Disaster can strike at any time. We are aware of the flood and fire risks we face with our printed photos. Many of us are not aware, however, of just how fragile our digital photo collections are. They are constantly at risk due to technology failure, data corruption, lifespan of storage media, outdated media formats, software becoming obsolete or unsupported, viruses, malware, ransomware, loss or theft, a disaster like a fire or flood that damages the computer, human error and our own unorganized practices.
Your digital photos are at greater risk because:
- There is a much higher probability of experiencing a technical failure than a natural disaster. Your printed photos have survived in their albums and boxes for many years. The digital photos on your computer live in a much riskier environment. It is no longer a matter of if your hard drive will crash; it’s a matter of when it will crash.
- You probably now own more digital photos than printed photos. You would lose a bigger piece of your photo collection if you lost the digital photos.
- Your digital photos are most likely scattered across a number of devices. Your digital photos could be in your phone, in your old phone, in your camera(s), on old memory cards, in some files on your computer, on a flash drive somewhere, in your emails, on your partner’s phone…. they tend to be out of sight, out of mind. You may not even realize when some go missing.
- Our technology changes quickly. New computers don’t read DVDs. Very soon you may have memories trapped on old media that we don’t have the means to access any more. How many people are holding on to old computers just because they don’t know how to get the photos off them? Soon these computers won’t start, or we won’t have the software required to retrieve the photos. Storage media also deteriorate and become damaged. So not only will your DVD become scratched, but you will not be able to find a DVD player to read them.
- Our digital formats also change quickly. We have been very lucky to have the jpg format of photos around for a long time. But it will change. iPhones already come set to save photos as heic rather than jpg. Many of the early video formats are already becoming difficult to read, our viewing software is not recognizing some of the older formats like avi, wmv and gp3.
Any one of these is a good reason to address your digital photo collection first.