Over the last couple of weeks, I've written about getting photos off your digital camera and about burning CDs using Windows XP. Now, I'd like to suggest that you combine these two techniques to archive your digital photos.
I confess that for years I avoided digital photography because photographs capture history and I didn't want to risk losing images because of the vagaries of computer technology. We've all seen photos of our grandparents. But will you be able to show digital photos you take now to your grandchildren?
Although no one can promise that digital photo file formats won't change, archiving your digital photos to CD is definitely a good first step for preserving your family's photographic history. If you have particularly good or special photos that you really cherish, you also should print them out on photo-quality paper. Most personal photo printers are basically inkjets, which aren't suitable for photos you want to save for years. However, many photo services exist that will print your digital photos using dye sublimation technology on photo paper. Unlike an inkjet printout that can fade quickly, higher quality prints should last for years.
Anyway, as I described last time, if you have Windows XP, a CD-RW drive and a bunch of CDs, you can archive your photos using the built-in wizard. It helps a lot to put all your photos in one folder on your hard disk in some organized way. After you burn the CD, be sure to go back and check to make sure you burned the CD correctly. Verify that your list of files was burned to the CD before you label and store it.
To keep your CD safe, you could put it into a safe deposit box or fireproof box along with prints of your favorite photos. After all, people have done this with their film negatives and photographic prints for years. Having your family's history saved for posterity is worth the little extra time it takes to archive your files.