, it was the high percentage of customers that had very bad experiences that bothered me.
I read all kinds of reviews from unhappy people who had the device fail. If the device fails mid process you lose all the photos it removed from your computer. 34% of reviewers gave one popular device the lowest possible rating. Their reviews were a sad litany of “didn’t work”, “worked for a while and quit”, “scrambled my photos”, “deleted the photos from my computer and lost them”.
I sent my friend screen captures of several of the bad reviews (like the one at the top of this article). It was my way of saying “Don’t do it.” I would not trust my precious photos to a device that fails about 1/3 of the time and risks losing your photos in the process.
And many of these devices have a tiny amount of memory, starting at only 8 GB. That is less memory than a lot of camera memory cards. And if you get a 128 GB version it will cost you as much as a well made, reliable 4 TB external hard drive.
If you are serious about backing up your precious photos, buy 2 or 3 external hard drives with a low failure rate from a reputable manufacturer. Copy all of your photos to the external hard drives so you have 2 or 3 drives with an identical backup of all of your photos. Use software to verify the backup copies are good. (I like FolderMatch). Once you have verified copies of all your photos on 2 or 3 different external hard drives, then and only then should you delete the photos from your computer.
Keep one external drive in a separate location, like your office, a safe deposit box, or a friend’s house.
If your precious photos are really important to you, do it like the pros. Read The 3-2-1 Photo Backup Plan.
My favorite external hard drives, the ones I use all the time, are here.
FolderMatch – folder comparison and back up comparison software
Digital Photo Storage – with links to Amazon