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Digital Keepsakes

People traditionally decorate their living space with keepsakes. It is common to decorate shelves and walls with photos of loved ones, old trophies, and other mementos.

In the 21st century, people also accumulate digital keepsakes. These are data files like videos, images captured on a phone, or treasured voice messages.

Tradition tells us what to do with physical keepsakes. They go on a shelf, or a wall, or in a filing cabinet.

The digital keepsakes are a new storage problem, though. People invent their own schemes for these. I’ve seen people keep old, broken computers in the hopes of recovering treasured writings some day. I’ve also seen people stay with the same phone provider because they don’t want to lose sentimental voice messages.

Cloud storage is one solution. Storing digital keepsakes on some company’s servers is easy to start doing. No one knows whether something stored there will still be available if you want it 30 years from now, or lose access to your email account.

There’s something valuable about having physical access to a thing. Putting digital keepsakes on a USB thumb drive is one approach. One hopes that one will never be cut off from the internet, but it does happen. With physical storage at your home (and maybe a backup at a family member’s,) you can get at these things any time.

USB won’t be the standard forever, but it has been the standard long enough that people will have ways of accessing these devices for a long time.

Another advantage to storing on a physical device is that, in the event you die or can’t speak for yourself, loved ones can recover the data easily. Especially if it’s not protected by passwords as your phone, computer, and online accounts may be.





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