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How to Protect Photos for Generations


You probably underestimate the value of your photos to future generations. Sure, many may be throwaways, but some are hidden gems.

By preserving family digital photos, videos, and other memorable and sentimental files, your great-great-great-grandchildren, and more, will have a chance to appreciate them and know something about you and our era firsthand.

What is the best way to preserve digital photos?

Backups in the cloud make sense. But they require (1) that someone keeps updating credit cards and paying, and (2) that the username, updated email address, password, and multi-factor authentication method are handed down from one generation to the next. There is value in having a local, physical, long-lasting, redundant backup of important files.

Hard drives and SSDs die. Standard DVDs and CDs become unusable over the years. But there is a special DVD called M-Disc. It uses a layer of stone material estimated to last for 1,000 years.

You will need an M-Disc-compatible optical drive to burn digital photos, movies, and other files to the M-Disc DVDs. LG makes USB DVD drives that work with M-Discs. The pricier models write to 100 Gigabyte BDXL disks (e.g., the LG 6X WP50NB40 Ultra Slim Portable Blu-ray Writer, which costs around $100). The 100 GB disks range from $11 to $18 each.

Less expensive DVD drives work only with smaller capacity M-Disc media (e.g., the LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Super Multi Ultra Slim Portable, Model GP65NS60, which sells for around $25). It writes to 4.7 GB M-Discs and not to the larger 50 GB and 100 GB M-Discs.

Some critics question whether computer hardware familiar to us will be around generations from now. I am confident they will be. We can still find slide projectors, tape recorders, and even stereoscopes for long-outdated media. M-Discs can be read on standard DVD drives. The larger disks need Blu-Ray units.

It is a good idea to make duplicate disks holding your memories and keep the sets in two geographically separated locations. Future generations will be grateful.

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