Jan 032013

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution that you can keep right now!  Back up all your pictures from 2012.  Picasa makes it easy.  I recommend using DVDs for this backup, but you can use a USB Hard Drive, or USB thumb drives if you really want.  I like disks for 2 reasons:

  1. Once you burn the DVD, you cannot accidentally delete or overwrite the pictures on there
  2. You don’t use the disk for anything else.  Burn your backups and then put the disks away in a safe place.

Make a New Backup Set

Open Picasa and click the Tools menu and Backup Pictures.  You should now see some options open up at the bottom of your screen.  There is a box #1 and a box #2.  In #1 you should see an option to use an existing backup set, or create a new one.  You need to create a new one here for the complete year of 2012.  You have your choice to backup to CD/DVDs or to an external drive.  Give it a meaningful name like 2012 Complete.


Once you click ‘Create’ you now need to select every folder of pictures that were taken in 2012.  Just click the checkbox in front of each folder that contains pictures from the past year.  In my case that is each monthly folder (201201, 201202, 201203 etc.) plus all the special event folders I made during the year (Cozumel Diving, Disney World with Grandkids, etc.)


The blue status line tells you exactly how many folders you have selected, how many files are in those folders, the size in Gigabytes of all the files you’ve selected, and finally, how many CDs or DVDs you will need.  In my case, I need 6 DVDs.  Make sure you have the DVDs handy, insert the first one, then click the Burn button.  When Picasa fills up the first disk, it will ask you for the next one.  It will keep asking until the entire backup set is finished.

You’re not Done Yet!

Whenever you make any kind of backup, you’re not done until you test it.  There’s nothing worse than believing you have a good backup and not finding out that it didn’t work until you need it.  It’s best to use a different computer for this, but if you only have the one, that’s fine too.  Just take one of the disks and put it in the drive.  It will initially pop up with a dialog box asking if you want to Restore – no, you don’t – so just click Cancel button.  What you want to do is simply Explore your disk.  You should see a folder named $pictures, open that and you should see your folders.  Open a couple of folders to check that there are indeed pictures inside.  If so, then you’re all set.  Put the disks away in a safe place and give yourself a pat on the back!

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website.  There are lots of tutorial videos on editing your pictures with Picasa’s tools.  The first 3 are free for all to view.  To see all of them, you need a Geeks On Tour membership.  It’s only $7/mo or $58/yearly.  Join Today!

If you are a member, here are some videos about backups:

  1. Backup Last Year’s Pictures
  2. Backup to External Hard Drive
  3. Move Folders of Pictures to an External Drive
  4. Backup your Photos to CD
  5. Backup Monthly to Disk (CD or DVD)
  6. Get one Picture from a Backup

  12 Responses to “Backup Last Year’s Pictures”

  1. I follwed your directions last night on backupi and it worked awesome with one problem. I actually am merging two laptops (one is only starting up in safemode) onto a new laptop that just got delivered. I had no problems with one of the laptops and all of those files transferred just fine. The laptop in saftemode gave me a problem. It took 11 discs to backup and disc # 1 did not load….

    I figured that maybe I just had a bad DVD so I rebuilt the file and attemped to burn it again… For some reason this disc is not burning but # 2 – # 11 had no problems…. I used a new DVD this morning.

    Any suggestions?

  2. I have been trying to backup and it will work fine and then it comes to a certain picture and I get an error message. I send that picture to the trash (because I don’t know how to fix it.) I start over and it goes for awhile and then same thing happens with another picture. All the pictures were taken with the same camera and I don’t have a problem if I make a gift CD. This will take me hours to do this. Does anyone know anything about this problem?

    • Well – I think you’re on the right track. When a backup process stops it is usually because of some corruption, usually a video file in my experience. But if you’ve identified the file and removed it … several times … then maybe it’s a corrupted spot on your computer’s hard drive. Try running a CheckDisk scan on your disk. You’ll find that in Windows ‘My Computer’ right click on the C drive and choose Properties then the Tools tab. You should see ‘Check for Errors.’ If you don’t find it, ask a geeky friend.

      • I was expecting to spend hours today deleting all the pictures that wouldn’t copy. I just spent $100.00 a month ago having my computer cleaned up and clearly they didn’t run the check you recommended. It worked and I was able to backup my pictures.

        Chris, thanks so much for the help and for saving me more money for computer repair. I am very grateful.

        Do you know if Google is planning on anymore changes is Picasa? I love your tab idea and I wondered if they have given up on the updates.

        • I tried to make another set and I got the error message again. I ran the Check Disk again and then tried to backup. The Dick Check didn’t solve the problem this time. It keeps writing about 50 percent and then I get the error message again. Where do I go from here?

          • In CheckDisk did you check the box that reads ‘scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors’ It takes longer but does more. Sounds like your hard drive is going bad. You may have to take it somewhere, or get a new computer.
            Any further discussion needs to be on our members’ forum:
            As for Picasa updates, I don’t know any more than anyone else. It does seem like they’re way overdue for a Picasa 4.0. I think they’re putting they’re energies into their online product at google+ photos.

  3. thanks Chris! good news. so i am wondering, where is this ini file? It gets created after I use picasa ? in what folder? The album is created from pictures in different folders so where do I find the file?

  4. Hi, is there a way to back up your pictures with all of the settings, tags and albums you created?
    I have soooooo many pics that I actually have to keep deleting them from my harddisk and back them up in couple of externat disks. I am just deciding wheather to use picasa for organizing but I am not sure if the information you create with albums, stars etc, is done in the actual file or only in picasa (which is just not meaningful once the picture is moved, vs. software reinstalled)

  5. How is this different then making a gift CD?

    • A gift CD is a copy of the edited pictures saved as new files. They may also be smaller file sizes than the originals, depending on the options chosen. A gift CD also includes software to play slideshows.
      A backup is the original pictures along with the editing information in the picasa.ini. If any of the edited pictures have been saved, then the backup gets the saved copy plus the hidden folder of originals. The backup disk includes software to Restore.

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