Why Where You Store Your Photos Is So Important

Before you purchase your next computer, consider this:

If you've followed me for a while, you know that I have been a huge proponent of Historian (originally Memory Manager) for photo management since it's inception.

Way back in the day, I did group events with other (then) Creative Memories Consultants.  I loved getting the opportunity to train on Memory Manager.  My biggest mantra then was that Memory Manager with the shadow copy feature and a handy, dandy external drive were the best combination for keeping photos safely backed up.

And I've been using that system for almost fifteen years now.

Fast forward to 2021 

I'm still using the shadow copy feature in Historian 4 to back up most of my photos on my computer.  But what I've found in the past few years is this:  I always needed more hard drive space, so I would purchase a bigger external drive.  With this system, it's up to me to maintain a separate drive or drives to store my photos and maintain an adequate backup.  To manage things I've split up my vaults to make them smaller.  But I always run into the problem of having to remember to plug the backup drive into my laptop periodically so my shadow copy is up to date.

And then there are the hard drive crashes.  Not one.  Not even just one per year.  In 2016, I had to reinstall Windows 4 times.  In 2017, I've reinstalled again four more times on two different laptops.  Just a few months ago in late 2020, I upgraded my laptop again.

Can you see where this is going?

A few years ago I wrote a post about Forever's guaranteed storage called More Thoughts On Forever Permanent Storage.  It detailed what it would cost to keep up with the hardware and software needed to keep all of those digital photos safe, and then compared it to the price of purchasing Guaranteed Storage from Forever.

Since then, Forever has worked to make it easier to get started with Forever's Permanent Storage.  Plus, they frequently offer special deals to give you a “break” on the regular price.  (ALWAYS check the Deals tab on Forever's website.)

If you haven't read my train of thought from More Thoughts on Forever Permanent Storage, it's still a worthwhile argument.  In a nutshell with today's pricing (which can change, especially with Deals), here's what it comes down to:

Costs to PURCHASE Forever Permanent Storage*

10 Gb of Storage – $19 per month for 12 months (no payments after those 12 payments), OR, $199

25 Gb of Storage – $39 per month for 12 months, OR $399

50 Gb of Storage – $59 per month for 12 months, OR $599

100 Gb of Storage – $99 per month for 12 months, OR $999

For the full pricing chart, visit Forever's Storage page here: https://www.forever.com/ambassador/debrodriguez/forever_storage

* The great thing about this page is that it is always updated to show the current specials with a quick link to copy the applicable coupon code.  And very frequently, there is a discount available.

I “collected” my current total of 471 Gb of Storage over time by taking advantage of these specials.  To purchase that much Storage today, it would cost me $3,999 if I paid full price.  But I know that I have paid much less than that by purchasing smaller amounts on special over time.  As a member of the Forever Club, I am also awarded extra Storage at no charge for every 3 months I stay a member, plus I get an additional discount of 5-10% on almost all of my purchases.

I am currently using 141 Gb of my Storage.  Hypothetically, let's say that I purchased 100 Gb and 50 Gb of Storage at regular price (no discount). That would allow me to store approximately 38,000 to 75,000 photos (depending on file size) and would cost me $1,598.  (That figure is at full price.  With discounts applied, this would easily cost me quite a bit less than that.  You don't have to purchase all of your Storage at one time.  “Collecting” it in smaller increments over time, like I did, can save you a lot of money.)

For this price, I would own my 150 Gb of Permanent Storage and have the ability to pass it down to my children.  Forever puts most of the money from your purchase into an endowment fund so that they can guarantee they will maintain your photos for generations to come.  Your files are not compressed or data-mined, and they will never charge you again.  Plus, as photo file types change over time, Forever guarantees they will migrate your photo files to the newer formats so they are still accessible and enjoyable by future generations.

The Alternative Method – Maintain My Own Backups

Obviously, I can still opt to back up my own photo files.  To do that, I would need:

A computer – average cost, $750 (but my last one cost nearly $1,400)

An external hard drive (affiliate link) – average cost approximately $100

An offsite backup option (because what happens to my photos if both the laptop and the external drive are destroyed?) – We'll estimate this cost at $60 for a service like Backblaze.  Other services like Amazon let you upload your photos as part of your Prime membership ($12.99 a month or $119 per year), at least for now.  Amazon's rules change from time to time, just like most other providers.  (Google announced they will stop offering free photo storage in June of this year.)

All of the major photo storage providers, iPhotos, Amazon, etc. will save your photos for a monthly fee.  If you miss a payment or stop payments, that storage goes away and so do the files if you haven't backed them up elsewhere.

So, at this point, we have paid $750 for the computer, plus $100 for the external drive, plus $60 for the cloud backup.  That's $910.

Then next year, you'll need to pay the $60 again.

And you'll have to remember to plug in that external drive periodically to make sure you have a current backup.

And then, in a couple of years, one day you plug in the external drive and nothing happens.  Your computer doesn't recognize it.  Or it pops up a notification that there's an error on the drive.  Suddenly, that backup is in jeopardy.

So, you go out and purchase a new external drive for another $100 and make a brand new backup.  Whew!  Problem solved.

Then, about twelve months later, that laptop starts acting funny.  Pretty soon, there it is … the blue screen of death.  (They've tried to make it look friendlier now, but it's still the same terrible omen.)

Turns out, that hard drive is failing.  If you're a crazy laptop mechanic or you harbor a computer geek in your basement, you can replace that hard drive for, say, $200.  (I've done that one, too.)  But, more than likely, there's a new laptop coming in your future.  Let's call that another $750.

You can restore your photos from that handy dandy external drive onto the new computer and they are still safe.  Whew!

But can you see where this is heading?  After just 4-5 years, you've hypothetically paid $1,940 to maintain the hardware and cloud services necessary to keep those photos safe.  And it doesn't end there.  Year after year, you have to keep maintaining those systems which will mean further investment in the hardware over time.  And once you are gone, it's up to your family to keep maintaining the same processes.

As you can see, I'm pretty passionate about using Forever Storage.  Forever has my photos triple backed up using different systems in different locations around the world, so they are essentially already doing a better job than I could do with my double back up.  Plus, I access those organized photos from any device (phone, tablet, computer) any time of the day and anywhere.  When I want to pull up a photo of my daughter's 8th birthday, I don't have to go to my computer, boot it up, open a program and then search.  I can grab my phone, open the app and find it quickly, even when I'm not home.

So please, if you have any questions about Forever Storage, ask them!  I would gift photo storage to everyone I know if I had the financial wherewithal.  If this is something that interests you, I suggest you take a look at the Deals page and find out how you can get started.  (And definitely take a look at Forever Club before you jump in … it makes it even more worthwhile and affordable.)  I'll quit now, but I'm happy to help any way I can!


Artisan 6 Tips and FAQs

Artisan 6 Tips and FAQs

I'm so excited to be using Artisan 6!

But I've found that I have bunches of questions, and you probably do, too.

Here are a few tips I've found so far.  Keep coming back because I'll add more as I have them.

Artisan 6


1.  Importing the 15 free Art Kits that come with your Artisan 6 purchase

I was so lost about this when I first purchased my Artisan 6 upgrade.  I thought somehow I had missed adding something to my cart.

But the awesome thing is, Artisan 6 makes content import WAY easier than it has ever been before.

Before you can import content, make sure you have activated Artisan 6.  All you need to activate is to enter your email address and password for your Forever account.  Then the software does the rest. 

Artisan 6 looks pretty similar to Artisan 5, so you don't need to worry about re-learning the software.  Everything you know if where you expect it to be.

Now, click on Manage Content to open your Content Manager.

Import Content - Step 1

Once you open the Content Manager, the one difference you will see is a blue Import Purchased Items button on the top right of the screen.  Go ahead and click that button.

Import Content - Step 2

Now, all you need to do is watch the pop-up boxes and accept.  It should default to adding the content to your Commercial Art Kits folder and for 99.9% of the people I know, that's the best place to put it.  That's where I put it.

The software will now do the rest.  It will download each art kit and install.  You don't need to enter or copy/backup/save any new activation codes.  Any time you purchase new content after activating Artisan 6, the only thing you will need to do is click the blue button and the software will search your Forever account for new purchases, download them and activate them for you. 


2.  When Pages Have Trouble Saving After Converting to Artisan 6

I have had a few projects that I converted from Artisan 5 to my Early Access Artisan 6 installation.  In general, I love how fast the pages load and save in Artisan 6.

A couple of times, though, I've open a project and started working on it, and then I get a screen that looks like it finishes saving, but the cursor is still spinning.  If I try to close the window or program, I see this screen:

Artisan 6 Early Release Saving Error

Then, if I force the program to close and then reopen, I get this pop-up:

Artisan 6 Early Release Recover

One the appropriate .a6proj file is opened, the project opens again in Artisan 6, but then I get the same error when I make changes to a page and start to save.

This is one of those things that will be worked on before the official release, and one of the reasons we got such a great deal on the Early Release version of Artisan 6.  And it's not that big of an issue.  The easiest fix is to create a new project and import those pages into it and keep going.  Then you have a project that started life in Artisan 6 and it works just fine.

To do this …

a. Start by creating a new Artisan 6 project that's the same size as the project you're having trouble with.  I usually just create a project with blank pages.  It loads the fastest, and it makes it easier to bring in the pages I've already worked on.

b. Then, go up to the Add Page icon on the Home ribbon.  In the dropdown, select Using a Page File from My Computer.

Add a Page from My Computer

3. In the dialog box that opens, make sure you are viewing the large icons, then hold down the Ctrl key and select each page you wish to import.  You can select multiple pages at one time this way, then click Open.

Add a Page from My Computer

That's really it.  From here, you may need to rearrange pages, but it should bring them all into your project and you can keep working.

I hope this helps and made some sense!  Please let me know if I can help with anything.


Historian or Forever Storage – Which Should I Use?

Historian or Forever Storage?

(The links in this post may be affiliate links.  All this means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. This in no way increases the cost to you, and may even help you save money.  Thank you.) 

This is a question that I am asked more and more frequently.  Should I use Forever Historian?  Or should I use Forever Storage to organize and backup my photos?

Ideally, my answer is that if you CAN do both, that's the safest way.  I personally use both.  However, even if you use both, one has to be the priority method for organizing, tagging and sorting.  Ultimately, you have to pick the option that you are more comfortable working with and that you will regularly USE.

The Why

For me, after several years of deliberating this question, my answer was really made for me by the way my family takes photos.

Depending on how long you've known me, that may surprise you.  I've been teaching how to use Historian since 2007 when it was Memory Manager.  And I've been a huge advocate of the things this software can do to organize and safeguard your photos.  I still use it for some of the same reasons I started using it 13 years ago.

But, if I'm realistic, I realize that most of the photos my family takes are shot on a phone.  And not just one phone.  My photos now are taken by me, my husband, my daughters, and my mom, for the most part.  And it's much easier to have my husband's phone automatically upload his photos to my Forever account and then work with them from there.  I also have my photos set to automatically upload.  My daughter uploads hers to her account, but we share easily between our accounts.  And when I share with my mom, I put the photos quickly in a shared album in my Forever account so she can add them to her account or download them.

Plus, since I work with multiple computers and devices throughout the day, it makes sense to organize on the platform I have the easiest access to.  That is my Forever Storage account.  I can only have Historian and my main memory vault loaded on one computer.  And if you've read any of my posts over the years, you've seen how many times operating systems or hard drives have failed on me and I suddenly have to reload everything on a new computer.  As I get older, I am less and less patient with that process.  Don't get me wrong: As long as I'm running my shadow copy in Historian regularly, it is not that difficult to restore and I don't lose photos or organization.  That's one of the best features of Historian.  But, I love the peace of mind that my laptop can die tomorrow and I can get to my organized photos easily on my phone or tablet while I'm waiting to get a new computer set up.

The How-To

The cool thing now is that no matter which place I start, the tags I create can carry over to the other method so I don't have to do everything twice.  I start in my Forever Storage account and work through deleting unwanted photos, tagging them and possibly arranging them into albums in my account.  Then when I download my tagged photos after I've done the work in my storage account, the metadata from the tags I've already added is saved in the photo file and those tags are then imported with the photo into Historian.  I personally now use Historian more as my local backup of my photos so that I can retrieve them when I'm offline.  But, if you're more comfortable starting the process in Historian, it would also work.  After tagging and selecting photos in Historian, when you share to Forever Storage the photos will have that metadata embedded in them and the tags will stick with the photos in your Forever account.


Whichever way you choose to do it, make sure you DO do it.  That's the most important part. 

Let me know if I can help.

How to Move Artisan Content to an External Drive

I was asked an interesting question this week.

“Can I run all of my digital artwork from an external drive only?”

The simple answer to the question is yes, and I'll show you how you can do that.  However, please also read a few of my comments on that below after the how-to.

To move digital artwork to an external drive or any location other than the default location Artisan uses is fairly simple.

1. Start by creating the folder for the new content first.  If your plan is to move everything, drag the WHOLE folder to the new location on the external drive.  (The default location that Artisan stores your content in is in the Public Documents folder under the Public User.)

2. Now it's time to train Artisan to find the folder on your external drive.  To do this, open the Content Manager in Artisan and right-click on the Library dropdown.

Select “Add folder to library.”  A box will open allowing you to browse to the location of the folder that contains your Artisan content.

That's really all there is to it.  Artisan is now “pointed” to the new location for your content.  You shouldn't have to resintall anything or re-enter any activation codes.

A Personal Word of Caution:

There are a lot of factors that impact how Artisan will work for you.  The hardware configuration of your computer (the amount of Ram, the operating system, the amount of available storage space, the graphics card, etc.) as well as the details of your external drive (whether it has a USB 3.0 connection – which is faster – or an older 2.0 connection) will impact how Artisan is able to perform the tasks you give it.  I have frequently had external drives velcro'ed to my laptop lid for a consistent backup.  In fact, I have a 5 Gb external connected now.  One thing I have learned over the past decade is that you have to be gentle with that connection between the computer and the drive.  Eventually, it will get jiggled in place too much or otherwise unseated and it will disrupt the flow of information between the drive and your computer.  And just like inside your laptop, that external drive will eventually start to fail.  I'll have to take a picture of the dead hard drives I have stowed in my office.  I'm not sure I have enough fingers on both hands to count them.

In addition, I don't want to discourage you from working this way, with all of your content on the external, but in my experience, Artisan works a little better when it's pulling the big content files directly from the C: drive and not “long distance” through the cord connecting the external drive.  I've found the same when I've run my memory vaults in Historian from the external.

If you're running out of space, it's definitely a good option to try.  You don't really lose anything by trying this to see how it will work for you.  But please, make sure if you move all of your content to your backup drive that you have another backup method in place to save your content in the event that your external drive won't wake up one day.

Let me know if I can help!


How To Transfer Your Artisan Content To A New Computer

I honestly can't believe I haven't written this post before because I feel like I've explained it dozens of times.  I think I've left bits and pieces of this information in other posts, but I never fully wrote down the process to move Artisan, and more importantly, Artisan content, to a new computer.

I'm making a big assumption with this post that you still have access to the computer you are moving from.  If you don't, we need to have a different discussion.  I am also assuming that you have access to an external drive or something that you can use to backup/copy your content from one

The easiest way to complete this process is to first follow these steps on the computer you are moving FROM (the “old” computer).

On The Old Computer

1.  On the “old” computer, go to the Users folder on your C: drive and open Public.

2.  Under Public User, open Public Documents.

3.  Copy the whole folder called Commercial Art Kits to a backup drive.  You'll need something more than a flash drive unless you don't have much content.

4.  Open Artisan and go to the Content Manager (“Manage Content“, the top left icon on the Welcome screen).

5.  Click on Activation Codes in the ribbon on top.

6.  In the box that opens, click on Make a backup copy of my codes.  This will create a text file that you can save to your backup and then use to reactivate your content on the new computer.

On The New Computer

OK!  We made it!  Now comes the best part.

7.  Plug in that external drive with the Commercial Art Kits folder you backed up from the old computer.  Now, guess where it goes!  Yup, go back to Users on your C: drive, open the Public User and then Public Documents.  There won't be a Commercial Art Kits folder there yet (unless you already installed Artisan), so just drag the whole folder in there.  If you did already install Artisan, that's fine.  Just copy all of the contents of your backed up folder into the new Commercial Art Kits folder.

8.  Now, if you haven't done it already, install Artisan.  If you have previously activated two or more times, you may get a notification that Artisan is active on too many computers.  In this case, you will need to contact Forever (1-888-367-3837 or support@forever.com) to get them to release your activation code so you can activate again.  I promise, this process is painless.  I've had to do it more times than I could count on 2 hands because I've changed computers, had hard drive crashes and just reinstalled Windows so many times.  Just let them know what your situation is and they will get you running in no time.  *  Be sure to have your activation code handy when you call to speed things up.  You can find it in your Forever.com account under your Order History.

9.  Once you have Artisan installed and running, you may notice that it will pop up a progress bar showing that it's cataloguing the content you dropping into the Public Documents.  This is nothing to worry about, you WANT this to happen.  Now all you have to do (after it's done) is open the Content Manager and go back to that Activation Codes screen.  This time, you open that text document you saved with the backup of your codes and copy all of the text in that document, then click on Add a new activation code and paste it all in that box.  Hit OK, and you're set.  

I hope this little walk through helps.

One thing I like to suggest: if you have a regular backup set for your computer (which I HOPE you do), add that Commercial Art Kits folder in your Public Documents to your backup plan.  That way, if/when something happens, you don't lose your content.  Please also make sure that you backup those activation codes once in a while and save that in a place that will be part of your backup plan, too.

That's it!  Hope the process goes super smooth.  Please let me know if you have any hiccups or there's any way I can help.

How to Import Pages From Another Project in Artisan 5

Today I just want to share a quick tip about importing a page or pages you've already created in Artisan 5 into another project.  This might happen if you want to add a page you made for one book into another one.

To do this, you first need to create your new project and have it open.  From inside the project you want to import the page into, on the Home ribbon, go to the Add Page dropdown.

From the dropdown, choose Using a Page file from My Computer.  This will open a box to allow you to browse to the project that contains the page or pages that you want to import into this project.

NOTE:  This will not delete the pages from the original project, it will copy them into the new project.  

If you browse for the project you want to import from and the files look like this …

it's going to be hard to figure out which page you need.  So you need to change the view of your list.  If you click on the dropdown at the top right that says Change your view, you will see options to show small icons, medium icons, large and extra large icons.  

You can choose which icon size works for you.  Just change it to one of the icon options and you will be able to see a thumbnail of your pages so you can visually choose which page or pages you want to import.

The last step is to pick your pages.  Do this by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking one time on each page you want to import.  If you want to import them all, you can click the first one to select it, hold down the Shift key and click the last one.  Do not import the extra folders.

When you choose the ones you want to add, click Open and have some patience.  Depending on how many pages you choose, it's going to take Artisan possibly up to several minutes to add everything into your current project.  And once they are in the project, the pages you imported may not be arranged in the order you want them.  The cool thing is, you can just drag them around in the right hand panel in Artisan until they are in the order you want them.

I hope this helps and made some sense!  Please let me know if I can help with anything.

~ Deb