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.


Potentially Useful Tool For The Font Junkie

Potentially Useful Tool For The Font Junkie

Ok, so if you've read my older posts, you know that besides being a real content collector, I am also a Font junkie.  If it looks cool, I like it.

Here's the biggest issue with being a font junkie: when you switch computers, or a computer refresh is necessary, or … well, you've probably noted how many “new” installs of Windows I've managed over the years, when these unnatural phenomena happen, all those fun, beautiful collected fonts have to be reinstalled.

It's a huge pain in the butt.  And a great reason to not hoard fonts.

But I still do.

So, probably the most useful way I've found to manage my fonts is FontCloud.  This site is super cool because they'll give you …

  • a place to store all of your hoarded fonts (in case you need to reinstall them after some catastrophic event), AND
  • they give you a really easy way to see WHAT you have, and
  • they show you HOW it will look in your application without the work of just adding it to your project.

The best part is, it's free.  There's no fee for the first 2 Gb of font storage, which goes a LONG way.  My current stash of 270 fonts about fills that up, and if you have more fonts than I do, well, maybe you want to be selective, or maybe you just want to purchase some font storage.  But really, maybe this is just a great tool to really SEE which fonts you really want, and which ones you may be able to let go.

Yes, you can have too much of a good thing.  Even fonts …

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Thanks for reading!

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

My Quick Mixbook Experiment: The Final Result

My Quick Mixbook Experiment: The Final Result

Last weekend, I sent you a short post about the quick photo book I decided to create with the online album creator on  Now I have the results, which is the first big plus for Mixbook.

I ordered the book around 8pm on Saturday evening.

I received a shipping confirmation email on Tuesday afternoon.

And I received the book in the mail on Thursday afternoon.

That's pretty quick!


This is my book, just as I received it in the mail.  The packaging was nice and durable, but still fit in my mailbox.  (The book is a 10″x 10″.  I'm sure that a 12″ x 12″ would be on my doorstep instead.)  All of the packaging did its job, and the book was in great shape when I received it.

By the way, I really liked that offers this 10″ x 10″ size.  I haven't investigated every photo book printer out there, but I haven't seen 10″ x 10″ offered before, and I really like this size.  I've always created 8″ x 8″ books in the past for my specialty (vacation, holiday) albums, and they just seem a little small for me.  Now that I received this book, the size is perfect.


I really also wanted to check out the print quality.  I know I've had some comments from a few of you that you weren't completely happy with the print quality with Forever recently.  (I just received the book I ordered from Forever last week in today's mail, and I'll post on that next.)

I have to say, digital photobooks are rarely printed like our old film photos were.  But in comparison with some other digital products I've printed, the prints in this photobook are pretty clear.  It doesn't look pixelated or “off” to me.

Overall, I haven't got one single gripe about this photobook.  I hadn't even started the book a week ago, and today I'm holding the finished product in my hand.  Coupled with the offers that Mixbook frequently puts out, I will definitely print with them again.


Photo books aren't the only thing that Mixbook offers.  A couple of months ago I tried a deal Mixbook had on canvas prints.  I had never printed a canvas print before, and I had always wanted to try it.


I did this one in kind of a hurry, but I have a big empty section of wall space next to my staircase that I hope to hang a nice canvas print on in the future.  (I need to do some better photography before I invest in this.)

If you haven't seen one, here's what it looks like from the side.  The photo wraps all the way to the back, so make sure you account for that when you create it!  (The things I'm learning from for you …)


My next experiment will be ordering photo prints from Mixbook.  I have some 12×12 pages I'm working on now, and I just had someone ask me this week where to get their enlargements printed.  At the time, I didn't remember if Mixbook printed those, so if you're reading this, now you know.

Mixbook also prints a full line of themed photo cards, including engagement announcements and save the date cards, wedding invitations and thank you cards, and birth announcements.  I've ordered Christmas cards from Mixbook in the past, and I wish I had shown those at the time, too.

Hope this helps you.  Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb

Mixbook: An Easy Way To Make A Quick, Quality Photobook

In celebration of finishing my 2014 album yesterday morning, I decided I just had to keep the momentum going.  I really wanted to complete the album for my family's trip to Yellowstone last summer, which has been difficult for me previously.  I started it last fall in Artisan, but I just kept running into hurdles.

So, I decided to try an online book with Mixbook.  I've wanted to do this for quite a while, just for the experience.  Now I can say I've done it, and I wanted to share it with you.

It took me about five hours total to complete the 51 page book with 353 photos initially uploaded.  (I used about 2/3rds of them.)


If you've used an online site to build a book before, this will look kind of familiar.  You can choose a book style by theme, and then browse for the one that you like.


You can preview the standard book before you make your choice.  But the cool part is, you can switch themes anytime within the editor and mix and match the pages.

Once you choose a theme, you'll be prompted to add your photos.  You can upload them from your PC, or import them for a number of different sites like Instagram, Facebook and Flickr.


If you don't upload from that screen, you can still choose Add photos any time from the book editor screen and upload what you need.


Once you have the photos, the rest is a piece of cake.  It's drag and drop from the list.  Hover over the photo to see a larger preview, and keep an eye on the green checkmarks, which show that you've already used the photo.  It's that simple.


If you want to change the look of the page, go to the Layout tab and pick a new one.


If you like the photo layout, but want a different background, just click Backgrounds to choose a new one.  The backgrounds are theme specific, so if you change the theme, these options will change, too.


And, what would a scrapbook page be without stickers and embellishments, right?  We've got those, too.


Really, it's just that easy.

Like I said, I created a book using about 250 photos in a total of about 5 hours.  I'm pretty certain you could probably outpace me on that … I second guess myself a lot.

Two projects completed and ordered in the past week.  On to the next one … and the promised challenge.  I'll have details about that soon!

Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb


Why Historian Is Still The Best Photo Management Software

Why Historian Is Still The Best Photo Management Software

A few days ago, I was wavering in my loyalty to Historian.  I have used this software (in its varying versions and names) since it was first released, which I believe was around 2007.  I have taught it to others for that long.

And since that very first version, I have begged and pleaded with everyone to use Historian, if for nothing more than the easy timeline and the shadow copy feature.
Peace of MindThe shadow copy saved me again today, and it's for that reason that I still believe in Historian and use it as my tool of choice for my library of photos almost a decade later.

Yes, I've been a consultant or affiliate for whichever company has owned this software since that start date, which means I received a commission for teaching about it.  But here's the thing: I have no contracts at this point requiring my loyalty to this software.  If it begins to crumble and not do the job for me, I know it won't do the job for you either, so I'll have to find another solution.  I've been looking at some of the other software and apps available, including Adobe Lightroom, which I find really fun for editing purposes.

But I don't think there is another software yet that allows me to find the photos I want, when I want them, and then gives me the peace of mind knowing that when my computer fails, I don't have to worry about a single picture.

Get Your Shadow Copy Set Up Today

While the shadow copy feature is an absolute life saver, I know that less than half of the people I work with understand it or have it set up.  Let me see if I can try to simplify it, because really, it's that important.

To set up a shadow copy, you need an external drive of some sort.  It can be one that you plug in directly to your computer through a USB cable, or it can be a personal cloud drive (not to be confused with cloud storage services), which is an external drive that plugs into your modem or router instead of your computer and can be accessed remotely via wifi.  (I have been using this set up for a while because it allows me to be lazy … it will shadow without me having to plug a cord into my computer to get the job done.)

Let's say that you're planning to use an external drive that you plug into a USB port on your computer.  You'll want to make sure that's plugged in.

Now, open up Historian and click on My Media Library.  Along the menu ribbon on the top, you'll see a tab marked Vault.  Click on that tab to open it.


In the Vault ribbon, click on the icon that says Shadow Copy.


Next, you'll see a box that pops up.  If this is the first time you have set up a shadow copy, it will look something like this.


Click on Start protection.

Next, you'll get another box that will let you browse to where you want to save your shadow copy.  As I mentioned before, picking a location on a separate drive like an external drive is best.


Once your location is selected, the hard part is over.  You'll see this box:


You can either choose to Update now if you want to start the shadow copy immediately, or go ahead and hit Close if you have other things you want to do in Historian.  Once you start the process, you'll have to let it finish before you can do anything else in Historian.

But the cool thing is, once you have the shadow copy in place, it's a set-it-and-forget-it system.  As long as your external drive is plugged in, Historian will automatically update the shadow copy when you close the program.  If your external drive isn't plugged in, Historian will keep a list of the items that have changed and update them all the next time your drive is plugged in.

It's really not that hard.  Please give yourself (and me) some peace of mind, and make sure you have your shadow copy set up right now!

Until the next time, Enjoy!  (And rest easy …)

~ Deb