In this rapidly changing digital age it can be confusing what to do to keep family photos and documents safe and secure for future generations.
Digital files can easily get damaged or lost just like old photos and documents. Hard drives can fail, computers get a virus, laptops get stolen, phones lost, dodgy datasticks stop working, CDs or DVDs get scratched, or the technology moves on and we no longer have a DVD drive... Ahhh! What to do?
A big start is to spread things around around: share your items and digital files with all those who matter!
Here's a quick list of some storage filing and updating ideas...
- Handle with care - wear gloves and avoid touching the photo images
- Store photos in a safe environment – acid free materials and away from light, heat, and damp. Avoid “Magnetic albums” and unknown or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics. Avoid glue, staples, paper clips, or cellotape
- Make digital copies of your photos – with a scanner, camera or phone
- Give family members printed copies of your favorite images
- Handle with care - some may be old and delicate
- Store documents in a safe environment – acid free materials and away from insects
- Make digital copies of your documents – with a scanner, camera or phone
- Give at least one family member printed copies of your favorite family historical documents
Heirlooms and family stories
- Take photos of family heirlooms
- Make a text file with a few sentences explaining the heirloom's origins
- Add metadata to the heirloom digital files
Handy website: www.archives.gov/preservation/family-archives/storing
Moving digital data from obsolete software formats or storage media to contemporary apps or media is time-consuming. Select your favourite items to save and keep them as safe as possible.
- Make printed copies of your digital photos
- Decide upon a backup system you can use to add to and update your photo/document collection
- Store at least one complete set of your image archive on a hard drive
- Store at least one complete set of your image archive at an off-site location
- Store a complete set of your image archive with a family member or friend
- Label your photos/documents with a relevant title/name
- Create a relevant folder system with clearly labeled folders that would be easily understood by a stranger in 100 years time
- Save a folder of Original images (untouched) and a folder of Adjusted images (copies that are cropped/touched up ready for printing)
- Add metadata to digital files to aid future generations
- Make sure others have access to your collection if needed (your passwords, devices, and files)
- Save images and text as standard file formats, avoid saving as software files (software becomes obsolete quickly)
- Save images as JPG (or JPEG), or TIFF, or PNG files – at the best quality possible
- Save text files as TXT and PDF files – and any other relevant formats
- Avoid opening and saving JPG files – they will lose quality each time