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What’s a Photo Hub and why do I need one? - Get your photos under control!

What’s a Photo Hub and why do I need one?

Are you always a bit worried because you are not sure if your digital photos are entirely safe?

You might have digital photos in some (most? all?!) of these places:

  • your computer
  • your phone
  • on camera cards, in a Ziploc, in a drawer
  • the old broken computer in the garage
  • old phones in a drawer
  • in various cloud services – Shutterfly, Apple Photos, Walgreens, Google Photos, Dropbox, Costco Photos, Amazon Photos, OneDrive
  • old backup drives or Time Machine

Devices holding digital images

It happens! For example, I have had clients that have suffered from tech failures that resulted in photo losses. As another example, I have also worked on massive projects to rebuild a photo collection from various backup sources after a photo loss.

The solution, my friends, is to create a Photo Hub!

What is a Photo Hub?

A Photo Hub is THE ONE PLACE where every single one of your digital photos will live. While it can be right on your computer, most people do not have enough storage space for their entire collection and so an external hard drive is the typical solution.

Your Photo Hub does not have to be neat and organized. It can be an utter mess! The key to feeling calm about never losing a digital photo is that your Photo Hub is backed up. I recommend one backup that’s in your house and one that is out of your house. More on that is coming in a future blog post.

Read on for the steps needed to create your own family Photo Hub.

Purchase an external hard drive

The first step to creating your Photo Hub is to purchase an external hard drive. In my experience, most photo collections will fit onto an external hard drive that is 2 Tb in size. In addition, if you record a lot of long videos, you should estimate how much space your current collection takes in order to choose the correct size external hard drive. If you have a Mac, you do not need to pay more for a drive formatted for Mac – just format it yourself when you receive it.

I purchase my drives on Amazon. Here is a link to an Amazon search for 2 Tb external hard drives as a starting point (not an affiliate link). I personally have had good luck with Western Digital brand but you should certainly choose a brand that you are comfortable with.

Label your Photo Hub

External hard drive

The second step in creating your Photo Hub is to label your drive. In order to ensure that this drive is reserved only for your photo collection, use a marker or post-it and label your Photo Hub in big, bold letters!

Create a top-level folder on the new drive

Third, create a top level folder using your computer’s file management software (File Explorer on Windows, Finder on Mac) that makes it very clear what is contained inside. Some examples include:

    • Johnson Family Photos
    • Our Photos and Videos
    • Family Photo Collection

Create ONE folder for every source of digital photos

The fourth step is to create a separate folder for each source of digital photos. You should name these folders in a way that makes sense to you.

For items such as memory cards, assign a number to each one and use that in the folder name, such as “Camera Card 01” to “Camera Card 07”.

Conversely, for items such as phones and computers, you may find it more beneficial to include the owner’s name in the folder, for instance “Molly’s phone”,  “Tom’s old Dell”, or “Silver Toshiba backup drive”.

COPY the contents to your Photo Hub

The fifth and final step to creating your Photo Hub is to copy the files from each source into the corresponding folder on your Photo Hub. The key point here – make sure you are COPYING the contents, not moving the contents.


You’re done! You have created your very own Photo Hub! For the moment, hang on to all of those old phones, broken computers and Ziplocs full of camera cards. To clarify, these items serve as a backup of sorts.

Without a doubt, more structured backups are also needed. In a future post, I’ll explain the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy which will address making copies to keep close at hand and outside of your home.