Really, this post is about keeping those historic images for the next generations. If you are keeping your photographs in albums, you should not expect these albums to hold up for future generations. Color negatives and ordinary color prints may fade away to nothing in a relatively short period if not stored and handled properly. This happens even if the negatives and prints are kept in the dark, because ambient light is not the determining factor, but heat and humidity are. The color degradation is the result of the dyes used in the color processes. Because color processing results in a less stable image than traditional black-and-white processing, black-and-white pictures from the 1920s are more likely to survive long-term than color films and photographs from after the middle 20th century.
The consensus we have is that the more copies of something you have the better – that is, if you have both a physical copy of a photograph and a digital copy, you should “preserve” both. Now obviously the physical print copy is easy to preserve. You can place it in a mylar film sleeve, box it up, and it should last for some time (avoid scrap books or other types of photograph “holders”). However, the big question is always “how does one preserve a digital copy?”
According to Wikipedia: Although there are many websites that allow the upload of photographs and videos, digital preservation for the long-term is still an issue. There is a lack of confidence that such websites are capable of storing data for long periods of time (ex. 50 years) without data degradation or loss.
Optical media is a great solution for distributing content. It is tangible, and lifespan of the media can be 100 years or more. Read on!
How long can I expect my recorded CDs/DVDs to last?
CD/DVD experiential life expectancy is 2 to 5 years even though published life expectancies are often cited as 10 years, 25 years, or longer.
The National Archives and Records Administration “Frequently Asked Questions about Optical Media” tells us that the color of a CD/DVD indicates its quality. It is best to look for a gold or silver CD/DVD – look at the color from the underside of the disk, not the top. In addition, to assure the highest quality of a CD-R, look for those manufactured using phthalocyanine dye with gold or silver reflective layers. Do not use Azo- or (plain) cyanine-dyed media. For DVD-Rs, purchase double-sided/single-layer with a gold reflective underside.According to the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA), the unrecorded shelf life of a CD-R/DVD-R disc is conservatively estimated to be between 5 and 10 years. In addition, they point that manufacturers claim life spans ranging from 30 to 100 years for DVD, DVD-R and DVD+R discs and up to 30 years for DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM.
The recordable media used in red laser disc technology like DVD’s and CD’s is an organic dye that is sensitive to light. Blu-ray disks, available since 2006, however, use a combination of silicon and copper which is bonded during the burning process, this alloy is much more resilient than the organic dye. Manufacturers claim a life span from 100 up to 150 years for Blu-ray (non-re-recordable) disks.✝ Concrete lifespan numbers for discs are difficult to establish due to fluctuating environmental and physical factors that are open to individual interpretation.
To assure we’re using the highest quality CD/DVD/BluRay media and to avoid as much deterioration as possible, Meadia Productions is a local scanning service (no fear of loss of valuable family photos in the mail) that uses Gold Archival Grade CD-R media – or Blu-ray Media – to preserve your family photos and important records as well as critical corporate data. The gold reflective layer is naturally resistant to corrosion. The gold layer overlaps the silver layer and prevents oxygen from coming through the lacquer layer or edge of the disc and corroding the silver. Silver oxidation can be a primary factor which limits the lifetime of CD media. Our authoring services are able to balance the quality of a video with its file size, delivering a good looking image in a small package.