Protecting your memories

Tips & Hints

28 October, 2002

We have a mantra that computers and software are replaceable, data is not. But your data isn’t just what’s saved on a computer. It could be anything from financial records to family photographs and documents.

One of the most valued household possessions are the family photos and documents. Even if your home and contents are fully insured, all the money in the world cannot replace your family’s memories. Using your home computer you can make a permanent record of them to CD.

The first step is to get your pictures and documents into the computer. You’ll need a scanner. We find flat bed scanners with a USB connector are the best for scanning old documents and photos. Older PC and Mac users may need parallel or SCSI connections.

All but the very cheapest scanners come with software that meets the basic needs of home and office users. Newer computers come with scanning software built into the system. There is a learning curve to using any scanning software so you have to read the manual and experiment.

When you start scanning plenty of hard drive space is essential, at least 500Mb of free space. Even if you don’t save a scanned image, a copy of it will be temporarily on the hard drive. You also need plenty of memory (64Mb or better) and a reasonable quality video card. Again, most modern computers will meet these requirements.

The next part is to get the images off the computer. A CD burner is the best for most users. CD’s are small, easy-to-use and cheap. All burners come with software and most new computers have the facility built in.

A typical colour photo scanned at 150dpi will take up 500kb. Doubling the resolution to 300dpi will increase the size to 2Mb. At these resolutions you can expect to fit 600 to 1200 photos onto a CD. Because older photos and documents are usually black and white, you can expect to squeeze many more onto a disk.

Once all the photos are on CD, you need to keep them safe. Make more than one copy of the CD and keep them separate from the computer and the originals. A backup is useless if it gets destroyed or damaged with the original.

Once you’ve created some CDs, test them. Take them to someone else’s computer and see if you can read them. A common error is to use the wrong software, if you are asked to "format" the CD before burning then you are using the wrong program.

Scanning and CD burning both take some practice. Each program has its own way of doing things and every computer has its own quirks with CD burning. But it’s worthwhile, having a copy of your treasured family documents is invaluable.

Useful Websites


PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 082 635 765
ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2011