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Digital Preservation

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  • Digital Preservation

    I answered a question by DannyRaphael the other day regarding the file properties or IPTC / EXIF data stored with JPEG files. The answer is in this thread if any one is interested in that subject. He was interested in more information about the processes or workflow I use to store, retrieve, identify and maintain a library of graphical files, and was kind enough to find a place for me to put stuff.

    My background includes application and process design at work and genealogy, scrapbooking, a little photography, and lots of artsy crafty stuff at home. It also includes a house fire that destroyed all my photos, mementos, and other irreplaceable items. From that background I begin accumulating digital images. In some ways as an effort to replace the photos lost, in other ways to prevent such a loss from being so final if it happened again.

    The more I scanned and worked with photos the more came my way. At 2 gigs it became apparent I needed a strategy. In this thread I will try to talk about the various requirements needed to be somewhat successful. The basic areas I will focus on will be
    · Identification – Which is in the thread referenced above.
    · Assessment – determining your needs, prioritizing requirements.
    · Filing and more important finding.
    · File formats
    · Backups
    · The Original
    · Tools – This may take a few sections depending on how much interest there is.

  • #2

    Like everything else in life you have to decide for yourself what is important. But there are some basic things you need to think about.

    Funding - Most of us are not independently wealthy so how much you want to spend will definitely play a part in your decisions.

    Time – Is this a hobby or your job? This actually is more important then first glance. If you are time constrained you may want to limit the numbers of photos or the resolution that you choose to scan at.

    Photo Quality – What is the minimum resolution you can live with. This is a constant trade. I have had to re-do some of my early scans because the hardware I had could not handle the resolution / compression that I want now. But in many ways the lower quality higher volume scans serve as thumbnails so I can go back to the original source and get a few better resolution scans of just the photos I want.

    Another thing that is important, the larger the file the more original space it takes up, but it also takes up more space on backups. If you have so many files that you don’t back them up you WILL lose them sooner or later. The major difference between hard copy and digital when it comes to preservation is the ability to make many identical copies.

    Sharing/Preservation – These two go hand in hand and affect the file format you choose. Who are you going to share with? Friends/Family, Other Professionals? What kind of bandwidth will you share over most of the time? How long do you want the files to be viable before the next conversion. I used the Visioneer format early on because it gave me great compression with little loss of quality. It had the drawback of not being easily shareable with my family. I had to either get them a copy of my software or convert the files. It wasn’t a great solution.


    • #3

      I keep large files that dont change often(pix,videos) on a separate partition that gets Backuped ~1/month vs 1/3days for most of MyDocs. Backups r done with Drive Image & run at ~150MB/min.

      1 of the many benefits of partitioning. Details @



      • #4
        Filing and Finding

        As the post above mentions the method of filing can have an impact on any of the other sections I have written about, including backups. My methodology is influenced mostly by the reason I am maintaining a collection. Family history. The criteria are
        · Different family members who are not all computer experts are given copies they need to be able to find photos of interest to them.
        · I needed to be able to pull copies by family. My family isn’t much interested in my husband’s family’s photos.
        · I needed to acquire a group of photos quickly and label later at my leisure.
        · I needed to be able to merge my brothers photos.

        I originally built a tree that tried to imitate the family tree. Starting with my maiden name and my husbands last name putting folders of interest under each name. Because I am researching family’s that have been in the middle west for a couple hundred years I was able to go back to several generations fairly quickly and this put family names that I was actively researching buried in the tree many layers deep. Also the very nature of a family tree has both descendants and ancestors. This meant that the trees were going both directions and this was confusing.

        That was when I started bringing each family name up to the main directory no matter where it fell in the family. I also split out branches of descendants as they grew in size. So I now have a Whelan directory with my grandparents stuff and then a directory for my parents and for each of my brothers at the main level.

        Within each family I separate each scanning session. So if I am scanning at my grandmother’s I will add a directory named for the subject of the group of images I am working on. Grandma Roberts Scrapbook for instance.

        My immediate family has a directory and we take many digital photos. Each year I start a new directory and then each roll “card” full of photos is off loaded into a directory with the date they were off loaded. This is a time when I would like to be able to create links that all software could read as another copy of the file, like the unix file systems. Instead I make do with filling up my hard drive by copying the really good shots of each child to their folder. I also make copies whenever I am going to edit a photo leaving the original intact.