Family Photo Storage Options

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?