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Writing Your Life Story  

How to Preserve Your Treasured Recordings

Written By Lastly.com

Do you or your family have treasured recordings?

Would you like to preserve those old home movies?

Want to digitally convert your old photos?


If you’re like most families, you or your loved ones have old photos and precious home movies stored away in boxes—perhaps in the attic, the basement, or in the dark corner of a closet. Maybe it’s been years since anyone has seen them. It’s important to know how to preserve your treasured recordings so they can be saved for future generations.


Why Preserve Your Treasured Recordings and Other Items

So, you know that someone in your family has a collection of old photographs, home movies, artifacts, and other memorabilia. But do you know where they are? Does the rest of your family have access to them? If you answered ‘No,’ then you may want to take the steps today to preserve these precious memories not only for your family but also for historical purposes and for future generations.


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At Lastly.com, we recommend permanently preserving your family memories to help keep them alive. Individual history is so important when looking back to research family history, local history, and more. Individual photos and other artifacts record moments in time, stories of what life was like, and what people endured or celebrated at different times.


It’s important to preserve your treasured artifacts before it’s too late. Why? Because if you don’t plan for the worst-case scenario, then you’ll be left with just and oral history of your family’s life stories.

Let’s face it… accidents and natural disasters happen: fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, and more. Your family member may develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and forget where information is stored or inadvertently dispose of items that you may want to keep. Things get lost. People forget. Old items age. Photos yellow. Audio or video tapes become brittle. There are a wide variety of things that can happen to your old movies and photographs.

Plus, technology is always advancing. So, there is always a new and better way to store your data to prevent irreparable damage. Your old recordings can be converted to more than one kind of modern device.

  • CD
  • DVD
  • Flash drive / thumb drive
  • SD card
  • Websites
  • Social Media
  • The Cloud
  • Digital video or photo albums
  • iCloud photo library
  • Hard drive
  • External hard drive


Keep in mind that no matter how you convert images, digital files, and audio recordings today, you will always need to update your preservation method every 10–20 years. CDs, DVDs, and flash drives are not meant to last forever. They, too, have a lifespan… not to mention that the devices used to view these items can also become obsolete or hard to find or repair: 8-track tape players, VCRs, reel to reel players, cassette players, etc.

Digital media may last anywhere from 10–30 years, depending on the following factors.

  • Frequency of use
  • Care and handling
  • Storage temperature and humidity
  • Cleanliness of the storage environment
  • Quality of the device used to write/read/play the media
What Forms of Media Can Be Converted to Digital?

If you’re not a tech savvy person, you’re not alone. The good news is that you don’t have to be tech savvy to salvage your old photos and home movies and preserve them in a digital format, such as a CD or DVD. If you perform an internet search for ‘digital restoration,’ ‘photo restoration,’ ‘video restoration’ or a similar term, you’ll probably find a few local businesses that will perform this service for you. Sure, it will cost a few dollars. But isn’t it worth the investment when compared to the possibility of losing your treasures forever?

You can convert the following items into digital format for future preservation.

  • Photographs – color, black and white, sepia
  • Photobooks
  • Movies
  • VHS tapes
  • 8mm tapes
  • Recorded sound
  • Slides
  • Film reels
  • Audio tapes
  • Vinyl records
  • Cassettes

Online and Backup Preservation of Your Photos and Artifacts

You may also want to consider some online options as well as back up plans for archiving as well as storage of your family’s precious memories. CDs, DVDs, and flash drives can all still be lost in a natural disaster. Computer files can be hacked and destroyed. So, before all of your efforts go to waste, consider all or some of the following secondary options to keep your family memories safe.

  • Upload items to a family website.
  • Create a photo album on social media.
  • Save everything to the cloud.
  • Store backup digital copies in a safe deposit box.
  • Give copies of all digital files to multiple family members.
  • Establish your family history at com.

Preserving Your Own Recordings

If you’re ready to tackle preserving your family history, it can be done! Here’s what we suggest to start saving your family memorabilia and creating a digital legacy. Please note that the following suggestions are meant only as an overview and are not intended as an all-inclusive guide to digital restoration. You may want to do additional research of your own as well as consult with someone who works with digital media.


Converting 8mm Film to Digital

Over the years, mm film has been available as Standard 8, Double 8, Super 8, and Single 8. No matter which version you may have, you can save these tapes digitally on your own or by hiring a professional. You can also find online companies that can send you a box to collect your tapes, and they will return your digitized family memories back to you within a few months.

If working on your own, you can save 8mm film footage by creating your own recording. Essentially, find a clean, white wall or hang a white cloth. You can play the 8mm tapes directly on the wall and record the viewing with a modern device, such as your cellphone set up on a tripod.

In addition, you can purchase the proper equipment to play your 8mm tapes. Typically, this equipment can attach to your computer, supports both Windows and Mac, and can be plugged into your TV for playback viewing.


Converting Old Photos to Digital Images

Do you have printed photos of a late loved one? These photographs can be priceless… and they can come attached with many memories and emotions. Even if these photos are stored in an album, they can still deteriorate. Old magnetic albums are notorious for causing photos to yellow, ruining photos with the adhesive pages, and causing acid to seep into the photos as well.

Depending on how many photos you have to save or the condition of the photos, you can purchase a tabletop scanner or a hand scanner to digitally save these old pictures into new digital images. Before scanning your photos, clean each one with a soft, microfiber cloth. Scan them in the highest resolution you’d like. (The higher the resolution, the better the quality will be if you want to enlarge the photograph.) The scanner may also come with editing options that allow you to crop pictures, adjust coloring or improve the photo itself.

Finally, you can also opt to take pictures of your photos—either with your cell phone or with a quality digital camera. Or you can hire a local or online scanning service that will scan all of your photos and return the originals to you in addition to the requested digital format.


Converting Home Movies to Digital

You can convert your old home movies and analog videos to digital and relive them anytime! Keep in mind that converting video can be time consuming. Video transfer takes place in real time. So, one hour of video tape will take one hour to digitize. Experts can take approximately one hour to digitize 500 feet of film, so it will most likely take you a while longer.

You’ll also need to purchase specific equipment to get the job done. For digitizing old film reels, you will need a film-to-digital converter, a digital storage device, or you can use a digital projector and a digital video camera.

To convert a VHS tape to DVD, you will need a playback device for the original tape, and analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and a digital storage device (SD card, flash drive, etc.)


Converting Slides to Digital

Just like the previous three options, you will need to have certain equipment on hand in order to successfully convert and preserve your slides into a digital format. Consider using a flatbed scanner or a dedicated slide scanner to digitally record the image from each slide.

If you own a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera, a slide duplicator provides an easy and affordable option for digitizing your slides. Slide duplicators don’t require electricity or a computer; however, they also don’t offer the digital quality you can get from a scanner.

If neither of these options appeal to you, you can always select a professional to manage the digitization process for you.


We hope this article has been helpful to you when considering the best way to preserve and digitally store your family history for generations to come. As always, consider Lastly.com as your partner in capturing your family history now and forever.


Writing Your LifeStory



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