Since the start of the digital photography era more than a generation ago, one struggle many people have faced is data storage. First it was floppy disks. For a short time it was Zip disks. For quite a while it was compact discs (CDs) (yes, “disk” is spelled two different ways), and their larger-capacity brethren, DVDs.
Eventually, many of these data storage formats fell out of favor, both because of the rise of solid-state storage like the cards in your digital cameras, and, most significantly, “the cloud.”
I have mixed feelings about cloud storage. Firstly, it uses the same business model that drug dealers use: here’s a taste, but if you want more, you’ll have to pay. Secondly, cloud storage faces the same security risks as anything else on the internet: potential data theft. Finally, the cloud is subject to the winds of commerce: one minute you have your entire photo library stored in clouddoofus.com, and the next minute it gets sold to a Bolivian coffee company.
I’m not saying that Google and Apple are verging on bankruptcy, but remember AOL?
My answer to this is a flash drive in my pocket. Sometimes called a jump drive or a thumb drive, these portable digital storage devices have been around for a while, and have been getting cheaper and have increased in capacity dramatically. Presently, I have a 512 gigabyte drive in my pocket, which is the same storage capacity as the internal solid-state drive in my laptop. On it, I have stored much of my photographic life.
Flash drives have mostly catered to laptop and desktop users, but there are a number of applications for smartphones that will let us use these drives there, too.
The flash drive scene isn’t without risk as well: they are small, such that it might be easy to misplace them or lose them, so I don’t recommend keeping anything sensitive on them.
So, if you can hang on to them, and it fits your style, a flash drive can hold pretty much all of your digital life.