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May 21, 2019

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When it comes preserving your photos and videos, you have options

storing photos and videos 5mE / photo illustration

Gone are the days of flipping through thick photo albums or popping a VHS tape into the VCR. Sure, we capture more memories than ever thanks to phones and other digital devices, but when was the last time you printed a photo, much less put it in an album? Technology has paved the way to many organization methods, swaying us to leave hard copies behind for the ease of digital. With it has also come the capability of printing your face on anything. For those looking for an easy or unique way to preserve your memories, we have the list for you.

Digitizing VHS tapes

Every dad in the 1980s had a video camera, but do you know where the tapes are? Hopefully not disintegrating in the attic. If so, grab them and get them digitized. Converting VHS is easier than ever, and crucial if you want to preserve those memories—tapes break down over time, grow mold and stop working altogether. In addition, VCRs are no longer being produced. Do it yourself with a laptop, VCR and special conversion cables, which can be found on Amazon (search “VHS to digital converter”), or employ a commercial print shop, big box store or small business. Many online outlets, such as LegacyBox, also provide the service and can digitize tapes, slides and print photographs.

Store them in the cloud

Back it up

While it may feel more secure to avoid the cloud and keep your videos and images on a home computer or personal external hard drive, these devices often die at a moment’s notice. If you’re using them, be sure to back up your files multiple times on different devices so they can be retrieved if one stops working.

Printed photos are great, but let’s face it, it takes time to organize them and space to stash them. Not so with digital files. The web is loaded with cloud storage options that will house your images and allow you to organize them as you would files on your computer. Popular sites include Dropbox, Flickr, Shutterfly, Photobucket, Smugmug, iCloud, Google Photos and Amazon Prime. Here’s what to consider when choosing:

1. Storage size: How many photos do you need to store per year? If the answer is “a lot,” then you’ll want to pay attention to how much digital storage you get for your buck. For example:

• iCloud: $1/month for 50 GB

• Google Photos: $20/month for 100 GB

• Amazon Prime members: $12/year for 100 GB

2. Changes to image size: Keep an eye on the fine print of whatever plan you choose—some sites change the size of your files upon storage. If you’re a casual photographer and you plan to use the cloud for storage and occasional perusal, that’s fine. But if you need images at the ready at high resolutions, image size is a big deal when making your choice.

3. Do you want to make prints? Do you like to make items with your photos? If so, storage on a site like Shutterfly or Snapfish might be your best bet. All of your images are at your fingertips when it’s time to make annual calendars of the grandkids.

4. Ownership: Of great concern, for professional photographers especially, is who owns the image once it’s uploaded to a website or a cloud. Read the fine print. Consider who should have access to your images once they’re uploaded. Your albums may be public, which is great for sharing with Grandma but not for a larger audience.

Is cloud storage secure?

Generally speaking, yes. While there have been security breaches, companies work day in and day out to keep your info safe by backing up files multiple times and encrypting them upon upload into their system. This means that whoever is breaking in would need to crack the code to gain access.

Extra security tips:

• Be sure to use unique and complicated passwords.

• Use your own encryption software to encrypt your files before you upload them. It acts as an additional layer controlled by you, on top of the company’s already existing encryption process.

Put your face on it

Major commercial print shops such as Shutterfly and Snapfish can produce high-quality mementos in an endless array of products. Etsy is also chock-full of crafty folks ready to make creative items with your pics. Trending products include pillows, blankets, jewelry, socks, mugs, puzzles, ornaments, stickers, water bottles, cellphone cases, calendars and mouse pads. More traditional photo printing options include posters, stretched canvas and wood, metal or glass prints in a variety of sizes, textures and colors.

If you’re looking for something closer to home, don’t forget your local drug stores or big-box stores, which usually offer quick turnaround times and in-store pickup. Target, Walmart, Costco, Walgreens and CVS all print photos and specialty items. Keep an eye out for sales and coupons.

Kids’ artwork

Children are constantly creating masterpieces at home, daycare and school. There are now many great options for turning all of that creativity into long-lasting memories. Artkive will turn a box of children’s artwork into a bound keepsake book, and there are Etsy shops that will turn your child’s favorite artistic creation into a stuffed animal or figurine.

Custom pet memorabilia

Want socks with your dog's face on them? No problem. Want a stuffed animal or slippers that are replicas of your pooch? Of course you do. There are even sites dedicated to custom artwork based on a photo of your pet.

Properly storing old photographs

The perils of boxes

Don’t just pile your photos in boxes—they will stick together or become damaged. When storing in piles or layers, place a sheet of acid-free paper between each image to keep it safe.

Still can't part with them? There are a few ways to help preserve them.

• Be sure your hands are clean and dry.

• Don't use photo album pages that rely on glues, adhesives or magnets. If you have in the past, remove the photos. These glues and materials can damage your images.

• Label the photos with the date, location and subject/people.

• Put them in an acid-free storage device (these come in the form of frames, paper, boxes, albums, etc.).

• Store in a dry location with a consistent, comfortable temperature.