Home videos can be a ‘ticking time bomb’ in your family’s archives

Toronto financial advisor Robert A. came to Memory Labs to have his family’s vast collection of videos and photos scanned and digitized. He shared with us the obsolescence of videotapes, as well as the passing of two family members, focused his attention on preserving his family’s visual history.


Robert says he divides his family’s visual history into two distinct camps — before and after the iPhone. Before 2007 (aka pre-iPhone), he says the majority of photographs of his daughter and son were in print. 

“My children are now 20 and almost 17 — but I have nieces born in the mid to late 2000s, and all their photos are digital. But what about life before 2007? It’s worth remembering, but it’s not so easy to access.”

He says that while society has become obsessed with visually documenting everything, many older memories are falling by the wayside.

Robert brought in hundreds of hours of videotape to be digitized, including his wedding video. He says the primary motivator in converting his home movie collection is the fact these recordings have a lifespan of 20 years before they start to degrade. 

“I feel like the majority of people don’t know that — I certainly didn’t know that until I spoke with a retail advisor at Memory Labs,” Robert says.

“All of a sudden, you realize there’s a ticking time bomb in your archives, in your memories,” Robert says. “I don’t have the camera I used to record most of these movies. I do have one old camera, but, of course, I don’t have the battery or the cord to plug it in — so there’s no way of watching them.”

He says people who had children in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, in particular, have to assess how much these recorded memories matter.

A baby standing up in a crib

From Robert's collection: photo scanned and digitized by Memory Labs. 


“The reality of it is if you don’t do anything with these tapes, you’re going to lose them,” Robert says.

“I think you also have to take the approach that whatever you don’t digitize, you might as well just throw away because these tapes will degrade and become useless.”

Robert also entrusted Memory Labs to scan and digitize hundreds of family photographs going back a generation and a half.

“I still have more analog pictures I haven’t digitized yet — including my wedding album — but it’s just a question of when not if,” Robert says. 

He says he can now easily share old photos with his children so they’ll have access to them. 

“They might not care about that stuff now … but we’ve had two deaths in the family in the last nine months, and the process of mourning often has people desperately trying to preserve memories. 

“Just before the funeral, you’re frantically emailing photos to other family members,” trying to select pictures for the slideshow or memory board, he says.

“Some might be grainy or black and white, but those are literally the most precious photographs.”

He says without digitization, “you basically have a piece of paper that one person will have that ends up in a shoebox.”

Vintage wedding photo of bride and groom

From Robert's collection: photo scanned and digitized by Memory Labs.


Robert tells us he plans to take the 2 terabytes worth of digitized files and upload them to his iCloud account. 

“It’s a tremendous amount of data, but once it’s in the cloud, that’s it. That’s where memories live now.”

He adds that despite the fact his family was grieving, it felt “so good to be proactive and know that everything up until the iPhone is preserved. And now going forward, we’re good. Everything is in the cloud.”

At Memory Labs, we digitize your family’s old photos and videos so they are preserved for the next generation. Our advanced technology can improve picture quality, so your family’s treasure trove of memories will look their best when they’re shown, shared, and saved for the future.


What We Do

We digitize your old photos and videos to preserve them for future generations using advanced technology to improve the picture.


How It Works

Find out how the Memory Labs process works step-by-step; from preparing your photos, videos and audio, to receiving your digital files.


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Learn how you can deliver your photos, videos and audio to Memory Labs. Choose from in-store drop-off, local pick-up and Canada-wide shipping.