Saturday, September 01, 2007

Digital Media Peril (1 & 2)

Digital Media Peril: Redux
August 22, 2007 | By Joel Dehlin

I received a number of thoughtful responses to my last post (Digital Media Peril) which discusses the dangers of having all of your pictures and movies on your computer rather than in shoe boxes in your closet. Folks should feel free to keep posting comments there, but I’m going to summarize some principles I see emerging in the thread and some additional thoughts I’ve had.

1. Start now. Some solution is better than no solution. The risking losing your pictures and videos is a very real danger. Get it fixed now. There is a risk that if you implement a sub-optimal solution with the intention to “fix it” later that you’ll get complacent and never get around to fixing it. Or that the solution won’t work in 10, 20, 50 years. It’s better to do something instead of nothing and to continue evaluating your solution and looking for something better.

2. Redundancy. Implement multiple solutions to cover yourself in case one goes awry.

3. Online backup. I think online backup is a great way to go: Flickr, Mozy, .mac, whatever. You get the added benefit of easy photo sharing. There is a risk that you’ll put all of your content up on some web site and that it will close down. 1) I think the likeihood that a mass storage web site will disappear with no warning, without someone purchasing the assets & customers, etc., is very low. 2) Create a redundant solution. I think this is a great solution.

4. Share, share, share! Share your media with as many friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers as you can reasonably do without irritating people. The more you spread your media out, the easier it will be to re-create your photo library if digital medial disaster ever strikes.

5. CD/DVD. CDs and DVDs aren’t great long-term solutions, but they’re fine in the short-term. You can buy software which will make them easier to recover if they fail, but you’ll still want to make sure this is a backup, not a primary measure. Make sure you have a place to send discs that is away from your home (work, family home, etc.) Try to re-create your discs every few years as the long-term failure rate of this media is high.

6. Hard Disk. Some people just use hard drives in their home to back everything up. This is a quick solution which is easy to automate. It doesn’t give you offsite archival, and hard drives can fail, just like discs can. But it’s a great backup plan or redundancy strategy.

7. Prints. Pictures are still wonderful! Just because you’re saving everything digitally, doesn’t mean you can’t make prints! If you make prints of your favorite pictures, you’re no worse off than you were before you started this digital craziness.

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