Back That Thing Up

 *This post first appeared on my Instagram but I’ve updated it with new information.

Does this ever happen to you? Your kid is doing something incredibly cute/hilarious/amazing/dangerous so you reach for your phone to record the moment only to get an error message saying that you’re out of storage and cannot take any more pictures. You scramble to find a few pictures you can live without then rush to your trash to delete them permanently only to find that the moment has passed and your kid is back to picking his nose like nothing ever happened. All the time? My friends, its time to back that thing up!

The obvious answer is to regularly download your pictures to your computer and delete them off your phone. But what if you’ve reached your max storage on your computer? Or you never remember to download your pictures to your computer except those moments when you really need to take a picture and that stupid error message pops up? I’m not even going to mention that backing up is the smart thing to do because you never know when you might drop your phone at the pool or leave it on the plane. Nope, not going there.

There are a couple options for backup storage; the first is a network drive. This is good to have because you have complete control and can store anything you want, not just photos. To move your photos if you’re using Apple’s iPhoto or Photos app, you’ll want to open the library and grab everything from the Masters folder. Whenever you download photos from your phone or camera, make sure to also copy them onto the network drive.

The second option, and one I highly recommend, is to have a backup on a cloud because an external hard drive can break or something can happen to your home (knock on wood). There are many  options and I’ll highlight a few. The first option is for anyone who has Amazon Prime. Prime is not just for free 2-day shipping (another post for another day). Amazon Prime also offers unlimited cloud storage for photos for all Prime members. They have a super easy app that will upload all the photos from your phone to your cloud drive as well as a website you can upload your pictures from your desktop. You can even set your phone app to automatically upload new pictures/videos when its connected to wifi so you don’t even have to think about backing up. As amazing as it is, it’s not a complete solution. While you have unlimited photo storage, non-photo storage (aka: video) is limited to 5 G. That sounds like a lot but videos are your largest files and will quickly add up. To get unlimited storage (video and otherwise), it’s $60/year – not a bad price for unlimited everything (photos, videos, documents, etc). But even if you don’t want to pay $60/year, if you are a Prime member, at least take advantage of this free offer and back up your photos. Seriously, do it now.

Apple iCloud is convenient for those with Apple devices because you not only back up your photos and videos but data from your apps or documents if you have a Mac. Pricing is not bad at $0.99/mo for 50 G, $2.99/mo for 200 G, $9.99/mo for 1 T. Just a word of caution: 50 G sounds like enough and 200 G sounds like a lot but it fills up fast. I’m nearing 200 G already and since I have no plans to erase anything, it’s just going to keep growing.

The third option is Google. Google Photos has free unlimited picture and video storage with unparalleled search capabilities. For example, you can search for “cat” to find all the pictures of your cat and it’ll find them for you even without you tagging them. This will be very useful as your photo database gets bigger and bigger.  The one caveat is that they limit your resolution at 16 MP for photos and 1080p for videos and will downgrade them. If you’re taking pictures from your phone, its not a problem. Otherwise, upgrade to 100 G for just $2/month. However, nothing in life is free. Google may be using your photos to collect data and targeting ads based on a profile they’ve created with your data. Creepy but honestly, nothing new.

A few other options:

Smugmug – unlimited photo and video, desktop and mobile app, and you can share albums where your friends can download pictures all for $60/year. Many professional photographers also use Smugmug to host online galleries for their clients.
Flickr – free 1TB of storage. There’s ads but who cares even you’ve got a TB of free storage.
Dropbox – as an early adopter of cloud storage, everyone probably already has a Dropbox account which makes adding photos easy. The app is easy to use, it integrates easily with social media, and you can share photos. However, costs are subpar – 2 G free, 1 TB is $10/month, and unlimited is $15/month.
Backblaze – I just discovered them and wish I had found them sooner. Not only is it unlimited backup for all files for just $5/month (or $50/year), they will also run automatic backups for you and even have a computer locator function should you lose your laptop. However, since they’re a backup company and not storage, you can’t browse through all your photos using Backblaze as you would in the aforementioned choices.

A few parting words:

  • If you have Amazon Prime, download the Amazon photos app ASAP for Apple or Android
  • If you don’t have Dropbox, create a free one here. This is a good-to-have for when you want to share files (music, photos, documents) or if you want a secure place for them.
  • If you’re thinking of getting a network drive, I recommend getting at least 1 TB. You’ll thank me later.
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