Historian or Forever Storage – Which Should I Use?

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

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

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

The Why

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

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

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

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

The How-To

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


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

Let me know if I can help.

15 thoughts on “Historian or Forever Storage – Which Should I Use?”

  1. Lorna Caldwell

    Deb, your information is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. Thank you!! I was a Memory Manager user from the start and purchased Historian years ago. I’m embarrassed to say I never did anything with Historian until I suddenly found all this free time. I had backed up my MM vaults to an external drive and am now working to get Historian up and running. I was confused about Historian vs. Forever and now you’ve answered my questions. Again, THANK YOU!

    BTW, I never EVER comment on blogs, but felt compelled to compliment you!


  2. Gloria L Wilkinson

    I used to be a Creative Memories consultant and I loved the Memory Manager program. So how do I purchase the Historian and put it on my laptop? My desktop is Mac, so I can’t use it on that. Also, my old computer has the Memory Manager on it, but I can’t find all my pictures on it. They aren’t showing up. Do you know any way to find them on an old computer? Do I purchase this through you or at the website? I need some personal consultation. Do you do that?

  3. Hi, Gloria.
    Thank you for reaching out! First of all, yes, you can purchase Historian and load it on a Windows computer and it will do what Memory Manager used to do for you. It should be able to read/open your former memory vault from Memory Manager, depending on which version you were using. I saw your name pop up in my email just now, so I will reach out to you and would love to help you work through this process.

  4. Julie Richardson

    Deb –

    I am new to your blog, but am LOVING it! One additional question about Historian and Forever . . . . . If I have spent A LOT of time tagging my photos in Historian AND writing lengthy descriptions (stories) about each photo, when I upload the photo to Forever, does all that information stay with the photo? Does it become part of the metadata? Thank you!

  5. Hi, Julie.

    Yes! That’s the fabulous part. The tags you add in Historian, as well as any change in the name of the photo, change in the date, and anything you add in the Tell Your Story area all transfer with the photo as metadata, so when you upload to a Forever Storage account, all of that automatically comes with it. Great question!

  6. is the edited metadata like captions stored in the standard IPTC format, so other apps like Lightroom and Mac Finder will display it, or is it in a Forever-specific format that will only work within the Forever family of products?

  7. Great question, David.

    When the metadata is edited in Historian, it uses the standard format so it should be displayed by other applications. There’s nothing proprietary about it. I hope that helps.

  8. I had purchased Forever but started with minimal storage. I know need more storage. It was explained to me that I essentially have to purchase at full price with no credit of my initial purchase.

    This has made me think the Historian option instead. I loved Memory Manger so, I think Historian would be the next best options. Can you tell me if there is a limit to how many pictures you can use with Historian for the $99 cost?

    Thank you for your help!

  9. Hi, Pam.
    To answer your last question first, there isn’t a number limit to how many photos you can store with Historian. Historian is the software used to organize the photos, but the number of photos you can store is determined by how much space you have on your computer. And you’ll want to be sure you have enough space on a different drive for a backup, or you run the risk of losing it all because it’s on your computer’s hard drive and that drive will eventually fail. (If you’re interested in purchasing Historian, check the Deals page on the Forever.com site before purchasing because right now there’s a coupon code that will give you 20% off of the purchase.)

    As for your comment about your Forever storage, it’s not a matter of crediting the initial purchase. Forever Storage is like purchasing permanent space on a cloud server to house your photos for years to come. It is purchased in increments like 10 Gb, 25 Gb, etc. Once you purchase it, you own that space and you won’t lose it. If you need more and purchase another segment, it’s added to what you already own.

    Most folks need more storage at some point, but the beautiful thing about it is that you never lose what you’ve already purchased. If you had to keep those photos stored and organized on a computer, you would eventually have to purchase a new computer every so many years to house those photos. And upgrade any software you use to organize it. And in a few more years you would have to do it all again.

    If your photos are organized in your Forever storage, you don’t lose that organization or those photos just because your computer dies. Once you’ve saved and organized those photos, you don’t have to do it again. Plus, your family doesn’t lose access to those photos if you die. You can pass your account on to them because you own it. With something housed on your computer, you run the risk of that computer failing without warning. Or, if you don’t back it up properly, you also run the risk of losing it.

    Just a few thoughts. I’m happy to help or answer more questions if you have them. If you have a Forever ambassador, make sure to ask him/her questions – they are usually glad to help.

  10. Hi Deb, I hope you can help me.
    I started with Memory Manager, then upgraded to Historian 4.0. I am about to upgrade again to Historian 6 but want to tidy up my account before upgrading. I used an iphone/ ipad for a recent holiday. Those photos (about 2000) uploaded automatically to icloud. Today I downloaded them to my computer (Windows 10) and now want to add to Historian 4.0
    I selected only a couple of photos and put into Historian 4.0 as a test. What I am finding is that when I add these couple of pics to Historian 4.0 they do not have the GPS coordinates.
    My old ipad photos have the GPS coordinates and so does an old ipad.
    I can’t understand why Historian 4.0 is not bringing this info with the photo.
    Note: the ipad and iphone both show GPS. When I downloaded these 2000 pics to my computer they also show the GPS info in properties.
    Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong?
    BTW – under General – Item property details – the Location is selected.
    Under Metadate – Automatically write item properties to files on media vault close is also selected.

    Regards, Kate

  11. Hi, Kate.
    That is a really interesting question. I am working on replicating that to see if I can find you an answer.

  12. Kate,
    Wow … your question is fascinating to me because I haven’t tried this before. So, I took a photo with my iPad mini this afternoon and first uploaded it to Forever (because that’s the easiest way for me to get it to my PC). In my Forever account, I can’t see the extra metadata, but I downloaded the photo to my PC and checked the Properties and the GPS data was there.

    So, I added the photo to Historian (I’m using 6, so I can’t verify if this works in 4). When I select the photo and view the Item Information and File Information in the righthand sidebar, it doesn’t show. BUT, when I clicked on the dropdown arrow on the photo itself in Historian and selected Item Properties, it brought up another box. One of the menu options at the bottom of the list is Raw metadata. That box shows even more metadata than I saw when I viewed the properties on the PC and the GPS coordinates are there.

    I guess what that means is that the metadata stays with the image, but it’s not immediately viewable in the sidebar in Historian. I hope that helps. Please let me know if it brings up more questions.

  13. Hi Deb,

    Thanks for the super-useful info! We’re moving to the next stage of photo-organizing and so glad we found Forever / Historian before spending any more time on categorizing or editing photos in ACDSee.
    Could you explain a bit more about how Historian works with photos already on a PC – eg. does it have to read in all the existing photos and create a database? Our main Pictures folder has 70+ subfolders and many more nested below, and is in desperate need of clean-up before going to Forever.com! How does Historian6 handle edits – keep the original file and create a new one? Or write a sidecar file? I think you’ve addressed this above, but could you confirm information like facial recognition and descriptions or tags are written as metadata, readable by other photo-editing software independent of Historian and Forever platforms? Finally, I’m wondering about the many video files and HEIC / Live photos that my wife has, on her phone and also living in our ACDSee MobileSync file. Any hints to decrease the pain there? We don’t use iCloud so unfortunately can’t use that work-around.
    Thanks for any help or directions you can provide!

  14. Hi, Rich.

    Thank you very much for the comment and great questions. Let me see if I can answer them.

    Historian does pull all photos into one “cabinet” that you can then organize, tag, edit, etc. from within the framework of the software. Once you bring photos into Historian, they are automatically organized by date and time based on the metadata available with the photo. If you already have tags associated with a photo in the metadata, Historian will “likely” recognize those tags and ask if you wish to create those as new tags in your cabinet.

    When you edit photos, the default method that Historian uses is to create a series of saved revisions of the photo, meaning that the original is still available but you can access/view any of the revisions you save. However, you also have the option to save a revision as a new photo file. The reason the default is the former is because the goal when organizing in Historian is to maintain one file only for each photo on your hard drive to save space, and then utilize other methods such as tags, etc. to organize them for easy retrieval.

    And yes, things like tags, descriptions, etc. are all written to the metadata on the photo and can be accessed outside the Historian platform.

    Do you have a Forever ambassador that you’re currently working with? If so, you may want to connect with him/her for a quick walk through and to answer questions. If not, I’d be happy to set up a time to connect with you. It’s much easier to get a feel for how both of these options work when you are able to see an example of how someone else is doing it and it would potentially make it easier to get your questions answered.

    Hope that helps!


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