Digital photos can survive forever if taken care of
If you ever opened an old photo album you are probably aware how old photo paper prints look like. Yellowish and faded colors are just one symptom of photo paper aging. The digital photos era promises photos that can survive a lifetime and more.
Old photo paper prints age pretty fast. Dust sunlight and other unavoidable environmental conditions make the color fade and the paper to change color. Heat and temperature changes also contribute to color changes and to the paper losing its flat shape. Other human factors like greasy fingers add their part to damaging photo paper prints.
Digital photos on the other hand are bits and bytes stored on a computer file. For as long as the digital photo file is available it can last forever and it will never lose its quality. If you like to print your digital photos then the digital photo paper prints will age like the old film negative based paper prints but if you are smart enough to keep the original digital photo files you can always reprint the photo at any time to get brand new photo paper prints of the exact original quality.
So digital photo prints are great they can be copied an infinite amount of times without any quality loss and they can be printed an infinite amount of time without any quality loss either. Digital photo files do not age and if you can open the digital photo file in a thousand years from now it will still be fresh and the exact quality as it is today.
But digital photo files are not free from harm. Although they donít lose their quality there are other risks that can make them either unusable on not readable. Digital photo files are stored on digital media. Digital media is a physical device that usually utilize magnetic fields in order to represent the digital photo files pixels values. Magnetic fields can change due to environmental strong magnetic fields or other reasons. When they change the data in the file changes and the digital photo file is lost.
Like any other physical device digital media can also be physically damaged or lost. You have all heard about disk crashes but hopefully have no experienced one. Disk crashes are physical failures of the digital media physical storage device. When a disk fails some data might be salvaged but more likely than not most data including the digital photo files is lost.
Another risk with digital photo files is that in order to use the file for viewing or printing you must have software that can read the file format. A file format is like language the software needs to speak the digital photo file language in order to display it. Over the years technology advances and new and better file formats are invented. Over time old file formats are discarded and new software usually does not support them anymore. JPEG is the most common current digital photo file format and JPEG is not likely to disappear in the next years but in fifty or a hundred years it might well be forgotten. IF you digital photo files are store in a discarded and obsolete file format you will not be able to use them in the future.
To avoid the two biggest risk to digital photo files which are the files being damaged of the file format becoming obsolete you should follow two simple rules. One is to always backup your digital photo files. You can backup them on a DVD for example and give it to a family member to keep in their house or you can use one of the many online file backup services. You can always restore your digital photo files from your backup if your main store is damaged. The second rule is to always keep a backup of software that can process the digital photo files with the photo files themselves for example copy the software to your backup DVD. When the digital photo file format starts to become old and there is a new file format in town it is also advisable to convert all your digital photo files to the new format so the file format in storage is kept up to date. In almost all cases such conversions from one digital format to another would not degrade your digital photos quality.
Danette Mckay explains about this subject in more depth at reviews compare dozens digital photo printing sites read