Protecting digital momentos

Houston company preserves, protects digital files

HOUSTON – What do people do with all the pictures they take? Is their computer desktop a cluttered mess? Maybe they print them out and keep them in photo boxes. One Houston company wants to help those troubled photographers clean up their digital chaos.

Think Geek Squad on steroids. Technicians with Doorstep Digital come to people to help them organize, preserve and protect their digital files.

"We come across clients who often say, 'Great, I'm going to take this hard drive or this USB stick, put it in my safety deposit box and we're good.' And that will fail," said owner of Doorstep Digital Jack Perry.

Fires, thefts, floods and other emergencies can wipe out a computer's hard drive and everything saved in it in one sad swoop. When photographer enthusiast Ron Lott and his daughter called Doorstep Digital, Lott had 6,000 photos in one folder on his computer.

"Which was totally unmanageable," Lott told consumer expert Amy Davis. "So if I wanted to find one, there's no way to look through 6,000 and find it."

His daughter, Kelley Phillips, discovered Doorstep Digital on Facebook to get help for her dad with software she didn't understand either, like Smug Mug and Light Room.

"I initally hired them to train me to do it, and that's what they did," Lott said.

After getting organized, the company recommended protecting pictures and files by backing them up in not one or two, but four places. Perry said files should be saved on two separate physical drives and two clouds.

"If you've got priceless data, you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket," he told Davis.

Doorstep Digital doesn't sell storage devices or cloud space. That is paid for separately.

Prices with the company start at $190 for a tech to spend two hours at a home on basic organization and software lessons. They can go up to $2850 for a full day with three archivists and special equipment to preserve photo collections.

"It's a lot more expensive to lose your photos or to have them corrupted and have to pay for recovery," Perry said.