Q: My many photos are being stored in many different places and I'd like to simplify the situation. The photos on my Windows 10 PC are synced with Microsoft OneDrive (currently full), Google Drive (currently full) and Dropbox (not sure how full it is.)
In addition, there are multiple copies of some photos, and the Picasa program I used to manage pictures is no longer available. How can I consolidate all these photos in one place, and manage them?
Susan Roethke,, Wis.
A: There isn't any software that will consolidate all your photos from three different online services. But there are other ways to simplify the way you manage photos.
Based on what you have described, your online photos are merely copies of what's on your PC. The multiple copies of some photos are a result of using three different online storage services.
In the future, you should store photos in two places — your PC and a backup location. (You need to keep backups in case your PC's hard drive fails. Like all devices with moving parts, it will eventually wear out.) You have two backup choices:
• Buy local storage, such as a large-capacity flash drive (a 128-gigabyte drive costs $12 to $20) or an external hard drive ($45 for 1 terabyte of storage.) Both plug into your PC's USB ports.
• Buy additional online storage. You have used up your free 15 gigs of storage on Google Drive and your free 5 gigabytes on Microsoft OneDrive. But for a continuing charge of $2 a month, you can get 100 gigabytes on either Google Drive or OneDrive.
To see how much of your 2 gigabytes of free storage are left on Dropbox, right-click the box-shaped icon in your PC's toolbar. In the resulting menu, click the gear-shaped icon at top right. Additional Dropbox storage costs $10 a month for 2 terabytes.
Once you have settled on a photo backup strategy, turn off the storage methods you don't want to use. Note that even if you turn off OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox, the photos you have stored for free on those services will remain there indefinitely unless you delete them.
While Picasa is gone, there are other photo management programs available, some free, some for-pay (see tinyurl.com/y6ech7be).
Q: I have a laptop with Windows 7 that I'm planning to upgrade to Windows 10. I found a deal online that offers a Windows 10 software key for $12.50, a lot less than Microsoft charges. Is this legitimate?
Paul DeMarchi, Minnetonka
A: It would be risky, because it's hard to say if a cheap software key is legitimate.
For the benefit of other readers, the price of Windows 10 isn't the software (you can download that for free), but rather the cost of the software "key" that activates it. Microsoft sells a key to "Windows 10 Home" for $139. But online resellers offer Windows 10 software keys for less: around $30 from reseller websites, or about $10 from individuals.
While some discount keys are legitimate (they often come from a gray market, where companies dump surplus keys), others are illegal (they were bought using stolen credit cards or were used by hackers to activate multiple copies of Windows.) Microsoft eventually deactivates the illegal keys, making them unusable.
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