Wildfires Continue to Threaten!

Photo Courtesy Of Laurel Harvey

We need your attention. Your undivided attention! Anyone watching any news coverage over the last few years has seen what is going on in the world today. There have been hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis and a host of other natural disasters.

The devastation has been horrific.

For a more detailed discussion on this topic click here.

In the aftermath a typical scene unfolds. Dazed and shocked survivors are shown against a backdrop of carnage and destruction. The common reaction is one of gratitude at still being alive. All the destruction? Well that’s just “stuff”.  And stuff can be replaced.

Unfortunately that belief, comforting as it seems, is not entirely true. The most valuable stuff CAN’T be replaced. Priceless family treasures such as photographs, videos, letters and diaries cannot be recovered at any cost! The real tragedy here is that things do not have to be this way. Protecting these priceless treasures can be a simple thing to do but it has to be done before the unthinkable happens. Consider this your “call to action”.

Vivaxtech is a company dedicated to the preservation of these types of treasures. We realize how important and valuable these irreplaceable materials actually are and it is our commitment to this belief that has prompted the publishing of this post. Of course we would be proud to protect your precious videos and other memory assets but we are more concerned that these be protected. Period! To that end we are providing some guidelines here that will help you to do just that.

Five Important Things To Consider When Planning To Preserve Family Memories

When planning to protect and preserve your family memories there are several factors to keep in mind in order to make informed decisions. Some of the most important of these are listed below. Though this list is far from exhaustive it will provide you with enough information to help you make your decisions and raise some questions you will need to find answers to.

1) Succession

Is your plan to protect your audio, video, photographic and other materials only for the immediate future or do you hope to pass these materials on to your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. If your intention is to pass these materials on to these groups you will need to create a succession plan.

A succession plan is simply a detailed strategy to assign stewardship of these materials to an individual or individuals who will be responsible for their ongoing protection, preservation and maintenance. These activities could include, but are not necessarily limited to, things such as making payments for use of storage facilities, maintaining access to the collection, communicating with the stake holders mentioned on the existence, status, and location of these materials. It would also include planning for format changes and other expected and unexpected complications associated with the long term storage of any kind of computer or digital files.

2) Maintenance

Maintenance includes the day to day activities associated with the ongoing survival of your collection of family memories. This includes things like paying storage fees – if this is required – tracking the collection so you know where it is and if anything has changed that will affect your ability to access the material.

Unexpected things can happen in the online storage world. Your service provider may be bought out by a larger company. Or, it may simply disappear altogether with no notice. It could also be the victim of a malicious cyber attack. If any of these things happen, how will they effect your ability to access your materials? Will the physical storage location change? What about backups and redundancy policies? If you had these initially will you continue to do so? What safeguards are in place that will allow you to recover your materials should the unthinkable happen?

You will also need to keep track of how you, and if necessary, others will be able to locate these materials. If you are storing them in a public access facility that is accessible via the internet – a service such as YouTube, Facebook, or a personal website – this may be as simple as insuring that the search engine listings for the collection are current and accurate. If you choose to keep them in a more secure, limited access facility you will need to maintain your access and provide means by which you can share these materials with others and keep them informed about any changes that may occur either to the collection itself or its location and accessibility.

3) Security

Security includes obvious considerations such as who has access to the materials, how this access is granted and how it is controlled to prevent accidental or intentional loss or damage of the materials. It also includes less obvious factors such as the physical location of storage facilities you intend to use. What are the physical security measures, if any, these facilities have in place.

Are there automatic backup procedures in place to create copies of your irreplaceable materials? If not, is it necessary for you to perform regular backups of the materials yourself? Is it even possible? Will there be costs associated with this? What will the technical requirements to achieve this peace of mind be?

The most secure physical protection of computer and digital files involves redundancy. This is a term that simply means there are at least two copies of each of your files in existence. To make this strategy even more robust these copies should be stored in separate facilities in geographically diverse locations thousands of miles apart. Perhaps even on different continents. When choosing some form of storage this is a very important consideration. The more copies of your materials that exist and the more dispersed they are the less likely they are going to be lost to an unexpected natural or man made disaster. You should choose a provider who automatically provides a redundancy protocol. If you select one who does not you should be prepared to implement such a strategy yourself.

Photo by Patrick Lindenberg

4) Accessibility

Regardless of where and how you choose to store your collection of materials you will need to have access to them. You will probably also want to be able to share this access with other family members such as parents, siblings, children, grandchildren and others.

If the material is stored in a public venue sharing it with others may be as simple as having them conduct a web search using any of a number of search engines. Even if you are using a public venue you may be able to restrict access to the materials to select individuals and control if and/or how these materials are indexed by search engines. This will involve making decisions on your part so make sure you consider your options carefully.

If you are keeping you materials in a secure, limited access cloud based facility you will have to decide how the materials can be shared. Will you be the sole person responsible for making copies of the material and distributing it to others as they request it? What if they only want to browse portions of the collection? Will you grant access in order for them to do this? How do you control this access? How do you revoke it should this become necessary? Are there costs associated with any or all of these activities? Who will bear those costs?

In order to know what exists in your collection you will need a simple catalog at the very least. This should list:

  • what the material is
  • what format it is in
  • where it is located
  • how it can be accessed.

You should also make this catalog information available to other family members who have an interest in viewing the collection or receiving copies of it. You may even want to post the catalog information online thereby making it easy for family members to find it using a search engine. There are many services available such as Facebook or blogging services that will allow you to post such things online for free or a modest cost.

5) Format Obsolescence/Migration

Photo by Gabriel Petry

We have a comprehensive posting dealing with this issue located here. What follows is just a brief overview of the issue and the process for mitigating it. For greater details we refer you to the post mentioned above.

Video formats change on a fairly regular basis. Photographic formats such as JPEG and PNG, for example, do not change so often but they do change too. As do computer file types. Remember Word Perfect? It was one of the original word processing programs and files that were created with it can still be recovered today but this can be a difficult and time consuming process.

If the format your family videos or event videos are stored on is suddenly discontinued, what happens to the videos that are stored on them? Would you know what to do to maintain their integrity, accessibility and play-ability? And suppose you were no longer around to address the problem. Who would take on the responsibility for preserving your precious video memories so that they could be accessible for the generations of the future? Would there be anyone? This constitutes the “chain of succession” issue we referred to earlier. Would you be able to create and implement such a chain of succession? And, if you could, how would you be able to ensure that this chain could continue far into the distant future?

Formats are GOING to change. If your intention is to preserve your collection of family memories for the long term you need to start planning today for what to do when this happens and incorporate it into your overall protection strategy.

Techniques And Services To Consider For The Protection Of Your Irreplaceable Family Memories

What follows are a number of techniques that you can begin using today to insure the survival of those things you cannot simply replace. Some of these are free. Some are available at a modest cost. We list the pros and cons of each of these. Our goal is to assist you in making an informed decision about asset preservation and protection. But all we can do is inform you. YOU have to be the one to take action. And we sincerely hope that you will.

Photo by Jakob Owens

Even if you decide that none of these solutions is right for you, or you want to take some time to consider your options, the very least you should do is to transfer all your video, audio, photographic and document materials to a thumb drive or an SD card. Do it today! Or by the end of the week at the latest. Place a copy of this material in a safe deposit box and mail copies to friends or relatives. The further away they live from you, the better. You may also consider updating all these materials on an annual basis so that your collection will always be current.

It is our deepest hope that you will never be in a position where you have to rebuild your life and replace your “stuff”. But in the event that it does happen we would hope that you had taken the steps necessary to protect those treasures that can’t be replaced. If you do so then we have done our job and lived up to our primary commitment. Thank you for helping us to achieve that.

In presenting this list we would like to make clear that VivaXtecH does not endorse nor promote any of the services that follow. We receive no form of compensation, monetary or otherwise, from any of the entities listed below. Be certain to read our disclaimer before accessing any of these resources.

 Google Drive

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service developed by Google. Launched on April 24, 2012, Google Drive allows users to store files on their servers, synchronize files across devices, and share files. In addition to a website, Google Drive offers apps with offline capabilities for Windows and macOS computers, and Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Google Drive encompasses Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, an office suite that permits collaborative editing of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, forms, and more. Files created and edited through the office suite are saved in Google Drive.

Google Drive offers users 15 gigabytes of free storage, with 100 gigabytes, 1 terabyte, 2 terabytes, 10 terabytes, 20 terabytes, and 30 terabytes offered through optional paid plans. Files uploaded can be up to 5 terabytes in size. Users can change privacy settings for individual files and folders, including enabling sharing with other users or making content public. On the website, users can search for an image by describing its visuals, and use natural language to find specific files, such as “find my budget spreadsheet from last December”.

The website and Android app offer a Backups section to see what Android devices have data backed up to the service, and a completely overhauled computer app released in July 2017 allows for backing up specific folders on the user’s computer. A Quick Access feature can intelligently predict the files users need.


  • First 15 Gb free (with Google account)
  • Your files in Google Drive can be reached from any smartphone, tablet, or computer
  • It’s possible to aggregate and organize all the files you upload
  • You can quickly invite others to view, download, and collaborate on all the files you want
  • Over 15 Gb to 100 Gb $2.79/mo.


  • Google Drive storage includes storage of all your Google products such as gMail
  • Your material can only be distributed to people who have access to your Google drive.
  • No redundancy back up in diverse locations.
  • No automatic format migration
  • Costs associated with Cloud Data Loss Prevention (CDLP)
  • Who administers the material once you are no longer able to?
  • How do descendants in the future know that these materials exist?
  • How do descendants find these files? (Search engines do not index private files on cloud servers.
  • Outsiders have no access to another person’s cloud storage nor can they search it.
  • March 2, 2018. Bad news, Google Drive fans – the app is going away. … You might have seen a pop-up saying that Google Drive is going away. Well, the deadline is quickly approaching: you have until March 11 to install Drive File Stream or Google Backup and Sync, the replacement apps by Google. Things change and it is the customer’s responsibility to be aware of these changes and make changes/updates themselves. This may, in future, apply to other Google and Google Drive services.
  • Since your computer and other devices sync to Google drive, any problems that occur with these platforms might negatively effect your files on Google Drive.
  • Following the launch of the service, Google Drive privacy policy was heavily criticized by some members of the media. Google has one set of Terms of Service and Privacy Policy agreements that cover all of its services, meaning that the language in the agreements grants the company broad rights to reproduce, use, and create derivative works from content stored on Google Drive. While the policies also confirm that users retain intellectual property rights, privacy advocates raised concerns that the licenses grant Google the rights to use the information and data to customize advertising and other services Google provides. In contrast, other members of the media noted that the agreements were no worse than those of competing cloud storage services, but that the competition uses “more artful language” in the agreements, and also stated that Google needs the rights in order to “move files around on its servers, cache your data, or make image thumbnails”.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services is the world’s largest provider of cloud computing services. They offer a free tier service of up to 25 Gb of data storage. This can be Video files, Audio files, photographs, documents or a combination of all of these. Should you require additional storage it is available at a modest cost.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon.com that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments, on a paid subscription basis. The technology allows subscribers to have at their disposal a virtual cluster of computers, available all the time, through the Internet. AWS’s version of virtual computers emulate most of the attributes of a real computer including hardware (CPU(s) & GPU(s) for processing, local/RAM memory, hard-disk/SSD storage); a choice of operating systems; networking; and pre-loaded application software such as web servers, databases, CRM, etc. Each AWS system also virtualizes its console I/O (keyboard, display, and mouse), allowing AWS subscribers to connect to their AWS system using a modern browser. The browser acts as a window into the virtual computer, letting subscribers log-in, configure and use their virtual systems just as they would a real physical computer. They can choose to deploy their AWS systems to provide internet-based services for themselves and their customers.

The AWS technology is implemented at server farms throughout the world, and maintained by the Amazon subsidiary. Fees are based on a combination of usage, the hardware/OS/software/networking features chosen by the subscriber, required availability, redundancy, security, and service options. Subscribers can pay for a single virtual AWS computer, a dedicated physical computer, or clusters of either. As part of the subscription agreement, Amazon provides security for subscribers’ system. AWS operates from many global geographical regions including 6 in North America.


  • 25 Gb free storage on “free tier” network
  • Data is stored in 2 geographically diverse facilities (Data redundancy) adding an extra level of protection to your files
  • Data accessible from any location using any device
  • It’s possible to aggregate and organize all the files you upload
  • As part of the subscription agreement, Amazon provides security for subscribers’ system
  • Materials can be downloaded or uploaded from any location


  • Files are not indexed on the internet so other family members and friends will not be able to find them
  • Access to files is restricted to those having access to user name and password associated with the account. Providing such access to third parties can present serious security problems
  • No automatic format migration
  • Costs associated with Cloud Data Loss Prevention (CDLP)
  • Who administers the material once you are no longer able to?
  • How do descendants in the future know that these materials exist?
  • How do descendants find this file? (Search engines do not index private files on cloud servers.
  • Outsiders have no access to another person’s cloud storage nor can they search it.


YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most of the content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can only watch videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially inappropriate are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.

YouTube offers users the ability to view its videos on web pages outside their website. Each YouTube video is accompanied by a piece of HTML that can be used to embed it on any page on the Web. This functionality is often used to embed YouTube videos in social networking pages and blogs. Embedding, rating, commenting and response posting can be disabled by the video owner.

YouTube does not usually offer a download link for its videos, and intends for them to be viewed through its website interface. A small number of videos, can be downloaded as MP4 files. Numerous third-party web sites, applications and browser plug-ins allow users to download YouTube videos. In February 2009, YouTube announced a test service, allowing some partners to offer video downloads for free or for a fee paid through Google Checkout.

Users retain copyright of their own work, but have the option to grant certain usage rights under any public copyright license they choose. Since July 2012, it has been possible to select a Creative Commons license as the default, allowing other users to reuse and remix the material.


  • Free
  • Up to 128 GB in size (If your account is verified)
  • Video can be found online using search engines (If someone knows what they are looking for and that there might be such a video)
  • Videos are indexed and searchable online using available search engines
  • Settings are available to limit who has access to your materials (This may impact negatively on the search-ability of your collection)


  • No guarantee how long Youtube will maintain videos on its site.
  • No information on where your materials are housed
  • No information on security measures in place to protect your files
  • It’s not possible to aggregate and organize all the files you upload
  • Video files are the only format that can be uploaded to YouTube
  • Video files may not easily be downloaded or shared
  • You have limited control over who can view your video, copy it or use it for their own purposes.
  • No plan to address format obsolescence
  • No redundancy back up in diverse locations.
  • No automatic format migration
  • Cloud Data Loss Prevention (CDLP) not available or applicable
  • Who administers the material once you are no longer able to?


Facebook, Inc. is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Menlo Park, California. Its website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.

Facebook can be accessed from a large range of devices with Internet connectivity, such as desktop computers, laptops and tablet computers, and smartphones. After registering, users can create a customized profile indicating their name, occupation, schools attended and so on. Users can add other users as “friends”, exchange messages, post status updates, share photos, videos and links, use various software applications (“apps”), and receive notifications of other users’ activity. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups organized by workplace, school, hobbies or other topics, and categorize their friends into lists such as “People From Work” or “Close Friends”. Additionally, users can report or block unpleasant people.

Facebook has more than 2.2 billion monthly active users as of January 2018. Its popularity has led to prominent media coverage for the company, including significant scrutiny over privacy and the psychological effects it has on users. In recent years, the company has faced intense pressure over the amount of fake news, hate speech and depictions of violence prevalent on its services, all of which it is attempting to counteract.


  • Free
  • Materials can be found online using search engines (If someone knows what they are looking for and that there might be such material available)
  • Materials are indexed and can be made searchable online using available search engines
  • Facebook allows people using computers or mobile phones to continuously stay in touch with friends, relatives and other acquaintances wherever they are in the world, as long as there is access to the Internet.
  • It has reunited lost family members and friends
  • Facebook allows users to upload video files of less than 45 minutes in length and smaller than 1.75 GB
  • Facebook is the most popular website for uploading photos, cumulatively with over 50 billion uploaded
  • There is some control over who can have access to the material you have posted on Facebook.
  • Facebook allows users to broadcast or share content to others, and thereby to engage others or be engaged with others’


  • No guarantee how long Facebook will maintain your materials on its site
  • Facebook has experienced multiple serious hacks and other security breaches
  • It’s not possible to aggregate and organize all the files you upload
  • No information on where your materials are housed
  • No information on security measures in place to protect your files from unwanted access or tampering
  • You have limited control over who can view your materials, copy them or use it for their own purposes.
  • No plan to address format obsolescence
  • No redundancy back up in diverse locations.
  • No automatic format migration
  • Cloud Data Loss Prevention (CDLP) not available or applicable
  • Who administers the material once you are no longer able to?
  • Facebook has come under scrutiny for the amount of freedom it gives users, including copyright and intellectual property infringement
  • On June 7, 2018, chief privacy officer Erin Egan noted that a software bug had resulted in about 14 million Facebook users having their default sharing setting for all new posts set to “public”
  • Facebook gathers data on individuals who have not signed up for Facebook accounts
  • It was reported that Facebook app has been gathering Android users data for years. The data included phone calls and text messages history that were stored to Facebook database. Unlike Android, Apple limited the privilege of the apps who try to gather personal information from the iOS devices
  • Android users in California have filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook for invading their privacy by unauthorized access in storing personal contact data (especially call and text message history) without users’ consent
  • According to a study done by Jeffery Child and Shawn Starcher in 2015, Facebook is a social media platform where “both known and unknown audiences can gain access to posted content, increasing the possibility for privacy breakdowns”

Self Administered Website

An alternative that many have not considered is the deployment of a personal website specifically intended to store your family memories. The maturity and stability of content management systems (CMSs) such as WordPress can make the creation and deployment of such a site a relatively simple and efficient process. Many companies provide low cost hosting packages which include the installation of a CMS or offer tools which make this installation a fairly simple and straightforward process.


  • You have complete control over who can access materials you have stored on your website.
  • You can control what material is stored online as well as where and how it is stored
  • It’s possible to aggregate and organize all the files you upload
  • Websites are easily indexed and searched on the internet by search engines
  • No restrictions on types of files you can upload, or their size (this may vary from host to host so be certain to check out relevant policies before selecting a hosting company.)


  • Ongoing monthly hosting costs
  • Ongoing maintenance requirements including updating core packages, plugins and security patches
  • You may need to conduct periodic manual updates of core package, stored materials and database(s)
  • No plan to address format obsolescence
  • No redundancy back up in diverse locations.
  • No automatic format migration
  • Cloud Data Loss Prevention (CDLP) not available or applicable
  • Who administers the material and the website once you are no longer able to?

Other Services

These resources are far from being the only options available to you. A quick internet search will yield many, many more. Amazon, for example, provides free storage of photo collections at no cost to Prime members. And Google Photos offers a similar service.

Additionally, you may wish to explore other social media platforms or cloud storage providers. Your options are limited only by your imagination and the amount of time you decide to spend exploring them. Feel free to reach out to VivaXtecH if you feel confused or overwhelmed by the array of choices available to you. We will help in any way we can.

After Word

You now have enough information to start making informed decisions about

Photo by Chang Duong

where and how to preserve your irreplaceable family memories. Please, start working on your strategy as soon as possible! No one ever foresaw that the unexpected would happen to them but it does happen to so many on a daily basis.

It has been said that, “The best life lived is one lived without regrets”. There will always be some regrets in life but please, don’t include the loss of your irreplaceable family memories among them. You’ll be so glad that you did.






If you know of a resource that could enhance this section please tell us about it.

Disclaimer: The products and services listed here are for information purposes only. VivaXtecH does not endorse or recommend any of the products or services listed here. Some of the provided links may lead to different websites. While Vivaxtech makes every reasonable effort to ensure that the websites and documents listed here are legitimate and safe, it has no control over the information or content of these sites and accepts no responsibility for any actions that might result from accessing any of them. External web links provided in these listings are in no way under the control, management or jurisdiction of VivaXtecH and, as such, VivaXtecH assumes no responsibility for the accuracy and/or content of these sites. Visiting these sites and/or using any of their products or services is done at your own risk.

We Live In Dangerous Times!

The world we live in is changing. We are subject to more frequent and severe natural disasters from hurricanes and tornadoes to earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and mud slides. Wildfires run rampant on every continent and not just in the summer months.

When disaster strikes the first impulse is to save your life and the lives of your family, pets, friends and neighbors. The second impulse is to save property and “things”. When asked, most people admit that, in the midst of any kind of disaster, assuming that their family and pets are all safe, the first thing they think to “save” are family photos, videos and other irreplaceable keepsakes. Most other possessions are considered to be “just stuff” and stuff can always be replaced.

Saving Irreplaceable Family Treasures – The Proactive Method

So what can you do to safeguard your irreplaceable family memories?  It turns out that the answer is “quite a lot.”

By this point, anyone who has spent any time on the internet has heard the term cloud storage. For those not certain what cloud storage means it’s a simplified term for the complex practice of storing computer files and applications somewhere on the internet where they can be accessed by any computer anywhere in the world that has access to the internet, knows where these files are and has permission to access them.

Yes, this is a simplistic explanation that doesn’t take into account serious issues such as access control, security, maintenance, redundancy, data recovery  and a host of others. All these issues, important as they are, are subjects for a later time. What concerns us in this moment is the fact that cloud storage allows you to place copies of what is irreplaceable in a safe and secure storage environment removed from your immediate location.

In other words, if your house, or even you entire town is destroyed, those records which most people consider important will be located in a safe place, well out of harm’s way, where you and your family can recover them at a later time. This frees you from making a decision about how to save your precious family memories during moments of crisis because you have already saved them in a safe location. Talk about peace of mind.

It Sounds Like A Good Idea But. . . .

. . . it also sounds complicated. “I wouldn’t even know where to start,” you are probably telling yourself. And that’s a valid point. But it will surprise you to learn that the process is actually quite simple. Before you begin you will need to ask yourself some questions in order to determine what your needs are. And for most people those needs fall into a few obvious categories:

  • Price
  • Accessibility
  • Availability
  • Security
  • Protection

Let’s take a look at each of these individually.


The price component is pretty self explanatory and there are services available to fit almost any budget ranging from free to a few dollars a month to hundreds of dollars a month depending on what you are looking for.

Photo By – Sharon McCutcheon

As with everything else, when it comes to cloud storage you get what you pay for. Free services sound appealing but they come with restrictions such as how much material you can store, how often you can access the material, how much material you can retrieve and download at any given time, whether any third party – including the service providers themselves – will have access to your materials and your private data and under what terms they will have this access. Also, these services may not allow you to share your materials with other family members or friends. Or, they may make it difficult and charge fees in order to let you do this. Many free services also expose you to third party advertising as you upload or download material or browse through the index of your files.

So from a pricing perspective the best solution is one that fits your budget, is secure, and allows you easy access to your material when, where and how you want it with a comfortable level of privacy and few to no  distractions from advertising.


Which brings up the accessibility matter. Under what circumstances do you want, or do you think you will want, to be able to access your material? At any time, from any place or just in the event that some event triggers a need for you to retrieve copies of your files? Do you want to restrict access to these materials? Or, do you want them to be shareable with other family members or friends?

In other words, do you want to be able to send links to certain files – or all of them – via email that others can open from the comfort of their own homes? Or, do you want to allow them to access the material themselves whenever they want to? If so, how do you secure your files to make sure only certain people are able to access them and that they cannot be altered or deleted either accidentally or intentionally? Who pays for this additional access? Who monitors and administrates it? And what happens to these files when you are no longer able to maintain them and pay the storage fees?

Do you pass on this responsibility to a family member such as one of your children, ensuring that your family will continue to have access to these important records? And what happens when the next generation comes along? Surely your grandchildren, your great grandchildren and your great, great, grandchildren would want to see these records that you have taken so much care to preserve. How would they even know that these records existed let alone where to look for them. Assuming they still existed.


Let’s imagine for a moment that you have a laptop computer. And on that laptop computer there is a collection of family videos and photographs spanning decades of your family’s activities. These include your children playing as they grew up, family vacations, special family celebrations such as birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving, graduation ceremonies, weddings and many others.

For the most part, this laptop computer sits on a shelf or in a closet and you only turn it on in those moments when you are feeling nostalgic or perhaps a little lonely if your children have all grown up and left home.

Photo by – Robert Tudor

Then one day, quite out of the blue, one of your children – or even a grandchild – asks, “Do we have any old family videos or photographs that I could look at?”

And, in that moment, you realize why you have held onto that laptop computer and taken care of it for all these years. You are filled with a great sense of joy and satisfaction as you watch your child or grandchild connect with their past, with their family history.

But there will come a time when you are no longer able to take care of that laptop computer and all the treasures it holds. So the question becomes, “What do you do with it?” Do you leave it to one of your children? If so which one? How do you ensure your other children and all your grandchildren will have access to the material on the laptop today and years from now?

And suppose the child that you leave in charge of the computer decides to delete some of the videos or photos because “they don’t like the way they look in them”, or for some other reason. Once those files are gone there may be no retrieving them.

Maybe you solve the problem by distributing the files to each of your children and grandchildren and trust them to continue passing them along to future generations. But there may come a time when the sheer number of your descendants makes this impossible. And there is always the problem of files being altered or deleted for a host of reasons.

You stored those family memories on that laptop computer because you wanted them to survive intact as a record to pass down to your children and their children but, as you can see, the process is more complicated than you initially thought.

And the same issues will confront you if you choose to store these materials on the cloud with either restricted or unrestricted access. In other words, the difficulty is not creating and storing recordings of your family history. The difficulty arises when you consider what to do with them after they’ve been created. And we haven’t even brought up the issue of format obsolescence which we describe a little further on.


Photo by – John Salvino

There are a lot of security threats on the internet these days. Hackers try to break into the data facilities of large entities such as banks and insurance companies in order to steal personal information. There are DDOS attacks, malware, worms, trojans, viruses, ransomware, phishing attacks and the ever present SPAM.

If you are planning to self store your video and other files you should be aware of what level of security the cloud service organization you choose is able to provide. Who – if any – are among their largest clients and what level of security do they require? Do they maintain materials for Fortune 500 companies such as banks, insurance companies and major retailers? What about government agencies, military clients, security and law enforcement bureaus?

Organizations like these demand a high level of security and you will enjoy a similar level of security if you store your materials in the same environment. Before selecting a cloud storage provider it’s advisable that you do a little research to find out who some of their major clients are. If they include organizations like those listed above you can be confident that you will have access to a robust suite of security options. If the provider doesn’t have clients like those listed above you may wish to reconsider your cloud service provider decision.


Nothing is 100% guaranteed when it comes to digital materials and computer technology. Hard drives crash, files go missing or get misplaced, power failures can create chaos in server environments and the same natural disasters that can befall individual homes can happen to commercial web server environments. And then there is the ever present issue of format obsolescence.

You can learn more about format obsolescence here

But all this news isn’t necessarily bad. There a steps that can be taken to make electronic files so safe as to be virtually indestructible. In the first place there is a process known as redundancy. In its simplest terms redundancy means storing 2 copies of your files in diverse geographic locations such as one on the US East coast and a copy on the US West coast or one in the Continental US and another somewhere in Europe.

The reason behind this is that if something catastrophic happens in one storage environment there is a backup copy safely located thousands of miles away. If you plan to self store your irreplaceable family memories you might want to make sure that the service provider you choose offers this level service.

If you want to add a higher level of protection you can choose to do the same thing we do here at VivaXtecH. In addition to using a cloud storage provider with built in redundancy protocols we also store all the files we are charged with protecting with an entirely separate cloud storage provider.

This means that even if the entire cloud infrastructure of one of our providers fails we have everything backed up on an entirely different infrastructure, geographically removed from our primary storage environments. This added layer of protection is more expensive than a sole sourced solution and requires more maintenance and administration but we feel it is worth it.

The recorded memories of our clients are irreplaceable and protecting them is of the utmost importance to us. Unless a catastrophe of global proportions occurs, your recorded memories should remain safe and secure and be available to you and your descendants indefinitely.

If your plan is to self store your videos, photos and audio materials you may want explore setting up a similar level of protection for yourself.

Photo by Gabriel Petry

While these steps should protect your valuable files they do nothing to address the format obsolescence issue. File formats, especially video file formats, change on a regular basis. To ensure the long term survival of your files you will need to be aware of format changes as they occur and update your files to the latest format. Failing to do so could render them irretrievable in the future.

Ask yourself, how would you watch a Betamax video tape from the 1980’s in this modern era? Now imagine your family videos were all stored on this format and you will get an idea of how important this often overlooked reality is to the long term viability of your irreplaceable family memories.

If you implement such a process yourself you may also want to ask, who will continue this course of format migration on your behalf once you are no longer able to do it yourself? It can be a daunting consideration.

Is There a Simpler Way to do This?

If you would like to be free of having to make all these complex decisions there is a simple alternative to securing, maintaining and distributing your precious audio, video and photographic memories and keepsakes. Consider using one of the many VivaXtecH preservation services. For an affordable, one time cost your material will be:

  • placed in a secure storage environment that includes redundant backups and secondary server environment support in diverse geographic locations
  • cataloged so that the material is easy to find by you, your children, your grandchildren and generations far into the future
  • automatically reformatted as encoding formats change ensuring that your material will always be viewable (to learn why this is important to you and your future descendants click here)

You can learn more about how we can help you protect your irreplacable memories  here.


Can Your Video Memories Survive?

Photo by Gabriel Petry

You have undoubtedly seen videotape formats come and go over your lifetime. But you may be surprised to learn just how many videotape formats there have actually been. We have posted a list below.

These are listed in approximate chronological order. All formats listed were sold to and used by broadcasters, video producers or consumers; or were important historically.

• 2″ Quadruplex videotape (Ampex 1956)
• VERA (BBC experimental format ca. 1958)
• 1″ Type A videotape (Ampex)
• 1/2″ EIAJ (1969)
• U-matic 3/4″ (Sony)
• 1/2″ Cartrivision (Avco)
• 1″ Type B videotape (Robert Bosch GmbH)
• 1″ Type C videotape (Ampex, Marconi and Sony)
• Betamax (Sony)
• Video 2000 (Philips)
• 2″ Helical Scan Videotape (IVC)
• 1/4″ CVC (Funai)
• Betacam (Sony)
• HDVS (Sony)[8] • Betacam SP (Sony)
• Video8 (Sony) (1986)
• S-VHS (JVC) (1987)
• Pixelvision (Fisher-Price)
• UniHi 1/2″ HD (Sony)[8] • Hi8 (Sony) (mid-1990s)
• W-VHS (JVC) (1994)

And if you were wondering about optical disc formats such as DVD they can be found below.

• Blu-ray Disc (Sony)
• China Blue High-definition Disc (CBHD)
• DVD (was Super Density Disc, DVD Forum)
• Professional Disc
• Universal Media Disc (UMD) (Sony)

For anyone interested in finding out more regarding actual video codecs, you can use the link below to access the US Library of Congress Sustainability of Digital Formats web page. The descriptions listed on this page provide information about file formats, file-format classes, bitstream structures and encodings, and the mechanisms used to compress files or bitstreams. Inclusion of a format does not imply that it is preferred or acceptable for Library of Congress collections. Conversely, omission of a format from the list does not imply that it is not preferred or acceptable. Descriptions will be drafted and added over time. (The link below will open in a new window.)

Sustainability of Digital Formats: Planning for Library of Congress Collections

What Does This Have To Do With Life Saving?

The simple answer is that, as you can see, video formats change on a fairly regular basis. If the format your video biography or event video is stored on is suddenly discontinued, what happens to the videos that are stored on them? Would you know what to do to maintain their integrity and accessibility? And suppose you were no longer around to address the problem. Who would take on the responsibility for preserving your precious video memories so that they could be accessible for the generations of the future? Would there be anyone? This process is known as a “chain of succession”. Would you be able to create and implement such a chain of succession? And, if you could, how would you be able to ensure that this chain could continue far into the distant future?

Memories have lives of their own. These need to be protected, preserved and shared with the generations who are going to follow us. It’s a serious responsibility and one that we at VivaXtecH do not take lightly.

Learn How VivaXtecH can help save YOUR life.

Is Your Wedding or Event Video Safe?

How many thousands of dollars have you invested in the creation of your wedding or other event video? Does it not make sense to protect this investment? Especially now that you understand the fragility of physical video formats and how fleeting the support for these video formats actually is. You may have considered uploading these precious treasures to the cloud as a means of protecting and preserving them. Have you considered how much this might cost?  And if you are no longer around to continue paying for this storage, what happens then? Is there someone you could hand this responsibility, and cost, on to? Could they be trusted to maintain these recordings as diligently and lovingly as you had yourself?

Yes, there are a lot  of questions to consider. Fortunately, there is an easy, and cost effective, solution.

Find out how VivaXtecH can easily and affordably protect your precious event videos

Welcome To The PUP Program

This reality is the reason that all of our preservation services include what we call the PUP program. The PUP or “Preemptive Upgrade Protection” program is an integral element of all our long term, preservation services. When the format your material is currently preserved in begins the inevitable journey toward obsolescence, VivaXtecH automatically converts your materials to the latest and greatest audio or video format. What’s more, this process will be repeated over and over again each and every time there is a format change. And the BEST part of all this is that these periodic upgrades will not cost you or your descendants a cent. It’s like having access to a chain of succession that’s on autopilot with no ongoing costs.

When you acquire any of our preservation packages a portion of the purchase price is placed into an interest bearing trust fund. The interest generated by this fund is used to perform whatever reformats are necessary while the principal amount remains in trust and continues to generate interest until the next reformat is necessary.

This chain of PUP reformatting will ensure that your materials will continue to be accessible – and viewable – by your future descendants far into the future. Our solution is simple, forward thinking and accessible to you today.

Learn More Here

And if you want to stay up to date on developments in the field of long term preservation and learn about new technologies and programs offered by VivaXtecH then please subscribe to our newsletter using the signup form at the top of this page.

Will We Be Remembered?

Photo courtesy of Ian Cochrane

This painting was made thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of years ago. Why did the artist paint it? Did he or she expect it would survive for millenia? If they did, did they have any idea how it would impact on those who saw it all those years later? Did they care? Could they even comprehend that someone could be looking at this painting thousands of years in the future?

We don’t know anything about this artist. Which is tragic. What would they have shared with us had they the chance? Though we know nothing about the artist as a person we do know, that at some point in history, they were here. This painting is evidence of that. They were born, they lived, they survived, they painted and eventually they died. Tragically we will never know anything more.

Who Are The People That Today’s History Remembers?

Ambras Castle’s portrait of Vlad III (c. 1560) (aka Vlad The Impaler)

For the most part they are of royal blood, religious leaders and even scoundrels or criminals. History doesn’t provide much in the way of records of ordinary, everyday people. We’ve almost all heard of “Vlad The Impaler” the ruler of Wallachia (and the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”) and much has been written about him. But what do we know about the thousands of soldiers who fought in Vlad’s army? What do we know about their families and personal struggles? And what of the average citizens of Wallachia? History doesn’t have much, if anything, to say about these people. Something is wrong with that.

Henry of Bolingbroke, flanked by the lords spiritual and temporal, claims the throne in 1399. From a contemporary manuscript, British Library, Harleian Collection

There are extensive records of the British Royal Family. These date back generations and include not only Rulers themselves but also members of their extended families. Brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, in laws even mistresses in some instances; the list goes on and on. During this time millions and millions of Britons were instrumental in building The Empire. They worked the land, served in the Army and Navy, opened new worlds, developed new science and technology and managed every aspect of the extensive Empire. Most toiled in obscurity. Yet millions who are alive today have descended directly from these “anonymous” people. Wouldn’t it be incredible if history had recorded their life stories so that those who are descended from them would have a better understanding of these ancestors and, thereby, a better understanding of who they are based on where they came from?

What Can We Share With The Generations Who WIll Follow Us?

Portrait of American gunman Billy the Kid (1859–1881)

Much time and effort is spent trying to trace our ancestry. We have a driving need, bordering on obsession, to understand where we have come from. And this drive is not likely to subside. But what about doing the opposite? While looking for evidence of where we have come from, why don’t we do what we can to reach out to the generations who will follow us in order to give them a detailed accounting of who we were. In other words, a new means of “paying it forward”. Think how much easier this would make it for those future generations to understand where they came from.

We have the tools to do exactly that today. Tools that no generation that has come before had access to and tools that most of them could not even have imagined! But what’s the point of having all these tools if we choose not to use them?

What would your reaction be if you happened to stumble upon a videotaped interview with a distant ancestor you had discovered while researching your family history? Excitement? Disbelief? Anticipation? How about gratitude?

Unfortunately video technology has only existed for about 80 years so it’s unlikely such a video record could actually turn up. But your reaction to believing that such a record could exist is perfectly valid. And it is that reaction that matters. The way you imagined yourself feeling by turning up a recorded video biography of one of your ancestors is exactly how your descendants will feel when they learn that you have sent them exactly such a message from the past.

Find out more on how to do this here.

“Let us make future generations remember us as proud ancestors just as, today, we remember our forefathers.”

-Roh Moo-hyun

So, will we be remembered as proud ancestors?

That’s up to us.

Why You Should Record Your Personal History

Photo by: Denny Müller

Below is a list of articles dealing with many aspects of creating your personal history. We hope you find something here that will inspire you to begin one of the most rewarding journeys of your life.

Writing down family histories as Baby Boomers look back

From Holocaust survivors to a Texas rancher battling coyotes and wildfires, millions of Americans’ stories are on the verge of being lost as a whole generation born in the early 20th century passes away. Personal historians, however, are coming to the rescue of Baby Boomers hitting their 60s and using new technology to record their family’s stories.

Seniors record stories to preserve personal history

Like most people, Hedrick Ellis grew up listening to his parents and grandparents tell family stories. As a teenager, he often tuned them out. But this year, eager to keep those memories alive, he hired a personal historian to interview his father and mother.

“You hear these stories over the years, but nobody ever really gets around to writing them down,” says Mr. Ellis of Arling­ton, Mass. “This seemed like an easy and practical way of capturing them.”

Families turn to professionals to document their stories

Elizabeth Lanning, like many members of her family, got to know her grandfather on the flight deck of a rebuilt 1965 Cessna as he taught her how to fly.

She heard about his travels across six continents, including the time he flew to Hawaii in a single-engine plane using cloud formations to guide him and the time he crashed in the Amazon and survived in the jungle for a week.

This is my life: how to write your autobiography

Jean Horton is a globetrotting 89-year-old retired anaesthetist. She lives alone, has no children, and is the only surviving member of her generation on either side of her family. While she is well known among neighbours, she is not famous, yet she is working on the third volume of her autobiography.

Personal historians document family stories so that future generations can remember them

East Bay resident Marjorie Wilkes treasures stories from “Mama,” her 94-year-old grandmother: how Mama’s great-great-grandparents committed suicide because they feared the South would win the Civil War; how her great-grandparents were then taken from the Southern plantation to be raised by the Creek tribe in Oklahoma, creating a family that is now part African American, part Native American and part Caucasian.

“I wanted to capture these stories on film so that future generations will know what Mama sounded like, what her gestures and laughter were like,” explains Wilkes.

Video memories

Savigny, a five-time Emmy Award-winner and founder of TimeStories, will share the techniques he uses for chronicling family histories and preserving precious family photos through narrative videos. Examples of his work are part of the “From Italy to America” exhibit. Savigny documented on video members of families whose ancestors emigrated to Greenwich from Italy to a start a new life. Savigny filmed the narratives, which run 15 minutes each, and feature 46 Italian descendants reminiscing about their family’s experiences.

“Tales From the Past, Preserved for Families”

Preserving a Lifetime of Memories For Posterity And Profit


*Disclaimer. The products and services listed here are for information purposes only. VivaXtecH does not endorse or recommend any of the products or services listed here. Some of the provided links may lead to different websites. While Vivaxtech makes every reasonable effort to ensure that the websites and documents listed here are legitimate and safe, it has no control over the information or content of these sites and accepts no responsibility for any actions that might result from accessing any of them. External web links provided in these listings are in no way under the control, management or jurisdiction of VivaXtecH and, as such, VivaXtecH assumes no responsibility for the accuracy and/or content of these sites. Visiting these sites is done at your own risk.

Is Yours One Of Those Gifted Families?

Is yours one of those fortunate families that has a collection of diaries, letters or even photographs dating back to events like World War II, World War I or the Civil War? Perhaps they date even further back.

Could you place a price on these treasures?

Is there any offer you would accept to give them up?

One of your Civil War ancestors could be directly connected to over 60 individual families today. Are you aware of other branches of your family that might be interested in accessing the ancestral treasures you have? Would you know how to contact them? Would you be willing to share access if you were asked?

And suppose the situation was reversed. If you learned that there was a distant relative of yours who had a collection of personal effects from your great-great-great-grandfather (or grandmother) wouldn’t you be interested seeing them, studying them, maybe simply touching them?

If only it had been possible for this distant ancestor to have provided, not only these family treasures, but a way that they could be shared among all their descendants no matter how many generations removed or how large the extended family grew to be. Who knows, this may even have provided the means by which distant branches of a family, connected by a single ancestor, could have discovered each other and initiated significant new relationships.

These are the ideas that gave rise to the VivaXtech program. We are fortunate enough to live in an age where it is possible to share our lives with the generations who will follow. This will help future generations better understand where they came from. In addition, it may help distant families with a shared ancestor connect with each other and build new family relationships. It’s an inspiring prospect any way you look at it.

There is no way to know what the impact of preserving your life story might be on your descendants. But it’s a certainty that not doing so will have no impact whatsoever.

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