Laura’s Photo Album Project: Step 1 (Organize Hard Drive)

Without a doubt, this photo album project is the most mastive, time consuming project I have ever tried to complete. But I know it’s going to be the most worthwhile project, by far! I’ve talked about this massive project on my Instagram, especially in stories, but I thought making a step-by-step guide would be easier to follow if you wanted to take on your own photo album project.

I’ve wanted to revamp my family’s photo albums ever since I saw this post from Elise Cripe years ago. At my parent’s house, we have photos in multiple locations. Some are in boxes. Some are in the original envelopes (old school photos, etc.). And some are in mismatched albums. The bummer about all of these different types of storage is that they are all not acid-free and are causing damage to the photos over time. Another bummer is that they are never looked at. We have several generations of memories that never get loved and enjoyed. My plan for this project is to take all of these photos from an unorganized, unprotected mess to a beautiful shelf of acid-free, organized albums sorted by family (Mom’s side, Dad’s side, Grant’s family, etc.) and by year.

Another one of my plans for this project to is scan in every photo, so we have a digital copy in case anything were ever to happen to the original. An added bonus to this plan is that I can send them to families members, so everyone can enjoy the photographs. Before this can happen, I need to tackle my mess of a hard drive.

Which brings us to Step 1: ORGANIZE THE HARD DRIVE.

If I’m being honest, this is the most difficult and boring part of the project. So if you’re going to start here, like me, don’t give up yet! I’m embarrassed to even admit this because of what a disaster it is, but I have a crazy, insane, ridiculous amount of photos on my hard drive. At the start of this project, I had over _ photos on my external hard drive! These photos are from 10+ years of owning a digital camera and camera phone. Some are from scanning in old family photos. Some are screenshots and random other things I had on my iPhone. And some are from my family members cameras.

And they are an absolute mess. Folders, inside folders, inside folders. Thousands upon thousands of duplicates from plugging my camera into the computer and accidentally saving duplicate copies. If you were to ask me to show you some photos from my trip to Paris, it would take me a very long time to sort through all the folders to try to find them. So to me, getting this giant mess under control is the first step in the photo album project.

Two things needed to happen to this hard drive. The first was that all the duplicate photos need to be found and deleted. The second is that all the photos need to be sorted into folders by the year the photo was taken.

To find all the duplicate photos, I downloaded a program called Duplicate Photo Fixer Pro. I originally bought it on my Mac Book because it was on sale for $.99, but then realized that I couldn’t access my Windows folders that were on the hard drive using my Apple computer. I was going to have to buy another version on my PC laptop to access the files. Before buying it, I ended up contacting their customer service and they were really great. They gave me a code to transfer my purchase to my other computer. So I didn’t need to purchase it again. I downloaded it to my PC laptop and opened it up.

The software found over 80,000 duplicate files on my hard drive. I can’t imagine trying to find and delete these all on my own without the program. The program has the option to delete all or manually select. I do not recommend deleting all, as convenient as that may be. It finds files that similar and that it thinks are matches. Most are exact copies, but some are just very similar photos. For example, there could be two photos of a person, but one has their eyes closed and one has their eyes open. If you auto-delete, it could delete the one with their eyes open and leave you with of photos of them mid-blink.

Here comes the tedious part. I have to manually review and click every single photo I want to delete. This has been taking hours. I’ve spent more time on this than I think a sane person would, but I know it will be worth it in the end. These photos mean so much to me that it’s worth my time to organize and take care of them.

After I finish deleting all the duplicates, it will be time to sort them into their permanent folders. My plan for this hard drive is to have a folder for every year (that has photos), the months within that year, and then the weeks starting with Monday within those months. I’ve started this already, so I know it works for me. I’ll probably only use the week folders for 2016, 2017, 2018, and the following years. This system is really helpful for scrapbooking, so I like it. If you don’t want to use it for that purpose, the years and months will probably be all you need.

If I went on a trip or had a big event during a month, I’ll have a separate fold with the location or event. Like August  2017 will have my Paris and Longer folders in a separate folder. And January 2018 will have my wedding photos in a separate folder. It’s going to be time consuming to set up, but so easy to maintain in the future. I’ll just have to save my photos from my phone or camera directly into the correct folder. And it’s going to make it really easy to find specific photos.

Once these two (giant) tasks are completed, the hard drive will be done and ready for the next step!

Have you tackled a project like this? Or have you been avoid it like me? Would you ever start a big organization project like this? If so, what questions do you have about it? Also, please let me know if you have an insane amount of photos on your hard drive! xo. Laura


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