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!


How To Move Your Memory Vault To A New Computer

How To Move Your Memory Vault To A New Computer

I am embarrassed that I have not posted this information before now.  Besides creating a Shadow Copy, which is a post I plan to update later today, this is one of the most needed How-to's I can think of.  I honestly thought I had posted this previously, but a search through the site tells me I hadn't.

Here's what you'll need to get this process accomplished:

  • The old computer that has your original Memory Vault on it (either in Memory Manager or Historian). This computer still needs to be able to run to make this work.
  • OR, if you already have an up-to-date Shadow Copy on an external drive, you don't need to worry about the old computer.
  • An external hard drive for the transfer with enough free space to hold your Vault.
  • The new computer running an activated version of Historian with enough room to hold your Memory Vault when it's transferred.

Step One: Create/Update Shadow Copy on the Old Computer

To make certain that you are transferring the most recent version of your Memory Vault to the new computer, you need an up-to-date Shadow Copy.  If you have never set one up before, start now by plugging the external drive into the old computer and starting Historian. (If you are using Memory Manager 4 on the old computer, it will look very similar to the following screenshots.  If you are using Memory Manager 3.0, use the instructions in this post: https://debsdigitaltips.com/setting-shadow-copy/)

Once Historian is open, click on the Vault tab on the top menu ribbon and select Shadow Copy.

Shadow Copy

If you already have a Shadow Copy set up to work with your external drive, you should see something like this:

Shadow Copy

If  you don't have a Shadow Copy set up yet, instead of an Update Now button, you will see a Start Protection button.  Click on that, and then follow the steps in my previous post on Setting Up A Shadow Copy.

As you can see, I had 128 photos that needed to be updated on my Shadow Copy. All that means is that I made changes to some photos and/or added some photos and my external drive wasn't plugged in at the time that I did that, so I need to update. My favorite thing about the Shadow Copy feature is that if I do have the external drive plugged in when I close Historian, it will automatically check to see if the Shadow Copy needs to update and perform that update before it fully closes. That's a super easy way to make sure things are backed up.

So, while the Shadow Copy is working, I see a progress bar like this:

Shadow Copy

and when it's finished, I'll see this box.  Note down below the location that it verifies that No items require updating.  That means we're good to move on.

Shadow Copy

So go ahead and click Close, and then close Historian/Memory Manager on the old computer. To disconnect the external drive, please, pretty please don't just unplug it from your computer. This abruptly shuts down the spinning disc in there, and that could cause damage to your files.

Instead, please Safely Remove your external drive.  That's actually a thing.  Go down to little carat/arrow in the System Tray (bottom right) of your computer screen and click on that arrow.  You'll get all sorts of fun icons that pop up, probably at least something like this:

Safely Remove

Find that little white USB drive-like icon that the arrow points to in my picture above and right click on it.  That will open a box that lists any removable drives you have connected to your computer.  In my case here, I only have one.  If you have more than one, make sure you pick the right one, or you'll have to reconnect whatever you select.

Safely Remove

Go ahead and click on that drive and then wait for a notification that it's safe to remove the drive.

Safely Remove

If you get a different message that says that the drive is still in use, try the process of safely removing the drive one more time.  If it still persists, either try shutting down your old computer (if you don't need it anymore at the moment) and then unplug your external drive.  Or, it won't be the end of the world if you go ahead and unplug after a few tries.  At least, so I've been told by IT guys before.

Step Two: Restoring Your Memory Vault on the New Computer

We're almost done, I promise!  This is the good part.

On your new computer, open Historian.  If it's the first time you've opened Historian, it is probably asking you where you want to set up your new Memory Vault.  Just cancel out of that because we're going to designate a location for your Vault when we start this process.

Plug in the external drive that holds your Shadow Copy, and then from the Welcome screen in Historian, go to the icon that says Recover a vault.

Recover a Vault

This next box is important.  You first want to click on the three little dots “…” on the right side of the box that says “New location for the recovered media vault”.

Recover a vault

Clicking the … will open a box to let you choose where on your new computer you want to keep your Memory Vault.  I highly recommend creating a folder in your Pictures library to house your vault.  If for some reason down the road your hard drive fails and you don't have a Shadow Copy (please, please have a Shadow Copy) and you take your computer to the tech guys at the store, they will try to recover files from Pictures and Documents by default, so you're more likely to get your photos back.

Now, once you choose your new vault location, you'll notice that the OK button is still grayed out. That's because we have to choose one of those buttons in the bottom section of the box to tell it what source to use to bring in the old vault.  Here, you want to chose Use a Shadow Copy.  That will open another box that asks you to find your Shadow Copy.

Recover a Vault

Navigate to the external drive (in the list on the left-hand side of the screen) to open the files on that drive, and then navigate to the folder that holds the Shadow Copy you just created.  Mine was in a folder called Main Vault Shadow Copy, and inside it you see a file with my vault name and (Shadow copy) in parenthesis.  This part is important: make sureto just click that file folder one time to select it and then click the Select Folder button below. If you double-click the Shadow copy folder above, it takes you into the structure of the Shadow Copy, and that won't work.

Now you'll notice that the OK button is highlighted and you can click it.  Go ahead and do that now.

Depending on how big your vault is, this could be quick, or it could take quite a while.  Just relax, go read a book or do something else and let it do it's thing.  You really don't want to interrupt this part of the process.  That Shadow Copy is carefully reconstructing your whole Memory Vault just the way you left it, but on your new computer.  Which is why this Shadow Copy thing is so awesome.  I just love it!

I really hope this has helped!  Don't forget to restart that Shadow Copy once you get your vault fully recovered.  Let me know if you need help.



How to Combine Historian and Forever Storage for a Secure Photo Backup Strategy

How to Combine Historian and Forever Storage for a Secure Photo Backup Strategy

This is a post I've been trying to figure out for a long time.  I'm the person who wants the best of both worlds: secure, local photo back up and a secure offsite backup.  And I don't want them to be widely different.

If you've been with me for a few years, you probably remember that I tried keeping my memory vaults for Historian synced with OneDrive so that my vaults were easy to restore if I had a hard drive failure.  (Of course, I had a working shadow copy on an external drive as well.)

Let me tell you something: Keeping your vaults synced with OneDrive is NOT a great strategy.  Besides some of the questionable permissions that Microsoft may or may not have to data mine my photos if I have them stored in their cloud, the bigger issue was that it took forever (no pun intended, seriously) to open my vault in Historian when it was in OneDrive.  Now, I don't know how much you use OneDrive, but it's somewhat similar to DropBox or Box or even Google Drive, in that you can choose to have the folders and files actually existing on your hard drive and also syncing any changes to the cloud.  So, if you have OneDrive syncing to two or more computers, it will continually try to check both systems and the cloud to make sure everything is in sync.  I don't know how that works in detail in the background, but I can say that when my memory vaults were in OneDrive, sometimes it took up to 20 minutes to open a vault.  And I only had it syncing to one computer.

That said, I did have multiple hard drive failures that year, so the good news was, I didn't lose any photos that I'm aware of.  But OneDrive would have to download the 100+ Gb of photos each time I had to reinstall Windows and that took time and bandwidth.  That's where the Shadow Copy for Historian definitely works better for me.  I have never been let down when restoring from a Shadow Copy in the over ten years that I have used Historian (or its predecessor).

After a few hard drive failures, I decided tho nix the vault in OneDrive and I moved it back into my Pictures folder on my C: drive.  And of course, I continued the Shadow Copies.

Fast forward another year, and I've worked pretty hard over the past year to get my photos into my Forever Storage account.  When there were good sales, I bought a little more space, just bit by bit.  I did this because I had seen how unreliable my hard drives can be (not that I didn't know that part before).  Not just my C: drive, but also the external hard drive I relied on for Shadow Copies.  What happens if my Shadow Copy isn't readable?  Yes, the photos are still there, but I lose the hard work put into organizing them, and individual files could be compromised.

So, I started using my Forever Storage account more and more to organize and access my photos.  As I used it more, I realized two things:

  • It's a lot faster and easier to access the photos that I'm looking for in my Storage account.  Whatever device I'm on, be it my phone, my iPad or one of my computers, I can login and search for my pictures.
  • It's a secure feeling for me knowing that Forever has my photos secured at a technical level that is beyond my ability.  They have guaranteed to me that they will safeguard my photos for my lifetime plus 100 years.  I have family members designated as beneficiaries of my photo account and another account manager who can access if needed.  This hit home for me when family members went through Hurricane Harvey earlier this year who had no back up for photos other than their phones.  One had already lost physical photos years before in a fire.  I didn't not want that gut-sinking feeling of losing photos that I couldn't recover.

Do I Still Need To Use Historian?

Since I came to the realization that I enjoyed working in my Forever Storage that much, I started asking myself: Do I really need Historian anymore?

Let me explain something about this question.  This is like a confession … it almost hurts.  I've been teaching Memory Manager and Historian for over ten years, and I have never found something that I thought worked better for photo organization.  It's one weakness is that it is so cumbersome when the vault is big, and it requires a good computer with enough hard drive space to handle it.

I have a really busy life, as you probably do, too.  So I really labored with this question because if it's just easier to keep everything up-to-date in the Forever Storage account, do I even want to keep working with Historian anymore?

The realization I came to is that I don't want to rely on only one system.  If I only have the Forever Storage, I'll feel pretty safe, but if I have a disruption in my internet connection, I'm cut off from my photos.  They may be safe on someone else's server, but I have no access that way.  My thought is, it's best to have the local copy (my memory vault) on my hard drive and then have all of the organized, tagged photos in my Storage account so that I know they are secure and I can access them from my phone or anywhere else.

The box with a bunch of old photos

My System Now

So this is how I manage things now.

  1. I import all photos from my camera into Historian.  I star rate them and add facial tags from Historian.  The tags are written into the metadata on the photos and that imports into the Forever Storage account when they are uploaded.
  2. Then, I can upload the photos that are worth saving to my Storage account.  That way, I don't worry about filling the Storage that I paid for with photos that are just clutter.  If I go through them in Historian first and do the legwork there, then it easy to just upload the good ones when I'm done.
  3. When I upload, I tag the ones I uploaded with a special tag “Uploaded to Forever” so that I'll know which photos I've already uploaded.
  4. If I want more organization (beyond the tags) when they are in my Forever Storage, I can create albums in my Storage account to further group the photos.  But there's no Shadow Copy to set up there … it's already set.

This is really all there is to it.  If I operate this way, I have an organized copy of my photos on my hard drive (and in my Shadow Copy), and I also have an organized set in my cloud storage with Forever.  Double back up.  Secure at home, and secure in the cloud.  I can work with my local drive photos through Historian when I'm creating projects, and it's all good.

Can This Be Done With a Different Program?

Probably.  There are certainly other photo organization programs out there, and I'm not an expert in those ones.  Historian is the software that I know, and I can really only help you with this one at the moment.

But I can tell you that if I didn't have Historian to rely on, I would use whatever I had to at least have a backup copy of my photos on an external drive, and then I would make sure to organize and work from my Forever Storage account.  That's at least the one place that I know I wouldn't have to do the organizational work all over again.  If I used a subscription service, I would worry that eventually, either it would go away or if I couldn't pay, I'd lose access.  But I've purchased the Forever Storage space and I don't have to worry about not making the payments in the future.  And the endowment fund they set up means they are in a better position to keep my photos safe than other cloud-based photo services that operate on a month-to-month basis.


Forever Just Had Their National Convention, and Now There Are Tons Of Specials To Check Out

Forever Just Had Their National Convention, and Now There Are Tons Of Specials To Check Out

That was a huge subject line for me, so hopefully this hasn't ended up in your Spam folder. I just wanted to be really clear why this email is worth opening.

I'm kind of sad that I didn't make it to the convention this year, because I am so excited about Forever has to offer. (I think you've probably picked up on that by now!) But, they are sharing the love with a bunch of deals that run from now through the end of August. If you've read enough and you want to check it out right now, just head to http://www.forever.com/ambassador/debrodriguez and click on DEALS on the top. (That's my affiliate link … if you click on it and sign up or purchase something, you'll be designating me as your Ambassador. You can change that any time, or you can choose your own Ambassador at checkout.)

Forever After Party Sale

The first REALLY COOL thing about this sale is that ALL print products are 25% off through August 31st. PERFECT time to get started on early Christmas gifts, PLUS, you actually HAVE enough time to complete the project before the sale ends. I'm shifting gears right now.

Ok, my apologies for yelling in that last paragraph, but I was just really excited. :0)

The second cool thing, both software packages and a lot of new content are also 25% off. So if you've been waiting to upgrade or jump on Artisan or Historian, this is a great time.

But my absolute FAVORITE part of the sale?

Permanent Storage is on Sale, too!

Yea, you knew this was coming. Permanent Storage is on sale for the rest of the month, too. I'm about ready to need more storage, and I think I might be jumping on this one. Forever just upgraded their storage accounts and photos are now a little easier to find, and they are loading faster. There are a few more tweaks coming soon, but I'm finally at the point where I'm working from my Permanent Storage first, and then Historian is my secondary organization. (Partly because I don't access my photos from only one computer anymore.)

Hope you are having a FABULOUS month, and let me know if you have any questions!

Saved By The Permanent Storage Account

Saved By The Permanent Storage Account

I sometimes feel like a broken record when it comes to my Permanent Storage account, but there's good reason for that.

Today, my husband asked for a photo of a project he built for my kids back in 2009.

“Oh, yeah.  I can get that for you.”  And off I went to my laptop to open Historian …

and then I realized that I split my vault in half last year and my current vault on my laptop starts at 2011.

So, I went to my backup drive to open the everything-up-to-2010 vault.

And it told me that it wasn't a valid memory vault.


Hmmm.  Well, ok … time to restore it from the shadow copy then.

Ok, Not my favorite message.  I'm not in panic mode at this point, because I know a way to recover that shadow copy, but I have to move it to a different drive.  (Long story.)  And unfortunately, one of my two other externals recently died (the one that has my regular backup for my laptop) and the other is currently almost full because I've been backing up all of the computers for my family members to it.

So, what did I do?

Ok, I know … dumb question, right?

Of course, I logged into my Forever Permanent Storage account, looked up 2009, scrolled down and found that photo in no time.

And since Forever has things triple backed up for me, I'm not that worried about it.  (I am not going to quit using Historian because I still want local copies of my photos … for those times when I have no internet access or just don't want to be connected to the internet.)

Speaking of Forever, if you have an account, you may have noticed a little down time this past week.  They have worked hard recently to upgrade a lot of things, and if you haven't been back in the past few days, it's worth a look.  If you don't have an account, signing up for a free 1 Gb storage account is a great way to give it a try.  All of my phone photos (and my husband's) upload to mine automatically with the free app from Forever, and I love having access to those photos without having to do any more work than that.

Hope you aren't melting this weekend, and have had a chance to Enjoy!

My New System For Historian And Forever Permanent Storage

My New System For Historian And Forever Permanent Storage

So, I know I've mentioned in my last few emails about Forever Permanent Storage that I've been developing a new system for working with Historian and my Permanent Storage account.

In the past month, I've helped three different people move their Historian vaults and Artisan content from one computer to another.  It's awesome that there are ways to easily do that, but it's time consuming.  And it also assumes that the source computer is still in good enough shape to transfer the files.

Just a few weeks ago, I had to install a new hard drive in my own laptop because the old one failed out of the blue one morning.  The computer did not give me any warning, it just suddenly slowed down so much that I couldn't do anything.  I even tried to transfer my Historian vault to an external drive, and after 42 hours, I gave up.  (Mostly because I knew I had an up-to-date shadow copy.  If you are using Historian, you MUST keep your shadow copy current.  It will save your photos!)

This has all really solidified my belief that relying on Historian to organize and store ALL of my photos is not the ideal solution for me.  I have used this system and multiple backup drives for years, but this ALONE is not the best solution anymore.

After using my Forever Permanent Storage account for nearly a year, and then evaluating the size of my vaults and the number of photos I have, I'm switching to a two-tiered approach to my photo management.

First, I use Historian to collect all of my photos.  I work through sorting them at this point, giving the better photos a star rating of 3 or more.  I delete the ones that are blurry or will never be used, and I run the facial recognition as the easiest way to tag the people I want to search for.

And of course, as stated above, I make sure that the shadow copy is updated after I do these things.

My plan is to keep things cleaned up and organized in Historian until I've used the photos I need for the projects pertaining to that year.  Then, I will move them from my “current” vault to more of a storage vault that I can access as needed on an external drive. But removing the ones I no longer need for current projects will make my current vault load faster.

The second tier is my Forever Permanent Storage account. I have watched for specials on permanent storage over the last year or so, and I add storage as I can.  At this point, I have been uploading the better photos from my Historian vault (those ones that I marked with 3 stars or more), and I am learning to curate them in my Forever account.  I love how free this makes me feel.  After so many operating system failures and hard drive crashes over the years, I was not worried one single bit when my hard drive failed last week.  I can just pick up my phone, open my Forever app, and all of my pictures are at my fingertips. I can do the same thing from my iPad (which substituted for a computer for a few days). I can do that from anywhere.  I can even create quick Forever Projects from there when I don't have access to my Artisan software.

The thing I've loved the most is how I don't “forget” to get photos from my phone anymore. The Forever app uploads the photos from my phone when I connect to wifi, so they are automatically saved.  (Yes, I do have to go in and delete the pictures of car parts and polo shirts that I snap at the store to send to my husband, and the photos of error messages I take when my computer acts up.  But that's super easy to do.)

Even after upgrading myself to a solid state drive when my hard drive failed, it still takes some time to load my 29,000 photo vault.  I'm finding myself becoming less patient with load time now because everything else loads so fast.  So you may hear me talk more and more about using the Permanent Storage for all of my storage needs pretty soon, because I see myself thinking more that way all the time.

Have you tried Forever's Permanent Storage yet?

Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb