Do you store photos online, in a "cloud" service or at your cellphone company's photo album?
You may want to back those photos up, or you could end up losing hundreds of precious family memories.
Linda, who asked that we not use her last name, doesn't want an expensive smartphone. Her basic flip phone works just fine, thank you, and she has used it to make calls and take photos for years.
"I have over 10 years worth of pictures, pictures I can't ever retrieve now," Linda said.
The problem: Sprint last month discontinued its online photo album storage space for older flip style phones.
Several Photo Services Shut Down
Sprint is not alone in closing its photo storage service.
Apple on July 1 closed its "Mobile Me" photo storage center. And Kodak on July 2 closed its Kodak Gallery.
Both Apple and Kodak have migrated customers photos to new sites: Apple's iCloud, or Shutterfly in Kodak's case. Those companies say no customer should lose any stored photos.
But Sprint customers like Linda don't have a new option.
"I've lost pictures of animals and loved ones," she said. "It's like 10 years of my life hasn't existed. Because Sprint decided to get rid of it because smartphones are more important."
Customers Warned in Advance
Just like with Apple's Mobile Me and Kodak's Gallery, Sprint warned customers of the upcoming change on its bills.
But Linda says plenty of customers don't read the entire bill.
"Send me a letter," she said. "A personal letter saying this is what is going to happen on this date."
Sprint released a statement saying "we did a number of communications for customers about the discontinuation of the online picture album, both before the original deadline of April 30th and during the grace period through June 18th."
Now, Sprint's online albums are gone. And Linda has belatedly learned that you don't own what's up in the sky.
A Lesson for Everyone
There's a lesson here for everyone: Back up your most important photos, either in your home computer, on a DVD, or on Facebook, or — better yet — in at least two places.
Never store photos in just one location, because if it goes down, your photos may vanish too.
As always, don't waste your money.
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