Digital Photo Storage: Will Your Digital Treasures Ever Be Seen By Your Grandkids?
by Michael Boyter
What Will Be The Prevailing Digital Photo Storage Format in 2061 and beyond?
When it comes to your family’s digital photo storage, what are the odds that yours will ever survive and actually be seen by your grandchildren?
My initial answer was "of course they will", but the current issue of Scientific American magazine (May 2011) published a very thought-provoking article entitled "Seeing Forever: Storing Bits Isn't the Same as Preserving Them".
It really made me think.
In the article, author David Pogue states that while digital pictures and digital family videos are nice, we really should not expect the grand kids to ever see them!
Being a serial family archivist, he had my full attention. These sorts of articles always get my attention. I would like to think that my pictures, videos and digitized writings will last well beyond two generations from now.
I mean…come on! Otherwise why am I spending so much money and money taking, converting and storing all my family’s digital photos and videos?
Mr. Pogue, I believe, is on the right track in asking questions such as these. What file format are your pictures and videos in?
Will they be the standard format in 2041, for example? How about even 2061?
My wife, for years, purchased Disney video tapes (VHS) so our kids could enjoy them AND she, for the longest time, refused to get rid of them, telling me that she wanted to keep them for the grand kids, someday.
Well, as you might guess, our household has been without an actual VCR player for several years now. The Disney VHS tape collection eventually went bye-bye.
In the 80s my preferred method of taking pictures was 35mm slide film. That is the format that my dad and grandpa used for years. My kids have very seldom seen those pictures, from that era, because I no longer have a workable slide projector.
Does anyone, anymore?
So Mr. Pogue suggests that you, me,
someone, will have to be ever vigilant of this dilemma of continually converting our family’s collection of digital valuables, about every ten years, to the newest format for digital storage.
Even thought digital storage devices are cheap and plentiful, the author asks realistically, how long have you ever kept the same hard drive? Speaking purely for myself, that answer is about 4 years.
It typically goes out with the older computer that I replace.
Then he says that we shouldn't feel too secure in the fact that we might use online backup to “safeguard” our digital treasures.
He mentions AOL XDrive which is no longer in business and that the online backup companies that promise to keep your digital information safe "forever" have not even been around 20 years....some for less than five years.
So can they really be counted on? I certainly hope so, but we should not be betting the farm on it. Let online backup services be just a part of your long-term plan for digital photo storage.
I enjoyed the article and Mr. Pogue raises some great questions. It is vital that we think on these questions and do what we can to preserve our digital pictures, videos and other priceless documents for posterity.
In the end though, I don’t think the world is not going to simply let all of the digital pictures and videos that we have ever shot just fall by the wayside.
I have to believe that there will always be some way (software) to convert from an older format to a newer format.
The digital format conversion market will be just too huge be ignored, no matter if it is today, tomorrow or 2061.
You Might Also Like....Digitize Old 35mm Slides
- Dust 'em off and get those slides out of your closet. Digitize slides are easier to share with your kids, family and future generations!