by Drew Hendrix –
Today’s digital world is fraught with danger when it comes to protecting precious photos. They easily can be ruined even when we think they’re safe and securely stored on magnetic or optical drives, CDs and DVDs or somewhere up in the Cloud.
Digital disaster regularly befalls governmental agencies, educational institutions and companies big and small despite their best efforts to prevent it. It can also happen to you –and most likely will at some time– if you’re not careful.
Be aware: the future of your digital photos is in doubt warns Vinton Cerf, one of the Internet’s founders and a senior executive at Google. He says:
“We are nonchalantly throwing all of our data into what could become an information black hole without realizing it. We digitize things because we think we will preserve them, but what we don’t understand is that unless we take other steps, those digital versions may not be any better, and may even be worse.”
Here some of the ways your photos can be lost:
In fact, just the simple task of transferring images from camera memory cards to your computer can be risky– which is why professional photographers never erase their cards before opening every image after they’ve been transferred to make sure none have been corrupted.
To avoid digital disasters, Cerf has a very simple solution: “If there are photos you really care about, print them out.”
You can then use a universal device that’s been available for years to view your photos in any format, at any time or any place without requiring a computer, software or media. Your eyes.
Eyes will never crash, corrupt photos, require upgrading (except maybe for glasses) or use vulnerable media. And they operate with maximum efficiency when viewing a photographic print.
Sure, photos fade, but at a snail’s pace compared to rapidly changing technology. If they begin to decline, just scan them or use a camera to copy them. They can then easily be reprinted– even if you don’t have the original digital file.
If, after reading this far, you’re still skeptical about the digital vulnerability of your photos, check out the Domesday Project– a multi-million dollar digital disaster in which 50,000 images (and reams of other data) became unreadable.
So don’t believe in digital stability and longevity; it’s a myth. Now’s the time to look through your image files and pick out your favorites– those that would devastate you if they were lost forever. Print them out, put them in albums, hang them on the wall or scatter them around the room on free-standing picture frames. Then rest assured they’ll be around for years to come.
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Last updated: March 17, 2015