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Wilson Chau (Customer Service Lead)

Family Photo Storage Options

Written on August 28, 2017 by Wilson Chau
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I’m not a professional photographer and neither is my wife. Heck, we’re not even amateur photographers either. I’d say we’re more social photographers. Beyond the occasional spur of the moment, all our pictures are from special occasions like our kid’s birth, vacations, birthday parties, etc. I’d imagine many of you are similar. We’ve amassed thousand of photos throughout the years, and our current method of backing those up is burning them to a DVD.

There has to be a better way. 

I hadn’t thought much about this until seeing a recent announcement that Crashplan was dropping their consumer backup service. I wasn’t a subscriber since I don’t actually have much data that needs to be backed up. Most of what I do for work and home is all cloud based. That’s the same for my wife. The most important data we have is our pictures. Coincidentally, my wife asked me that same day on how she could backup pictures on her phone. 

So I started searching to see what was available online.

Now keep in mind, this isn’t an extensive list. I didn’t spend hours on end trying different options. I simply stopped when I found the one that had the features I wanted. What were those features?

  • Support for PC and Mac
  • Ability to view pictures online
  • Unlimited storage (or cost effective storage options)
  • Ability to organize photos
  • If there was a cost, just one fee for the family
  • Ease of use

Here are the options that I explored:

BackBlaze: With the Crashplan announcement, there were a lot of competitors welcoming former users. Their plan looked great. It had unlimited storage for just $5 a month. I promptly signed up and installed the program and soon found out it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. To be fair, BackBlaze is excellent backup program with ease of use and a plethora of restore options. If I needed my computer backed up, I’d definitely use it. 

SmugMug: This seemed like a great choice. For only $5.99 per month or $48 a year, you get unlimited photo storage. It also checked every requirement I wanted with the bonus of also being able to order prints directly. The site seemed to be geared toward more professional photographers so I wonder if it was more than I needed. Still it was a definitely an option. 

Google Photos: My wife and I have android phones and it was already set to auto backup the photos we take on our phones to Google Photos. It supported all the features that I wanted. There were a couple of things that gave me pause. One was that although it did provide unlimited photo storage, they are not stored at full resolution. Google calls this “High Quality” photos with a max of 16 megapixels. We have a Canon Rebel T5 which shoots at 18 megapixel so we didn’t want to be shortchange there. Full resolution counts toward your free 15 GB of Google Drive space. You can purchase more storage space as needed for a relatively low cost ($20/yr for 100GB). The other reason I did not choose this option was that I’m already tied to Google for other services, I just wanted something more neutral or gave me some flexibility in case I wanted to ever jump ship. Google does give unlimited video file upload with max of 1080p resolution. So that’s a plus. 

Amazon Prime Photos: I’m already an Amazon Prime member and find great value in it with its 2 day shipping and Prime video. Turns out that another benefit you get with Amazon Prime is unlimited photo storage. Unlike Google Photos, it gives you unlimited storage at full photo resolution. You can also invite up to 5 people to join your “Family Vault” and they can store unlimited photos as well for free. Finally, you can order prints directly from the website at a cost that is cheaper than what we have been paying at Costco Prints. The one downside is video files count toward your 5GB of free space. You can get 100GB for $12 a year.  

Amazon Prime Photos

In the end, I opted for Amazon Prime Photos. It has everything I currently need. And since it was already included with Amazon Prime membership, it was a no brainer in my opinion. 

What photo backup option do you use?

Tags: Photos, Files, Sharing, Storage, CrashPlan, BackBlaze, Google, Amazon, Smugmug, Cloud
Stephens_Chris

We pay for the 1TB access on Dropbox. I think the cost is $90/year. I really enjoy that everything (pictures & files) is in one place, and Dropbox is a great service. One thing that really torqued me up was the removal of the Carousel app AND that they have not integrated many of the best features of Carousel into the Dropbox app. I might check out the Prime Photo storage, since, at this point, we will be Prime members for-ev-er.

Posted on 2017-08-29 14:06:20
Wilson Chau

Just as an FYI, you can get 1TB of Amazon Drive storage for $60 a year (photos don't count toward that space...just everything else). I might do that if I want to also backup our video files, but at this point, all I was looking for was a way to backup our growing photo library. This works for me.

Posted on 2017-08-29 17:33:06

My experience with 2.5 months of the Prime Photos part of Amazon Drive, on Windows 10, 5 months ago:

1. It silently moved to the recycle bin 28 of my photos without any proper reason to do so. It may have deleted others too, but if it did I didn't notice. It was only by chance that I noticed it had deleted files. The bottom line: instead of keeping all my files safe (the only reason I used it), it deleted some of them behind my back with no reason to do so.

2. It's highly inefficient and slow. Every time the program restarts, it reads every file from the beginning in its entirety to see if it needs to upload it. On a large set of files, it takes many hours before it can start to upload files it didn't yet upload. It consumes a lot of CPU power while it rereads files it's previously uploaded -- sometimes more than 50% of the speedy and expensive Intel processor in my computer.

3. It crashes a lot. Simply viewing the popup window with "Recently Changed" files can cause it to crash.

4. It's badly written, thrashing the hard disk by simultaneously accessing it with multiple threads. Those of you who are programmers like me know that's just dumb.

5. It can attempt to back up files that are currently being worked on in another program, blocking that program from being able to save or modify them for the duration of the time it takes to upload them.

In short, the program was the worst performing software for Windows I've used in several years. Instead of keeping your files safe, it puts them in jeopardy. I hope the Windows client has improved since I last used it, but short of a complete top-to-bottom overhaul, I'm sceptical.

Posted on 2017-08-29 16:32:56
JordanViray

Having been burned by a couple online photo hosting services shutting down, I now store everything on a local server and do periodic backups of that to offsite hard drives. One bonus is that I don't have to separate photo and video since online services are not practical for uncompressed/lightly compressed video storage and retrieval - I just sort by date and chuck everything into a folder accordingly. For remote access, Plex transcodes the video.

A local server is going to be a non-starter for most so Amazon's solution looks like the next best, particularly for video.

Posted on 2017-08-29 21:40:51