The problem with digital photo archiving.

2018, Favourite, Inspiration, Q&A, Teaching point

The New York Times published an article this week, discussing the practical difficulties with long-term storage and tracking of all of the digital photos we create:

This is an issue I’m sure we’ve all thought about.

My working solution has been to store cherished photos on two back-up external drives, one that saves them in real-time and another that I use for a yearly back-up (but that remains in a safe the rest of the year).   I also have many images uploaded to a cloud-based storage service.

I’m not saying this method is the best, or even good, but for me it’s the solution that best balances a sense of (false?) security with practical considerations.

In contrast to many individuals, I tend to avoid taking photos with my iPhone because, although they too are uploaded automatically to Apple’s servers (i.e. the Cloud), I don’t often make back-up copies on my external drives, so I feel less in control of them.  Also, I prefer photographing with a dedicated camera anyway.

A few years ago, I read an article in The Telegraph where a top-tier Google executive predicted that all of our digital photos will likely be wiped out, if we don’t figure out a better way to preserve them.

Thinking about that further, I guess the best thing I’ve done to preserve our family’s images was to create photo books which were distributed, annually, to family members.  The problem with this is that it’s very time-consuming and expensive (especially when you are making half a dozen copies of each book).  Hence the last time I did it was in 2014.

Nonetheless, I guess I better start making books again… maybe next year.

Addendum:  I almost forgot — the other thing I’ve done is to intermittently photograph with the anti-digital medium: film.


5 thoughts on “The problem with digital photo archiving.

      1. Thanks Peter.
        I also use Blurb. But prices have gone up in the last few years.
        But this subject of backing up and preserving, either digitally or har copy, our photos or videos is a very important one.

  1. Thought I’d chime in here on digital backups and the future of all our “digital” work. I too keep my working photo library on an external drive that I have backed up to two other drives. The photos I’m currently working on are on my laptop’s internal SSD drive. I back up that drive on a separate drive. I’ve recently began backing up my stuff to Backblaze just in case.

    I have to agree with the Google exec about our digital life being wiped away. As an example I follow an investment advisor who has studied financial history and one of his sources to what has happened in the past is the currency found from each of the periods. As we progress to eliminating our existing currencies to digital cash what will be left behind for future occupants of this world to know what happened?

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