Like Film Photograph Prints and Negatives, Digital Pictures Have Special Requirements for Long Term Storage and Care.

With the advent of the digital camera the world of photography has taken a giant step.  Accept for the professional photographer and photographic purest, the digital camera has nearly replaced the need for film.  The discussion of the benefits and features for each format is better served elsewhere.  Here we will share some thoughts and ideas on the long term storage needs  for your digital images.

Keeping track of digital pictures is as important, and can be as time consuming as with regular negative and printed pictures.  Don’t forget that many digital snapshots will be printed, and they must be included with all other prints you may have.  So, categorizing and catalog your digital photo files is a requirement if you ever want to find that special shot you took.  You need to know where to find it easily.  This may not be a big problem at first, but as time goes on the number of pictures you take increases substantially.

CDs/DVDs and computer hard drive are choices many photographers use to store and organize their digital images.  You can organize them chronologically, by subject or theme, etc., what ever is best for you.  They can be reorganized as you desire at anytime.

The memory card in your camera (some high end cameras have their own hard drive) will store a limited number of pictures, but they can serve as a storage medium.  You need to catalog what is on the card and file it in a storage contained with your file’s content for future reference.  This medium is considered a “temporary solution” to storage.  These memory cards can run the cost of storage up, so most photo bugs use other ways of storing their treasured photographs.  Most pictures are transferred to your computer’s hard drive.

Your computer’s hard drive has much larger storage capacity than the memory card found in your camera.  From the hard drive you can better organize your picture files as you deem appropriate and needed.

There are risks of using your hard drive for long term storage.  The biggest concern would be have your computer “crash.”  Hopefully, you back-up your hard drive files frequently!

As noted above, CDs and DVDs have come to the rescue as an additional storage option–certainly as a back-up for your picture files.  These options may require the purchase of special “burners” in order to use them.  Many new computers come with one or the other, but they can be added.  The primary difference between the two is the amount of storage capacity.  DVDs have a greater capacity than CDs.

Making prints of all your snapshots is an option.  They could be scanned should you loose your digital file.  These prints require special attention too for long term storage.

Beware, however, these methods for photograph storage do have limitation and limited life spans. All of these options for photograph storage have limitations.  CDs/DVDs generally have a shelf life of 2-10 years.  There are some new expensive discs available that are touted to have a 100+ year life . . . not yet tested in reality for 100 years.  Hard drives are prone to their own set of problems.

Our  long term storage choice is online storage companies like  They allow you to organize them, print them, share them with others, and print them on other mediums to give as gifts.  We highly recommend you look at what they offer in the way of service and products.  Yes there is a fee for some of their services, but you’re paying for what you get or use either way.  The safety, usability and ease are definitely worth the expense.

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Ron on October 3rd, 2009 | File Under Ideas | No Comments -