Tech Insight: Facebook is for Sharing, Not Storing

When was the last time you held an actual photo album or a printed photograph in your hand? Maybe you look back at older photographs only when Facebook’s TimeHop app reminds you of a pic from five years ago? If so, you may be risking your visual history.

Privacy concerns, or concerns around Social Media in general not-withstanding, Facebook is a great way to share photos with friends and family around the world. You ge to enjoy their comments and the affirmation of their likes. But using Facebook as a storage medium for your photos is NOT a good play, and here’s why.

Some people treat Facebook as their photo album archive. They delete the originals from their devices or digital camera when they need more space. But Facebook compresses images for faster download. It satisfies impatient social media users, which means photo quality suffers. If you wanted to print those photos in the future, they wouldn’t look as good as the originals.

That’s not the only drawback. When you trust Facebook with all your photos, you’re allowing that company to control your visual archive. It’s hard to imagine, given Facebook’s reach today, but what happens to your photos if the company goes out of business? The people who were using MySpace to manage their photos in 2006 might have an idea.

The younger users amoung us are already moving onto other social platforms. Plus, Facebook’s tremendous growth rate in North America and Europe is slowing thanks to it’s already increadible market share. Those daily active users, a segment of which I definately am not, are their primary source of revenue. You know Mark Zuckerberg is in some meetings every day about that.

Even if Facebook continues as the business behemoth it is today, we don’t know what policy changes it might make. It could change its terms of service whenever it wanted (if you even read those in the first place). Users have ZERO guarantee for how long Facebook will store their images, or any sort of content for that matter (how ironic, that I will be sharing this on Facebook).

Keep in mind also, that many of the photos showing up in your timeline are actually taken by friends. Facebook provides an entire album of other people’s photos when they’ve tagged you, but if those same people decide to untag you or remove said photo, that photo is then lost to you.

Finally, there’s also the risk of your account getting shutdown or compromised. You’ve probably had friends warn you not to accept any new friend requests from them because they’ve been compromised. you wouldn’t want a thief to steal all your photo albums. Similarly, you dint want a cybercriminal to gain access to all your images (check your privacy settings).

Recommendations

Just as with data, I want to recommend you have a “3-2-1” backup system for your digital photographs. This means having three copies of the photos you care about. you don’t need to backup the blurry ones if you don’t want to.

You may want to keep one copy on the original device, but you should have two other copies of the high-quality (uncompressed) original images as well. One you might keep on an external storage device (please encrypt this), and the other you could upload to cloud storage.

the cloud backup gives you access to the photos from any device from any location. So, if your home is hit by a disaster (water leak, fire, flood, hurricane) or theft, or you lose your device somehow, you still have a backup. Your Facebook photos and videos are just there to be shared with friends and family.

Not sure where or how to safely store your photos and videos? Reach out to me via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and I’d be happy to provide some guidance.

One Final Thought

Last year I took a customer’s hard drive into a data recovery lab that we work with. While there, I had a conversation with a young lady who had a little girl that looks about the same age as my daughter.

She was there in the hopes that they could recover photos from her iPhone. Her husband, herself, and their daughter had been away on vacation and her phone was dropped into the pool. She had been having them saved to iCloud, but her husband had (for some reason unknown to her) cancelled the service. Her phone was what she always used to take photos.

Her daughter was almost two, and as a result of the phone being damaged beyond recovery (which it was) and the iCloud subscription having been cancelled, her entire visual record of the first two years of her daughters life was lost.

I cannot even imagine being in that position, and the conversations I’m sure that would follow.

I am a huge advocate for redundant, and regularly tested, backups. A backup that is untested, is worthless.

Please remember: Storage is cheap. Data (or in this case your photos) is priceless.

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