Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Will Your Family Photos Survive?

There's a good chance there will be more photos that survive into the 22nd century from the 1930s than there will be from today. Considering the fact that we take so many more photos now than we ever did in the days of film, that statement seems a little shocking.

However, many of us no longer print our photos.  Why print?  Everything is digital now...our pictures are easily accessible on our computers and our phones.  They're just a click away on Facebook.  In theory, our digital pictures will last forever.  But the reality is, there's lots of reasons why digital is less durable.

Here's why:
  • Computers crash.  Often times we don't have backup systems in place.  Sometimes the photos can be retrieved, sometimes not.  If they can be retrieved, chances are it's not going to be inexpensive.
  • External hard drives, which many people use to backup, only have a shelf life of about five years.  They can, and do crash as well.  
  • Memory cards fail.  Memory cards were never meant to be long term storage.  I've lost photos, and I know of a number of other people who have had it happen to them as well.  
  • We get new computers every few years.  Digital photo files must be transferred from one computer to the next.  That doesn't always happen.  
  • Our backup systems become obsolete over time.  Let's say you've backed up all your photos to DVD.  It's great to have that backup, but when technology changes, you will need to re-record.  Our computers most likely won't be able to read that technology in 30 years. 
  • Online services go out of business.  Your Digital Life recently posted an article suggesting that if you have photos on the Kodak Gallery, it would be best to back them up elsewhere.  
  • You should also consider what will happen after you pass away.  Your family will be determining which of your possessions to keep.  If your computer isn't in the "keep" pile, your digital images will be lost.   
Before, all we had to worry about was our photos fading over time, or being damaged by poor storage environments, or fire or natural disasters.  Today, with digital, there are many reasons why our photos may not survive.  So how do we preserve our photos for future generations?

The solution to this dilemma is very simple.  PRINT your most important photos.  The printed photo is durable, has the potential to last a very long time if stored properly, and isn't subject to computer crashes and technical obsolescence.

Create photobooks with your photos and family stories so that your stories survive.  Your stories are your legacy to future generations. Lastly, back up your photos using cloud storage.  The cloud will outlast you and I.  However, make sure you use a service that allows you to share with family members who will continue to have access to those photos.

There are some things in life that are priceless...and your memories are one of them!  What are you doing to preserve your history?  

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