I was struggling for a subject to discuss on today’s Blog post (this 31 day challenge is proving to be just that – a real challenge!), but then one of my fellow professional photographers put a comment onto Facebook regarding a problem he’d encountered whilst trying to download files from his memory card to the PC, so today’s question is ….
How safe is your digital media?
We’re now locked into the digital age, and memory cards in one form or another are an integral part of everyday life – they’re used to store and transfer photos, mp3 files, contact details and more. They’re in digital cameras, mobile phones, mp3 players, notebooks and laptops …. the list goes on!
All memory cards (and sticks) use Flash technology, as do other devices like USB flash drives and MP3 players. Memory cards obviously have a finite lifespan, and the “Compact Flash” cards that are used by top line digital cameras usually have a manufacturer’s warranty of 5 or 7 years, so you can imagine that during that time they’ll have stored tens of thousands of images!
It has to be said that failures are rare, and some manufacturers provide software on their cards that will hopefully rescue images/data in the event of a problem – but it’s best to minimise the risk if you can ……
Use quality, branded cards;
If you’re shooting images, don’t be tempted to buy the biggest card you can find – remember the old adage “putting all your eggs in one basket”? If that card fails on your once-in-a-lifetime holiday you’ve lost everything – better to shoot on smaller cards and then you’re guaranteed to have the majority of your files;
Reformat the cards after you’ve used them and downloaded the images – to clear any residual data from them.
Now when you’ve downloaded the images to your computer, if you can, make a backup copy on a separate drive – they’re so cheap nowadays and you can plug one into your USB port.
Save a copy to CD or DVD, and keep it safely tucked away – but a word of warning …… the CDs and DVDs that you burn at home are created by putting the data into an organic layer on the disc, whereas the commercial ones you buy with your films and music on them use a different process. That organic layer will deteriorate over time, so your “home-grown” CDs/DVDs will not last as long ….. better to burn new copies every few years just to be sure.
Now we have no way of knowing where technology will lead us over the next few years, and we’re already starting to see compact cameras that wirelessly transmit images to computers, so be sure to keep your systems up-to-date ….. if you need that image from your honeymoon in 10 years time the computer’s operating system might not be able to read it (hands up anyone who bought a Betamax video years ago – no, I didn’t!).
Whatever you do, just be careful with your digital data – especially your photographs … they’re precious memories and once they’ve gone they can’t be replaced!
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