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.
My System Now
So this is how I manage things now.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Way back in the prehistoric days with Storybook Creator 2, we started managing our digital content. The awesome thing then was that we could add keyword tags to our content to make it easier to find.
Then, along came Storybook Creator 3, and suddenly the new content we purchased was already keyword tagged for us! That was amazing!
And that's when I stopped worrying so much about organizing my digital content.
Fast forward to the present day when we have Artisan 5. The Content Manager changed a bit in Artisan 5. We don't have the content carousel anymore, which is a little sad because it was nice to pull up one kit and see all of the content in it. It was a fun visual. But the carousel was really a big memory sucker … at least it sure was if you had more than a handful of art kits.
Now we have a streamlined Content Manager that groups everything in the sidebar on the left. You see a Library section that lists the types of content you have: Built-in Kits, Commercial Art Kits, Font Kits, and Personal Art Kits. This is where you can view the lists of everything you have in each of these content types. These really don't change … when the content comes in, it gets assigned to one of these spots.
The next way to organize in the sidebar is My Categories. This is what I'll be explaining more today.
And the third way to organize is Tags (which used to be Keywords in earlier versions, but it's the same thing).
Why You Should Use “My Categories”
In earlier versions, I really didn't see the point in categorizing my content. I relied heavily on the Tags. When I wanted something particular, I would filter through the Tags for what I wanted.
In Artisan 5, I just don't find my Tags to be the most useful way to find what I'm looking for. Maybe with all of my recent re-installs, I've realized just how much awesome content I forget that I have! It's way too cumbersome to scroll through my Commercial Art Kits list, and they are all listed in alphabetical order, which really is no help at all.
Categories allow me to loosely group my content by its use. I say “loosely” for a reason. Categories are not meant to take the place of keywords/tags, so I'm not going to get really specific with them. That would just create another huge list.
Here's how easy it is:
When you open your Content Manager, the My Categories folder is below the Library folders. When you first look at it, you see just two options … Kits not in any category, and Sample. I clicked on the drop down next to Sample and deleted it.
To create your first category, click once to select My Categories and you'll see an arrow on the right side. In the drop down box that appears, select Add a category. Then just type your first category in the box.
Once you have some category folders set up, click on Kits not in any category. This will show all of your uncategorized kits in the field on the right.
You can select and drag kits individually into categories, or select multiple kits and drag them all into one category. The cool thing is, you can add a kit to more than one category.
Once you've worked through some kits, go ahead and click on Kits not in any category again and it will remove the kits you've already categorized. This way you won't have to keep scrolling and scrolling.
Now that you have some kits categorized, this is what it looks like when you want to search by category when you're working in a project.
Instead of scrolling through all of your Commercial Art Kits or scrolling through Tags, you can select a category and search content from there.
This isn't a completely necessary task, but one that I plan to complete this evening before I go to bed. I want to make better use of my content.
Hope that helps a little. I'm getting my audio problems fixed, so check back because I may have a video up soon to show this in action.
Until then, Enjoy!