Why Where You Store Your Photos Is So Important

(Updated February 4, 2023)

Before you purchase your next computer, consider this:

If you've followed me for a while, you know that I have been a huge proponent of Historian (originally Memory Manager) for photo management since its inception.

Way back in the day, I did group events with other (then) Creative Memories Consultants and  I loved training others to use Memory Manager.  My biggest mantra then was that Memory Manager with the shadow copy feature and a handy, dandy external drive were the best combination for keeping photos safely backed up.

And I have continued using that system for the last seventeen years. But, it's no longer my primary system for managing my photos.

Fast forward to 2023 

I still use the shadow copy feature in Historian 6 to back up most of my photos on my computer.  But what I've found after doing this for so many years is this:  I always needed more hard drive space, so I would purchase a computer with a bigger hard drive, and then a bigger external drive.  Relying only on Historian and the back up drive would mean that it's up to me to maintain a separate drive or drives to store my photos and maintain a adequate backups.  Over the years I've split up vaults (now called “cabinets”) to make them smaller so I could keep the photos I didn't use frequently on a separate drive to save space. But I always run into the problem of having to remember to plug the backup drive into my laptop periodically so my shadow copy will be up to date.

And then there are the hard drive crashes.  Not one.  Not even just one per year.  In 2016, I had to reinstall Windows 4 times.  In 2017, I reinstalled Windows again four more times on two different laptops.  In late 2020, I upgraded my laptop and had to set everything up again. And so it continues.

Can you see where this is going?

A few years ago I wrote a post about Forever's guaranteed storage called More Thoughts On Forever Permanent Storage.  It detailed what it would cost (at the time of writing) to keep up with the hardware and software needed to keep all of my digital photos safe, and then compared it to the price of purchasing Permanent Storage from Forever.

Since I first wrote that post, Forever has continued to make it easier to get started with Forever's Permanent Storage.  Plus, they frequently offer special deals to give you a “break” on the regular price.  (ALWAYS check the Deals tab on Forever's website.)

If you haven't read my train of thought from More Thoughts on Forever Permanent Storage, it's still a worthwhile argument.  In a nutshell with today's pricing (which can change, especially with Deals), here's what it comes down to:

Costs to PURCHASE Forever Permanent Storage*

Forever offers two ways to purchase your Storage space: you can make a one-time payment for the amount you want, or you can opt for a 24-month payment plan.

Notice I used the word “purchase.” Any payment you make for your Storage, whether one-time or monthly, is for the purchase of space for your account. You own that space: it will not expire or be deleted in the future. It can (and should) be handed down to your children and grandchildren so that the memories contained there stay safe, organized and accessible.

The screenshot below is a current version of a portion of that page on Forever's site.

You'll notice that I emphasized the words Single Payment. The page default shows the price for making a one-time payment to purchase space. You'll also see that there's a cost breakdown for each increment that shows the price per Gigabyte of Storage. Finally, if you need more than 100 Gb at once, click on the More Options button to find those.

But, I mentioned a 24 month payment plan option. To find that, you need to toggle the little slider button between Single Payment and 24 Monthly Installments.

With that button slid to the right, now you'll see the monthly price for purchasing each amount of Storage and the price per Gigabyte.

These prices are from February 4, 2023. For the CURRENT pricing chart, please visit Forever's Storage page here:  https://www.forever.com/ambassador/debrodriguez/forever_storage

* The great thing about this page is that it is always updated to show the current specials with a quick link to copy the applicable coupon code.  And very frequently, there is a discount available.

My Personal System

I have “collected” my current total of 512 Gb of Storage over time by taking advantage of Forever's coupon codes and awards of extra Storage for being a Forever Club Member.  To purchase this much Storage today, it would cost me $4,399.99 ($3,299.99 with a coupon) if I paid for it all at once.  But I know that I have paid much less than that by purchasing smaller amounts on special over time.  As a member of the Forever Club, I am also awarded extra Storage at no charge for every 3 months I stay a member, plus I get an additional discount of 5-10% on almost all of my purchases, including Storage.

I am currently using 216 Gb of my Storage. I have 81,249 photos, videos and documents in my account.  Hypothetically, let's say that I purchased 250 Gb of Storage at the current discounted price. That would allow me to store approximately 37,500 to 125,000 photos (depending on file size) and would cost me $1,874.99.  Because I am a Forever Club member, I would get an additional 5% off of that purchase, saving me roughly $93.75 off of that price.

For this price, I would own my 250 Gb of Permanent Storage and have the ability to pass it down to my children.  Forever puts most of the money from every Storage purchase into an endowment fund so that they can guarantee they will have the capital necessary to maintain your photos for generations to come.  Your files are not compressed or data-mined, and Forever will never charge you for that Storage space again. 

Plus, as technology advances and photo file types change over time, Forever guarantees they will migrate your photo files to the newer formats so they are still accessible and enjoyable by future generations.

The Alternative Method – Maintain My Own Backups

Obviously, I can still opt to back up my own photo files.  To do that, I would need:

  • A computer – average cost, $750 (but my last one cost nearly $1,400).
  • An offsite backup option (because what happens to my photos if both the laptop and the external drive are destroyed?) – We'll estimate this cost at $70 for a service like iDrive (which I personally use – see Resources) or Backblaze.  Other services like Amazon let you upload your photos as part of your Prime membership ($14.99 a month or $139 per year), at least for now.  Amazon's rules change from time to time, just like most other providers.

All of the major photo storage providers, iPhotos, Amazon, etc. will save your photos for a monthly fee.  If you miss a payment or stop payments, that storage goes away and so do the files if you haven't backed them up elsewhere.

So, at this point, we have paid $750 for the computer, plus $100 for the external drive, plus $70 for the cloud backup.  That's $920.

Then next year, you'll need to pay the $70 again.

And you'll have to remember to plug in that external drive periodically to make sure you have a current backup.

And then, in a couple of years, one day you plug in the external drive and nothing happens.  Your computer doesn't recognize it.  Or it pops up a notification that there's an error on the drive.  Suddenly, that backup is in jeopardy.

So, you go out and purchase a new external drive for another $100 and make a brand new backup.  Whew!  Problem solved.

Then, about twelve months later, that laptop starts acting funny.  Pretty soon, there it is … the blue screen of death.  (They've tried to make it look friendlier now, but it's still the same terrible omen.)

Turns out, your computer's hard drive is failing.  If you're a crazy laptop mechanic or you harbor a computer geek in your basement, you can replace that hard drive for, say, $100.  (I've done this – so many times that it was embarrassing the last time I donated computer equipment. I think I gave them 6 different drives.) 

But, more than likely, there's a new laptop coming in your future.  Let's call that another $750.

You can restore your photos to the new laptop from that handy dandy external drive and they are still safe.  Whew!

But can you see where this is heading?  After just 4-5 years, you've hypothetically paid $2,050 or more to maintain the hardware and cloud services necessary to keep those photos safe.  And it doesn't end there.  Year after year, you have to keep maintaining those systems which will mean further investment in the hardware over time. 

And once you are gone, will your family know how to access and maintain your backups. Or will they lose all of your photos?

But you'll never pay again for that Forever Storage space and Forever will take care of the details for you. And you can (and should) share easily with family and bequeath your account to your heirs.

As you can see, I'm pretty passionate about using Forever Storage.  Forever has my photos triple backed up using different systems in different locations around the world, so they are essentially already doing a better job than I could do with my double back up.  Plus, I access those organized photos from any device (phone, tablet, computer) any time of the day and anywhere.  When I want to pull up a photo of my daughter's 8th birthday, I don't have to go to my computer, boot it up, open a program and then search.  I can grab my phone, open the app and find it quickly, even when I'm not home.

So please, if you have any questions about Forever Storage, ask them!  I would gift photo storage to everyone I know if I had the financial wherewithal.  If this is something that interests you, I suggest you take a look at the Deals page and find out how you can get started.  (And definitely take a look at Forever Club before you jump in … it makes it even more worthwhile and affordable.)  I'll quit now, but I'm happy to help any way I can!


2 thoughts on “Why Where You Store Your Photos Is So Important”

  1. I’m curious–what happens if the goes bankrupt or shuts down for another reason? Do you still have your permanent storage or is it all lost?

  2. That’s a great question, Nancy. Part of the reason that Forever Storage is different is because a large part of the funds we pay to purchase the Storage are invested in an endowment fund that is managed to safeguard and generate sufficient capital to maintain the systems that support that Storage over time. The concept is similar to the endowment funds that keep institutions like Harvard and Yale going. Only a small portion is used at the current time to pay for expenses and the company is well-managed with the express purpose of continuing to safeguard our memories for generations.

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