I'd been looking for a safe, easy, and cost-effective way to store my images online for years, but online storage space has always been cost prohibitive due to the sheer amount of data I needed to back up (100gb+). Now that I have an endlessly growing collection of Charlie and Olive pictures, affordable online storage has become more important to me than ever.
When digital cameras first came out and image files were much smaller, I used to keep all my images on my desktop computer, and then burn a backup copy onto a DVD. As image megapixels and file sizes continued to grow, I didn't have enough hard drive space to keep all the original images on my desktop anymore. So I kept 2 copies of every image on 2 different external hard drives, in case one ever broke. In fact, one of my external hard drives actually did break, so I'm glad that I had an extra copy!
Transferring images to my external hard drives was something I'd do every couple of months (at best), but I was always worried about losing pictures in the interim, so I looked into automatic backup services. I eventually signed up for Mozy, which automatically backed up everything on my computer at regularly designated intervals. Mozy offers 50gb of storage for $5.99/month (I signed up with them because they were the cheapest service at the time), but they only maintain backups of what's on your computer, which is what all automatic online backup services did. That means if you delete something off your computer, they will no longer have a copy of it. Since I had copies of all my pictures on 2 external hard drives however, Mozy was a good fail-safe in case my desktop computer's hard drive crashed before I had a chance to back everything up on to my externals. That was the best solution I could come up with for the past couple of years.
I've been pretty diligent when it comes to backing up pictures. After Charlie and Olive were born though, I was taking more pictures than ever but just couldn't find the time to back up images as often as I wanted to. Luckily there are a lot more online storage options now than there were just last year, and the cost has also come down a lot in recent months.
The biggest services are probably Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft's Skydrive, Apple's iCloud, and Amazon's Cloud Drive. All offer varying amounts of free and paid storage, but since I was already using Dropbox and Google Documents, those were the two services that were easiest to integrate into my daily life.
I have a Dropbox account that I use to share large documents like Photoshop layouts with Hellobee's graphic designers. Dropbox was originally designed for document sharing, but it easily works as storage for other types of files like images. Dropbox has been the gold standard for cloud storage, it's is super easy to use and share, and they also recently doubled the amount of storage space they offer at each price point (perhaps to compete with the recent launch of Google Drive). Their lowest plan currently offers 100gb of storage for $9.99/month.
Google Drive replaces Google Documents when you register for Drive. They offer 100gb of storage for $4.99/month -- half of what Dropbox costs, and I believe the lowest priced out of the top 5 services I mentioned above. So while I've been very happy with Dropbox, I decided to go with Google Drive because I'm sure I'll eventually need several hundred gigabytes of storage, which is much more affordable on Google Drive (click here for their storage plan pricing).
For the past couple of weeks, I've been uploading all my pictures to Google Drive. I simply drag my files to the Google Drive folder on my desktop, and it uploads everything onto my online Google Drive. It's going to take months and months to upload all my images, but I'm just glad that I finally have an online storage option that is affordable, easy to use, and unlikely to go out of business anytime soon.
I'll hold onto the external hard drives I have with images from the past 10 years, and I'm going to cancel my Mozy account. For any new images from now on, the only copy I'll maintain will probably live on Google Drive.
The next step in backing up my pictures is having all my actual photographs (pre-digital camera) scanned. I've researched a ton of different companies, and Scan Cafe seems to be the most affordable, as well as the highest rated.
I also plan to print a photobook once a year, like a family yearbook. With all the great photobook printing companies out there, it's now easier and more affordable than ever to create a beautiful photobook. Photobooks take up much less space than an actual album or scrapbook. I also take so many pictures, I rarely look through all of them, so a photobook is a great way to condense all the best images from each year in one place.
With all these image preservation systems in place, hopefully my images will be organized, curated, easily accessible online, and I never have to worry about losing a photo ever again!
How do you back up your pictures?