Today anyone who is walking around with a mobile device essentially has a very sophisticated digital camera ready to catch the next memorable moment. Digital cameras, especially smartphone cameras, entice us to snap without abandon. Yet all these moments we capture seem to vanish into a digital Bermuda Triangle, castaways adrift on old phones, memory cards or unreliable disk drives. Finally, a lifetime of photos can get a new lifeline by storing everything online.
Back in the day before there was high speed Internet any photo you had that was digital (either taken from a digital camera or scanned by a computer scanner) would have been stored either just on your computer or on an external storage device and so the only way you could view those digital memories was to just browse them on that device.
Today, with unlimited Internet data plans, fast and powerful mobile devices, and high Internet speeds, we can now store every picture and video we ever take online. And so there are many free and paid services out there that will allow you to upload every and all photos and videos you have to an online account from which you can browse using almost any device you have.
At the moment there are a lot of services available for people and it will really come down to which service fits your needs. Right now the bigger companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft provide you with free and paid plans to store, edit, and view your digital memories from any device.
If you are steeped in the Apple ecosystem and mainly use Apple devices then subscribing to Apple’s iCloud service will give you access to any photo or video you take from any device you use. Five gigabytes of storage is free (though anyone who takes any amount of photos or video will go over that in no time) With that in mind, they do offer paid plans starting at $1.29/month for 50 GB of storage up to $12.99/month 1 TB of storage. Google plans are similar however they start you off with 15GB of free storage. Both companies give you the option to make edits to your photos and have those changes sync’d to all of your devices. In addition, both services allow you to edit and share your digital memories to anyone with an Internet connection. Apple has a nice feature that will allow you to create projects allowing you to have books, cards, calendars, and prints professionally printed and mailed to you. Google does a great job creating auto-generated slideshows of your media along with some advanced searching capabilities for people, places, and objects.
One thing to note with Google is they will store an unlimited amount of your digital memories to your Google photo album at a reduced quality for free. This is a real dealmaker for many who want a free option to store everything they have online – though privacy and security concerns seem to follow Google in this area.
If you like how Apple’s service works but you also run Android or Windows, a solid alternative comes from a service called Shoebox. It will also upload all of your digital memories from any device Mac, Android, or Windows.
Much like one of Google’s features, it also provides you the ability to relive old photos by using features such as This Day in History, an addictive, ever-changing gallery. You can browse a timeline of photos or search by location and other tags, but it won’t ID faces in photos. Shoebox also has another advantage: It’s cheap. Uploading unlimited original files costs $5 a month. Storing unlimited lower-res “screen quality” images is free. You can find out more information at: www.shoeboxapp.com
Second is a service from Yahoo called Flickr. Available for both windows and Mac desktops as well as an apps for all mobile devices Flickr offers both paid and free options to save all of your digital memories online. One thing to keep in mind is that their free plan will allow you to upload 1 TB of digital memories however if you don’t want to manually upload this data all the time you will have to spring for a PRO account for about $30/year and that will include an auto-uploader. You can find out more at: www.flickr.com
The bottom line is that you really don’t want to totally rely on any of these services as the ultimate backup. I’d make sure you have another type of backup in place. Also too, depending on the amount of photos and videos you have to backup, it could take days or weeks for an initial backup to complete. Finally, if you have any type of data limit on your Internet connection you will need to make sure using one of these services will not have you exceed this limit or you might end up paying your Internet provider extra that month.