Disaster-proofing your memories
For my day job, I review engineering reports for a forensic engineering firm. Forensic engineering is not so much how to build a house, but why did it fall down. We deal in disasters, so I am forever reminded of the damaging effects of flooding and fires. Lately I’ve reviewed several reports where everything in the home was lost, ruined, or burned. Home fires start so easily and unexpectedly — whether from a faulty or overburdened power strip, a power cord pinched in a door or under a sofa leg, or just old wiring in the bathroom fan.
It reminded me of the extreme importance of scanning all of your photos — and documents — and having them saved off-site (somewhere other than your home). Scanning alone isn’t enough — chances are good if a disaster is going to destroy your photo albums, it will also be destroying your computer and external hard drives as well. You need to have a backup location somewhere else.
A couple of options are to burn CDs or DVDs with all of your photos, or copy them to flash drives and distribute copies to various family members (who do not live in the same house, obviously). I certainly wouldn’t turn down tons of family photos from any of my relatives!
I think, however, the best idea for backing up and storing all of your photos is cloud storage. There are, of course, many many options that you could choose – everything from backup services like BackBlaze or Carbonite, to easier-to-access cloud storage like Dropbox.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, you have access to unlimited photo storage there at no additional charge (video storage is limited, however). Other sites with phone apps, like Shutterfly, also offer free photo storage, with the hopes that you will use their services to purchase prints or other photo gifts. Google offers a limited amount of free photo storage as well, however it isn’t a whole lot for anyone with a lot of photos, plus I’ve been told that they do compress your images somewhat in the process of storing them.
Whatever you do, be very careful with trusting your photos to any type of new product, such as those memory sticks that claim to backup your phone photos. I tried one of those a while back, that I had received for the purpose of providing a review. Unfortunately my review was not a good one. After “backing up” my photos onto that particular memory stick, I went into look at them, and found that the photos had been turned into tiny thumbnails on the drive — the size that would never look better any larger than a postage stamp. If I had deleted my phone photos thinking I had “saved” them, I would have been heartbroken! I even contacted the company to ask if I had done something wrong, and they told me that no, that was how they were able to back up your entire phone photo library onto the drive — by reducing the photo size so drastically!
However you decide to do it, just do it. Get your printed photos digitized, and your digital photos backed up off-site.