Past Media Joining the Digital Age

Posted on Apr 6 2012 - 1:55pm by David Decker

I have boxes and boxes of old photos and home videos from my growing-up years. Once a year, I get a bee in my bonnet to look through all of them and spend a few hours down memory lane. These photographed memories are priceless to me. They are also extremely vulnerable. Fire, flood, theft, or any number of natural disasters could permanently destroy them. Even a rogue water leak could do major damage.

I have decided that I can’t wait any longer and I need to digitize all of my old photos, family videos, and my countless boxes of music CDs. This weekend, even. Here are some of the tips that I’ve learned as I have been preparing to do the bulk of transferring on my own.

  1. Invest in a good scanner
    Many new computer printers in the market come with a built-in scanner (as well as fax and copy functions). If you just want to get a scanner, find a “flatbed” model to get maximum image quality.
  2. Sort and clean photos
    It will save you time in the long run to organize your photos by year (or topic) before you scan. Once your photos are uploaded to whichever photo editing software you use, you won’t need to reorganize, spending hours searching through file folders. Don’t scrub your photos. If they need a light cleaning, just wipe off the dust with a light and soft brush.
  3. Wipe off the scanner glass
    Use a lint-free wipe or pad to thoroughly clean your scanner glass. For all the work you are doing, you don’t want dust, lint, spots or hair to spoil your pictures’ scans.
  4. Don’t waste your time
    You can edit your photos once you are done with all of the scanning. Think of it as three steps: SCAN, SAVE, EDIT. Keep it in that order and save yourself some time.

If you have really old photos to archive, check out this article: Scanners and Scanning

Or if you need to scan 35mm slides or negatives, this article is a great resource: Scanning 35mm Photo Slides and Negatives

There are a lot of places that can turn your old VHS tapes to DVD or digital file. That is the way I am planning on turning my home videos to digital. But, if you want to do it yourself, there are a lot of great online articles that tell you how.

I have so many old CDs of music from eras past. They are not only nostalgic, but they are pretty good tunes, if I do say so myself. Next Saturday I plan on burning them to my hard drive one at a time. If you use a digital music interface like iTunes, all you need to do is insert your CD into your computer and the software will automatically upload all of the songs and information it needs. Time consuming, but super easy.

Biggest piece advice I can give is to buy an external hard drive to store all of your new files on. Keep it in your house, or store it somewhere safe (parents’ house, safety deposit box, storage unit). This will free up the space on your computer and ensure that no matter what may happen to your old photos and videos, the visual memories remain safe on your hard drive.