There has been some debate on the internet over the past few months about what happens to all those digital pictures we are all taking. Many experts have come out and said they don't expect our digital pictures to last very long and the only way to save them is to print. But this has led to some confusion as to why the digital photos will not be around for the long haul. So, let us take a look at why digital may fade away.
The ultimate problem with digital, is technological obsolescence. What is that? It's the envitable fate of all technology. What was once new and cutting edge ultimately becomes outdated and no longer practical or useful. Everything eventually goes the way of the eight track, VHS tape, or My Space. The reason this is a problem is that you can't possibily keep up with or predict the changes in technology. Five years ago everything was optical media, now everyone is in the cloud. Even the file format we will be using five years from now may change. There are many contenders to replace the omni present jpeg. The second problem with technology is that at some point it fails. Your computer crashes, your phone gets broken, or tablet bricks because the latest OS outstrips your hardware. Every piece of hardware eventually gives up the ghost for one reason or another. Because of this I agree withe experts that the only way to truly preserve your digital memories is to print.
So here's a primer for printing. First make sure you use a good photo lab, like Mpix or Shutterfly. Make sure the lab uses archival paper. After printing make sure you put your photos in a archival safe photo album or an acid free photo storage box. The reason photographers use archival paper and archival safe photo albums is because the acid in the paper will eventually stain and discolor your photos. Other things that will cause color fade or warp your photos is heat and moisture, so try to store them in a cool, dry place. Direct sunlight will also damage your photos so if you choose to frame and hang your photos place on the wall that has the least amount of sun.
One final note about preserving your digital memories. Even though I feel printing your photos is the best way to ensure twenty years from now you can share your photos, it goes without saying that you should also be backing up your photos. On your cell phone make sure you use the auto backup feature, either the ICloud for Apple or Google Photos for Android, so this way if you lose your phone or if your phone dies, you won't lose your data. If you use a digital camera make sure you download those memory cards and back them up. Google photo gives unlimited storage so at the very least you should back them up there. I personally save everything on two different external hard drives and two different cloud accounts. Also look into a catalog program like Lightroom to organize your photos. Finally, it is important to note that, no matter what type of backup you use it is not permanent. Because of the relentless march of technology you will probably have to transfer your media several times in your life time. How many of you still have home movies on VHS? So you should view your backup as a temporary place to store photos until you have to move on to whatever is next on the technological horizon.