Long Term Storage - What kind of Media should I use?

Also discussed below:  The password problem & setting a password for MS word documents.  click for a fast link

  It is generally accepted that practical photography was first invented in 1839.  Do you remember or have you actually owned vinyl records that played at the speed '78'?  Ever since Alexander Gram Bell invented the phonograph in 1877, we've been improving our ability to store and recall (playback) information.  First it was recording voices and making moving pictures.  Recordings of radio programs & music from the 20's & 30's exist today because of Alex Bell's invention.  


Remember portable tape recorders using cassettes and players like the Sony Walkman?  How about LP records at 33 1/3? 8 track tape players?  When I was a teenager in the 1960’s I first owned 4 track tapes & players! 


My friend Neil has most of his family history on 35mm slides, a technology from Kodak first introduced in1958, whose hay day was from the 1960's to the 1990's.  He recently purchased a device to transfer these slides to jpg.  


Video cameras first became affordable for the general public in the 1970's, along with VCR's.  The first home computers introduced 5 1/4 inch 'floppies'.  Disk drives soon followed. CD's, DVD's and then "Blue Ray".


Just as the Statler Brothers song goes "....Do you remember these?'

 Each of the above technologies eventually went the way of the dinosaurs.    Today, many computers don't even ship with CD/DVD drives installed.  

The age of cloud/internet storage is upon us.  Will this finally be the last iteration of the many ways to store movies, pictures, data and the like?  I doubt it.  Since I am not capable of predicting the future (IE: is it VCR or Sony Betamax?) I simply think of the best ways to choose for preserving and handing down my stuff to the younger generation.   

Have you tried recently to give your precious family history or heirlooms to a younger generation?  They don't want it!  It takes up too much space.  

It appears to me young people look “to the cloud”.    Remember, this is the digital age!  What age is next?


I find the bulk of my storage is taken up with old photos.  But memorabilia also takes considerable space. 


My first decision was to ‘scan in’ all my photos.  After making at least 2 copies, I tossed most of the photos especially ones that are from the 1950’s 60’s & 70’s.  Why?  The quality is just not there.  I do keep the really old ones.  I’ll let the younger generations decide on those.  Then anything that pertained to my children I put in separate storage tubs, handed it to then and said “hey, it’s your history, keep it or toss it, your choice.


BIG TIP:  Scan at the highest resolution possible, 600dpi (dots per inch) at a minimum and higher if possible.  We’ll discuss this in another area of this website. 


Picking up with my earlier discussion, I chose to store all this data on a flash drive.  I also backup the flash drive to Google Photos (it’s free).  I have a copy on my computer hard-drive.  I backup my computer with a portable hard drive that has intelligent software for creating backups at scheduled times.  I have created a FamilyTree using the website ‘My Heritage’.  You could use ‘Ancestry’ or the site the Mormons have created.  Many of my current family photos are on CD.  I created this website (www.carlblase.com) where the ‘blog’ is all about my family history.


Over kill?  Maybe.   look at it this way:  Why take chances that your precious history won’t survive.  It’s just not that expensive to maintain the additional copies.  Of the 6 ways I’ve chosen, 4 of them are physical media which I can hand to my children & grandchildren.  Little tiny flash drives, CDs, Blue Ray discs & external, portable hard drives.  All of which should be around for a while, like cassette tapes - invented in 1962 and can still be transferred using todays 2018 technology.  That’s 61 years!

Yes I think the younger generation will accept that medium and I’m betting big time that it’s most likely to survive.

The remaining 3 backup methods involve ‘cloud’ storage – A medium young people of today probably believe will last forever (I don’t - especially if the past is any predictor of the future).      

Now, for solving the biggest problem:  Passwords.


My Heritage as well as Ancestry and every other website are protected with passwords.  Even the wonderful, free, Google Photos is protected with passwords.  How are my kids ever going to gain access if they don’t know the password?

Even my password file written in MS Word on my laptop is password protected.  (How do I do this?)  


I recently discovered a file I created in 1999 that was password protected.  It is of course lost forever.  Wives come to our computer club meetings after husbands pass away asking for help to gain access to password protected files.  It's a shame we can't help them!

So what can be done to make sure a future generation (or even just your spouse) will be able to access your  passwords? Check all my suggestions.