Software to preserve photos, and how to store them?

teddymines

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Sep 12, 2011
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I have several thousand photos on actual photo paper, various sizes and color/b&w. Some go back to the 1940s. I have the ability to scan and potentially fix them up (color correction, scratch removal, etc) but am puzzled on a good long-term solution for accessing them after that.

Is there an application that allows searchable metadata annotations? This could either be date, who is in the pic, subject, color yes/no, location, etc. Maybe toggled overlays that point to a location on the image and provide text (e.g., this is my Aunt Griselda).

Then is there a way to preserve this offline? Dumping the images to a DVD works for backups, but I'd like the metadata to go along with the images, and possibly the viewer program to go alongside it. This should be something that is shareable, meaning that I can make a copy of the DVD and give it to someone, and they can view the images and metadata. Maybe some sort of HTML filesystem based "web site" that resides on the DVD?

In any case, the ultimate requirement will be to have some sort of storage medium that is durable against time. Right now, having boxes of photos is very durable as far as preservation and playback (you can pick it up and read the back), but not searchable. I'm looking for something that can still be accessed after 50 years!
 

USAFRet

Splendid
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I'm looking for something that can still be accessed after 50 years!
Think back 10 years. 2004. What storage options did you have? CD, or IDE hard drive. Your phone or iPad does not know what to do with that.
Think back 20 years. 1994. What storage options did you have. 1.44 floppy, and small hard drives. My current PC can talk to neither. Ok, the small HDD, but only with some work.

What will be using 10 years from now? SATA-E v2.0? 30 years from now? Who knows...
50 years from now? They will laugh at a measly 4TB HDD. "Greatgrandad...WTF is this thing?"

A home created DVD will not last 50 years, nor will there be a system available to read it 50 years from now. Well...maybe in a museum.

Today, if I handed my kids a 1.44mb floppy disk (from 1998) with critical family info, they would have no idea what to do with it. And no one they know (except me) would either.

Applications + metadata? Applications come and go. And will NOT be usable a decade (or more) from now.
Go find an HTML 1.0 file or website. See how 'readable' it is on a current browser. Now fast forward to HTML 11.3.

The best way, moving forward, is to have multiple copies, and port it over to the 'newish' storage medium every year or two.
Floppy, CD, DVD, tape, hard drive, SSD, something new, something newer, etc, etc, etc.

AND have actual prints, on archival paper, stored in a cool, dry, dark space.
 

USAFRet

Splendid
Moderator
I'm looking for something that can still be accessed after 50 years!
Think back 10 years. 2004. What storage options did you have? CD, or IDE hard drive. Your phone or iPad does not know what to do with that.
Think back 20 years. 1994. What storage options did you have. 1.44 floppy, and small hard drives. My current PC can talk to neither. Ok, the small HDD, but only with some work.

What will be using 10 years from now? SATA-E v2.0? 30 years from now? Who knows...
50 years from now? They will laugh at a measly 4TB HDD. "Greatgrandad...WTF is this thing?"

A home created DVD will not last 50 years, nor will there be a system available to read it 50 years from now. Well...maybe in a museum.

Today, if I handed my kids a 1.44mb floppy disk (from 1998) with critical family info, they would have no idea what to do with it. And no one they know (except me) would either.

Applications + metadata? Applications come and go. And will NOT be usable a decade (or more) from now.
Go find an HTML 1.0 file or website. See how 'readable' it is on a current browser. Now fast forward to HTML 11.3.

The best way, moving forward, is to have multiple copies, and port it over to the 'newish' storage medium every year or two.
Floppy, CD, DVD, tape, hard drive, SSD, something new, something newer, etc, etc, etc.

AND have actual prints, on archival paper, stored in a cool, dry, dark space.
 

teddymines

Distinguished
Sep 12, 2011
44
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The responses so far address perfectly some of the challenges associated with this kind of task. Finding a floppy drive might be challenging enough, but then you have to find a floppy cable and a motherboard with that socket. Even then, the data may not be readable, and data recovery tools might be impossible to find let alone run. Then if by some miracle you can access the images, how do you migrate them to new technology? Problems like these translate easily to whatever storage medium is selected.

For the cloud, I am not comfortable trading in my privacy for the hope that it will provide a safe and durable location for my photos. Who knows what kind of recognition programs Google has running on images its users upload.

I guess for now, I will simply scan as many as possible and use folders and readme files to catalog them. Write to DVDs and maybe a 1TB ext USB drive as well.
 

Put your files (photos, documents, reports) in a ZIP file with good password (password encrypts the ZIP file, not simply locks it), then store that ZIP file in the cloud.
 
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