I used to think that the advent of digital photography would mean a huge savings in time and effort in keeping images safe and organized.
There are times, now, when I think that cataloging and storing negatives was not as much of an issue as keeping up with digital files.
In the "old days," one had to cut negs into manageable strips of five or six frames, label a negative sleeve, slip in the strips, put it in a binder and that was that. It took time and binders or boxes of negatives did begin to take a considerable amount of storage space.
Digital files ought to be simple, right? Remember that rule number one of digital photography is to save your images in a safe place and then make a back-up file. Back-up files on CD or DVD don't take up that much room but I am still dubious as to the long-term expectations of CD and DVD discs.
Many of us learned the hard way years back that the adhesive labels just don't work. We also know that Sharpie markers aren't the way to go, either. It seems to me that spending the extra dollars on LiteScribe discs is the way to go.
I use Photoshelter, (www.photoshelter.com,) as both an off-site storage facility for important images and also as a great way to display photo galleries and offer images for sale.
As my daughter and I become more involved in our studio work to augment our photojournalism jobs, I am once again looking to get our Web sites cleaned up and make it easier for customers to locate and purchase images.
Hard drives are a great thing but I am quickly becoming a believer in off-site archiving. Not only are your images safe, they are available to you no matter where you are. As cell phones such as the Droid and iPhone become more popular along with iPads and similar devices, the ability to access your images from any computer-type device anywhere and any time will become more necessary for serious photographers.
No matter what your method of saving and storing images, I cannot begin to stress the importance of getting your precious photographs off your computer and backed up. If you have not, yet, learned that lesson the hard, you will.
Remember, the question will all hard drives is not if they will fail, but when.