Like traditional scrapbooks, digital albums have their own set of preservation issues—namely, how should you store electronic files? And how do you ensure your creations won’t become victims of technological obsolescence? If you aren’t consistently backing up your pictures, data files and electronic heritage-album pages, repeat after me: I will back up my files. I will do it on a regular basis. I will make two copies of the backup. Creating two copies covers the just-in-case clause of computer operation—you never know when your computer will crash or you’ll hit a wrong button and inadvertently erase your disk or drive.
Save your files in a format such as JPG, TIF, GIF or PDF, which will embed the fonts and images into one layer that can be viewed in several programs. Name your page files with the topic and date so you can quickly locate them. Keep separate copies of the digital photos, as well.
CD-ROMs and high-capacity Zip disks work well for making backup files. While CDs used to have shelf lives of less than 10 years, manufacturers now claim the discs last at least 50 years. Store your backup copies in separate locations where they’ll be safe from floods, heat, scratches and operator mistakes. Keep CDs in the same environment as you would your original photographs—in acid-free materials at a temperature of no more than 77 degrees and 40 percent humidity.
To avoid obsolescence, upgrade your equipment every few years and transfer your files to new media as the technology becomes available. Keep printed copies of your scrapbook layouts, too.