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I pooled together my photos from an old external hard drive, various Picasa Web caches, flickr, flash drives, and an old computer. They're all on my external hard drive, using extremely creative labeling, like allpictures pixix pix2 images familyphotos and so on (hey, I was 7 when I organized them last). My computer's hard drive can die at any minute, and the external is new but who knows what that means?

I am planning to start reorganizing these picture, probably by face or time. I have Bridge CS5, Picasa, etc., but which one is the most likely to not crash and burn like my Vista laptop did with a ZIP file filled with pictures of a funeral?

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Could you clarify if you are looking for an online service or a computer application? – sound2man Feb 4 '11 at 23:07
@sound2man If there is an online service that can organize and backup images better than any desktop application, I would prefer that. – digitxp Feb 5 '11 at 14:29
See my answer. Services can be discontinued or its terms can be changed. Just ask Arjan how much fun he had changing all his SuperUser posts with embedded images from a soon commercial service to imgur. Online only is the worst possible option. – Daniel Beck Feb 6 '11 at 9:17
Have you made progress on this topic, and if so, care to share? – Daniel Beck Jun 11 '11 at 19:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Don't rely on the internal organization of photo management software or web services. They can be abandoned, or discontinued.

Don't rely on features specific to certain operating systems (i.e. no tagging or color labels in OS X). You might want or need to change operating system in the future.

Use a hierarchical folder structure that makes sense to you. You can easily mirror this e.g. to Dropbox or a similar service for sharing and offsite backup.

Store the images in a common format, such as JPEG, that is in little danger of being abandoned down the road.

Use backup software or create multiple copies of your image "database".

Just keep it simple.

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I guess my question was a bit too subjective. I want them to be organized in a way that makes sense for me, so that I neither have to worry nor think about my image collection. My OCD really doesn't need new frontiers to explore ;-). – digitxp Feb 6 '11 at 15:37
@digitxp This answer is about the technical aspects, as I thought you meant time-proof in the sense of technological advances and choices like offline/online -- I can't provide any information regarding your actual organization. – Daniel Beck Feb 6 '11 at 16:07

Go through them by hand, figure out what and when they are, and batch rename files and folders appropriately. (With a good batch renamer you may be able to get it to pull EXIF data to date images, at least.) This is the equivalent of nuking it from orbit; it's the only way to be sure. (Hey, you didn't ask for the EASIEST way, just the most reliable!)

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