When I was in middle-school, I received a MiniDV camcorder. I used it for a few years to record a lot of fun memories, but as HD cameras/phones became able to record directly to hard drives, my video camera became obsolete. It sat on on one of my shelves for many years until my parents recently moved and I was forced to clean up my old stuff. I decided to digitize all the tapes I had before either a. the magnetic tapes’ reached their physical lifetimes or b. there are no more mediums with which I can watch DV tapes.

The camcorder has a built-in 4-pin Firewire port, and I’ve used that in the past to digitize some video, so I looked for a Mac that I could connect it to. None of the variations of modern Mac laoptops have any Firewire ports, but luckily a friend had an earlier MacbookPro with a 9-pin Firewire port. iMovie made it easy to transfer, and now all of my videos are backed up in the cloud for the long-term!

To any of you in the same boat as me, I recommend looking into modernizing your media collection. While in the past 20 years, formats for media storage have changed drastically (think of floppies, cassettes, CDs, etc.), with the prevalance and cost-efficiency of cloud storage, I think it’s a safe bet to transfer your media now. In the next 5-10 years, it will only get harder to access and view any old media formats you might have as specialized media readers and adapters become more rare.

By using a specialized cloud storage company, you put the burden on them to manage rotating hard-drives, hardware failure, data rot, etc. You only have to worry about having an Internet connection and computer the next time you’d like to break out that hilarious video at your next family reunion.

Also, if you’re squeamish about the idea of letting a cloud storage provider handle your files because you’re afraid they might get lost, read this Quora post about a discussion of the reliability of Amazon’s S3 storage. The odds you’re facing there are on orders of magnitude smaller than the risk you have keeping a shoebox of old cassette tapes in your basement.

For those of you worried about the security and privacy of your data when it’s stored in the cloud..well.. you’re not wrong. Even if your data is encrypted, cloud companies may potentially be forced to give over those encryption keys to the government if they so demand. To counter that, I’m currently working on a cloud-storage portal that leaves the encryption keys in your hands only. If that sounds interesting, let me know!