An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

The Best Way to Save Digital Pictures


Digital pictures have a bad habit of self destruction. Hard drives crash, memory cards get bent and damaged, CDs only last for 10-20 years before the thin metal begins to deteriorate, and the images are lost.

Memory cards should be backed up as soon as possible on the hard drive. After they are gone though, and the bad ones are thrown out, the images are edited with software. Then I back up the pictures on gold CD’s. Gold CDs have about a 100 year life span, especially with scratch resistant coatings. Gold DVDs can be used also, but gold CD’s have a better data verification system and are more reliable. Also, about every 5 years think about those old gold CD’s and maybe put them on a more current storage media. Gold CD’s may not be able to be played 20 years from now, who knows? CD players only last about 5-15 years so eventually there will be no CD players when new ones are not made anymore. Gold CD’s might need to be purchased at a specialty photography store.

The advantage of storing photographs on CDs is they can be stored at a different location. What do people miss the most when their house burns down? The photographs are missed the most usually. Having CD’s offsite means getting all those photographs remade if the originals are destroyed! It is worth the effort to save them!