- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Just because you’ve taken thousands of digital photos of your children doesn’t mean they’ll ever get to see them when they become parents themselves. Hard drives can become corrupted. CDs can get scratched. Photo-storage sites can go bankrupt. Formats will change.

But there are steps you can take to avoid a digital disaster .

• Keep backups at multiple locations: If you don’t have a home computer, don’t rely solely on your office machine. You may lose them should you lose your job. Even at home, keep copies on an external drive, CDs or DVDs in case your computer’s primary disk drive fails. Consider an online backup service in case a tornado, fire or other disaster hits your home.

• Manage your CDs and DVDs: Don’t rely solely on disks. A scratch might kill the image of your baby’s first walk. Make multiple copies, and migrate data to a new set of discs every few years. Be aware that computers decades from now might not even have drives for reading CDs and DVDs.

Know limitations of online storage: Don’t rely solely on any one service; a site may disappear without warning. Keep in mind that a photo-sharing service isn’t the same as online backup. Many free ones restrict access to the original, high-resolution version of photos needed for quality prints. Some, including Eastman Kodak Co.’s EasyShare Gallery, require you to make annual purchases to keep photos online.

Migrate your data: As you change computers, bring files to your new machine right away — before the old one breaks. Open files on your new computer to make sure you have the necessary software. File formats change over time, and newer programs might not be able to read those of the past. If you are confident your photos will last ask your parents or grandparents how confident they were about their 8-tracks, vinyl records or 8 mm home movies.

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