You have finally done it! Digitized your entire analog image collection – possibly with some help from your favorite film and photo scanning service. This essentially means that you have insured years of precious memories from being lost, damaged or destroyed. You should feel good about the achievement. But you are not really done until you have backed them up properly. An external hard drive is a good place to start but you need something more to keep your memories safe. Truly, really safe.
Storing your images on a cloud platform such as Google’s or Amazon’s is now widely accepted as sound backup practice. Not only are your photos safe with them, but they are also easy to retrieve on the go. That class photo you want to pull up at your high school reunion is only a few finger taps away. As are those childhood images of family road trips that you want to display at your parents’ anniversary celebration. Whether you view them on your phone or tablet, project them on a wall, or share a link with others, having your old photos handy makes it easier to spread their light around.
Cloud storage is also a key part of photo management in the digital era. We have become click happy with our camera phones in recent years but are not always as disciplined about backups and organization. Online storage platforms with auto upload features can help, by regularly moving our pictures to a safer place.
Here are the leading cloud storage sites that are currently out there. One or more of these will do the job of keeping your photos backed up and safe, and yet readily accessible.
Google Photos (Our recommendation): Google is continually working on expanding the features under Photos and this is partly why it’s a great option for photo enthusiasts. It has filters and editing tools built in along with some handy storytelling capabilities (for making short albums, collages, movies, etc.). And as the reigning force in search, Google has harnessed this power for Photos, making it easier for users to track down specific photos using geo tags, facial recognition and more. The best part is it’s free, as long as individual images are less than 16MB in size. Most people, including serious hobbyist photographers, should be happy with that.
Dropbox: Originally designed for documents and collaboration, Dropbox is still a good storage option for photos. Images stored on one device are synced across all your others through the app. You can upload photos and share folders easily through a link. However, even though Dropbox has recently made some photo and video friendly upgrades, it’s still primarily a file sharing and management app and is not necessarily the best option if you want to do cool and creative things with your images. But if you are just looking for a solid cloud platform to store your photos, it fits the bill. A basic subscription is free but that gets you only 2GB of storage. If you are thinking of moving your photos here, the Dropbox Plus plan – $9.99 a month for 1TB of storage (you can save a little through an annual subscription) is probably the best option.
Amazon Prime Photos: The perks of Amazon Prime membership keep growing with the company now having added unlimited photo storage to the list. Formerly an also-ran in the photo storage race, Amazon has now ‘vaulted’ into a leading position. With the Family Vault option, a Prime member can invite up to five family members or friends to join her account. This makes it easier for families to pool their images for more photo sharing fun and possibilities. Non-Prime members get upto 5GB of storage free. They can upgrade that to 1TB for an annual fee of $60.
iCloud Library: Apple’s cloud storage works in sync with its Photos app to give users access to the library from any device at anytime. It uses the date information embedded in your photos to organize them into timeline-based collections. And, like Google Photos, you can set it up to automatically upload images as long as your device is charged and connected to a Wi-Fi network. There is also a sharing feature similar to Amazon Vault that enables viewing and sharing of photos across families or groups. All iCloud users start with 5GB free storage but can bump this up to 2TB by paying $10 a month.
Flickr: Flickr may have lost some of its sheen because of its association with a struggling Yahoo but it still remains a robust and reliable photo storage site. It was one of the first to offer up to 1TB of free storage and it comes loaded with tools for enhancing, tagging and organizing photos. It also gives users the option of viewing and downloading images at full resolution. These value-add features keep many users loyal to Flickr even with all the other options that are now out there. Although you can still get 1TB free with a Flickr account, a monthly subscription plan running at around $6 will buy you some extras, including auto uploading and ad-free browsing.
As you can see, most of these cloud platforms offer ample storage, both paid and free plans, and tools for working with and sharing your images. Most importantly, they are all established and are here to stay. You probably will not face a situation with any of them where the site is shut down and you have to scramble to find another home for your photos. In the shifting world of technology winners and losers, that counts for a lot.
At ScanCafe, we make it easier for customers to save their scanned photos to one of three cloud storage sites – Google, Amazon and Dropbox. Our integration with these platforms allows you the option of picking one of these sites to backup your scans – at no additional cost to you. Find out more about how this works here.