It's hard to believe that just a few short years ago, the primary way people would keep photos in photo albums. Nowadays, we take photos with our phones or cameras and store them on our computers or online. But is this really the best way to store our photos over long periods of time?
Where can I store my photos permanently? The best way to keep photos for long periods of time has been a combination of strategies that include online resources and hardware devices. However, blockchain technology has introduced new ways to store photos permanently.
Let's go over the options on how to make sure you can upload your precious digital photos and keep all of those megapixels safe for years and years to come.
The Original Option: Print them off and store them in a photo album
This was the way that people stored their photos for years, and it is still a valid option today. The main advantage of this method is that you can physically hold your photos in your hands and flip through them whenever you want. Another advantage is that if your computer crashes or you lose your phone, you will still have all of your photos.
The main disadvantage of this method is that it can be time-consuming to print off all of your photos and put them in an album. It can also be expensive, especially if you have a lot of photos. Another disadvantage is that albums take up space, so if you are short on storage, this might not be the best option for you.
As well, photos can degrade in quality due to air exposure. A photo is only going to last for so long before it starts to wear out.
Overall, people love photo albums and looking through them, but they just take a lot of time to make happen. It is still one of the best methods for keeping photos long-term, but, of course, not permanently.
Default Option: Store on social media, your phone and hope that they do not go missing
With this option, you are hoping everything is going to turn out alright, and you don't want to think about all the ways it can go wrong.
The advantage of storing your photos on social media or your phone - whether it is Apple iOS or an Android - is that it is quick and easy. You can upload your photos as soon as you take them, and you don't have to worry about printing them off or buying an album. Additionally, most phones and social media platforms now offer automatic backup or sync with an online storage provider (think, Dropbox account or icloud storage), so if you lose your phone, you will still have all of your photos.
The main disadvantage of this method is that you are not in control of your photos. If the social media platform you are using decides to change its policies or goes out of business, you could lose all of your photos - this happens all the time, and it could happen to you. Additionally, if your phone gets lost or stolen, someone else could have access to all of your photos.
Overall, storing your photos on social media or on your phone is a quick and easy option, but you are not in control of your photos. If you are worried about losing your photos, you might want to consider another option.
This is definitely not a permanent option. In fact, it is probably the least permanent option on the list.
Most Common Option: Online cloud storage with subscription payments
One option for storing your photos is online cloud storage - think Dropbox, Apple icloud or Google Photos. There are many different providers of this service, and they all offer different features. However, the basic idea is that you can upload your photos to a server, and then access them from any internet-connected device.
The main advantage of this method is that it is very convenient. You can access your photos from anywhere, and you don't have to worry about losing them if your computer crashes or your phone is lost or stolen. Additionally, many online cloud storage providers offer automatic backup, so you don't have to worry about manually backing up your photos.
The main disadvantage of this method is that it requires a monthly subscription service. Some providers start off with a free plan but a charge of a monthly fee is pretty standard.
When talking about storing photos permanently, the question naturally arises: How permanent are my photos if I am paying monthly? What happens if I stop paying monthly?
The service providers will store your photos if you keep on paying them to store your photos, but like any other service once you stop paying the service will stop. If you keep on paying permanently they will keep storing them permanently, but, of course, cost and longevity of time come into consideration.
Additionally, there have been cases of online cloud storage providers losing data. This happens more often than you think even with reputable providers so you need to be aware of that as part of your strategy.
Overall, online cloud storage is a convenient option for storing your photos, but it can be expensive. You need to make sure that you choose a reputable provider in order to avoid losing your photos.
Offline Options: External Hard Drives and USB Thumbnails
External hard drives are popular for storing photos because they offer a lot of storage space for a relatively low price. However, external hard drives have a limited lifespan - 5 to 7 years -and there are stories of them not working correctly. You should also keep in mind that it can be extremely expensive to retrieve data from a failed external hard drive.
If you store your photos on an external hard drive, be sure to create backups in case the drive fails - even do a backup hard drive of your hard drive.
One of the best things about external hard drives is they are cheap. You can purchase TBs of data space for $100. USBs do not hold as much as external hard drives but you can still put a lot of photos in the GBs you get.
That is a lot of data for a low price. However, you need to make sure that there are backups, and that you regularly buy new hard drives before they expire!
A lot of people used to (still?) store photos on a CD or DVD, however, most computers do not even have a CD option anymore. Although, there is legitimacy to putting your photos on CDs if we fast forward 30 or 40 years from now, how easy will it be to get them off your CD?
A New Option: Blockchain technology
With the recent advancements in blockchain technology, a new player has emerged in the photo storage market - storage on the blockchain. This new option offers many advantages over traditional storage methods, such as increased security and permanence. In addition to permanence, one of the most appealing features of blockchain storage is its affordability.
The blockchain which broke through with permanent storage is called Arweave. Arweave has produced both a technological and economic breakthrough which promises permanent storage for any type of digital files including photos.
For a one-time fee, you can store your photos on the Arweave network for a minimum of 200 years. This would equate to about 1200 pictures for $10 USD.
And because the data is stored on a decentralized network of computers, there is no risk of data loss if one computer fails. This is the ultimate redundancy built into the system, because there are 1000s of encrypted copies of your data that can only be accessed by the owner.
So if you're looking for a safe and affordable way to store your photos, blockchain storage and Arweave is worth considering.
But, how does someone get their photos onto the Arweave blockchain?
ArDrive is a web app that let's you store on Arweave securely and privately - no one can see your photos except for you, and you can pass them on and share them as you see fit.
ArDrive lets you put all of your photos into the file and folder structure that suits you best. As well, any type of file is supported whether it is png, jpeg, or docs.
Finally, you can upload your photos from ArDrive from a desktop or mobile device. It offers unlimited storage - not for free, but over time it offers the best price.
Arweave offers an affordable and permanent storage solution for you to upload photos permanently. Their blockchain technology ensures that your photos are safe from data loss, and their ArDrive web app makes it easy to store and share your photos with others.
If you're looking for a long-term storage solution for your photos, Arweave is definitely worth considering.
Whatever way you choose to decide make sure you think it through carefully, because it is easier to lose digital photos - whether it is through your own error or a digital provides. Have a strategy and stick with it!