By Richard Singleton

Your home data storage options


Summer is flying by, and the only thing growing faster than your electric bill is the massive digital history book of pics piling up on all your devices. Oh, and that mountainous summit of schoolwork that you’ve been promising to sort through since the first day of summer break. It’s still there, but I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.


“They”once said computers would simplify life, would make work more efficient and give us more leisure time. “They”also once said the world was flat. Sometimes “they”—whoever they are—get it wrong.


Well, take courage. All is not lost. You don’t have to erase your oh-too-cute selfies. Oops, I mean you don’t have to erase your amazing pictures of summer vacation. You don’t have to scrap your refrigerator Michaelangelo. You don’t have to recycle the glorious reminders of kindergarten. You don’t even have to cull away the fading glimpses of elementary school. But, it might be a great idea to preserve them digitally and then bid them adieu (I’m preaching at myself here, if you can’t tell…and my kids are well past their finger-painting years!).


You can scan those precious reminders of childhood, archive your videos of school plays, catalog your amazing football game snapshots and store away the choir performances for when your song bird spreads her wings and flies away to stardom…or karaoke.


Properly stored, your house and devices will be all tidy again, and you’ll have the assurance that even if disaster strikes, you’ll still have your timeless memories a click away, ready to brighten a rainy day, poised for the senior slide show or maybe even filed away for a little bribery somewhere along the way.


You have a wide range of options for freeing up space on your devices and around the house. Following are a few key approaches that, depending on your level of tech skills and your comfort zone, will open the door to a more organized, less cluttered existence.


The cloud. Some folks are squeamish about having their personal information uploaded into the ether, but for many, this is an option that just works. There are many different services out there, both free and subscription based.

Google, for instance, now offers 1TB of storage for only $9.99 per month. Wow! With a small download on your device and a few simple setup steps, you can have your pics, papers and Picassos uploaded in a jiffy. And, if you set up these cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive to back up automatically, soon you’ll not even have to worry much about your device becoming bloated with media to begin with.


External hard drives. Some people are traditionalists, and that’s okay. These are the folks who—perish the thought—actually like to read books made out of paper. I’m sometimes in this tribe. There’s an option for those who prefer the actual sky to one measured in bits and bytes. You don’t have to store your media in the cloud to keep it organized, accessible and safe.


This time of year, there are the all-too-familiar news stories of families who’ve lost their precious keepsakes due to floods, wild fires, tornadoes and hurricanes. What do you grab when you can only hold a handful of belongings? What if you didn’t need to grab any of your most important papers and pictures because they were already stored safely in the lock box at the bank? But, they don’t make them that big, right?


A good plan to keep your precious memories safe and sound if you don’t want to keep them stored online, is to make several copies of your most important pictures, paperwork and other digital files and store them in safe locations that diversify the risk of losing them.


USB flash drives are an economical way, if you don’t need hundreds of gigabytes or more. Buy name brand products, fill them with your files and store them at the bank or with a trusted friend or relative. If you need larger storage options, you can easily get multi-terabyte external hard drives for less than it would cost to fill up your SUV for your July 4th trip.


A cloud compromise. For those who like the convenience of cloud services, but who don’t want their information hitchhiking out on the information superhighway, there’s another option, a bit of a compromise: your own personal, in-house cloud storage. This option takes a bit more doing than the other options, but it’s not too bad. Sometimes called a NAS device (Network Attached Storage), personal cloud storage really is just a glorified external hard drive that is connected to your home network, allowing your devices, computers—and other external hard drives, if you like—to be connected in a seamless, ongoing way. Snap a picture, and presto: it’s both on your phone and immediately uploaded to your personal cloud. It lives in your house and not in the ether.


One of my favorite Christmas movies is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s a silly movie of course, but the scene where Clark has accidentally locked himself in the attic and finds himself tearfully soaking up 8mm memories is such a powerful reminder of our need to preserve the past as we march headlong into the future.


Seize the day. Find a way to free up space on your phone, to filter through all the piles of paperwork and to preserve what’s most precious to all of us—our memories of growing children, blessed intersections of life and joyful celebrations of our unique place in the world.

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