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Thread: Archiving of digital photos

  1. #1
    Sharp Shooter

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    Default Archiving of digital photos

    Hello,

    What in your opinion is the best way of long term archiving of family photo's.

    Should I trust digital media like a removable hard drive , or should I go to the expense of printing the photo's on paper.

    Your opinions and advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Cheers.
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  2. #2
    SAFTAA FT Colours '15
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    I would:

    1) backup to an external drive AND
    2) upload to a cloud service (DropBox, MS OneDrive, etc.)

    I wouldn't print them.
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  3. #3
    Sharp Shooter
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    Mine are all on onedrive . Makes sharing so much easier
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  4. #4
    Sharp Shooter

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    I backup all my photos, videos, files etc using a combination of Google Drive and Google photos. In Google photos you can store your photos in two ways namely High Quality or Original Quality. If you upload using original quality then your current file size and quality remains in tact however it counts against your available storage space on your Google account. If you upload using high quality then your photo size and quality is reduced however you then have unlimited storage space on the Google servers for these files. You can upload a few and test the quality to see if you are happy with it.
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  5. #5
    Sharp Shooter

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    Hello , and thanks for the responses.

    I have given this matter some thought.

    For me long term archiving means storing for 50 years and longer.

    I am rather leery of depending on the internet for the storage of personal information , here are some of my reasons:-.

    Internet access is not guaranteed , it can be cut off at any time , or can become unreliable for any number of reasons.

    Governments and service providers can pretty well do what they like , so no guarantees here.

    There is no way of knowing where information is actually stored if use is made of "cloud" services , and if the photo's and information will be readily available , a case in point is the action of Photobucket towards its users.

    Computer operating systems and file structures change rapidly , older technology can and will become unusable.

    Electronic storage media such as memory sticks and removable hard drives do not last for a very long time , and can also fail for no apparent reason.

    There are many other reasons for me not to trust a pure electronic based system for the long term storage of irreplacable information and records.

    I have thus decided to store my information both on a removable hard drive , as well as having the photo's printed out and stored in this paper based format , 50 to 100 years from now my photo's will still be available , and it will not need any electronic hardware to see and enjoy them.

    Sorry for the long post .

    Any thoughts on this matter are welcome

    Cheers.
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  6. #6
    SAFTAA FT Colours '15
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    Quite a bit of doom-and-gloom in your ideas. In the same way that cloud services might "go away", printed media may be destroyed in a fire / flood / theft.

    What I have against printed media:
    - cost is exorbitant
    - storage is a PITA
    - searching it is close to impossible (unless you are meticulous in pre-sorting it before storing it.) With image recognition capabilities I can search through all my pictures for ones that have a red car in them ... how are you going to do that with paper?
    - I don't know how long it will last - maybe the ink fades after 2 years, maybe after 5, maybe never. Same goes for the paper
    - sharing a pic with gran / mom / kids is a real PITA
    - THINK OF THE TREES Nah, screw the trees
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  7. #7
    Sharp Shooter

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    I do quite a lot of data archiving, and hard drives start losing data after a few years. Whatever you do, do it twice - redundancy is the key to long term data storage, as well as periodically checking that all is still ok, so that you can make a plan as soon as data corruption is discovered.

    All of my wedding photos and the first year of my sons life were on a hard drive that fell off a desk. Luckily my wife hasn't found out yet...
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  8. #8
    SAFTAA FT Colours '15
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    Ja, unwritten rule of backups is "take two of them". I've seen primary backup media fail ... it ain't pretty - people lose jobs over it.

    And FFS, don't leave the backup drive on the PC after you've done the backup - it'll get stolen with the PC when your house gets broken into. Have a drive you consider to be "the absolute last salvation" (besides the cloud ... ), backup to it - AT REGULAR INTERVALS, and store it in the ceiling or wherever it won't be found by thieves. Replace it every few years with a new drive.
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  9. #9
    Sharp Shooter
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    We installed a QNAP system at the office. We have 2 1TB hard drives running in RAID ( his explanation is its two identical hard drives so if one dies the other still lives).
    I back up my work files and photos onto it.
    I had my phone stolen with pics of my daughters first couple of hours and have only recovered a handful of them back.
    Only two of us use it, so we each have 500Gigs for now.
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  10. #10
    Sharp Shooter
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    I have about 2 TB of photos to backup.... cheaper and quicker to fly to Turkey and stay there for 3 months than to try and upload in RSA due to linespeed and cost...��
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  11. #11
    Sharp Shooter

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    I have all my photos backed up on to 4 different drives. I have a 500 gig SSD that I use as my working drive and the other 3 are backups. 1 of the drives stays at my parents house and I back stuff up onto it every few months.

    I do do a lot of international travel and take a lot of photos. I've never had any issues with any of my drives. The technology is getting better and better and becoming a lot more reliable.

    If if I was you I would buy an SSD and store my photos on there as well as a normal spinning drive. SSD's have no moving parts and are a lot less prone to fail.

    i don't see how you would ever lose your photos if you had to have 3 copies. One in the cloud, one on an SSD and the third on a traditional drive kept at a family members house.
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  12. #12
    Sharp Shooter
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    Juniper, I can identify with your concern. I've been seriously involved with photography since darkroom days and am in possession of thousands of images that are very valuable and dear to me. The term 'archival integrity' regarding photographic images was taken very seriously during darkroom days already. Fine art photo collectors needed to know that their investments would not fade to nothing in time, so we used processes like selenium and sepia toning to stabilize silver images on paper.

    Going the printed image route won't do it unless you spend a fortune to have it done by a specialist. The best photographic color printing paper guarantees about 70yrs max, that is if you store the prints under optimal archiving conditions and if the prints were developed according to specs. Problem is, color negs and prints involve dyes and not pigments. Epson printers allow for pigment printing and if archival quality paper is used you might get a 100 years, again, if stored optimally. Ironically, the only photographic print that could be guaranteed to last centuries is made with one of the oldest photographic processes namely solar intaglio etching. I have revived he process but cost and time involved unfortunately limits use to fine art printing.

    So it is back to digital. You're going to have to play curator of your family images and rewrite and convert file formats every 10 years at least.
    Optical storage archiving, cd and dvd suck at its best, I have lost images as young as 10 years old due to disc deterioration, the data is written with light so light among other things will corrupt it.
    Mechanical magnetic storage, hard drives, magnetic tape etc. are subject to mechanical failure and magnetic corruption over time.
    Solid state storage, solid state drives and thumb/usb drives rely on micro electronic charges that deteriorate within 10 years.
    Golden rule one is to store your images away from your computer, computers get stolen and sometimes whacked by electrical surges. Most compact and practical way to do this is to use a set of two identical thumb drives.

    Here's what I do:
    Reduce collection to a minimum, dump the duplicates and closed eye pics and keep only the most valuable.
    NEVER reduce image size to save space, what looks good resolution wise on a tv/computer screen lack information and detail to make even a decent postcard sized print.
    Keep the two identical master thumb drives in separate locations, houses can flood or burn down. I keep the one in my house in a inconspicuous hollowed out book, NOT in a safe. A safe in SA only serves as a shopping trolley.
    Be sure to completely re-write the two thumb drives once every 10 years to maintain the 'electrical charge' integrity.
    Stick to jpg format (it is the most generally used) and be sure to convert the images when the format changes in time. If you want to maintain pro-quality images store them in uncompressed format like tiff. This only works if you have shot the images in uncompressed format like RAW or tiff to begin with. Once converted to jpg the original full spectrum data is scrubbed and compressed anyway so no use to convert a jpg to a tiff.
    I then have the master library on my pc while I add to it and work with it. This is on mirrored drives, one of which is removed from the pc when I leave the house. I also never delete memory cards when doing important work like weddings or trips until I have archived it.

    So, even as a purist I had to move with the times regarding photo archiving, same goes for audio, first .mp3 at 320Kbps was the bees knees now we're into uncompressed Flac.
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  13. #13
    Sharp Shooter

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    Hello DvdM , and thanks a lot for your advice and insight , it is appreciated.

    I will certainly follow your advice.

    Cheers.
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