I had a conversation with a client last week. As we talked we started talking about her personal images and how she has them all on a disc for safe keeping. I realized she had no idea that her images were in danger of being lost.
Many people love digital photography because they do not have to get prints to see what they took. They can look at a computer screen and it doesn’t cost them anything. Digital photography has made it so much cheaper to take pictures of your family, right? You may not think so if you knew the real cost of digital photography.
CDs and DVDs are changeable mediums. If they weren’t you would not be able to write anything to them. They change when a laser burns a pit into the disc allowing the computer to read that as either a 0 or a 1. That laser is a source of electromagnetic radiation. What is not realized is that there are many other sources of electromagnetic radiation that can affect that disc. The heat from a car window, light and the magnets in your home theater speakers are just a few. As the disc is exposed to more radiation minor changes happen to the disc. Those changes add up over time to the point where the computer can not tell if it is a 0 or a 1. When enough of those occur the file becomes unreadable and is lost.
We have burned thousands of discs over the years and noticed that people will start to have problems in as few as 4 years after the disc was burned. Most discs will only last between 4 & 10 years. Even if your disc lasts longer, there is no guarantee there will be CD or DVD drives in 10 years.
The only way to truly archive an image is to print it. When the traditional photographic process is used the life of a print is estimated at 60 years. There are processes that are rated at much less so you have to be careful where you get it printed. Masterpiece Images uses a process that will last 120 years but very few people use this process.
Our client was shocked to find out this information but was very grateful to know so she can print those images that mean a lot to her. We hope this information is helpful to you. If you have specific questions feel free to email us those questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.