Here at the studio we do a LOT of copy and restoration work.
Many of the photos we see are in a pretty bad way, cracked, creased, torn or with pieces missing. Most of this damage can be repaired given enough time and patience.
The other major problem with most of them is that they have faded to some degree and once again using the right tools and lots of experience this can largely be remedied.
The most surprising aspect however is that the most badly faded ones tend to be the most recently taken and this is largely because they have been printed on cheap paper using cheap inks on a home printer.
The look of disappointment on a clients face when told that the image is beyond redemption can be quite upsetting, particularly when the other photo they want restoring is 60 or 70 years old and in better condition than the newer one.
The lesson is simple. If you want your images to last NEVER use cheap unbranded paper and NEVER use cheap alternatives to the printer manufacturers own inks. You will only regret it at a later date when your irreplaceable photo is gone forever.
I learned this lesson the hard way. In the 1970's there was a cheap alternative to Kodak, Agfa and Fuji slide film made by a company called GAF. I used it extensively at the time and when I recently decided to revisit some of my old images I found slide holders full of clear , blank film.