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Backing up your digital photos and other images is the right thing to do—and it’s easy when you use an automated photo backup service to store images in the cloud. Whether you use a Windows computer, a Mac, a tablet or a smartphone, there’s a backup process that’ll keep your photos secure and available on all your devices when you have an internet connection.
Forget about upgrading external hard drives and scheduling manual backups. Online storage prices have dropped dramatically and broadband service has become faster and more reliable. You can upload your photo collection in minutes instead of the hours it once took. Modern security features keep your photos safe, and rigorous backup protocols ensure your pictures are hosted on multiple servers on updated storage media.
I make things easy on myself by organizing my genealogy images in one folder with subfolders nested inside, and my modern family pictures in a separate Pictures folder. Then I set up my photo storage service to back up the correct folders.
Amazon Prime Photos
If you’re a member of Amazon Prime ($99 per year) you also get unlimited photo storage and 5 GB of storage for videos and other files on Amazon’s cloud storage servers. Download the Prime Photos app to your computer and mobile devices, and your automatically uploaded photos are available on all your devices, organized by places, dates and faces. Invite up to five friends and family members to get unlimited storage in a Family Vault. But beware that if you drop your Prime membership, you lose access to your photos, so be sure to download your files before you go.
Apple iCloud Drive
Apple iCloud Drive simplifies photo and video backup for your iPhone, iPad and Photos Library, and makes it easy to restore everything when you move to a new device. Just note that the iCloud is designed as a syncing service, so deleted photos are retained only for 30 days at the iCloud.com website. Use a second backup program so you don’t accidentally lose a photo or video when clearing your devices for more storage space. It’s free to sign up for an iCloud account with 5GB of storage; upgraded storage costs $1 per month for 50GB and $10 per month for 2TB.
This service automatically backs up all the documents, photos, videos and other files on your Windows or Mac computer and any external drives. You can view, download and share files via Android and iOS mobile devices. Deleted files are recoverable for 30 days. If you experience a catastrophic data loss, Backblaze will ship you a 128 GB flash drive with your files for $99. The Personal Plan allows unlimited backups for $50 a year per computer.
Carbonite Basic ($59.99 per computer per year), available for Windows and Mac, is easily configured to automatically back up documents and photos, but you’ll need to upgrade your plan to automate backups of videos and external hard drives. Prime plans ($149.99 per year) include courier recovery service in case of a computer crash. Android users can back up their devices to Carbonite; both Android and iOS users can download a mobile app to view their backed-up files.
Designed to store and share photos, Flickr isn’t an overall computer backup solution. But it offers a TB of free storage, enough for about 500,000 original-quality photos. Individual photos are limited to 200MB; videos, to three minutes. Paid Pro plans ($5.99 per month or $49.99 per year) remove ads and offer automated desktop uploading. Mobile apps let you upload automatically from your Android device or iPhone. Sharing and photo-editing options also are good here, and you can order printed photo books and other projects.
Unlike most annual subscription services, longevity-minded Forever stores photos (but not yet video files) from your computer and mobile devices for your lifetime plus 100 years. It costs a one-time payment of $299 (10GB) or $1,999 (1TB), and you can add storage as needed. You can share photos with family and designate future account managers. This site also offers photo gift and photo organization services.
Like the Apple iCloud, Google Photos can keep your photos synced on your mobile and desktop devices. If you have a Gmail account, you already have 15 GB of combined free storage in Google Drive and Photos <photos.google.com>. Up it to 100 GB for $20 per year or 1 TB for $100 per year. One of the best features is Google’s automatic upload of photos on your phone, which you can access anywhere you have an internet connection. Images are tagged using geolocation and facial recognition, and you can create albums, collages and movies. Upload compressed or full-resolution photos, and opt for two-factor account authentication.
Memorable lets you back up and organize photos online or using the Windows, Mac, iOS or Android mobile apps. A free Starter account gives you 5GB to try out the service and its desktop and mobile syncing. A Single account ($180 per year) includes unlimited photo and video storage for one user; a Multi Family account ($480 per year) covers unlimited storage for up to four family members. Memorable also will also digitize an “Analog Box” you fill with film, slides and other media for a flat fee, starting at $219 for a small box.
Look under MozyHome for Personal to find features including dedicated backups with 90-day retention, selected syncing across mobile and desktop devices, mobile access via Android or iOS app (although mobile devices aren’t backed up), and “set-and-forget” automated backups. Get 50 GB of storage for $66 per year for one computer, plus $12 per year per additional computer. Add 20GB of storage for $12 per year.
From the Oct/Nov 2017 issue of Family Tree Magazine