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Which Generation is Most Vulnerable to Photo Loss?

iPhone filled with duplicate photos.

When asked, previous generations will tell you that in the case of a natural disaster or fire, one of the first things they will grab from their home is their family photo albums.

We place high value on our photo memories, old family albums and scrapbooks, as they are irreplaceable, tangible markers of bygone experiences. Our photos are a window into the past, a way to revive and share our most treasured memories.

While scrapbooking and creating albums is still a popular pastime for many, the rise of smartphones and social media has transformed the ways younger generations keep, store, and experience their photographs.

While some modern photo-taking and storage methods are advantageous, others seem to do more harm than good, as they create a false sense of security that our collections are safe and readily accessible.

Not to mention, the average person's photo library today tends to be overloaded with more photos (and likely, duplicates and screenshots) than one could ever begin to truly enjoy.

Considering factors like the sheer volume of photos taken, poor data hygiene, and the dependence on unreliable digital storage methods, surprisingly, it's Millennials and in particular, Gen-Z, that are at high risk of losing many of their photo memories altogether.

There Are Just Too Many Photos

The first reason these generations are most vulnerable to photo loss is the sheer volume of photos taken these days.

According to market researchers, by the end of last year, almost 9 trillion unique digital photos were stored on hard drives and other storage formats worldwide. Staggering!

Digital devices laying on a desktop.

When it comes to photos, more is not always better.

And let's face it - the amount of pictures we take tends to water down the importance of each individual shot. Gone are the days of poring over photo prints of our favorite memories with loved ones.

This has in part turned to endless snapping and scrolling through duplicates of lesser important moments (ex. the shots of last night's dinner from 10 different angles).

It makes it much less likely that we will enjoy our memories since we lose track of where all these images are stored among various devices. Our digital libraries, likely with tens or hundreds of thousands of photos, have become an inaccessible tangle. They are simply overwhelming and unnavigable.

While many Millennials and Gen Z would consider themselves quite tech-savvy, this poses a false sense of security with photo safekeeping, as many are not up to date with proper data preservation practices for long-term storage, archiving, and passing on to the next generation.

Without a consistent and manageable system for whittling down photo excesses, we negate the whole purpose of taking pictures in the first place. This is why it is crucial to practice good digital hygiene to enhance the enjoyment of our images and stave off preventable photo loss.

If you're a frequent reader of our blog, you know we often share helpful photo-organizing tips on how to integrate these good data hygiene habits into your life. And if you still need help, we are a company built on helping people maximize the enjoyment of their memories through sensible organizing solutions.

Reliance on Social Media for Photo Storage

Secondly, many have become increasingly reliant on social media platforms to store and share images. Rather than sitting around a table, recalling the stories that each image conjures, we upload pictures and wait for a “like'' or comment, missing out on photos' full power to reconnect us.

A person browsing a LinkedIn page.

While the convenience of social media platforms makes it easy to share and upload photos, they also come with a risk as these companies are known to change their policies and algorithms regularly.

These changes can lead to photos being deleted or inaccessible, which is particularly concerning when it comes to important life events, such as weddings or graduations.

We aren’t advocating for shutting down your social media accounts, but for many people, this is their sole channel for storing and sharing images, making them much more susceptible to loss.

Plus, social media platforms shrink your image size during upload. Therefore, if this is your only way of saving and storing years worth of memories, you're going to be left with a collection of compressed photo files.

This is really not ideal for preserving and passing along your collection long term, as we each have a digital legacy to consider. If you haven't assigned Legacy Contacts on your social accounts, or your accounts haven't been memorialized, what happens if they are deleted, hacked, or shut down? That's likely years worth of photos and beautiful memories of your life that your loved ones will lose access to.

Digital organizer at work.

To make matters worse, those relying on social media as their preservation and storage strategy are very likely inadequate at backing up their photos regularly or correctly. We always recommend following the 3-2-1 method for backing up your photo files to keep your library safe and protected for generations to come.

Final Thoughts

Here at SurroundUs, we believe that the uniting power of photos in our lives need not be lost. While technology has made photography more accessible, it has also diminished the weight that photos once carried, causing current and future generations to miss out on the full potential of experiencing and passing along their images.

That’s why we strive to educate members of every generation on the importance of not only protecting your pictures from loss, but also creating a library of memories that is easily accessible so that you can share, create, relive, and pass on the best moments of your life.

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