What format is right for me? – Part 2: The USB

By Jonathan Fouch

This is part two of a four-part series where we explore the four main ways to digitize your movies and photos: DVD, USB, Digital Download, and Streaming. We’ll talk about the advantages of each format so you can choose the one that is the best for you and your family.

Go back to Part 1 – DVD 

Skip ahead to Part 3 – Direct Download

Skip ahead to Part 4 – Streaming

USB – Small, but mighty

The USB drive is a little memory stick that can store multiple movies and thousands of pictures. 

Many smart TVs have USB ports, so you can plug in your USB and watch your movies and view your photos on the big screen. 

That aside, the purpose of the USB is to copy your movies and photos to your computer. Once on your computer, you can view them, edit them, copy them, share them, or stick them in the cloud. In short, you can do much more with a USB than you could with a DVD.

But the USB stick itself is not meant for long-term storage.  A USB’s lifespan is about 10 years on average (compared to the 100 years of an archival quality DVD). Also because of their small size, some people are prone to misplacing them.  

If you’re going to go with USB, I highly recommend backing up your movies and photos on more than one device (computer, external hard drive, or other USBs). 

The best preservation option are the online “cloud” storage services such as Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox. 

Online cloud storage is the best solution to what I call the “burning house problem.” God forbid your house burns down. In this situation, if you have your movies and photos stored online in the cloud, you won’t lose them even if your computer goes up in flames. I give a plain English explanation of cloud services in this blog post.   

Storing your memories on a single computer is never a good idea. Personal computers have short, unpredictable lifespans. Please don’t do that!

USB Summary:

            Pros: Very flexible format, the media can be played on your smart TV or moved to your computer for viewing, editing, sharing and so on

            Cons: The USB itself is not great for long-term storage


Jonathan Fouch is the founder of History Creators. He has spent the greater part of his 9-year career helping families build their legacy through technology. You can read his full biography here.