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How to Organize Your Digital Photos

Bringing order to the chaos of digital pics.

4. Utilize photo websites
But don’t trust just any old site. Before you upload, make sure you know the terms -- will they delete the pictures if you don’t buy within a certain period of time? And be sure to use a reputable site like Shutterfly.com or Apple.com/MobileMe since you never know when the smaller ones might go under. Flickr.com is a simple way to share and organize your photos via the web. Create online albums, then add notes and tags (and even let your friends add tags) to label each photo. The tags are all searchable, making your photos easy to find. No matter what you choose, though, know that you need more than just a website as your backup.

5. Get yourself some hardware
An external hard drive is great for extra storage and will allow you to have those images for years to come. Many available hard drive models have “push button” backup and can hold 100 to 500GB of photos, video, data, and music. That’s a lot of data. It sort of makes spending a couple hundred dollars to protect those pictures you call priceless more than a fair trade. For a Mac or PC, an iPod can be used as a hard drive, holding as many as 25,000 for an 80GB iPod -- keep in mind though that the number of photos depends on the size of the photo file. Plus, you can view slideshows -- perfect for showing off pics to visiting relatives. We also like the travel-friendly 640GB Western Digital Passport Portable Drive ($130, WesternDigital.com) -- that’s enough memory for 128,000 photos! Or go to CNet.com, one of our favorite tech sites, for a more educated choice.

6. Make hard copies
Of course the beauty of digital cameras is that you don’t have to waste the time or money printing an entire roll of film. But if you want to have print photos as part of your backup plan, or for long-term storage, make sure the inks and paper are archival quality. To do this, take your camera’s memory card, or a CD or DVD, with all your images into a drugstore or camera shop to have them printed. Or upload them onto an online service. Home photo printers have come a long way, but when it comes to pictures that you want to last, your best bet will be to let a professional handle the print job.

Get more organizing tips from the experts!

-- Natalie Ermann Russell

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