5 Lessons Learned While Taking Photos with My Smartphone

AKA: Smartphones do not make you smarter
If you are reading this article, you are in one of two categories – you are someone who has already lost or accidentally deleted photos on your iPhone, Android or Blackberry and regret it, or you are someone that this will happen to in the future. No matter which category you’re in, these five lessons that I have learned are meant to help you preserve those precious memories for years to come.

Lesson #1          Your phone is not invincible. Sooner or later, your phone will break, a drink will be spilled on it, it will fall in the toilet, or it will disappear. The sooner you face this fact, learn this lesson and accept it, the sooner you will remember how valuable your photos and videos truly are.

Lesson #2         The hourly wage worker at the local phone store does not care about your contacts, email accounts and photos. There is no need to get angry or upset with them because your phone broke or you spilled a beer on it (yes, they know when there is liquid damage, so don’t play the “I don’t know what happened?!?” card). The only thing that this does is make their day miserable, and you never know where that person will end up some day – they could be your next boss or son or daughter-in-law.

Lesson #3         Having an SD card or MicroSD for your phone does not make you impervious to data loss. While flash memory is great for storage, convenience and portability, over time SD cards are prone to corruption and even bad sectors. You may be familiar with error messages such as “card cannot be formatted” or the dreaded “the card is not initialized” – this is a warning sign that you need to make a backup copy of your data ASAP. Although this doesn’t mean your data is lost, the writing is on the wall. Hardware fails over time.

Lesson #4          It’s not always sunny in the cloud. Just because it’s in the cloud doesn’t mean your data is safe and secure and will never be lost. Warm fuzzy feelings aside, the cloud is not the place to store everything. Sure, you can back up some of your photos and video to the cloud, but over time you’ll start racking up huge monthly fees and are at the mercy of any pricing or rules that are subject to change without notice. There are also security risks, just ask Apple or Amazon. I have a Dropbox account for some of my files, it’s true, but I will never be able to justify storing terabytes (let alone the 550GB on our home computer) of my favorite photos, videos and music files. Create a local backup copy on an external hard drive, flash drive or even DVD.

Lesson # 5          Lastly and most importantly, BACK IT UP. No, I am not talking about the 1999 song by Juvenile. I am talking about making a copy of all of the photos and videos on your phone on a regular basis. Sound cumbersome? It’s really quite easy. With the right tools it can happen on the regular and without any disruption to your day. If you are an iPhone user, remember to regularly sync your phone to your computer – this creates a local backup copy of all your content. If you are an Android connoisseur, you can do the same thing. While you are sitting at work or sifting through Facebook and Instagram, simply let the sync run in the background. Other options for those that want to go the extra mile include; a) connecting a rugged hard drive to your computer as an additional backup b) creating a secure cloud storage network at home or the office c) a combination of onsite backup and an offsite copy (think belts and suspenders) or d) all of the above.

At the end of the day, we take more photos and videos than the storage capacity on our smartphones allows. Over time, if your phone doesn’t crash first, you’ll be forced to delete those precious memories. If you’re like most people, it’s difficult to decide which memories are important to keep and which ones are okay to delete. The real lesson here is that you can take some easy measures to preserve and protect all of those precious family photos and videos of the kids’ soccer games, grandma’s surprise visit and the pranks you played on your old buddies from school. Someday, when you’re older and feeling nostalgic, you will thank yourself for doing so.



  1. Johnny, thank you for a great article! I find that I am increasingly documenting the world and my life in it with my iPhone. They say the best camera is the one you have with you and of course I’m a basketcase without that device within reach.

    While I’ve always been adamant about the need to back up client and work files, it’s only within the last two years or so that I’ve also been using the same backup system for personal images, including the ones from my phone.

    Now everything I shoot, Canon 5DMkIII or iPhone4s (yes I need the upgrade) lives in a redundant RAID setup as well as a final backup to a fireproof/waterproof ioSafe Solo hard drive. Looking forward to the new ioSafe N2 server!!! http://iosafe.com/products-n2-overview


    • Zack Alstott says:

      Fresh site.

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *