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Future-proofing a personal archive

New Here ,
Feb 25, 2019

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I have a family archive based on PSE 2018's catalogue. A copy is stored on an external HD. Does anyone know how this back-up can be made to behave as the original does in Organizer, allowing the images, captions,meta data to be viewed and searched, but on other PCs, and at some future date.  In short, can I pass on this data ensuring it will be readable when OSs and software programmes have changed.  Presumably larger archives,museum or national, have already an answer.  Does it mean adding an OS and PSE to the HD so it becomes 'standalone'. Would appreciate comment from anyone who already has their own solution.  Thank you.

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Future-proofing a personal archive

New Here ,
Feb 25, 2019

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I have a family archive based on PSE 2018's catalogue. A copy is stored on an external HD. Does anyone know how this back-up can be made to behave as the original does in Organizer, allowing the images, captions,meta data to be viewed and searched, but on other PCs, and at some future date.  In short, can I pass on this data ensuring it will be readable when OSs and software programmes have changed.  Presumably larger archives,museum or national, have already an answer.  Does it mean adding an OS and PSE to the HD so it becomes 'standalone'. Would appreciate comment from anyone who already has their own solution.  Thank you.

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Feb 25, 2019 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
Feb 26, 2019

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You could make the HD bootable but that does little to really future proof it when future hardware can’t boot that ststem any more.

If you are talking museum level, 10-20 years and more... You need to work with non-proprietary formats, open source you hold as source, and hold regular reviews of systems and hardware. For example, when USB is getting rare you need to move it to a new interface. When NTFS is going out of fashion you need to move to a new disk. You also need a library of old hardware, with redundancy.

This is may be overkill for a family archive or not, according to your world view.

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Feb 26, 2019 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 26, 2019

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I assume that your catalogue copy on the external hard drive was made using the Elements Organizer's Backup/Restore utility.  This creates a copy of your catalogue files, the media (photo and video files) contained within the catalogue as well as the tags, metadata, captions, albums and other user-created information.  So, if the copy is Restored to a new drive, it will be an exact copy of the original catalogue.  However, in its backup state it cannot be easily used on another computer.

To answer your specific questions, it is possible for a catalogue to be shared between two computers. However, each computer has to have a copy of Elements installed.  (It is permissible for Elements to be installed on 2 computers, but it can only be used on one at a time, and you would have to sign in and out of each computer using your Adobe ID account.)  Also, if you do this, some features may not be synchronised exactly because some of the files are maintained within the OS system folders and cannot be moved. (This is the case with Elements 2019's auto-creations.  I can't say for sure whether any features of Elements 2018 would be affected.)  In your case, rather than backup to an external drive, it would be better to restore a backup to the external drive.  That way, each computer could use the external drive's catalogue and also the media.  But this would mean that new media would also have to be saved and stored on the external drive.

I don't think any of us has a crystal ball that would guarantee future use of an Elements catalogue in the event Adobe ends support for the programme line.  Each version of Elements requires that the catalogue be converted for use in the newer version.  Some of the changes over the years have been quite drastic from version to version.  However, a couple of ways to make the current information endure are:

  • Save the metadata to the file by selecting the file and pressing Ctrl+W
  • Save the Albums and the Tag Hierarchies by using the Save [Albums/Keywords] to File commands which are found in the + Dropdown menus at the top of the Album and Keyword panels.
  • Use jpg formats and/or Adobe's DNG format for raw files.  It is generally thought that the jpg format will be long-lasting, although I have seen some articles suggesting that other formats may take it over.  And I believe Adobe's DNG format is universally accepted by programmes that read raw files.  The proprietary nature of other raw file formats may make them problematic in the future.

I don't know that I have answered any of your concerns, but hopefully I have provided you with some food for thought.  And FWIW, I was surprised by how many words used in this post have different spellings in English and American.  Fortunately, I was born in the UK and moved to the States many years ago.  Hopefully, I am still sufficiently bilingual.  

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Feb 26, 2019 0
New Here ,
Feb 27, 2019

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Ok

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Feb 27, 2019 0
jokull88 LATEST
New Here ,
Mar 02, 2019

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Good morning,

Thank you for the helpful comments on my post. Clearly my idea of having the Archive accessible by all and sundry was a bit grandiose, especially if the dire price would be tangling with non-proprietary formats and the like.  I had not thought about restoring to the external HD, rather than backing-up - never having needed to use Restore - but good sense if it means keeping albums intact.  The Archive is just the main album, constructed by taking parts of other albums and placing them in the correct order, so if the whole when accessed reverted to 'All Media', black day.

Bearing in mind your advice I have decided to go down the path of inevitable obsolescence.  After all, the world is full of machinery, long since superseded, but which works perfectly well within the limitations of its time.  Wax cylinder recordings on a phonograph, slides on a magic lantern to name two.  If the Archive is copied to a laptop with its own OS and copy of PSE 2018, this can be updated in in parallel with the original until my death.  Then, a 100 years on when the Archive has finally become of some interest, providing it has not been fiddled with in the meantime, it should run again with nothing more complicated than in-putting a few volts. Much like opening one of my photograph albums from 1890.  Faded but usable.  Yes?  Actually I suspect that the planetary AI running the place then will deal with the matter in a petasecond, and at the same time resurrect me from the toenails clippings also included in the Archive. Worth a try, as I am not otherwise banking on the Afterlife.  By the way Geri, as someone said, 'America and England, two nations divided by a common language', but cheering, as in the long run being bilingual is good for the brain.

Best wishes to you both,

Robin

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Mar 02, 2019 0