By Christina VanGinkel
Organizing and storage of photographs has been talked about at length in numerous ways over the past several months, both here and on other photography related sites. In part, I believe because there has been some question to how long a CD or DVD will last before deteriorating. The answer to that question is varied, depending on who answers. With all the advancements in digital photography, it is easy to assume that storage of our treasured photos is just as advanced. Realistically though, unless one knows how to download, backup, and store their files properly, they are risking losing images that cannot be replaced by their own fault, and as there are disagreements about how long current storage options will last, we also risk losing our files through no fault of our own. With film, we had and still have our negatives. The problem with these is that we often misplace them, they faded, or damaged through fire, moisture, heat, etc. So what is one to do?
I currently create most all of my photographs digitally, and I store them in two to three capacities. I first download to my computer, and store them on my hard drive. From there, they are sorted, and I print, regularly, those that I know I want copies of, both for others to see and to use in my scrapbooks. I also transfer them to a CD, and a DVD. Media is relatively inexpensive, so all of my photographs are doubling being stored. Eventually, photographs are deleted from my hard drive, but by then I have them digitally stored and printed.
If this is an extreme, I feel that it is an acceptable extreme. Others I know store their digital files on servers online as a backup, or on zip drives. One person I know even stores all of theirs on the flash cards, replacing them each time they become full. When I heard this, all I thought of was 'ouch' on the pocketbook. Then I thought that this is not so surprising, because some people just do not want to lose their photo images, and some do not know how to transfer them to other storage options. So in essence, any of these options is acceptable.
If you do choose to store your files, on CD or DVD there are ways to increase the chance that your files will be safe for many years to come. Do not expose your disks to extreme temperatures, either high or low. Do not handle them any more than needed. Wash your hands and dry them well before handling them. (This is sage advice for the handling of any DVD or CD!) If they do become dirty or scratched, deal with it in a timely fashion by cleaning them or repairing the scratch if possible. I would also recommend then transferring the files to a new disc in the instance of a scratch. When you use a disk, put it away promptly after use, do not let it sit in your computer or DVD player. While none of these suggestions will ensure that you never lose a photo, they will go a long way towards keeping it from happening.