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How to archive your photos

Published @ 2013-08-24

Scanned all your old family photos with AutoSplitter? Great, now save them for eternity. Unfortunately, eternity is a very, very long period. How to secure your photos then?

The question is not easy to propery answer. I'll make a short rundown of viable options, mentioning pros and cons for each. The choice is yours to makle.

Flash memory
USB sticks use flash memories. These are not designed for long lasting storage and will degrade in about 5 years. At least the capacity is great.

CD (Compact Disk)
The good old CD is still with us. It can hold about 600-800MB of photos. Scanned/cropped old photographs take 1-2MB storage each, so it can fit a few hundred ones. Burn your images to CD and you have finished your job. Or not. CDs have about 10 years of lifespan, even if stored correctly. Should you make backups on CD, you better check and re-save data each 2 or 3 years.

DVD (Digital Video Disk)
Same story as the CD, except that it's much higher capacity, will host thousands of photos with an expected lifespan of 30+ years. Sounds good, especially if you employ some longlife ones, like M-Disc

Online storage
You can find plenty of online storage services like Dropbox, Wuala, etc. Data capacity is great, you'll be able to save all your photos unless you are the National History Museum or something like that. Lifespan: unfortunately, it's random. Web services can shut down any time and it's very likely that none of the current services will be around in let's say 30 years.

So what is the solution? I think you should not put all your eggs in the same basket. Get many baskets, they are cheap. One basket should be a DVD disc in your home, another basket should be a copy of this DVD in a geographically different location (at a relative or a friend) to avoid data loss to unforeseen accidents like fire or unintended disposal. Third basket should be an online storage and then all you have to do is to keep an eye on all of these storage every few years. Make sure you still have them safe and sound.
Categories: photos, archival

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