Here at FrogPrints we are asked all the time "How should I store my digital pictures?" The first answer that comes to mind may seem obvious: on your computer's hard drive. But that's the wrong answer. A computer hard drive is fine for temporary storage, and great for accessing your pictures quickly, but your favourite pictures should always be saved somewhere additional to the ones on your hard drive. If that hard drive fails, or your PC is stolen, your pictures could be lost forever.
 
Fast-changing technology means storage devices and media popular today will probably be obsolete in just a few years. So, we recommend both the most popular current technology solution and a very traditional way of storing your digital pictures.

Storing digital pictures as photo prints in albums

Are we serious? Store digital pictures as prints in photo albums? Indeed, we are. And as you'll see, the photo album deserves your serious consideration for its long-term storage advantages.
 
Advantages:
  • Prints won't become technologically obsolete; when properly stored they can last for generations.
  • Prints are an accessible and enjoyable record of your lifetime.
  • They can bring families together because albums are available to everybody.
  • Digital images can be recovered by scanning your prints.
  • You don't need a computer to view your pictures.
     
    Disadvantages:
  • They take up more space and require extra organization.
  • They require special (but readily available) album materials for increasing longevity.
  • Its costs a reasonable amount of money to print every photo.
     
    Threats: exposure to light, heat and humidity
     
    Your first choice may be to decide whether to make prints on your home inkjet printer or have a photo service make them for you on real photographic paper. Check out our article Photo prints vs Home printing to help make your decision. In reality, you will likely have both inkjet and traditional photo prints. The traditional photo print will last longer, have brighter colors and probably be less hassle to create, but in the right storage conditions, both should last for decades.
     
    With your piles of prints in front of you, see our article on Scrapbooking to learn how to create and store a special photo album that will amuse and amaze future generations.

    Storing digital pictures on DVDs

    Today most computers come with a built-in DVD drive and a DVD writer, so you can create your own DVDs. Unlike pressed original CDs and DVDs, burned DVDs can have a relatively short life span as short as 5 years before they start to fail, depending on the quality of the DVD and how it is stored. You may see claims that recordable DVDs will last decades, or even 100 years. Of course, recordable DVDs have not been around for 100 years, so how can anyone claim to know they will last that long? The answer is that manufacturers subject their test DVDs to certain kinds of stress and then extrapolate from those measurements to guess how long the data will last. There are a few things you can do to extend the life of a burned DVD, like keeping the disc in a cool, dark, dry space but not a whole lot more.
     
    The problem is material degradation. Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as DVD-R and DVD-RW, have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in the data "shifting" on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the laser beam. Many of the cheap burnable DVDs available at discount stores have a life span of around 5 years. Some of the better-quality discs offer a longer life span of a maximum of 20 years. DVD seem to be higher quality than CDs maybe because there hasn't been as much price competition to drive the quality down.
     
    The rapid pace of technology also means that technology 10 years into the future may not be compatible with today's CDs and DVDs. It will be necessary in 10 to 20 years to transfer all your images from CD/DVD to a new format that we don't yet know about. This would be similar to the current rush to convert VHS content onto DVD.
     
    Advantages of CDs:
  • They can be used by almost everybody who owns a computer.
  • They hold hundreds, even thousands, of pictures.
  • They are inexpensive.
     
    Disadvantages of CDs:
  • They are somewhat fragile.
  • They will degrade after 5 - 20 years.
  • They could become obsolete in 10 or 20 years.
     
    Threats: rough handling, chemicals, poor original quality, high temperature/humidity
     
    To make backing up on DVD easy try HP SimpleSave.