Is it a lame idea to digitize your trip pictures?

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I'm irrational when it comes to photography, and maybe you are, too. During my vacations, it feels really urgent to preserve my memories with my camera. But when I return, I just stuff my snapshots into a shoebox. That's obviously not a good way to organize them -- or preserve them.

I recently decided that scanning my images and storing them on a DVD would be a more responsible thing to do. A DVD seemed like a neater, safer way to store photos than a shoebox. But I was in for a surprise...

To get organized, I checked out several online services that digitize snapshots. The one service that seemed the best value and the most promising was It offers to scan up to 1,000 snapshots and store the images on a DVD. This service costs $50, plus the price of shipping photos to the southern California store.

As I read the fine print on, I came across this fine print:

"WE RECOMMEND you order a duplicate set of freshly printed Kodak-quality pictures. It is also a smart way to preserve your memories with all identical-sized 4x6-print pictures. A recent PC World Magazine feature on the longevity and obsolescence of CDs and DVDs provides more info:,116473;page,1/article.html"

Wait a sec! Is this company telling me that I'd be better off storing my photos--both snapshots and digital images--as prints, not DVDs?

Actually, yes. If you're mainly worried about preserving your photos for years to come, prints in a shoebox (or better yet, prints in a high-quality photo album) may be a safer way to store your pictures than digital images stored on a CD or DVD. The more research I did online, the more this seemed self-evident.

There are other reasons for digitizing your images, of course. For example, if you're interested in making a digital photo album or a slide show out of your images, digitizing is a requirement. Or if you worry that an accidental fire might destroy your photos along with your home, you may want to digitize your images and then upload the electronic copies to an online photos service, such as But if you only worry about preserving your photos for decades to come, then keeping prints may be your best and cheapest option.

Feel free to say how you preserve your travel pictures by adding a comment below. And check out this nifty slide show of family vacation photos that our readers have sent us. (You'll have to scroll down the webpage to find the link that you can click on to launch the slide show.)

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