How long will your Digital Pictures last?
I have been talking to a lot of people lately about digital copies of their family portrait. I have found that many people think the digital copy as an “archive” copy of their family portrait. Digital photography has added a lot of great things to photography but a secure archive is not one of them.
Fact: All digital media has a short life
One of the great things about digital anything is that exact copies are so easy to make and so easily shared. Back in the days of analog, each copy looked a little worse than the original. It was also impossible to make an exact copy from the original to share with someone. However, there is no long term storage solution for digital. All digital media has a short life.
We have had optical media (CDs & DVDs) go bad in as little as three years. Thumb or flash drives won’t even last that long. Hard drives crash and technology changes and the storage solutions of today will become obsolete tomorrow.
The Library of Congress has a short PDF file that gives a good explanation and recommendation for how to keep a secure digital archive. It can be done but it will take a lot of work and a bit of expense to do it. They call it an “active management system”.
This is why Masterpiece Images still recommends and offers a full variety of prints. Digital media will usually not last more than 10 years. The process and materials we use should last 120 years before they begin to degrade if they are cared for properly.
The internet is full of information on this subject. If you have specific questions about your storage solution we would be happy to give our advice. However, our top recommendation for photography is to print anything you want to keep for more than 10 years.
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