PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- This holiday season, you may be taking loads of photos of family and friends. But what about all the old prints, slides or even home movies on VHS or film you have tucked away in a box?
It's time to go digital. Consumer Reports took a look at several companies that turn those family memories into digital files that are preserved forever - something that could make a great holiday gift for the person who has everything.
After nearly 20 years of stashing old physical pictures and videos away, Consumer Reports tech editor Melanie Pinola knew preserving them was too big a task to do herself.
"It's kind of like a mental burden or a mental weight to have them sitting there and not do anything with them," she said.
Pinola digitized hundreds of family photos and videos as part of her research for Consumer Reports. She checked out 14 companies, sending her personal pics to several of them.
"These services will take your physical media, your photos, your negatives, your slides. And then they'll turn them into digital files so it's easier for you to save, backup, and share with family and friends," she said.
They also do VHS tapes, movie reels and audio tapes. Pack them in a box to send them off, and in return, you can get a thumb drive or a digital link for downloading.
And don't worry, you also get your originals back.
"Even though it was scary to send my stuff out, it was really easy actually to do. And quicker than I thought," said Pinola.
In just eight days, Pinola's digitized photos from Memories Renewed were complete.
"The quality of the photos matched the actual print. And it had the most color fidelity and they also just had like really great customer service from start to finish," she said.
For her budget pick, Pinola chose DigMyPics. They even let you preview your scanned photos and delete up to 20% of them from your order, in case you decide you don't need or want them.
Some tips from Pinola before starting a project like this: try to pace yourself so you don't get overwhelmed while sorting, and expect to laugh and cry.
"I think it's also an emotional project because there were some photos I found of people that had passed away. I think just be prepared emotionally for that sort of experience," she said.
Consumer Reports says if you want to digitize your photos yourself, you can use a free app like Adobe Scan or an all-in-one printer, which can give you higher quality scans and allows you to crop them individually on your phone or computer.