Don't think that if you've transferred Grandma Sonia's photo albums or Uncle Howard's home movies onto digital files that you've preserved them, says Katie Trainor, head of the Museum of Modern Art archives, a repository of 26,000 films in Hamlin, Pa., just east of Scranton.
"Because of the quick obsolescence of equipment, who knows if new technology will be able to 'play' an old movie in five to 10 years?" Trainor says.
"The physical DVD or CD is not a stable, long-term media for preservation," says Grover Crisp, senior vice president of asset management for Sony Pictures. "One of the few ways to make sure you have files for the future is to constantly access them, make sure they work, and migrate them to newer and, hopefully, better media."
"And don't throw out the original film or photograph," Trainor advises.
In her capacity as cofounder of the Center for Home Movies, Trainor finds that "once people transfer their home movies to digital, they often throw out the original material. But that CD it's stored on might get scratched. So, keep that film or negative, keep it cool and dry."