About one-third of digital camera users in the UK are not backing up their photographs, reveals research.
Many people now own a digital camera or camera phone
But at the same time, the survey of 2,227 consumers revealed 89% of those quizzed now own a digital camera or camera-phone.
And just under half are taking more than 10 snaps each month.
Information security company Symantec, who commissioned the poll, said there was a huge potential cache of digital images that could be lost.
Lee Sharrocks, consumer sales director of Symantec UK, said: "Digital photography has continued to grow rapidly in both popularity and volume, and with many people now taking more than 400 photos a year, we appear to have some budding photographers in the UK.
"Unfortunately it only takes one computer virus or accident to critically damage a PC, with the possible result of losing stored data forever."
The survey also found that people are changing the ways they view their snaps.
The traditional photo album may be in demise; about seven out of 10 are printing less than a quarter of their images, while 30% said that they did not print out any hard-copies.
Photographers are increasingly turning to the internet to upload their pictures.
The report found 17% were backing their pictures up online on sites such as Flickr and Photobucket, which enable people to save and share their images with fellow net users.
Nearly 40% said they used e-mail to send their pictures to friends.
John Long, from the Digital Imaging Group of the Royal Photographic Society, said the digital camera and the internet had changed the face of photography.
"People don't print their pictures any more - they put them on their computer or on a CD. Technology has moved on and lots of people would now prefer to look at their pictures one at a time on a TV or computer screen."
He added that he was not surprised that more people were taking more photos with their digital camera.
"It's so easy now. In the past, every time you put a colour negative film in and pressed the button, it was costing you money.
BACKING UP YOUR SNAPS
Experts recommend keeping a second copy of images
They could be stored on a second hard-drive
CDs and DVDs can also hold pictures
Other media, such as MP3 players can store snaps
Online albums are also becoming increasingly popular
The traditional album is another option
"With a digital camera you can take as many pictures as you like - most memory cards will take perhaps 200 pictures - so when you get back home you can delete the ones that are no good."
But, he said, this didn't necessarily mean the standard of photography was improving.
Another report by research company IDC has revealed US shipments of digital cameras grew by 17% in the last quarter, totalling 6.3 million units.
Do you back up your precious pictures? Let us know using the form below
Of course I back up. But something else worries me: will I still be able to view them in, say, 50 years time? Already most documents from the early days of PCs (1985-ish) can't be read by modern software anymore. And that's just 20 years ago. Photographs from a century ago can be viewed without any help or technology. Will my digital photographs still be readable by next century's computers? Judging by the history of the PC's hardware and software, the answer is very probably "Ah, no, sorry. JPG is completely outdated nowadays. Nobody uses that anymore."
Rien Post, Ithaca, Greece
Security firms may be trying to scare people about backing up photos, but how many people ever backed up their film-based photos? Most people kept the negatives and the prints in the same envelope.
I photograph as part of my paid job -- and I also take thousands of pictures a month for my own enjoyment. There are very few photos I take which I couldn't go out and reshoot if I needed to. As equipment and technique improves, a lot of my images from three years ago are probably no longer worth keeping anyway.
I do agree that those few, special images should be backed up -- preferably off-site.
Martin Turner, Birmingham UK
No! Terribly disorganised. Only do it when my memory card is full and I have to clear some space.
Thembi, London, England
I backup up my whole computer by taking an image of it each week. I also place a copy of this on an external drive. This way if the computer is stolen or breaks I can get up an running on a new computer in around one hour.I work in IT and regarding backups you can be sure of one thing: It is not a case of if you will need a backup - it is a case of when. A computer is nearly guaranteed to experience a disc crash or massive corruption at some point in it's life. Backing up is not an option if you don't want to lose anything off your computer.
Guy, Cambridge UK
I store my pictures on my PC and upload my photo to my BT account which can then be viewed online by friends family or the anyone if I allow public access. This is so important, one virus or accidental press of the delete button and you could lose the lot. Be warned!
Stuart, Chelmsford, UK
Yes - I installed a second hard drive in my PC that I use exclusively to back up my data. This year I have recovered from a motherboard failure and more recently a hard drive failure, but in both cases I didn't lose any pictures!
Jim White, Brentwood, Essex
I back up all my information (photos included) to a 2nd hard drive each night, and to DVDrom every month.
Laptop users, especially, are way too confident on their gadgets' robustness. Drop it, have it stolen, and part of your life's work and memory are gone forever.
Juan Pechiar, Montevideo, Uruguay
It's taken a major event to prompt me in to backing-up my pictures. The recent birth of my son means that I'm now taking plenty of snaps; which I don't wish to lose.
Tony Anderson, Newport, South Wales
I print off ALL my pictures and store them in a box under the bed. That way I don't have to worry about internet security trojan worms and the like.
John Ringer, Cheshunt, UK
Absolutely after almost losing several thousand photos when my laptop crashed , all my photos are now stored online on my web server and on 2 additional computers one PC one mac and also on DVD's. Picture of my newborn son may be worth little in monetary terms but the embaressment factor when he weds will be worth every penny
robert smith, rheinfelden switzerland
Since I went "properly" digital with a high end digital SLR 14 months ago my annual shots numbered about 10,000. I could never have afforded that with my old film camera.
My love of photography was been seriously rekindled and the quality of my work has seriously improved.
Simon Colliss, Brugg, Switzerland
When clearing my late father's house I found a shoe box with old photo's going back many generations of the family. These pictures are absolutely priceless. In these days of digital photography where we delete this and that, these records will never be kept. I do have a digital camera and copy every picture to a CD ROM. These are actually kept in the same shoe box..!!
Dudley Piggott, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
I back my digital photos every 6 months onto disc, from the folders that I have them saved into. The thought of having all the photos downloaded into one huge area would do my head in! I would have thought that I take up to 600 photos a year. Between my partner and myself we went away for 10 days and took 700 photos.
Yvonne Nobrega, Dover, Kent
I think it will be ok if we lose a couple of billion photos of chopped off heads and red eyes.
Mike Bethany, Orlando, USA
I know people who have lost all their photos, so now I save everything on Flickr, back up to an external hard drive and keep DVD copies at my mother's house... should cover all eventualities! I can't imagine losing all our baby photos through not bothering to properly back up.
Mark, Manchester, UK
Did I used to have two prints made of every photograph I took for backup purposes? No.
Do I backup my digital photos to CD? Yes.
John McCreesh, Edinburgh
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