The box with a bunch of old photos

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.


7 thoughts on “How to Combine Historian and Forever Storage for a Secure Photo Backup Strategy”

  1. Simona MacAngus

    Good description Thanks! How, please, does Artisan work in your flow? Do you pull photos into Artisan from Forever Storage or Historian? Also do you create small albums in with FS of FH for pulling in group to Artisan? I just began with Forever and tried to use Artisan. Artisan crashes dozens of time on me in the three times I’ve attempted to do one album about my late Maltese. I’ve lost edited and masked photos and entire pages. Was pulling photos from My Pictures the problem? I want to live Forever Artisan but so far I’ve lost 1/2 my efforts yet can see Forever’s vision if not reality.

  2. Simona MacAngus

    Meant to say want to Love Forever! And whether it’s best to create little albums in a Forever product to use in Artisan’s workflow. If Yes to the latter which do you create albums in and why? These leads to another question- does Forever Artisan ever crash on your system? Mine is a large 3 year old notebook PC with advanced graphics, high ram and high storage running Windows 7 Home Pro kept religiously up to date. Artisan is installed on my 1T ssid hard-drive and my pc has much more available storage than stored programs and data. Thanks for your comments and input.

  3. Simona, I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I have been sick the past week and haven’t kept up with everything.

    I’m also very sorry to hear that you’re having these issues with Artisan. I have had some difficulties with Artisan at times, and the best recommendation I have is to call Forever’s support line. Artisan shouldn’t be working that way, and it’s possible that there’s a configuration issue that is causing the problem. I usually try uninstalling Artisan and then reinstalling, because that has helped me in the past, but not every time. I wish I had a quick fix.

    As far as project sizes, when Artisan is working properly, I make pretty large 12×12 albums each year. I just ordered one last week that was 90 pages. I love your question about workflow from Forever Storage vs. Historian, because I’m still trying to decide what works best for me. I almost always use a drag and drop method to add my photos to Artisan, whether I drag directly from Historian, or I download a group of files temporarily from Forever Storage. It’s easier for me than loading them into the Photos panel in Artisan.

    I hope this helps. Sorry for the delay.


  4. I have been trying to find a way to ask my question and then I stumbled upon this post. I am trying to upload my photos from Forever to my Historian. (This is because I am trying to make both places match.) When I click “Get Media from Forever”, it doesn’t how any photos in Forever. Is that because I am using the free version of Forever? What I ended up doing was downloading them from Forever to a flash drive and then putting into Historian That seems like an extra step. I appreciate any help you have!

  5. Hi, Kelley.

    That is a good question. I know that Forever is working on a way to download from Forever to Historian, and this is probably the first step. When I open that option, Historian does not immediately show me all of the photos in my Forever library. It does show me photos in Forever that I have organized into an Album (on Forever). I have to select one of those albums to see any photos in the box below. I also have the option to see photos by Tag in Forever.

    As far as whether that will work for a free account, I am not sure. I currently have a routine of reviewing Historian and Forever side by side and selecting the photos from Forever that I want to add to Historian and downloading them as a group. Not terribly efficient, I know.

  6. Hi,
    I appreciate reading your posts and am glad I found this site. I have a couple of questions and would greatly appreciate your help!

    1) If I have my pictures uploaded into Historian, do I still need to retain the JPEG images in my picture folder on my computer?

    2) I also have Forever and have not used tagging here. Do I need to create tags to align exactly with the way I have them set up in Historian so that they will all flow the same? Not sure how all this works since in Historian you have categories with tags underneath the category but only tags in Forever.

    Again many thanks for posting your tips and advice.

  7. Hi, Carolyn.

    I’m glad my posts help. Sorry for a delay in responding.

    1. When you say “uploaded into Historian” – Historian lives on your computer, so the photos you add to Historian still have to live on your hard drive as well. If you had them in your Pictures folder and imported them into Historian, then you can delete the files you had in Pictures. But you do not want to mess with any of the files inside your Vault/Cabinet file on your computer. I hope that makes sense.
    2. As for your FOREVER Storage, if you bring photos into your FOREVER account from Historian, it will carry the tags from Historian to your storage account for you. Likewise, if you have a photo in your FOREVER account that you tag and then you add it to Historian, it will bring the tag with it into Historian.

    I just recorded a short challenge this month to better explain how Albums and Tags in the FOREVER Storage account work. I am hoping to add it here to the site before the end of the month and that might help answer more questions.

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