Are you at the end of your rope when it comes to dealing with your photo collection? Is it more of a mess than a collection? Perhaps it is scattered all over the place and maybe duplicates are causing you nightmares? What is the best solution for managing your photos online now that we all have so many photos to deal with and with so many online options? That’s the focus of this month’s article. Please note, when I refer to your “photo collection”, included in this are your home videos.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LOCAL STORAGE
I’ve worked with numerous clients in helping to reign in and manage their photo collections. My most recent experience was with a client who had almost 2TB* (yes, terabytes) of photos and videos in different folders and on myriad external backup drives. In order to manage her photo collection moving forward, we fist had to decide upon storage. When considering the best way to store your photo collection, I highly recommend keeping a backup copy of your photo collection on an external hard drive AND using an online storage solution. This way, if something terrible happens to all of your hardware, you still have a copy of your precious memories stored in the cloud. The cloud has become a much more dependable place over the years and there is peace of mind in knowing you have a backup of your collection available online. When storing your photos locally, I suggest you create folders for each year (2017, 2016, 2015, etc.) and then sub-folders for each month. After that, you can make topic folders, such as London trip, or Brenda’s wedding, with a General folder for the remaining items. There are many more tips, but this article will focus on online storage.
*1GB = approximately 700 photos (with a 10 megapixel camera). 1TB = around 700,000 photos.
FREE ONLINE SOLUTIONS
There are many choices when it comes to online photo management. You can use Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, iCould Photo Library, Flickr, Google Photos, and many more. Pricing varies on these plans along with picture size limits. The two best free solutions I recommend are Flickr and Google Photos. Flickr allows up to 1TB of storage for free (with ads), offers good organization, and some basic editing features. Your photos are also stored in their original resolution. Google Photos goes a step further in offering unlimited photo storage with the caveat that your higher resolution photos are stored in a lower resolution (Google still considers them high quality but some experts will disagree). Google Photos also offers basic editing capabilities and will even put together your photos in fun videos and collages without any work on your part. You’ll undoubtably get a few flops, but there are some treasures to be seen.
PAID ONLINE SOLUTIONS
When it comes to paid storage, if you are Apple-centric and use iDevices, I highly recommend iCloud Photo Library. The monthly fees range from $.99 for 50GB of storage to $9.99 for 1TB of storage. Apple’s free storage option maxes out at 5 GB. iCloud Photo Library has a similar feature to Google’s in that it creates videos based on your pictures. What’s amazing is that this is all done locally on your own device whereas Google’s feature depends on you allowing Google’s computers to analyze your photos. One area where Apple’s method falls short is in tagging photos. When you tag a person in a photo, it doesn’t carry over o your other devices. Hopefully this is something they’ll be able to fix in the future and it’s iCloud’s biggest downfall. With iCloud Photo Library, your entire library is available on all of your devices and is updated automatically. Google Photos offers a paid solution as well, with prices about the same as Apple’s. When using paid Google Photos, your photos are stored at their full resolution. Both Google Photos and Apple’s iCloud Photo Library top my choices for paid storage up to 1TB. Along with these two choices, if you are already paying for Dropbox or Amazon Prime, they both make fine solutions for backing up your photos but don’t offer many special features or editing capabilities. I’ve heard good things about Lightroom as a photo storage solution but do not have direct experience with it.
Following is a great comparison of services put together by The Verge. It provides more detail regarding the services each solution provides.
What is one to do when their photo library exceeds 1TB? This is a rare instance, but will likely become more of a common problem as time goes by and your photo collection continues to grow. This is a good reason to cull your library from time to time and keep only the pictures you really want to see in the future. For my 2 TB client’s situation it made the most sense to create two free Flickr accounts. One holds all of her photos and the other videos. By splitting up her videos and photos, we were able to keep her libraries well under 1TB each. Best of all, this method doesn’t cost her a thing. Flickr is a great photo service and I highly recommend it as well. I must stress again the importance of taking some time to go through your photos and delete the ones you won’t need later on from time to time. No, it is not the most fun thing to do, but you will be grateful for the time spent when looking through your collection in the future. Plus it makes navigating your library easier and will keep your costs down if you pay for storage.
Uploading all of your photos to an online service takes quite some time. In the case of a library that is around 1TB, we’re talking about days and nights of having your photos upload to their destination online service. Ongoing uploads happen behind the scenes but the upfront work is heavy. Much of the work can be automated with software. Once you’ve uploaded all of your photos you may find that you have numerous duplicates. In some cases, clients have ended up with four or five copies of many photos. This is due to backing them up in different locations at different times and then combining those backups. What can be done about this? There is a great program (with a free option) called PicBackMan. It goes through your online photos and removes duplicates. In addition, it will manage uploading all of your photos to any of the online services available. I used the paid version of this program due to the size of the library I worked on and it was a was a lifesaver. Both Flickr and iCloud Photo Library offer photo deduplication services built-in.
Hopefully this post has helped you in selecting the photo storage solution best suited to your needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly or comment below. And as always, I’m available to assist in culling and creating your ultimate photo library in addition to all other graphic and web design projects you have. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss starting a new project.
Gift Cards! We now offer gift cards so that you can share our services with your friends and family. In discussions with clients, I’ve learned that you all seem to know that one person who could really use my assistance. Why not help them out and feel good about yourself in the process? As an introductory offer, now through January 31st, 2017, you’ll get 10% off all gift card purchases. Gift cards can be applied to any in-home technology assistance or graphic design or web design project, and are available in any amount. Send me an email for details.
Until next month,
Bryan Alexander, Principal
P.S. If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately, check out the websites I’ve crafted for Colleen Brand’s Fresh Spaces and Jo Ilfeld’s Incite to Leadership.