In the digital age of photography, there are two ways to store photographs. There are no more dark rooms and no more scrapbooks. Photographs are stored either using a cloud-based digital storage application or a physical drive.
Just about every cloud storage system can be accessed from any device, anywhere, anytime. Physical storage is a bit more complicated. Physical storage means either the drive on your computer, a portable hard drive that can be plugged in on the go to any device, or small SD cards and Mini-SD cards which fit in cameras, phones, and laptops.
Today we’re looking at the 8 best ways to store photos, including the best cloud photo storage systems.
Cloud Storage vs. Physical Storage
In this day and age, everything is online, which means you really will be living in the dark without at least one cloud storage system. The good news is that a lot of these systems are 100% free within a particular threshold. For example, a particular cloud storage service may offer completely free storage up to a few gigabytes.
Beyond the threshold is where cloud storage systems can get expensive. If you need to be storing hundreds of gigabytes worth of photographs, you’re going to be paying a premium. Considering most photographers are going to have thousands and thousands of photos that they need to store and have access to at a moment’s notice, there is no free cloud storage service that will fit your needs.
Physical storage is a one-time fee. Physical storage is the best way to backup and store photographs that are important. However, it can be a hassle to carry around different storage drives. The modern photographer will have a combination of cloud storage and physical storage to cover all their bases.
The issue with the cloud is that it’s only accessible via the Internet. If for whatever reason there is no Internet access like when the power goes out, or if the system goes down, your photos will be inaccessible.
A physical storage, specifically something like an external hard drive with multiple terabytes’ worth of storage, will always work even when there is no Internet. The only downside to physical storage is that it can be lost or damaged. If you drop an external hard drive, it could break and your pictures will be gone.
As you can see, if you have thousands of important photographs that you want to be stored safely, using both cloud and physical storage is key. If one no longer works, the other still has your photos stored for safekeeping.
The Best Cloud Storage Software
1. Google Photos
Google Photos is designed specifically to store your photographs. It’s part of G Suite, a collection of business apps that can be used on any personal device. You can store up to 2 terabytes of photographs, but it’s going to cost you roughly $100 a year.
The nice thing about Google Photos is that it’s everywhere. Google is on every device and is designed to be user-friendly and not intimidating. Plus, you get Google AI and machine learning that help to automatically label people in your pictures while using metadata to make searching for those pictures easier. Some cameras, specifically newer Canon cameras, can even transfer photographs directly to Google Photos using nothing but Wi-Fi.
2. One Drive
If you’re a Microsoft user, One Drive is one of the best storage systems out there. It’s basically a locker for all your photographs that comes included with most new Windows computers. It’s easy to learn, it’s familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft Office, and you get 5 gigabytes of free storage with an extra 100 gigabytes for only around $2.00 per month. There’s also an option for 1 terabyte for under $10.00 a month.
One drive can be installed on multiple devices, but the issue is that it’s not centered around photographs. It’s more of a file storage system and isn’t tailored specifically to photographers.
Flickr is another app designed specifically for photos and videos. It offers free storage of 1000 photos – though you’ll have to suffer through advertisements if you want to have free access to them. Unlimited storage comes at a monthly fee of under $10.
Flickr stands out from other cloud-based storage systems because it’s designed for photographers. You can display your photographs in a photostream, which can be viewed by other users. Other people can follow what you’re doing, they can comment on your pictures, and this interactivity has created a kind of social network specifically for photographers just like you.
The great thing about flicker is that you can present your photographs while also storing them. The only issue is that it doesn’t support RAW files. You’re only restricted to JPEG, GIF, and PNG.
4. iCloud Photos
iCloud comes from Apple. This is a storage system for photographs that caters specifically to users of Apple. It can be used on a Windows device, but the service really is designed for people using Apple products. You can store your pictures, edit, organize, and share with whomever you please.
Unfortunately, iCloud Photos does not offer unlimited storage. But upgrading to a maximum storage capacity of 2 terabytes is fairly inexpensive. If you’re an Apple user, iCloud will feel and operate with great familiarity, making it fun and simple to use.
Dropbox is an amazing piece of software for storing everything. Files and photos can easily be stored in Dropbox and accessed from both iOS and Android. If you don’t want to pay, you get 2 gigabytes of free storage with a basic account. For just a few bucks a year, you can get up to 2 terabytes of unlimited storage for all your most important pictures.
Premium Dropbox comes with email upload, 30-day version history, and the ability to restore folders up to a specific time, which is critical in case you accidentally delete files or the system somehow crashes on your computer.
Dropbox is as simple as it gets. It’s a proven system from massive file storage that comes with an easy interface that anyone can learn. It’s also great for storing RAW photos and can be integrated with Facebook. This makes it easier when transferring pictures from storage to social media.
iDrive is a lesser-known storage system that’s a great option for photographers considering you get 5 free gigabytes. If you don’t have heaps of photographs, this is an amazing free option that you’ll never need to pay for. Even more incredible is that iDrive offers a storage plan of up to 5 terabytes, way more than most of the leading companies. If you have more than 5 terabytes of photographs, you might need to slow it down on the pictures!
iDrive is also great because it allows you to back your photos up on an unlimited number of devices, all linked to a single account. And it gets even better. You can automatically upload pictures that you take to your iDrive account without doing it manually. When you do this, your images retain their quality. There’s a facial recognition feature that helps organized pictures and there is a special app that has been designed specifically for use on smartphones, with both operating systems. It’s called iDrive Photos and for less than $10.00 a year, it comes with unlimited storage.
Backblaze is another convenient solution for storing your photographs. It’s incredibly simplistic, with unlimited storage and no limit to the size of the file. However, it does have a few drawbacks. It’s not designed for sharing. All it does is store photographs. If you want an affordable, secure, and simple locker to keep unlimited pictures in, Backblaze is an extremely affordable option.
Another great thing about Backblaze is that it constantly backs up your pictures. It all happens automatically. All the pictures you upload onto the computer are stored in the cloud. But there’s another caveat. Even though you have unlimited storage, you’re restricted to using a single account and a single computer. You actually have to subscribe again to use a different device, which is a huge deal-breaker for a lot of people.
8. Amazon Photos
Amazon Photos is a free service provided to all Prime members. If you have Amazon Prime for streaming and getting deals on shipping, you already have access to this service. Amazon Photos offers unlimited photo storage. And even if you’re not a member, you can still purchase a payment plan to use the service.
Amazon Photos is pretty basic for what it does. It keeps all your pictures in the cloud. There is an application that can be installed on your mobile phone or tablet, giving you instant access to unlimited pictures wherever you are for absolutely no money. We highly recommend looking into Amazon Photos just to see what they offer because it is such a reliable service that comes at no extra cost.
Storing digital photos doesn’t need to be difficult. By using a combination of cloud storage for easy access and backup hard drives, you can rest easy knowing all your precious pictures are safe. And to avoid paying an annoying monthly fee, simply keep your favorite photos in the cloud and all the rest on one or more portable drives.
At the end of the day, it’s worth it to have multiple backups in case something happens. You’ll be glad you paid the extra bit of money.