There goes last year’s vacation. Zap. It’s gone forever. That great Christmas? The one with the prettiest tree ever? It disappeared, too.
Only your memories will remain if your family photos disappear. Digital photography, now the standard for most families, offers an odd mixture of permanence and frailty.
The permanence comes from the fact that, unlike film, digital photographs don’t fade. The sharpness and the color will stay unchanged over the years.
The frailty is caused by the fact that the photos usually are stored on CDs, DVDs and hard disks that can and eventually will fail. Without careful planning, it’s almost certain you’ll eventually lose your photos and be left with no way to replace them.
Today, we’ll talk about ways to ease the danger that your precious pictures will disappear.
The first stop for a digital photo is in the camera itself, which stores photos on a memory card. The photo is written as a digital file onto the card. Later, those pictures are transferred from the memory card to a computer’s hard disk.
Here comes our first tip: For pictures of historical importance to your family, put the camera’s memory card away never to be used again. It will serve as an extra protection in case the storage methods you use fail.
Many of you keep your photos on your computer’s hard disk and make back-up copies on a CD or DVD. Hard disks eventually die. But so do CDs and DVDs. With dumb luck, a CD or DVD can literally last for 100 years or more. On the other hand, that same dumb luck can strike in a crueler way. There are plenty of ways for a CD or a DVD to fail: Exposure to sunlight over a long period, scratches, a fire or tornado at your home or just the bad luck of using a CD or DVD that is flawed in some way.
While there’s nothing at all wrong with keeping photos on your hard disk and making a copy to a CD or DVD – in fact, I encourage it – more needs to be done to increase the chances that your photos will stick around at least as long as you do.
Online storage is one of the best ways to safeguard your photos. Almost all businesses protect their data by storing back-up copies at a second location. Plenty of free websites offer photo storage. Check to be sure the site doesn’t compress the digital photo during the storage process – you’ll lose picture quality if that happens.
For-pay storage sites are the best bet for important photos. And because these sites specialize in storing back-up copies of all your computer’s data – not just the pictures – you can kill two birds with one stone by storing everything on one of these sites.
One of my favorite online storage sites, Carbonite (www.carbon ite.com), offers a year of storage for about $50. No matter which you select, you’ll have the added security of knowing that these businesses constantly make back-up copies of the back-ups they store. So the odds of your data and photos sticking around goes way up.
Let’s say you follow through with my advice. For crucial photos you save the original memory card. Then you copy the photos to a hard disk, make back-up copies on CDs or DVDs and then store an extra copy at an online service. There’s still one more thing that I recommend and it’s very old-fashioned.
Make prints of the photos you treasure most and put them in a photo album. For one thing, that makes it easier for family and friends to gather as a group and share the delight of looking through these pictures. It also gives you one more method of saving the pictures.
email@example.com. Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.