How to get your photos back from an old computer

Overall we take over 1,000 billion photos per year, according to Rise Above Research, with the average American taking about 1,000 photos per year. Although most of these photos are rarely seen again, they may still contain special memories.

I recently told my cousin about a candid photo of our parents taken awkwardly in the middle of the action, standing in front of my Christmas tree, not knowing their photo was taken. Once I described it, my cousin wanted to see it, and so did I – realized it had been years since I had seen it. I had assumed it was in one of the twelve photo albums in my living room, but soon realized that this photo, along with hundreds of others from my daughter’s childhood, was on the one of my two retired laptops.

I’m willing to bet you have memories like this too, photos stashed on old hard drives or a laptop that you haven’t used in years and that is collecting dust in the back of your closet. Like me, you probably took these photos before you had a smartphone. I painstakingly downloaded every photo from my digital camera to my laptop.

I assumed the only way to move these photos was to manually drag them to a USB drive – a project I often started but never completed – even during a pandemic. It’s as tedious as downloading songs from a CD to your iPod.

It turns out that you are not alone. “Using a USB flash drive is the most common and easiest method, but also the most time consuming,” explains Nicci Trovinger, director of product marketing for Windows at Microsoft.

My situation is not unique. “It’s a common problem, especially for millennials who have owned multiple laptops,” says Jessica Carrell, co-founder of AnySoftwareTools, a tech site that offers computer tips and tutorials. “Many of us don’t realize that precious data is stored in our old laptops. “

Fortunately, there are easier ways to get those old photos back and save them so that you can share them with your friends and family today. Here are a few.

Problem: Your old laptop is too old to have built-in cloud access.

Solution: If your laptop is connected to the internet, you can upload files from your laptop to a photo storage platform like Dropbox or Shutterfly.

“Usually the most convenient way to sync files from your laptop is to use a platform like OneDrive or Dropbox, as these services provide an app that you can download to your computer,” says Sean Fortner, Cloud Engineer. at Theorem, an IT services company. These apps allow faster download speeds because you can group photos into folders and move multiple files at once.

Problem: Your laptop’s operating system is too old to support the photo storage app or service you want to use.

Solution: You may need to manually download and install the latest software updates for your old laptop first.

Even if it’s been a few years since you updated your operating system, there’s a good chance you can update your operating system to support a photo app, Fortner says. Even if you don’t update to the latest version of the operating system on your old computer, you will only need the security updates and fixes that are required to install the service.

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