Methods on archiving for the future?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by FF_productions, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    #1
    I'm sure it has been discussed, but looking far down the road, 10-20 years from now, how do we protect our Digital Photos?

    My scenario, I shoot on my D90, I offload photos to a separate drive labeled by the date and year, and then I put photos in my Aperture Library for touching up and sending out to family.

    Years from now, how can we be sure that computers will still support these cameras and formats?

    (I backup to other drives, and sometimes to DVD, but I'm sure there are better methods??)
     
  2. Razeus macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #2
    i would all my stuff saved in high quality JPEGs. RAW seems iffy, but people like to shoot to that, but I wouldn't count on it for archival. I do think JPEGs will be around forever. Much like the mp3 format.
     
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #3
    RAW formats from the smaller vendors I'd be a little iffy on, but those from Canon and Nikon can probably be counted on to last for a long time, or at least be compatible for a long time.
     
  4. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    #4
    Just think of RAW files like PSDs. It's not really anything supported by any application other than the ones you use to edit them. You're then supposed to export them as tiffs, jpegs or pngs, that's what is supported.
     
  5. FF_productions thread starter macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    #5
    I like shooting raw just for the flexibility, but JPEG/TIFF/etc. seems like a format that will last a long time. Thanks for the help so far.

    What's everyones method on storing their stuff for the future? Used to just be stashed in photo books, now it's on computers etc.
     
  6. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    #6
    I keep everything in Aperture (hardly future proof) and export my important or publishable pictures as pngs or tiffs.
     
  7. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    I print everything at 12x8" and store these prints in a saltmine.
     
  8. FF_productions thread starter macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    #8
    I do like the idea of doing large prints (no need for a computer after that), but only the very important special photographs deserve it.

    Reason I brought up this thread, I've been scanning old photographs, and began to look at my collection, it got me thinking about the topic..
     
  9. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

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  10. FF_productions thread starter macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    #10
    Oh yeah I forgot about the DNG format!

    This reminds me to run another backup.
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    How can we be sure? Only one thing is certain the formats will change. One day your digital phots will be like a collection of wax "Edison Cylinders" that can't be played on anything outside of a museum.

    So what to do? You have to rotate your backups. Buy a set of disk drives and every time you make a backup use another drive in rotation keeping at least one in some off site location. Eventually one of the drive will be to small. then you retaire it and replace it with whatever is the latest current technology. I buy about one drive a year and keep four in my system. This means none of my backup drives is more then four years old. You just keep doing this and you have to keep moving your library to newer computers and newer software. Some day, I'm sure I'll replace a disk with a solid state device.

    What this means is you simply can NOT make an archive and hide it away for 20 years. First off no digital media will last that long, you have to re-write it periodically. But the re-writing is always done using current technology. It's not an "archive" it is a backup of the current library and the current library holds all the old and new photos. It will grow over the years to some huge size. But who cares diska are now $100 per terabyte.

    My guess is that in 100 years there will be very, very few 100 year old digital photos. Only the ones that were printed and put in a book will last that long because after you get to old to do it, no one else is going to bother to keep your archive current and rotate the backups.
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
    I've been shooting digital for at least 7 years now, and I don't think I'm gong to have issues in 3 years. However, I tend to keep what I've shot in raw formats on systems where there are open source raw converters, so that _IF_ I need to, I can convert to another format- but many formats are more than 20 years old. I wouldn't keep anything in a lossy format like JPEG unless it was originally shot that way, and even then I'd probably convert to a non-lossy format because if the processes for printing, editing or manipulating change enough to re-process a file over a 20-30 year period, you'll lose resolution. Many of the "old" B&W photographers got better at printing over time- the difference between Adams' early and late printing, papers and processes are very noticeable.

    You can't ever be completely sure, however while I'm happy to use a Mac to process photos today, I tend to try to ensure that my images aren't limited to being processed further or again on a closed-source, proprietary system. The extension of copyright laws have made emulation of current OS's difficult, and so I keep a source copy of dcraw.c with my backups so that I have software that can read old .RAF and .NEF image formats if it becomes necessary to re-convert an original un-manipulated file sometime in the distant future.

    DVD media may or may not last, but as a format, it certainly will go the way of large floppy disks, Bernoulli cartridges and Zip drives. Keeping your files on currently available media with current backups physically in a different place is probably your best choice, coupled with updating to a new mass storage media every few years- I've just gone through updating from PATA to SATA for all my backups, and I expect sooner or later I'll have to deal with solid state drives of varying technologies.
     
  13. FF_productions thread starter macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    Apr 16, 2005
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    #13
    Very good points by everyone.

    So if I'm reading this right, you basically gotta keep on track with modern technology and "backup" as you go, and not try to stash something on a shelf for 20 years (stupid) and assume it'll work on anything (yeah try opening a floppy disk from 20 years ago on a Mac now, oh wait, they don't even make/sell those anymore!).

    Again thanks, I assume this applies to just about anybody with digital photos, it's something that needs to be brought up more often. With digital comes a tad more responsibility..
     
  14. Razeus macrumors 601

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    Jul 11, 2008
    #14
    Don't see it much of an issue. Hard drives are still around and will be for the forseeable future. JPEG is the standard. And RAW, while iffy, should be fully supported by your DSLR manufacturer. I wouldn't worry to much about it. I would worry about your organization and storage strategy foremost.
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #15
    When was the last time you saw a controller for an RLL, MFM or other pre-IDE hard drive installed in a new system? How about a USB enclosure for the same? Just because it's a hard drive doesn't make it automatically compatible with the current crop of hard drives. About the only backwards-compatible drives are SCSI, and I'm not sure that even with all the right connectors a SCSI-I drive will completely mesh with a modern system's Ultra 320 bus.
     
  16. BertyBoy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    #16
    Been working with TIFFs and JPEGs for at least 15 years already - on Mac of course, even before I got my Kodak DC20 and then my DC240 about 10 years ago.

    As I upgrade the long-term storage media every few years, I'll migrate the pictures to a new format if I feel it offers better long term storage. Think I've gone from external hard disk, to Zip / Syquest to CD to DVD. Next stop may be Blu-Ray in a year or two, but I'm sure that the format will still be TIFF and JPEG.
     

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