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.

Deb

A Big Thank You, and My First Drawing Winner

A Big Thank You, and My First Drawing Winner

I want to say a big Thank You to all of you who responded to my incentive and placed orders in the second half of February. 

If you recall, I offered an entry in the drawing for every $10 you spent from Feb 15-Feb 28 through my Forever link.

I had the entries in my little basket, but had to wait until my daughter got home from school just now so she could draw the card for me.

And the winner of the $10 Forever gift certificate is …

Kathy Coprivnicar!

Congratulations, Kathy! I'll be sending your gift certificate in another email.

In the meantime, I've decided I'm going to offer this incentive for the month of March, too. So, a new month has started and all you have to do to earn entries is work on those projects!

For every $10 you spend through my link at Forever.com in the month of March, you'll get an entry in the drawing.

And then in April, I'll draw for another $10 Forever gift certificate.

My #1 Tip for Ordering With Forever

Please, please, please … any time you are getting ready to order a project or you want to take a look at digital content, or even when you're just online working in your Forever Storage account, take a look at the Tab on the right hand side of the menu bar that says Deals.

Forever Deals

Any time that Forever has a coupon code or special offer, it will be listed on that page and you can snag the code so you make sure to enter it at checkout.

Speaking of those Deals, there are two that just started today that you want to check out.

First of all, all Digital Art is 20% off this weekend (through March 5th) with the code SCRAPTODAY in honor of International Scrapbooking Industry Day.   (That's a mouthful!)

And all software purchases and print purchases are also 20% off through March 11th with the code MYROOTS.

I have a post in the works about my current photo organization workflow, which has changed over the past year.  I am always trying to find ways to make my photo organization more simple because I just don't have time to keep up with something complex.  It has taken me months to figure out what works for me and still makes me feel secure that I won't lose any photos, and I think I have that ironed out now, so I'll be sharing that on the blog.

And if there's anything you want to see on the blog, or any questions you might have, shoot them over to me.

Hope you have a beautiful, memorable weekend!

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.

Ugh!

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

More Thoughts On Forever Permanent Storage

More Thoughts On Forever Permanent Storage

I've heard people mention that the permanent storage offered by Forever has a big price tag for what you get.  But after yet another hard drive failure, and moving numerous memory vaults in the past few months for both myself and others, here's how I look at it now:

If I keep all of my photos on a computer, let's say a laptop, that laptop probably costs between $500 and $1000 when I buy it.  We'll call it $750 for a decent machine.  It may have 1 Tb of storage on the hard drive, which is room for a lot of photos, right?

Of course, we all know that a hard drive will fail eventually, so I get an external hard drive so I can have a shadow copy or backup.  Just a mid-range drive is probably $100 to $150.  Of course, those fail, too, so I either need a second one, or I need to subscribe to a cloud backup service.  There are some great ones out there, and let's say I subscribe to a backup service for a year for $59.

So far, I've paid $750 for the laptop, $125 for an external backup drive, and $59 for the first year of a cloud backup service.  That's $934.  Of course, next year I'll have to pay $59 again to keep up that cloud backup.  (You ALWAYS want to have an offsite backup option.)  And the year after that.  And the year after that.

After this many years, suddenly, the laptop hard drive fails.  I can still sleep easy because I have a shadow copy on my external drive and my cloud backup, so I pick up another laptop for let's say another $750, and I pay $50 for the computer guys to try to recover my files from the old hard drive.  So this year I've tacked on another $859 to my running total, but I still have my photos.

Next year, the external drive quits working.  It's just a hard drive, too, and they have a limited shelf life.  Now I need to shell out another $125 for another external drive.  And the $59 for your cloud backup service, of course.

Do you see where we're going?  Just over a five year period, according to this scenario, I've already paid $2,095 for the equipment to keep my photo files protected.  And this is just five years.

Let's look at the Forever alternative:

Forever Permanent Storage is meant to be a permanent digital home for your photos.  The base guarantee for the permanent storage account is your lifetime plus 100 years.  But really, that's meant to be their minimum guarantee.  They intend to make it last for as long as possible.

Currently, you can store full resolution images in .jpg, .png, .tiff and .pdf formats.  My understanding is that they are hoping to add video and audio files to your permanent storage options in the future.  Plus, part of the Forever Guarantee is future file conversion, meaning that they promise to migrate your digital files to new file formats in the future to keep them compatible with whatever file types are available.

Forever is also concerned with backup.  They make sure that all of your content is triple backed up and encrypted.  Your access always remains private, and you can share access to friends and family as you wish.  Forever will never sell access to your photos or data mine them to sell you something else.

The starter permanent storage account is 10 Gb for $19 a month for one year, or $199 for the one-time payment option.  This initial starter cost mainly goes into Forever's endowment fund to maintain the permanence of the systems securing your photos over time.  But once you pay for it, you are never charged again for this storage space.  You “own” it.

After that initial starter storage, you can add storage any time you want in 10, 50 or 100 Gb increments.  Or, you can jump to 500 Gb more or even 1 Tb.  Here's the thing: I currently have 200 Gb of storage that I have accumulated over time that is only 31% full and holds 38,320 files as of today.  I purchased my storage over time, often when there were specials on the one-time payment options, meaning that I saved even more.

At this rate, let's take this just one step further: if you live another 30 years (which I hope you do), the computer scenario could cost you $12,570 to keep and maintain the computers and equipment necessary to maintain your photos and organization.  And that assumes you don't accidentally have a digital snafu that wipes everything out and makes it unrecoverable.  You could purchase about 2 Tbs of storage for that.

Ok, I will recognize that most people use their computers for more than just their photos.  But realistically, in my case, the only thing on my computer right now that I would be upset about losing is not just my photos, but the organization and information I have saved with them.  I can do that, too, in my Forever storage account.

After so much time spent recovering photos and vaults for several people in the last few months, including myself, I am hard at work modifying my photo organization plan.  I love Historian, but I am beginning to love my permanent storage more.  And time is not something I have in unlimited supply.  More to come on this soon.

Hope I've given you something to think about, if nothing else.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb