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How should I file my family photos to keep them safe for the future? 

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Q: I have so many photographs of my children — thousands! — and I don't know what to do with them. They are all over the place: on Facebook, Instagram, my phone, Shutterfly, my computer, the cloud. I want to keep them safe for the future, but it feels completely overwhelming. Help!

A: You are not alone. Taking pictures with our mobile devices is so quick and easy that it's hard to know what to do with all of these images.

The first step in organizing your photos is to figure out where you want to store them. The platforms you mentioned — Facebook, Instagram, your phone — are all impermanent options; you can't guarantee they will be there tomorrow.

My advice is to create space on your home computer hard drive and then select a back-up option "in the cloud," which is simply a mysterious way of describing server space owned by companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft where you can store data.

Next, decide how you want to prioritize the images you plan to save and how often you'll transfer them to your hard drive and to the cloud. One option is to spend an hour each month going through the images you've taken that month and saving the best ones. That should help you feel less overwhelmed.

The good news is that companies such as 23snaps, Familio and Vermont's own Notabli are working to help families solve this problem. The Notabli app allows you to share photos with family and friends easily, store them so they're searchable, and export them — all while giving you control of privacy settings. It's a great way to keep everything in one place. Good luck! 

Elaine Young is the author of Tuned-In Family: How to Cope, Communicate & Connect in a Digital World, and is a professor at Champlain College, where she specializes in digital marketing and social media. Got a question about navigating the digital world with your family? Send it to


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Digital Dilemmas