Which Digital Storage Device is Best To Store Important Information?


Last week we viewed the proofs of my son’s senior pictures. We determined the most cost effective action was to simply purchase all the digital images. It would give us the most flexibility and options in what we physically print, and may actually save us money in the long run. Now that we have the digital images downloaded to my desktop computer we have to figure out what to do with them. We paid a significant amount of money for what we consider a keepsake we want to last a lifetime. We need to ensure that we protect the images so they will effectively last forever. The question is how and where should we store them?

Digital storage devices come in many varieties of capacity and expected length of life:


CDs have a capacity of under a 1GB, which is pretty paltry by today’s standards. DVDs are more roomy, able to hold between 4 and 16GB depending upon how it’s manufactured. The variety of CDs/DVDs that can only be written once will last longer than the re-writable kind because of how they’re constructed. Theoretically they’re built to last 20-30 years, but reality shows that sometimes they make start to break down after just 5 years.

Hard Drive

The hard drive in your computer can have a massive capacity (512GB to 1TB or even more), but also contain moving mechanical parts and have an expected lifespan of 3-5 years. Many people store their important documents on their computer’s hard drive, but move the data when they upgrade to a new system. The thing to remember is that one of the most common reasons for a buying a new computer is due to a hard drive failure which may result in data loss.

USB Drive

Also called a thumb drive, these convenient storage devices come in many storage sizes commonly ranging in capacity from 1GB to 256GB. Because there are no moving parts, they theoretically should last longer than a hard drive. Many experts state there’s no reason why data on a USB drive couldn’t last 10 years or more.

My Solution

To ensure my son’s senior pictures are around for decades to come, I’m going to be implementing a multi-tiered solution:

  1. Physical Prints: The physical proofs will be kept in a nice easily view-able album.
  2. Hard Drive: A digital copy of the images will reside on my desktop computer’s hard drive.
  3. USB Drive(s): I will have 2 USB drives, each one containing the images.
  4. Online Repository: I may decide to also keep a copy in an online repository for which the hardware is maintained by someone else. This would likely have a cost associated with it, but it is an option.
  5. Periodic Rotation: Each year I will copy the digital images from one of the USB drives to fresh hardware. This will mean the life span of each USB drive is two years.

Reliance on digital storage for important documents such as pictures, medical and financial information is increasing. It’s important that we keep our information in a manner that ensures it is protected from loss and easily retrievable.

How about you, Clever Friends, how do you store your important digital information?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

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About the author

Brock Kernin


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