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See the first part of this chapter for specifics.

Safeguarding your digital photo files

To make sure that your digital photos enjoy a long, healthy life, follow these storage guidelines:

I Don't rely on your computer's hard drive for long-term, archival storage. Hard drives occasionally fail, wiping out all files in the process. This warning applies to both internal and external hard drives.

I Camera memory cards, flash memory keys, and other portable storage devices are similarly risky. All are easily damaged if dropped or otherwise mishandled. And being of diminutive stature, these portable storage options also are easily lost.

I The best way to store important files is to copy them to nonrewritable CDs. (The label should say CD-R, not CD-RW.) Look for quality, brand-name CDs that have a gold coating, which offer a higher level of security than other coatings.

I Recordable DVDs offer the advantage of holding lots more data than a CD. However, as of today, there's still a DVD format war, and until the industry settles on one standard, I'm not quite as comfortable with DVDs as I am with CDs. So I use DVDs only for non-critical images; precious family photos go on CDs.

I Online photo-sharing sites such as Shutter-fly, Kodak Gallery, and the like aren't designed to be long-term storage tanks for your images. Consider them only a backup to your backup, and read the site terms carefully so that you understand how long the site will hold onto your files if you stop buying prints and other products.

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