Digital cameras and smartphones have made this the most photographed generation of all time. Unfortunately, these memories may be lost to the digital dark age. Here’s how to ensure your digital memories remain safe with a proper 3-2-1 backup plan and taking advantage of Shutterfly’s free prints.

Is the Digital Dark Age warning real?

First, what is the Digital Dark Age? Computer and data specialists refer to this era of lost data as the “Digital Dark Ages” because the digital information we are creating right now may not be readable by machines and software programs of the future. All that data is at risk of never being recoverable. I personally experience this back in the 90s when I stored my images on removable EZDrives by SyQuest and Zip drives by Iomega. Fortunately, I transferred the data to modern hard drives before the units became obsolete. At the same time, I also transferred my family’s 16mm videos to VHS that was later transferred to the digital MP4 format. So, like it or not, the digital dark age warning is real.

Creating a bulletproof 3-2-1 Backup system

The concept is simple — three copies of your data: Two stored locally and one stored off-site preferable a cloud service like Backblaze or CrashPlan. It’s a simple concept that works. I’ve written dozen of articles on the 3-2-1 backup system and even compiled them to a free eBook, “Building a Bulletproof Backup Plan for Photographers.” Take about 10 minutes to read the eBook, then apply the suggestions to keep your data safe.

Download a free copy of “Building a Bulletproof Backup for Photographers”

Shutterfly’s answer to the Digital Dark Age: Free Prints

Another solution is Shutterfly’s answer to combating the Digital Dark Age, Free Prints. That’s right — free 4×6 prints. What’s the catch? You have to order the prints from Shutterfly’s mobile app using images taken with your smartphone or images uploaded to your Shutterfly photo albums from your computer. Is offering free prints cost effective for the company? Since the company is in business to make money, they offer free prints in hopes you love their quality and order other products, which in my case worked. Who wouldn’t want to give their adorable niece a larger print or a pillow with a photo you took of them or a coffee mug with a photo of you and your amazing sister? Their marketing strategy works PLUS you will always have a hard copy of the images safe from the digital dark age.

Aircam plus Shutterfly equals a great combination

Lately, I’ve been testing out Aircam for event photography — check out my first look article. Aircam is a unique tool for event photographers. Imagine photographing an event — weddings, charity, sporting — and giving guests instant access to every image sent to their smartphone or the ability to create a permalink to share on social media. Once the guest downloads your image to their smartphone, they can upload those images to Shutterfly and receive free 4×6 prints! The event coordinator thinks the photographer is a hero and pays them an extra fee, the guest is happy to instantly see their images and get free prints and last, Shutterfly has the chance to increase their sales. All working together to help prevent a Digital Dark Age.

Give it a try and leave a comment below to let us know how it worked for you.