According to the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA), 100 million units of digital cameras were manufactured worldwide in 2012, with around 30 percent shipped to the Americas. These figures represent only products sold as standalone cameras and exclude devices with built-in cameras like smart phones. Jonathan Good from 1000Memories.com, a photo sharing website, estimates that a total of 3.5 trillion photos have been taken since the camera was invented less than 200 years ago.
As of 2010, CIPA reports that at least 80 percent of all American households own digital cameras. With digital photography, the need to decide which moment must be preserved through photographs is eliminated. However, the more photos people take, the more difficult it becomes to store them in an organized manner. At the same time, there's no certainty to the permanence of digital files and printed copies, although there are storage and archival companies such as the L.A.-based Williams storage that could provide some assurance.
Social networking sites such as Facebook made sharing pictures easier than a decade ago. Today, a person taking a picture using his smart phone or any Internet-ready device can share the photo to his friends in minutes. However, what will happen if Facebook and Flickr, two major photo libraries in the Internet, shut down?
The Naked Scientists, a group of Cambridge University researchers, studied the possibility of the modern era becoming a Digital Dark Age, an inaccessible period in mankind's history because of most records and artifacts today being in digital format. CDs and DVDs, even if stored in ideal conditions, will eventually decompose around three to five years.
The more reliable hard drives are vulnerable to malfunctioning because it's made up of many small but important parts, according to Dr. Leo Enticknap of the University of Leeds. He also warned that possible obsolescence of certain technologies such as USB sockets and file formats in the future could render stored data useless.
For now, the only solution for digital files to last is to consistently back them up and monitor changes in hardware and software technologies for easy adaptation to new formats. It's also good to prolong the shelf life of storage devices with data management vaults resistant to the elements, magnetic fields, and fire from companies like Williams storage.
Listen to the complete interview with Dr. Enticknap or read its transcript at The Naked Scientists website at thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1000160.
Preserving your Digital Photos with Archiving Companies