IT’S GEEK TO ME: Preserving family memories

Question: I wish to digitize the old family album photos. I’m not tech savvy, so I would need something very user friendly, with good clear results. My price point would be less than $200. I was looking at the Epsom Perfection V39. Thank you for your time and any help you can offer.

– Barbara M.

Freeport, Florida

Answer: Well, Barbara, I applaud you for taking positive action to preserve your family memories. Photo prints can crack, yellow and fade, but digital images retain their color depth and detail in perpetuity, as long as you store them on media that does not itself degrade with time. Electronic images are also far more flexible. They can be edited, composited, and electronically shared to many people across thousands of miles for zero-cost. If the original was damaged, they can even be electronically restored. All-in-all, you’re making a great choice, and the fact that you’re giving consideration to the hardware that will perform the actual conversion from paper to digital is a smart move too. Then there’s your choice of advisor, but I won’t get too deeply into that.

I did a little Googling and took a look at your proposed Epson Perfection V39. This scanner was first sold by Epson way back in 2015. At the blistering pace that technology advances, one might think a model line that old would be obsolete close to nine years down the line. But Epson is still actively selling this model, and although it’s missing a few features that are sported by its newer counterparts, that is more than offset by its comparatively bargain price, which is well-under the $200 maximum you set for yourself.

The most obvious consideration for a scanner is probably the resolution that it’s capable of delivering. That’s a five-dollar word that means how many dots per inch, or DPI, it is capable of scanning – the higher the resolution, the more data it gathers during the scan. It’s roughly analogous to the number of megapixels in a digital camera. The scanner in question has an optical resolution of 4800 DPI, which is more than adequate for your needs. With that resolution you’ll be producing scans containing enough digital information that you’ll even be able to zoom-in and crop images and still have enough image data left to display it without the typical pixelation that often results from digital zooming.

I wonder whether you’ve given consideration to what you’ll do with your trove of digital photos once you’ve scanned them in? Well, one obvious thing is to re-make them into hard copy prints for use in frames or just to hang up on the fridge. If these prints fade or yellow, you can just print new ones. Better than prints is the modern digital photo frame, which is basically a high-resolution screen that sits on a cabinet or bookshelf and rotates through any number of pictures that you load onto it. With Christmas coming, these make great gifts for both yourself and family members. Some frames even connect to the Internet, and you can send new photos to them any time you like, regardless of whether they live across the street or across the country. The idea is that Mom, or Grampa has a frame that displays pictures of their loved ones, and it periodically gets new images without them even having to do anything.

The other thing I hope you’re thinking about is how you’ll safely store the image files for long-term archive. You’re probably thinking, “On my computer,” but that’s probably not the best choice over the long-term. The storage devices in computers have a limited life, and can fail with little or no warning, making your precious content disappear forever. Flash devices, and recordable optical discs like CD-Rs and DVD-Rs are even worse. And let’s face it, even if the drive doesn’t fail, eventually you’re going to get a new PC, and a library of hundreds or thousands of digital images is kind-of a pain to relocate to a new device.

I highly recommend a professional cloud storage solution, which maintains and backs up your files on a regular basis. There are even services designed specifically for storing digital photos. These let you categorize and group your photos, and some even allow you to publish photo books using your own pictures.

To view additional content, comment on articles, or submit a question of your own, visit my website at (not .com!)