This Mother’s Day, Many Ways to Protect Memories, Memories

Many years ago there was a famous long distance commercial ( featuring Bear Bryant. In the ad, the legendary trainer encouraged viewers to stay in touch with their family. At the end, the bear said the scripted phrase “”Did you call your mom today? From one sentence, a banal message to honor our mothers has become sublime.

Although the coach’s mother was gone, it was clear that she remained in his heart. In my mind, there is no better way to pay tribute. While we should make as many memories as possible with our mothers, sadly, many of our memories will slip through the cracks. Despite the fact that photos are useful, they are often sequestered in a closet or, in the case of a hard drive, lost in a crowd. Worse still, footage can be permanently lost due to fire, flood, or equipment failure.

If you’re starting to wonder how vulnerable your memories might be, here are some ideas for protecting them:

Storage media: Even in otherwise perfect conditions, the wrong support or equipment can undermine your best efforts to ensure safety. If you were born before the 1980s, you’re probably familiar with faded, yellowed-edge photographs. Also, contrary to perception, storage drives are perishable. For example, the estimated life of recordable discs can range from five years and more. Moreover, external hard drives also have significant differences in terms of reliability and lifespan.

External factors: In my own family, a house fire destroyed most of the photographs that had accumulated over many years. Therefore, there are very few photos of my father in the first 25 years of his life. What I mean is that once you’ve decided what to store your photos on, it’s just as important to make the right decision about where you keep them. The main issues to consider are fires, water due to firefighters putting out the fire, and natural disasters.

Recommendations: Although the best way to do something may depend on the circumstances, I think these recommendations are worth considering:

Disk: If you want as bulletproof an archive as a fallen world can offer, discs are the best bet. However, this medium must be of archival quality. Although they are more expensive than the regular variety, you won’t really need a lot of them, so you won’t be spending as much. With a lifespan of over 100 years, such an option offers peace of mind. For an example of this type of product, Google “M-Disc”. sells them at competitive prices. If you want to stick with less expensive options, I recommend making new backups every 5-10 years. Although most discs last longer, there are many variations between brands. Why take a chance?

External hard drives: External hard drives can be good storage options and their lifespan is estimated at 5-7 years. Based on available objective studies, Western Digital and Seagate primarily manufacture reliable hard drives. In contrast, Toshiba has lower reliability. Even though the premium options are more expensive, remember that their content can be priceless. An article that covers this topic can be found at

Cloud: Although many rely on web-based storage to keep files safe, security only depends on the provider you depend on. Although cloud-based solutions are good for redundancy, you might think twice before relying on them exclusively.

Redundancy: If you don’t have at least one backup for your data, you may be skating on thin ice. However, a single backup is not perfect. While there’s never a full guarantee, two separate backups can be a good compromise between protecting your memories and becoming too obsessed with the problem.

Or: A backup must be located somewhere other than your home. Whether you use cloud storage (web-based) or a vault is up to you. Personally, I like a safe because I feel more in control. Tech companies have a way of going bankrupt. For the home, a fireproof and waterproof safe is hard to beat. If you decide to get a safe, make sure it has both capacities since fires are put out with water.

Since Mother’s Day is all about remembering, one could argue that going the extra mile to preserve memories is the most appropriate way to observe this occasion. And I hope today’s tips inspire you to take the next steps.

In the meantime, I hope you can create new memories with your mom. Did you call your mom today? I’m glad I can call mine! Happy Mother’s Day!

SEAN FIELDS is AJ’s savvy client. Read his columns on Sundays and Wednesdays. Email him at [email protected], like his Facebook page at, or check out previous columns and offers at

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