Protect Your Digital Photos Now!
This weekend I popped a Kodak PhotoCD in to my computer that I had made in December of 1996—a “gold” version Kodak touted at the time as having a “100 year archival life“—and found that I didn’t have ANY software on my system to open that “.pcd” filetype. Alarmed, I finally found an inexpensive utility called Graphic Converter, an open source tool called ImageMagick and another called pcdtojpeg that would all do the job of converting the photos. Poking around I also discovered that Apple’s iPhoto would, in fact, pull all the images in to my system and convert them.
This only goes to prove the point that I made in a post I wrote nearly one year ago entitled, “Will Your Digital Photos & Media Survive?” and why YOU MUST PRESERVE YOUR PHOTOS NOW:
Most of us have hundreds (if not thousands or like me, 20,000+) digital photos sitting on hard drives, at Flickr, or on some old and obsolete media? In my home office closet I have Syquest, Jaz, Zip, Mac OS 7 formatted CD’s, DOS CDs, and other media I can’t read NOW…and it’s been less than 15 years. My grandchildren or great-grandchildren will pick up a Jaz cartridge and say, “What the heck is this!?!” Viewing the photos on that cartridge? Not a chance. But it gets worse since most of the digital media we’re creating today may not survive the media it’s on, let alone if it’s in a proprietary format.
THAT is the problem I ran in to this weekend: Kodak PhotoCD was a proprietary format that, due to a lack of consumer acceptance, was abandoned slowly until essentially vanishing in 2004.
I found the photo above in a “baby book” my grandmother began after the birth of her first child, my Mom. I hadn’t seen many of her maternal grandparents, the Steens, and it was an absolute delight to come across this artifact which was so perfectly preserved and in excellent condition for scanning. The kicker? This nearly 80 year old photograph was one I could see, hold, scan and preserve but a 14 year old PhotoCD photo came close to being unreadable or unusable!
Think about that as you gaze through your photos—most of which probably start with “DSC” or some other naming convention—and realize that unless you do something NOW to preserve the readability of these photos, it’s likely they’ll be lost to your children or future generations.