Hopefully, many photographers are doing the right thing and backing up their precious images to keep them safe. Problem is, are those particular storage methods any good long-term?
How many photographers are thinking 50 years into the future when it comes to data storage? I know I'm not. It is something, however, that technologist Leo Notenboom is talking about in his video about long-term storage options of our data.
The video starts with Notenboom going through the various options we currently have available to us to store our data and the pros and cons of each. Hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and cloud services are all mentioned. You may be surprised to hear that traditional hard drives over the more modern solid-state drives are where Notenboom is placing his bets for the future. The reason for this is because he says we know a lot more about the longevity of these kinds of storage. He also makes a great point that these older drives are already being used in archival situations, which should mean in decades to come, they are likely to be taken into account when it comes to compatibility.
Two often overlooked areas that are discussed in the video were the actual formats of the drives themselves and the file formats used. It's all well and good having a working drive in 50 years, but if the files or the formats of those drives can't be opened, all your efforts will have been for nothing. This got me thinking about the huge Photoshop files that I have stored and how I naively presume they will always be editable going forward.
All in all, this video is well worth a watch to get you thinking about not just your data long-term, but all the technology we place our bets on as photographers. Notenboom talks about how you and future generations will appreciate the efforts made to ensure your important files can be opened in decades to come. Just imagine how disappointed your great-grandkids would be if they stumble across your life's work on a drive only to find they couldn't open it.
Where are you placing your bets in regards to long-term storage options? What do you think is going to be readable 50 years from now? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Lead image originally by Kowshik Roy sagor, used under Creative Commons.