This post contains affiliate links for your convenience and these are my honest opinions. Please click here for my full disclosure policy.
When I ask my kids to describe clouds, I expect to hear words like marshmallows, white, fluffy, sky pillows. When someone asks me to describe a cloud, I use words like untrustworthy, ridiculous, nonsensical, conspiracy. With all of the confusing options for photo storage solutions these days, I actually find myself questioning what is so wrong with the storage boxes in my garage? Boxes filled with 4×6 photo memories of someone’s blurry elbow, taken at a college party I apparently attended 18 years ago. If you want to see them, I can mail you copies…I got doubles. These boxes are tangible. Today’s options are terrifying because for the most part, they aren’t something you can wedge between your fingers. If our lifetime has already gone from banker boxes to digital photo albums, should we even be investing in any one photo storage solution? I’ve been doing some research lately, trying to find the best solutions for keeping my memories available and secure. These are just a few of the filing solutions I’ve discovered:
Prime Photos – This is Amazon’s photo storage solution. While it says it’s free (for Prime members), don’t get too comfortable. It offers free unlimited photos and only 5 GB of video storage. For all of us trigger happy moms, we’ll blow through that in a day. To upgrade your video storage to 100GB, it’s $11.99/year. Click here to view the full tiered pricing structure: https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/managestoragev2/allPlans
The Prime Photos app can be downloaded to your phone and set to download photos as they are received. I have found the app lacks speed and so patience is definitely needed when doing your initial back-up. If you’re like me (a total picture hoarder, who needs twenty angles of the same photo, you’ll be downloading thousands of pictures the first time around).
Nice Feature: Family Vault-you can add up to 5 other people to your account. As long as one of them is a Prime member, everyone gets access to unlimited photo storage and 5 GB of video storage.
Google Photos – Just like with Amazon (Prime), I feel like if you’re already utilizing any of Google’s other solutions (drive, gmail, etc.), it’s worth seeing if this type of bundling solution is right for you. The storage capacity for Google Photos is actually a subset of the solution. Capacity is shared across Google Drive, Gmail and Photos. 15GB is the free plan, and tiered pricing follows: https://www.google.com/drive/pricing/
I am loving the Google Photos app! Visually, it’s easy to use and slightly faster when uploading my backlog of photos and videos.
Google photos also has more features when it comes to picture collages and animation videos, generated from your uploads.
Note: I uploaded my thousands of photos to both the Google and Amazon options. They didn’t take up nearly as much storage capacity on Google Photos. That is because Google Photos will downgrade (compress) the quality of your pictures. You can opt to change this default setting, to keep the original photo quality, although you’ll sacrifice the free storage capacity a lot quicker. If you’re a stickler for photo quality, or have a camera that is more than 16 megapixels, you’ll probably want to keep the picture quality and pay the extra storage fees.
Portable Hard Drive – This is a nice option when you have more than photos you’d like to back-up (documents/folders), or multiple devices you’d like to have in one spot. This also satisfies the ‘tangible’ requirement for those of us who are still thinking the cloud is trying to steal our identity. There are so many options out there for hard drives, but I picked up a Seagate model at my local office supply store (Staples). The nice part was that the store has a support desk and I was able to get some help formatting the drive.
Caution: If a hard drive says it’s compatible with a Mac, PC, or both, you may still have to change settings on your computer in order for this to be true. This much formatting detail is not usually provided in the out-of-the-box instructions included with the hard drive. I found a video on YouTube to walk me through it, so it can be done!
iCloud – This is Apple’s storage solution, although it claims to be compatible with a PC. It will back-up your photos across all of your devices. It is probably one of the first cloud based solutions out there and has many of the same features of the ones I’ve already mentioned. I think bundling is great, but my concern with the iCloud solution is that it’s linked to the brand of my phone. Whereas, Google and Amazon solutions exist separately from the brand of my device. In addition, out of the ones I’ve been looking at, iCloud is the most expensive. 5MB is free (that’s nothin’) and then you start paying at least $1.99/mo to bump up to 50MB. Already, this makes it more expensive than Amazon’s Prime photos solution ($1/mo for 100GB). Here is more information on the solution and the pricing structure: https://www.apple.com/icloud/photos/
Thumb drive – A good ol’ fashioned thumb drive. I know, I can’t believe I’m calling this “old fashioned”. It is another tangible option, and makes it easy to transfer files to someone else (small device, just decent storage capacity). The downside is that if you’re planning on continuing to accumulate photos (yup, guilty), it may not be long before you have to find a storage solution for all of your thumb drives. You can look into more advanced thumb drive options, like Picture Keeper.
There are plenty more solutions, but at some point, I believe you can give yourself too many options. Try one, or three in my case, and if it doesn’t give you peace of mind, continue the quest for your appropriate solution.
What other solutions have worked for you?