Digital Isn't Forever

How do you keep your images safe?

This digital age makes it easier than ever to capture moments and share memories, but I wonder how many of those Instagram photos will exist in 30 years when my kids want to remember the important moments in their lives.

10 years ago I backed up my photo library to CD. A few months ago I decided to try and get those photos onto my current computer. I discovered a few problems. First, I no longer own a computer with a CD/DVD drive! So, I borrowed an external DVD drive from a friend and plugged it in. Once I got the DVD drive up and running I stuck the disk into the drive. Error - unable to read this media. The CD was damaged or corrupted. Ack! Photos gone.

What about USB drives? Are those better? Well, yes and no. It’s no secret that computer technology is advancing rapidly. How long before the ubiquitous USB port on your computer disappears. You also have to keep track of that tiny little drive.

What about cloud storage? Cloud storage is great, but it’s far from perfect. Most cloud storage services require a subscription. You pay month after month, year after year, to keep your bits in the cloud. What if you forget your login or password - you’re locked out. What if your credit card expires and you forget to update it - your account is wiped out. Your photos are gone.

 Metal prints, installed in client home

Metal prints, installed in client home

What about prints? Don’t they fade? Wouldn’t they burn up in a fire? Can’t they be stolen? Of course. All those things are possible, but none of those things actually happen very often. 

Professional photos are printed on acid-free archival paper with fade-resistant inks. Proper storage (no direct sun exposure, not in moist environments) of your albums, prints, and wall art will last a long, long time.

Protect your images

The best solution to keep your images safe is to have both physical and digital copies. Have a digital copy of your photos and physical prints. Keep a back-up copy on your hard drive that you move from computer to computer when you upgrade. Make a back-up of that drive and keep it in a safe place.

Here’s the thing. What if the worst happened? What if your house flooded? What if you had a fire at home? Your photographer probably has a copy of the original professional portraits you had made. Your insurance company will likely pay to replace the prints, albums, and wall art you lost. And they’ll probably buy you a new computer - with an empty hard drive.