The computer helper: Managing your digital photos
By Jay Dougherty Apr 8, 2006, 17:58 GMT
Washington - Digital cameras are great, but the mass of digital data that they create can be tough to manage.
Just finding out where your camera's software stores your digital photographs on your hard drive can be a challenge. And then deciding how you'd like to back up your photographs can be difficult, too.
Read on for some tips:
Q: The software that came with my digital camera copies photos from my camera to my Windows computer, but once the process is done, I don't know where to find the files. Where are they?
A: Most software that comes with digital cameras will copy photographs from your digital camera into the My Pictures directory on your hard drive. Windows XP includes a handy link to My Pictures right on the Start Menu. Just click the Start button, and then click My Pictures.
Q: Can I store my digital photography somewhere other than My Pictures?
A: Yes, and it's a good idea to do so. The My Pictures folder is actually located at least four levels deep on your computer's C drive. If you were to navigate to the folder using Windows Explorer, you would drill down to Documents and Settings, Your User Name, My Documents, My Pictures. Under My Pictures, the software that downloaded your photos probably created yet more folders by date or another parameter that you may or may not have specified.
There are a couple of other problems with allowing the software to put your pictures in the My Pictures folder. First, the My Pictures folder, located as it is on your C drive, may quickly cause you to run out of hard drive space, since digital images are large, and the C drive holds those photos along with everything else on your computer - applications and operating system. Second, if something catastrophic should happen to your C drive, your digital photographs - and the memories they contain - will be lost.
Q: How can I change the default location of My Pictures folder?
A: First, download Microsoft's free TweakUI program for Windows XP. It's part of the PowerToys package, but can downloaded individually at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx.
Once downloaded, install the program by double-clicking the TweakUI.exe file. When it's installed, it will show up in your Start menu under Programs, PowerToys for Windows XP.
Open TweakUI, and from the left-hand tree of items, expand the My Computer tree by clicking the plus sign (+). Then select Special Folders. In the right-hand pain, you'll see a Folder drop-down list box. From this, choose My Pictures, and then click the Change Location button. You'll receive a warning. Go ahead and click Yes, and then a Browse for Folder dialog box will open.
Navigate to the location where you wish the My Pictures folder tree stored. It's a good idea to move it off of your C drive if you have an extra hard drive or partition. Click OK.
Note that changing the location will not automatically move pictures that are stored in the previous My Pictures folder. You must move those pictures manually to the new location.
Q: I know I need to back up my digital photos, but every backup software that I've tried wants to compress them into an unusual file format that makes retrieving the images difficult. Is there a simple solution that just makes copies of the files automatically?
A: Yes, and there's good reason to steer clear of backup programs that use proprietary formats to store your images in. First, most proprietary formats are created in part to compress the data that is stored. Digital photographs taken in the popular JPEG format are already compressed, so compressing them further makes little sense and saves little or no disk space.
Of course, you can always just copy files from one location to another, but a backup program that automates the procedure is really what most people need.
Cobian Backup 7 (http://www.educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm) is a highly-regarded solution. This free backup utility will schedule and backup your files to another directory on the same computer or to another computer entirely. The program will remind you if you miss backups, or it can be set to run in a totally unattended, scheduled mode. Its interface is easy to use, and it runs natively under Windows.
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