Moving Photos to an External Hard Drive

A client asks — I have saved all of our wedding photos from the disc to one of our computers and I would like to move them to our external hard drive. Will they lose any of their quality if I do this?

Happily, photos won’t lose any of their quality in a copy or move.  Computers normally make perfect copies when photo files are moved or copied.  Of course, it’s possible for some error to occur during the move, but that would likely result in an error message on your screen.  It’s best to check some of the photos after the move to make sure they are intact.  If there is any error, it would likely be evident as photos being unable to open, or opening with part of the image missing.

The only time you may encounter a reduction in quality is when you open a photo in an image editor and then *re-save* it.  Every save operation results in the photo being rewritten and re-compressed.  Depending on the image editor’s settings, this process can result in a degradation in quality.  Re-saving photos at the highest quality setting should result in no apparent reduction in quality.  But re-saving photos at a low or medium quality setting may result in a noticeable degradation, especially after repeated save operations.  In a worst case scenario, an image is re-saved after being resized to a small size, and then much the image detail is lost.  Whenever making any changes to a photo, it’s best to first make a duplicate and work from that duplicate, leaving the original unmodified.

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2 thoughts on “Moving Photos to an External Hard Drive

  1. “Whenever making any changes to a photo, it’s best to first make a duplicate and work from that duplicate, leaving the original unmodified.”

    I go one further — have a folder for all originals, titled appropriately as “Originals”. Make a duplicate of that folder (and it’s contents) and name it “modified”. Bam! There’s no way you’ll ever overwrite the originals with seperate folders.

  2. I agree, that’s a very good practice. I sometimes duplicate entire folders too. Giving folders clear names like that helps so that months later you instantly know which is which.

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