Hold onto your memories
We were thrilled to spot this article by Kellie Sloane in the Daily Telegraph and RendezView on the weekend, because it focuses on an issue close to our heart - saving precious personal photo memories. Kellie is a media personality and mum to three boys, and she penned this piece after the shock of nearly losing all her family photos when she unintentionally clicked on an email virus. She has kindly allowed us to reproduce the article with the hope it will entertain you, and inspire you to commit to anti-virus software and regular back-ups!
Over the next few months we'll bring your more practical tips on how to preserve your family photos so they can be enjoyed beyond a few seconds or a few weeks. Of course we're biased, but it's well documented that printing your photos is still the best insurance you have if you want to keep them safe for future generations, so read on if you want to protect your digital photos from falling into a digital black hole.
Written for publication in The Daily Telegraph and RendezView on 9 May 2015
This is the most important column you will read this week – and possibly the scariest. I’m usually not one to be dramatic, but I’ve had a few close scrapes lately that brought me one step closer to becoming a ghost. Well, not in the supernatural meaning of the world - in the sense that proof of my recent existence came close to going "pooof!" up in smoke. Here today … gone tomorrow.
Am I rambling? OK … deep breath. I should start at the beginning, I suppose, and that fake email speeding ticket.
I could provide you with a long list of reasons why I’m really not stupid for clicking on that file attached to the email. I won’t mention that it was so sophisticated it even tricked a tech-savvy person like myself (cough). No, I won’t provide excuses, I’ll just tell you straight up that I clicked on a virus – a really, really bad one. "I hate to tell you this but you have caught the Ebola of computer viruses," my I.T. guy said.
The alleged speeding fine was actually a Trojan that went straight into my hard drive and encrypted every file quicker than you can say dominoes. This is the kind of virus that flashes up a ransom note – pay $6000 and we’ll give you the encryption key. She’ll be right! I have back- ups. Three of them, right? Wrong. The damn bug infested my Cloud back-ups and hard drive, corrupting everything - including my photos. My photos!
I mentally flipped through the images over the last few months. Two birthdays, Christmas, New Years and that amazing shot of our boys all smiling, angelically, at once. Memories wiped. People race into burning houses to save photos. Photos are our most valuable record of history. They are time capsules taking us back to a place we’ll never re-visit. But the truth is we are all in danger of becoming ghosts with see-through histories.
Computer viruses are just one factor. Today’s Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Selfie society has never been better documented but it could be fleeting. Very little is properly stored and when it is backed up, you’d be surprised at how compromised those systems can be.
"If we don’t find a solution our 21st Century will be an information black hole," Google’s Vice president Vint Cerf recently warned. Now when the boss of a global tech giant tells you not to trust technology it’s time to …well … PANIC.
Mr Cerf told the world not to rely on computer back-ups but to instead print out everything you want to keep. He explained that so fragile are our storage systems, and how quickly outdated they become, that we are in danger of becoming a new dark-age – future generations will be unable to access our data, records and photos.
Think about it. When you take this Sunday’s Mother’s Day pics where will they be stored? Do you leave them on your memory card? A friend recently lost her camera and she hadn’t backed up the photos. She lost hundreds and it was enough to make her physically sick.
Have you backed up photos on recordable CDs? I have. Well here’s an alarming fact. CD-Rs suffer from degradation and can have a reliable lifespan of up to ten years. Just TEN years!
Even if you were lucky and they lasted longer where do you think you’ll play them in a few years? Modern laptops no longer come with a disc drive. Tried to use a floppy disc lately? What about beta-cart? Cassette? What about that box of handy-cam video tapes in the bottom drawer? Can you actually play them now?
Technology is so fabulous, yet so flimsy. I used to put all our precious memories into real, hard copy Momento photo books. They’re my greatest treasures but I’m about five years behind on the family albums. My Mother’s Day resolution is to catch up before it’s too late. So do yourself a favour and take lots of photos and make sure you’re in them! Then back them up and print them. Oh – and one last thing … don’t click on any emailed speeding fines!