Many years ago, there was a famous long-distance commercial (https://bit.ly/3FgXsH4) featuring Bear Bryant. In the ad, the legendary coach encouraged viewers to stay in touch with family. At the end, the Bear uttered the scripted line, “‘Have you called your momma today?”’ but, right after that, ad libbed “I sure wish I could call mine.” With one sentence, an ordinary message to honor our mothers became sublime.
Although the coach’s mother was departed, it was clear she remained in his heart. In my mind, there is no better way to pay homage. While we should make as many memories with our mothers as we can, it is a sad fact that many of our recollections will fall through the cracks. Despite the fact that photos help, they are frequently sequestered in a closet or, in the case of a hard drive, lost in a crowd. Even worse, pictures can be permanently lost from fire, flood, or equipment failure.
If you are starting to wonder about how vulnerable your keepsakes might be, here are some ideas to protect them:
• Storage media: Even under otherwise perfect conditions, the wrong media or equipment can doom your best efforts to keep things safe. If you were born before the 1980s, you are probably familiar with photographs that are faded and yellowing around the edges. Also, contrary to perception, storage disks are perishable. For example, the estimated life of recordable disks can range from five years and up. In addition, external hard drives have significant differences in reliability and life span as well.
• Outside factors: In my own family, a house fire wiped out most of the photographs that had accumulated over many years. According, there are very few pictures of my dad in the first 25 years of his life. The point I am making is that once you have decided what to store your pictures on, it is just as important to make the right decision over where you keep them. Major issues to consider are fire, water due to the fire department putting out the fire, and natural disaster.
• Recommendations: Although the best way to do something can depend on the circumstances, I think these recommendations are worth thinking about:
– Disc: If you want archiving that’s as bullet-proof as a fallen world can offer, discs are the best bet. However, this media needs to be archival grade. Although they are more expensive than the run-of-the-mill variety, you won’t really need very many so you won’t be spending that much. With rated life exceeding 100 years, such an option offers peace of mind. For an example of this type of product, Google “M-Disc”. Amazon.com sells them at competitive prices. If you want to stick with less-expensive options, I recommend making new backups every 5-10 years. Although most disks should last longer, there is a lot of variation among brands. Why take a chance?
– External hard drives: External hard drives can be good options for storage and are estimated to last from 5 to 7 years. Based on available objective studies, Western Digital and Seagate mostly make reliable hard drives. By contrast, Toshiba has lower dependability. Even if the higher quality options are more expensive, remember that their contents can be priceless. An article that covers this subject can be found at www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-drive-stats-for-q1-2022/.
– Cloud: Although many rely on web-based storage to keep files safe, the security is only as good as the provider you depend on. While cloud-based solutions are good for redundancy, you might think twice about relying on it exclusively.
– Redundancy: If you don’t have at least one backup for your data, you might be skating on thin ice. However, only one backup isn’t prefect. While there is never a complete guarantee, two separate backups can a good compromise between keeping your memories safe and becoming too obsessive about the issue.
– Where: One backup should be located someplace other than your home. Whether you use cloud (web-based) storage or a safe deposit box is up to you. Personally, I like a safe deposit box because I feel more control. Tech companies have a way of going out of business. For home, a fireproof and waterproof safe is hard to beat. Should you decide to get a safe, make sure it has both capabilities since fires are put out with water.
With Mother’s Day being all about remembrance, it could be argued that going the extra mile to preserve her memories is a most fitting way to observe this occasion. And hopefully, today’s tips will inspire you to take the next steps.
In the meantime, I hope you are able to make some new memories with your mom. Have you called your momma today? I am sure glad I can call mine! Happy Mother’s Day!
SEAN FIELDS is the A-J’s Savvy Shopper. Read his columns Sundays and Wednesdays. Email him at SavvyShopperLubbock@gmail.com, like his Facebook page at Facebook.com/LubbockSavvyShopper, or see previous columns and deals at lubbockonline.com/savvy-shopper.