The first backup system I used for a computer was a cassette on a household
recorder. Then went to 5 1/2 inch floppies, then to 3 1/2 inch floppies. Around
that time some used 8 inch disc backups or 3/4 inch tape drives. This over a
span of nearly 50 years. One would be very hard pressed to find machines which
would read some of those backup media today. Moral, no matter how up to date a
backup system is, when you upgrade your computer, be ready to copy all important
images and documents from the old media to the new one. The more stuff you have
the longer this will take, although transfer rates are very fast now.
I like all these ideas and will add one more. Save your digitized photos and
computer documents to the Cloud. I just recently began doing so. Of course, it
must be on your computer in order to do so.
There is still special significance to the actual artifacts and they should be
cared for and protected as the treasures that they are. No artifact lasts
forever, but the wonder of the digital age is that one can easily create a
digital facsimile(s) of an artifact and the facsimile can be reproduced and
copied flawlessly forever. Preserving the digital copy in an accessible format
requires sustained stewardship, but stewardship is a blessing that gives the
object meaning.Currently it is essentially free to store digital
information in a large number of places. This column mentions a few important
ones (e.g. familysearch.org). Many large corporations currently offer online
storage for free. There are numerous methods and services available to
create the digital facsimiles. If nothing else, most already own a digital
camera. If not, one can buy a $10 no-contract phone (on sale) that includes a
digital camera designed for close-up images. One can simply snap pictures of
objects or pages. Preserve those treasured artifacts as long as you can,
but begin now to prepared for the day when the artifact itself crumbles to dust.
It may be sooner than you expect.
Consider buying Millenial ceramic disks that can be read on any hard drive and
purchasing a disk driver that will burn them. They have a very long shelf life
(100+ years). I purchased a disk drive that will do this ($90) and the disks are
about $3 a piece now. I am currently scanning family photos, letters and
histories and plan to give a ceramic disk to family members for safe keeping. It
just takes one disaster to erase family treasures forever.