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Photo & Document Storage / Archiving

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    Photo & Document Storage / Archiving

    My parents have been downsizing and as a result I am now the owner of multiple boxes of old photos and documents going back 60+ years. I however have absolutely no idea how to properly store them other than limiting light exposure and using acid free products. I did find a page from the ALA about it and will be going through their info, but I thought I would check to see if anyone here has experience with this as well.

    A couple questions:
    Is using a desiccant pack a good idea? I live in an old house that doesn't always seal up well and in a part of the country that tends to be on the humid side, especially during the summer.
    Eventually I should probably get a humidity meter for wherever they end up being kept.
    Relative humidity for a mixed collection of photographs should be maintained between 30% and 50%, with fluctuations less than 5% a day. NEDCC.org
    Any good resources/recommendations for storage boxes? They are apparently not inexpensive...

    Thanks! šŸ»
    cellophane's feedback

    #2
    sam club has away to take photo put on CDs or DVD's but not sure how to do for personal use. try this


    Amazon.com: MUNBYN Portable Scanner, Photo Scanner for A4 Documents Pictures Pages Texts in 900 Dpi, Flat Scanning, Include 16G SD Card, Wand Document Scanner Uploads Images to Computer Via USB Cable, No Driver : Office Products

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      #3
      Scanning them is on my list of things to do, but at the moment I'm just worried about physical storage. I'll take a look at the scanner you linked though. Thanks!
      cellophane's feedback

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        #4
        Details on archiving documents and photos (physical storage near bottom of web page):

        https://archivehistory.jeksite.org/c...s/chapter1.htm

        You want envelopes and boxes that are acid free, lignin free archival paper stock, and meet the ANSI IT 9.2 (PAT) standards. Then have a temperature and humidity controlled place to store them. Think comic book storage if you are familiar with that hobby.

        Once you have good storage for the physical originals then look into doing digital and/or microfiche. Many places still store documents on microfiche to this day because of its proven long term life and space saving. CDs and DVDs do degrade over time and really are not the best way to store things long term.


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          #5
          Ugh - this is a slog unless you pay ~$.50 per page for a service to do this for you. If you search, you'll find were this has been asked before somewhere on the new forum.

          1) What's the total volume you're dealing with here, and how well ordered is it (i.e. neat stacks, or loose piles)? A ream of paper would have a packing density of 100%, so estimate 500 sheets for every 2" to be conservative.
          2) What types of photos? There's typical photo paper prints, negatives, microfiche, et al. Different types of photos typically require different types of digitizing equipment. I suggest you send all of the film media out to a service.
          3) What types of documents? The real thorn in my side has always been large format documents - something that doesn't fit into the automatic document feeder. Sometimes you can remove binding of books, cut out the spine, or fit a narrow dimension in and tell the scanner keep going until it stops, but sometimes you just have to lay it out and take a picture. These will be the real time suck. If you care enough, create a top-down photo table big enough for the largest item and leave that there until you're done.
          4) What quality are you looking for? You'll have to stomach some loss of detail here. Even the best methods in the world will not retain every detail perfectly. 600dpi is affordable for most people if you're willing to put in the hours of time to process them all. More than that and you're venturing into 'cost of a motorcycle' territory, and most would scoff at the idea.
          5) It's quite likely that you don't need archive grade gear for this amount of data. I suggest you keep one copy on an external drive and store them all on a cloud service like Dropbox for access as desired, or go down the home NAS / Server rabbit hole and store them entirely yourself.
          5a) For the NAS route, you'll need to maintain at least 3 copies of the data on at least 2 different systems with at least 1 offsite copy (3-2-1 principle). I'd guess you're looking at around 60-150MB of data per 2" thickness of a 8.5x11" stack, of documents, and ~1GB of data per 2" stack of photos depending on color and resolution. Plug and chug to find the estimated size of data you're going to have to store, then multiply that by 1.3 and that's the absolute minimum you need to be prepared to handle. For demonstrate, let's say you measurements estimate X (1.3) = 2TB. You then need a NAS with a minimum of two 2TB drives, an external drive of at least 2TB for your on-site backup, and a seperate NAS at a different location that's automatically syncing the data from the first NAS. So your minimum stat-up costs are 2x NAS, 4x NAS drives, and 1x External Drive. It gets pricey, but you'll have full control over the data. Services like Dropbox offer 2TB of reliable cloud storage that'll be more readily accessible when away from home and peace of mind of never having to manage the NAS/drives for just $100/yr. That's actually cheaper than doing it yourself and has higher performance, but it becomes less viable as you get over 2TB of space. For instance, 3TB is double the cost at $200/yr.

          Personally, I have a ScanSnap. Over the first couple of years of ownership, I'd wear headphones and watch a show while scanning in documents and photos. Even my nearly decade old model is connected over wifi, smart enough to recognize if it should save in high er low definition (file size) and can recognize header dates and titles that it can then use to populate the file name. It can save in various file types based on your preference... there's really a lot of powerful features. The drawback is that most units have a limit of something like 30 documents in the feeder at a time. And they aren't exactly cheap. Mine was a gift, but I think it was $500 at the time - which is the same as now it seems. It also seems other companies have started releasing clones. Those will typically scan ~25 sheets a minute; ignore the PPM as it doesn't include upload time, which does prevent you from starting another job. So, on top of all of the expense, factor in your time at ~20min for every 2" stack of sheets, regardless of size. If you want to cut that time in half or even a third, while simultaneously reducing your touch time from every minute to once every few minutes, then you're going to spend about $2k-5k on the business version of these scanners.

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            #6
            here what i did for my mom took all photo i had from trip to euro in 1991 and put on to a dvd. so you could put them on to DVD or backup hard drive or flickr type account to hold them. or cloud storage place. your best bet is DVD or storage thing like flash drives or portable hard drive. i have 3 4tb hard drive. looking to getting one for new desktop that will be thunderbolt drive and can have up to 5 to 10 bays for thunderbolt hard drives that will store about 10 to 12tb each. so have massive storage drives for all my photography over years

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              #7
              I know your original question was about how to store the physicals, but you're getting advice on paying someone to scan for you... forget that, buy this scanner. Continuously feed it a stack of 60 images at a time and you'll have this project done in no time. We bought one a few months ago for this same purpose.
              https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...BoCOsYQAvD_BwE
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                #8
                The two main aspects of protecting any sensitive physical document or photograph is light exposure prevention and body oil exposure prevention.
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                  #9
                  Originally posted by maggot View Post
                  I know your original question was about how to store the physicals, but you're getting advice on paying someone to scan for you... forget that, buy this scanner. Continuously feed it a stack of 60 images at a time and you'll have this project done in no time. We bought one a few months ago for this same purpose.
                  https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...BoCOsYQAvD_BwE
                  sam club is free to scan in you pay them to put on to dvd or cd

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                    #10
                    eep. Haven't been on much- thanks for all the feedback. I have some reading to do šŸ˜®
                    cellophane's feedback

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                      #11
                      okay i use flickr facebook or sam club thing i said. or your going to have to do what i have store my stuff is on hard drives

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                        #12
                        Okay, first, semiprofessional photographer here, started on film, moved to digital, have piles of both. Nothing particularly valuable, but I like photos, and particularly enjoy older pics. Somewhere in my distant family, a great-aunt or something has an original glass plate negative, of a multi-great uncle, in his WW1 aviator's uniform. The plate is faded badly, but she was able to scan it a number of years ago, and with help, digitally restore it to... well, it's still faded, but a lot more recognizable.

                        (And on a similar note, also a big fan of old books- I have a (copy) of a Brown & Sharpe book from 1913, and a British one from 1912. Where's that insightful Tweet of yours going to be in a hundred and ten years?)

                        Keep in mind that digital storage is not necessarily permanent. And not just because the physical media may degrade, but also the format itself. For example, reading a 5-1/2" floppy today isn't impossible, but it's definitely difficult and time-consuming, even if you can find a functional 5.5 drive.

                        And look what's happening to CDs and DVDs today- most new desktops and laptops don't even come with a drive anymore. Sure, we can still get USB externals and the like, but 20 years from now?

                        Yes, chances are good that JPG and other common formats will either still be in regular use, or have easily-available converters, but even that might be "only for a while". I have, somewhere, a scan of a slide, which was a photo taken of the house my grandparents grew up in, taken, my dad thought, in 1945. The slide is a bit faded, but still made a very good scan- and on blowing it up, we were able to see details, like a car in the driveway (the photo was taken at a distance, to show the barns and cribs, too.)

                        Now, 1945 was 77 years ago. What sort of computer formats will we have in another seventy years? Will everything by that point be Quantum, or two generations past Quantum? If somebody finds an old CD in grandpa's attic in 2099, will they still be able to A, even find a drive that still works and B, have the software to read it? (Remember that much of the Apollo mission data was lost over the years partly because the proprietary drives broke down, but also because the actual software/codecs/whatever were lost.)

                        Ideally, in my opinion, one needs to do both. Save, as best as possible, the physical images- photos, negatives, slides, whatever. Virtually no more are being made today, so it's a case of what will be seen as a brief window of that technology- just as we see, today, things like the old Edison wax cylinders, or 8-tracks, or tube TVs. In a few years, they'll be interesting just as physical prints, let alone the sentimental value of being pics of family and friends.

                        AND... scan, label and archive them. Store the physical ones away from light and such, keep the digitals for regular viewing, and/or handing out to family, etc. I'm led to understand that name-brand flash memory is currently one of the longest-term storage medias we have. As I have time, and can afford it, I've been archiving all my digital works over to a couple name-brand SSHD external drives, with backups of some of even those on some good-quality thumb drives.

                        It may well be that in 20 years, no one will be using USB of any kind, and everything will be Bluetooth or some sort of Quantum Tunneling or something, but if/when that happens, in the "overlap" time, I'll try to swap things over. The only question being, what happens when I'm no longer around to do that?

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