A Guest Post by Michael J. Perini
About ten years ago we had a fire. The Fire Marshall said that had my son David not had the presence of mind to shut all interior doors and windows, we would have lost the house. We only lost a third of it.
Ever since then I've thought about archiving our family memories. Lately I've also been thinking about various ways to better safeguard my personal picture archive.
For most families there are probably somewhere from a few hundred to a thousand or so "Desert island" pictures which define the family's memories. Of course there are more pictures, videos and other stuff we hold dear, but if all were lost in a fire or flood or earthquake, having those thousand pictures would be a treasure.
I pick that number not because it's the right number for everyone, but because it's manageable. It's a number big enough to be a treasure, and small enough to organize and collect in a short period of time.
It is also small enough to fit on "ruggedized" solid-state storage like this. These are now cheap enough to be easily used in this way by almost everyone who reads this; 16GB costs $25; 256GB costs $150.
I do not know if there are better flash options, but it's the concept I'm talking about.
By using a universal format like a TIFF you extend the digital life expectancy as well. Extended families could exchange Survivor drives.
The nice part is, that once done, you can copy it and give one to each member of the family. You can then start to work on Volume Two if you need to.
I completely understand that there is no such thing as permanent digital storage. So the best you can do is have a series of 5- or 10-year plans. But because the archive is relatively small, and in one place, and in a known format, it will be relatively easy to update to a better storage medium in the future.
This is not a substitute for your regular backup and archiving procedure. The central driver for me is creating a blueprint for an easy and reliable method for safeguarding cherished images—not replacing anyone's proper archiving procedures. It's not foolproof, but a very helpful step.
If folks have a better way, that's great. The object is to safeguard pictures that are dear to you. You might even find and rescue some early digital pictures or scans that already need to be moved to a better format.
"Open Mike" is the Sunday Editorial Page of TOP. It might or might not be written by a Mike.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Bruce Mc: "Another option is regular off site backup. Crashplan is one company that offers this, there are others as well. Some companies charge a monthly fee to back up to their servers, other companies let you send your back up anywhere, say to a spare hard drive at a relative's house."
Mike J. replies: Michael Perini's plan really isn't a backup plan, and it's not a substitute for a backup plan. It's also not adequately replaced by a traditional backup plan. It's an archive and legacy scheme; a way to segregate out from the great mass of your raw material the few pictures which are precious and have special meaning, and then to take extra steps to preserve those from destruction or loss.
Segregating the important pictures from all the rest is just as important a part of a Thousand Picture Project as redundancy and protection, and will do just as much—or more!—to preserve your family's history.
Michael Bearman: "I have family with data 'preserved' on paper tape and mark sense cards for long-gone computer systems. I have manuscript files 'preserved' on cassette tapes written in a defunct language for a defunct operating system for a defunct computer.
"Unless you are committed to continuing updates as and when the computing world moves on, make a couple of archival prints, put one in a safety deposit box and the other with family offsite. The only records from our long-gone soft copies are the printouts."
Andrew: "There are far better options for cold storage than a flash drive. USB flash drives are suitable for data transfer, but not for long term archiving. I've seen too many flash drives fail to recommend them as a viable option. Optical disks are a safer bet. Check out the M Disk.
"The comment by Bruce Mc is not off point. You can get a crash plan account and only use it to back up specific folders. Data centers take redundancy and backing up very seriously. Important data belongs in a data center where the pros can look after it. Facebook is probably the safest/cheapest long term storage space for your 1,000 most important family photos."