Storing Photos

Dear Computer Lady,

We have thousands of photograph files saved as .jpg files. We regularly back up these family pictures on to DVD’s. However, in your opinion, will .jpg be a good format to save for 10 and 20 years down the road, or would it be smarter to start converting the pictures to another type with more of a stable future?

Thanks, John

Dear John,

I am so glad to hear that you are backing up your photographs to DVDs on a regular basis! Too many people lose their precious memories to a hard drive crash because they didn’t take the time to do a backup.

I think that the jpg format is great for archiving. I don’t think that there is any way that any of us can predict what file format photos will be saved in 20 years from now (that is a long time in computer years), but since jpg is so prevalent right now, there will be ways to view this type of file in the future even if a new file format has evolved.

Another reason to save your photos in the original jpg format is quality. When you import your photos from your camera to your computer, the files are at the highest quality. Every time you make changes to the photos and save them, a little bit of that quality is lost. For this reason, I usually save the originals in a safe place, and save copies of the photos if I have made changes to them.

DVDs are a great medium to save your photos on. While some types of storage like flash drives, hard drives (both internal and external) and the older floppy disks use magnetic patterns to store your data, and can be corrupted when exposed to magnetic fields, DVDs use a reflective surface to store your photos and are much more stable, with a much longer shelf life.

Have fun taking your pictures!

It’s Your Turn: What do you think?
…. Share your experience in the comments box below.

Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • M. C. Warren
    • January 28, 2011

    I am concerned because I have been saving my photos to photo cd’s, such as you prepare at your local drugstore’s photo kiosk. I have also saved photos (that I downloaded from my camera to my computer) from my computer to my own cd’s for storage in my safe deposit box. How does cd storage compare to DVD storage? And if I need to make the change, can I easily put photos onto a DVD? My new MacBook does have a DVD/CD drive, but I haven’t used DVDs in it. I had been working with the same old, slow PC for the past 10 years, and have just recently gotten the MacBook. I’m really at a loss to know how to use all the improved technology on this new machine.

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