Far too many people are recording with their digital cameras and storing their pictures and video on a single hard drive in the family computer. Folks, this is dangerous! Hard drives fail. Its not a question of if but when. Here are a few things to consider:
Do store your digital files in more than one location. Maybe one backup at your office as a duplicate of what you have at home. Even the most robust storage system can be destroyed by fire or other disaster.
Use high quality storage devices, preferably with some built in redundancy. Some devices use two hard drives – if one drive should fail, an exact duplicate is available so no data is lost.
If you are going to store your images on CD, use a quality blank. All CD-Rs are not created equal. The stability of the recordable dye layer as well as the protective clear coat affect the longevity of CD-Rs. We recommend using Platinum, scratch resistant CD-Rs Almost none of the CD-Rs recovered from the flood waters in recent floods were readable. Again, storing all of your digital files in one location is a bad idea.
In general, CD-Rs have a greater expected lifespan than DVD-R. Obviously, DVD-s are necessary for preserving movies because of the large file sizes involved in recording video. Just like with CD-Rs, use a good blank.
Do make prints. Photographic prints have been around for over 100 years. The jury is still out on the JPEG! At FotoFast, we use the best materials available like Japanese DNP Centuria photographic papers and Ilford inkjet papers & photo canvas.
"Perhaps printing 4×6s and 5×7s is a solution- I have never seen one simply disappear in front of my eyes.” Richard Vallon