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Digitizing Your Memories: Thumb Drive vs. Digital Download

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By Olivia Harlow

So, you’re ready to digitize those old gritty 8 mm films and Polaroid photos, but you’re overwhelmed with the options? Well, we’re here to help you choose between a thumb drive or digital download.

What’s a thumb drive anyway?

Also known as a USB or flash drive, this is a physical memory device you can plug into a computer to transfer files, such as documents, music and videos. It’s sort of like a more compact version of the old school floppy disc.

Thumb drives come in a variety of storage capacities. To no surprise, the bigger storage is more costly. If you want to store a large number of videos, songs and photos onto a single device, you’ll need a larger USB. However, if you just want to put a handful of wedding photos on a drive to gift to your hubby, you can probably get away with something relatively small.

Don’t forget to take speed into consideration. Do you want a USB 2.0 or 3.0? Well, you’ll first want to check and make sure your devices support both options. If not, you’ve got an easy answer. If you can use either, go with the 3.0. Its transfer rate is about 10 times faster.

So, what about the digital download?

Thumb drives seemed pretty high tech until the “cloud” came along. Digital downloads have the same convenience and speed as a thumb drive, yet without having to worry about losing a physical device. They also offer (essentially) limitless storage.

The cloud is a way for you to login to all your devices — computer, phone or tablet — and be able to access everything! It’s also more secure; you don’t have to worry about someone finding your USB and hacking into all your photos. However, there are reasons you may prefer a USB. For example, using the cloud does require you to have an Internet connection to access, and it’s not necessarily as secure. (The Internet is capable of crazy things.)

It’s worth noting you don’t have to choose. It’s totally fine if you’d like to store data on the cloud, as well as on a thumb drive. And whatever your decision may be, both options are upgrades to solely keeping bulky photo albums in the attic, collecting dust.

This doesn’t mean you have to throw out your precious 8 mm films and Polaroid photo albums! Digitizing is simply a way to preserve those favorite memories before it’s too late. 

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