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Archiving Memories: Options and Solutions

If we were to look at the history of photography we would see that unlike other artistic mediums, photography has undergone many transformations. The biggest change that we have seen is the transition from film to digital technology.

The digital age has changed photography in a plethora of ways. Some of the changes have been amazing and have opened up so many opportunities for photographers today. However, one of the complications that has come with this new technology is the storage and archiving of all these files.

The first issue that we encounter is that we are taking many more pictures than we did when we were shooting film. As a result we wind up with an abundance of images that need to be organized, condensed and archived (see article “Clean House”)

Once you have organized your files you need to back them up somewhere. There are many options each of which has their pros and cons:

Keep the files on the SD or CF card

  • moderate expense

  • The card technology can change and the card can become obsolete in the future. There are already many card formats that are no longer made and not supported by card readers and new operating systems.

Burn images onto CD’s or DVD’s.

  • inexpensive

  • This technology also has the potential to become obsolete. many laptops are already eliminating the CD/DVD drive and many software downloads are now exclusively ‘download only’-therefore making the use and support of these drives unnecessary in the future.

  • Recommended to use "gold" DVD's and CDs-that are more scratch resistant and are archival for 100 years.

“Cloud” based backup.

  • moderate expense

  • Generally a monthly fee depending on how much data storage you need.

  • Your files are uploaded to a company that provides backup storage.

  • You are depending on the company to be around in the future

External Hard Drives

  • expensive

  • Drives wear out and die.

  • Drives can get corrupt

  • This technology can also become obsolete in the future and new operating systems sometimes do not recognize old drives.

  • Recommended to use multiple drives so that there are redundant backups.


  • moderate expense.

  • will not become obsolete.

  • can get damaged from external sources.

I have been doing photo restoration for over 10 years. I have fixed photos that are over 100 years old. There are all kinds of medium that I see, glass negatives, tin type negatives, polaroid, fiber based papers, 110 negatives, Kodachrome slides and the list goes on. All of which are now obsolete. These damaged photos and negatives can be torn, stained, cracked and faded and I can scan them and put them into Photoshop and restore them and make them look as good as the day they were made.

However, what happens to a digital file if it becomes damaged or the technology becomes obsolete? It's actually just gone and that's it.

In my opinion the printed image is still the best way to present and preserve our images. There are so many options for printing digital files that are readily available and easy to do. Printing at home on a photo printer has never been easier and the instant gratification can't be beat. So consider your memories and start printing your images. Sitting around the coffee table and passing around the family photo album will never be obsolete.

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