Best Ways to Back Up Your Priceless Family Photos

January 11, 2015

Many years ago, my in-laws home burned down.  They lost everything- including their wedding photos. 

 

I recently read an article on Today which talked about the dangers of only relying on a hard drive to back up your photos. It talked about the moving parts of a hard drive and essentially how it's only as strong as its weakest link. I won't go into all the details. You can read the article here. The funny thing is I had just talked to friends about buying an external hard drive to back up photos. My plan was to keep it at a place other than home (in case there was a fire or theft).  After reading the article, I wasn't so sure.

 

More on these photos in a future blogpost...

 

So what to do? Flash drives? DVD's? CD's? I started researching and read that CD's and DVD's had a limited lifespan. Traditional burnable discs could break down in 5-7 years (even if stored properly)! I also read that flashdrives were not a reliable long term storage solution either. The reality is that I found nothing concrete. Verbatim makes an archival quality DVD and CD. They have a gold layer which reportedly helps to prevent corrosion and oxidation. The plastic is hardened to withstand scratches. They are quoted to last up to 100 years. Of course there is no way to currently verify it.

This is my thought process: The hard truth is that nothing is foolproof. In my opinion, it would be smart to have multiple backups in different forms of your most-valuable-can't-live-without family memories. It would probably be a good idea to store them in different locations as well.  I plan on using a little of each. I have photos backed up on an external hard drive but I will burn them onto archival quality DVD's (fyi, my research said that when burning for archival purposes burn at a low speed to minimize errors). I have been using dropbox as a way to keep a full resolution file off site but I will also print all of my photos in two sets of 4x6. I will keep one set at home and a second at a relative's home. I went to Michael's and found a photo-safe box (less than $3!). I figure you can't beat a hard copy. You can always scan it to digital.

My current recommendation for a back up process:
 
     1. Save photos from the past month onto your computer.  Copy them onto your external hard drive and/or other external storage (like Dropbox).
     2. Print two sets of photos in 4x6.  
     3. Place one set in a photo album at home.
     4. Place one set in a photo safe box and store it away from home (work or a relative’s house).
     5. Optional: Burn photos to an archival quality disc at the slowest speed possible.  Store this disc in a cool, dry, dark location away from heat and sun exposure.  DO NOT write on this disc with a permanent marker (it can degrade the disc)!  Use an archival-safe marker.
     6. If you have a backlog of photos to archive, start with the previous month and work backwards.  Being that it’s January, this is the perfect time to get started!
 
Soon we will talk about the best way to organize those photos of yours.
 

Any thoughts? Other Suggestions?

 

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