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BEACON Senior News

How to save digital memories from 2021 on the cloud

Nov 22, 2021 02:43PM ● By Adam Cochran
An image of a white external hard drive is superimposed on top of an image of clouds

One of my first experiences as a professional computer guy was helping a family set up a video conference with their son who was serving overseas shortly after September 11. That short 5-minute video call changed how I saw both technology and the internet.

My experiences with helping people connect during COVID have been equally eye-opening. In a few short months, even the most averse to technology learned to use video conference software and share their lives via social media.

Using technology as a primary means of communication can be a two-edged sword, however. Unlike written letters and video recordings, what’s shared in phone conversations, emails and social media can be very temporary. But, it doesn’t have to be.

As 2021 winds to a close, this is a prime opportunity to review your communications with friends, loved ones and cohorts and archive important notes, videos or photos for posterity.

Here are a few suggestions to get started.

Use cloud storage. 

You probably have some sort of cloud storage system setup, but you may not be using it intentionally. Anyone with a Gmail or Android account has access to Google Drive. Anyone with an iPhone has an iCloud account. Anyone who uses Office 365 has a OneDrive account. Dropbox and are also popular options.

These cloud storage options allow you to upload photos, videos and other files to organized folders in the cloud where they can be protected from a computer crash and, best of all, shared with whomever you choose.

Your photos and videos will likely fill up your free account quickly, but it’s worth the $1-10/month fee for additional storage.

Copy and paste emails into Word documents. 

Email communication can be tricky to backup. Most of the time, emails are only readable using your given email interface. But, you can highlight the text in any email and copy and paste it into a blank word document. This will allow you to save entire conversations in a single word document that can be read on any computer.

Send links, not attachments. 

In the process of archiving your files, you’ll likely run across items you want to share with others, like an entire folder of 300 pictures from your family reunion.

There’s no practical way to attach 300 pictures to an email. But, you can upload the folder of 300 photos to your cloud storage account and then share the folder as a link in an email. This allows anyone who receives the email to view all of the pictures and save the ones they want.

Request your Facebook archive. 

Facebook allows users to download all of their activity on the platform in a single file. Here’s how:

In a web browser, select the triangle in the top right corner. Next, click Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information. Select View across from Download Your Information. Enter a date range, media quality and format, and then click Create File.

The process will take a while to compile, but you’ll be notified via email and Facebook when the file is ready for download.

Once the file is saved, create your own journal by saving the files or copy and pasting the important stuff from the database to a Word document.

Back up your computer. 

Even if everything you need is backed up to cloud storage, you should also make sure you have all your really important files stored on a flash drive or external hard drive. I recommend a 500GB or larger solid-state hard drive. These drives have no moving parts, they aren’t magnetic and they’re far more durable than traditional hard drives. It might cost you $50-100, but it’ll likely hold all of your important files for years to come.

Store your backup drive in a fireproof safe. Or give it to a family member to keep at their house. I’ve seen a number of people’s homes burglarized or burned down, and both the computer and backup were gone for good.

Hopefully, these tips give you peace of mind and allow you to share your memories with others who will appreciate them. That’s a perfect way to end 2021.