It’s Time to Convert DVDs and CDs for Photo Storage

July 27, 2023

Have you still got DVDs and CDs with photos and videos? You’re not alone – almost all families I’ve worked with, including my own, had them. In the early 2000s, DVDs and CDs revolutionised the way we stored and backed up precious memories and data. They provided a sense of security, assuring us that our photos would be preserved for generations to come. However, technology has come a long way, and it is time to let go of these outdated media formats – if it’s not too late already!



Let’s explore why DVDs and CDs as photo storage or backup have become outdated and why converting them into modern formats is essential to safeguard your cherished memories.

1. Fragility of DVDs and CDs

Over time, DVDs and CDs are prone to physical damage and degradation. Scratches, dust, heat, and exposure to sunlight can irreversibly harm the data stored on these discs, potentially causing the loss of your valuable photos. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen far too often! Here is an example of a water-damaged DVD from a recent client project, with files that couldn’t be saved:

Hence, DVDs and CDs are not a reliable backup or storage solution. A single scratch or disc failure could lead to data loss, putting your photos at risk.

2. Limited Storage Capacity

Remember when a single DVD seemed like a vast amount of storage space? Well, times have changed. Modern digital photo collections can easily exceed 200 GB, whereas most DVDs and CDs we have cannot even store 1 GB! That means we would need an enormous pile of DVDs and CDs to back up our photos.


3. Compatibility Issues 

Most newish computers and laptops no longer come with a CD/DVD drive, making it very difficult to access the data stored on these discs. This leaves us with no choice but to invest in an external drive, and this will not become easier as time goes by!


4. Data Transfer Speeds

Transferring photos to DVDs and CDs was once considered fast and efficient. However, when compared to modern storage options like cloud storage or external hard drives, the data transfer speeds of optical media are significantly slower. Waiting for hours to back up or retrieve your photos is now a relic of the past.

What to do instead

If you still have photos and videos stored on DVDs and CDs, it is time to move them to a modern storage option.

Moreover, movies often need to be converted to a new format such as mp4 so they can still be played. I use the free app HandBreak for that, or you could go with Wondershare if you prefer.

Ideally, your photo collection is stored on your computer and backed up twice (see this article about the 3-2-1 backup method and download your free guide here). If you don’t have enough space on your computer, the collection could live on an external/portable drive. These days, I’d buy an SSD (solid-state drive) for that purpose. They are less fragile because there are no moving parts, and much faster than other portable drives. Of course, the cloud is an option too, just know exactly how it works and make sure you are in control of your photos.

You might also be interested in this podcast episode 42 dedicated to that topic: Converting Old Media to Digital with Adam Pratt.


As technology advances, our approach to photo storage and backup must evolve too. DVDs and CDs have served us well in the past, but they have now become outdated and inadequate for preserving our precious memories. By embracing modern storage solutions, we can ensure the safety and accessibility of our photos for generations to come. Don’t let your memories fade away on aging media – it’s time to make the transition to the digital age of photo storage.

If you have questions about how to migrate to newer storage options and formats, don’t forget you can book a free 30-minute call with me. Just hit the button below 😊.


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