Ensuring the safe-keeping of precious photo and video files has been helped by the advent of big data servers and ‘The Cloud’. The reality of managing storage, and navigating the choices however, can be a struggle. Although cloud storage has become popular, difficulties and limitations of its use still remain. Large file sizes, duplications, upload speeds, ease of access, sharing and editing capabilities are some of the reasons many opt to hold their keepsake files in their hard drives instead.
However, the price for the use of cloud storage has lowered substantially, and companies are competing to ease use and struggle, and make cloud services the default storage of your files. It is not just the purview of professionals anymore, and while getting to know your options can take a bit of time, the peace of mind knowing your precious photos and videos are safely stored for forever access is worth the learning curve. Cloud storage companies are vying to ensure that even the most casual and inexperienced photographers can access and use cloud storage to safeguard the images of their journeys, and retrieve them comfortably.
Below, I’ve highlighted 10 of the most popular services you can choose from, and given a snippet of their benefits and limitations.
iCloud Photo Stream
The Photo Stream from Apple caters exclusively to iLifers, people who prefer apps rather than websites and use iPhones, iPads and Mac. It syncs your photos across all of these three platforms. It shows 1000 of your most recent photos regardless of which device you took them from. You can use Photo Stream to share your photos as well via your iOS devices or via a photo-gallery online that is available for everyone to see.
Photo Stream is the quickest way for you to upload your photos automatically. It works pretty well but one downside is that there is no other way for you to view your photos aside from the Mac you personally use. It may be considered more of a photo syncing app rather than a storage alternative.
Dropbox’s photos tab was first introduced when it acquired Snapjoy, a photo-service on the web, last December. Using this function, you can create and share albums with your friends easily. Unlike other apps, Dropbox was developed first for desktop use. Although it has a mobile app, it usually processes very slowly and is sometimes incompatible with older devices. It doesn’t have any photo editing function or any album support. In addition, it loads all photos in the raw, which is good for professional photographers, but eats up a lot of storage space.
When it comes to videos, it only streams the first 15 minutes, a big turnoff for potential users that just love their videos.
Everpix is considered to be a very young web photo-service, barely two years old. You may either use its free version which allows you to save all your photos from the past year or pay a certain fee that would allow you to save and view each and every photo you have ever uploaded. You may view your photos via web or through your iOS device. Just recently, they’ve also released a limited version for the use of Android devices. One of its features is the service that sends you an old photo every day, very similar to what Timehop does.
It generates a compressed image so it doesn’t take up a lot of space allowing you to save more photos in your device. It uploads very fast and includes a stunning timeline that displays your photos in a reverse chronological way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow you to create any albums nor does it have any video and photo editing capabilities yet.
It may not be the best right now, but it does have some strong points that need just a little bit more polishing.
Picturelife offers a fast and comprehensive uploading of your photos on your iOS and Mac devices as well as those from your social networks like Instagram and Facebook accounts to the cloud. It syncs easily with your iPhoto library and allows you to see every single photo you’ve uploaded in just one timeline. Additionally, you can also create different albums and tag your friends who are in your photos as well. Oddly though, it does not allow you to view photos that are coming only from one source.
Its search function, on the other hand, more than makes up for its imperfection. Using this function, you may be able to find “photos taken from iPad” or “photos tagged as ‘friends’” etc.
Loom is another app that is for iOS and Mac users. It’s like a fusion of Dropbox and Photo Stream in a way that it has Dropbox’s ability for immediate updates on photos you’ve just uploaded and Photo Stream’s function as an online storage site for your photos stored on your Mac.
Perhaps its strongest feature is its ability to compress images depending on the size of the screen of the device you are using thus, freeing a lot more space. As of the moment, Loom does not support videos and has a very limited search, sharing and editing capabilities as well.
Flickr has always been very popular with professional photographers. With its recent overhaul, it stays as the top service for them. It now boasts a photo feed redesigned for an improved mobile experience. In addition, this app now offers not only new filters but the ability for you to edit filters as well. Not to mention the new pro editing tools suite that has been added to it.
There are still some tweaks needed though. For example, its video uploads are still limited to 1G and its desktop photo uploading function has been the same since 2009 and is badly needing an update as well.
Microsoft’s SkyDrive offers a whopping 7GB of storage for all types of files. Photos may be put into albums or may be viewed as a slideshow. It allows for sharing and tagging people in your photos. An interesting touch is its albums’ animated covers. If you’re using a Windows phone, SkyDrive is automatically enabled. It has apps both for android and iOS devices and desktop apps for Mac and Windows as well.
All things considered, its biggest drawback is perhaps its feel that it is created more for storing files and not photos in particular. It doesn’t have any photo editing features at all, not even the simplest cropping tool.
Scream Nation is a cloud storage device that focuses more on video streaming than photos. Here you can import files from other storage clouds or devices and even from Vimeo and YouTube. Contents are converted to formats that allow you to view them on your iOS device anytime. It allows for tagging of contents, checking of video resolution, as well as saving content so you could view them offline.
Taking the advantage of having a bigger storage space from SkyDrive, Google+ Photos offers 15GB free storage space. You may opt to upload photos in raw which would take up a lot more space or in ‘standard’ size which is relatively smaller thus freeing more space for more photos.
With the acquisition of Nik Software, Google+ now offers built-in photo editing tools. In addition, it has the ‘auto awesome’ feature that allows for interesting options for your photo editing.
The biggest downside of it though is that the Photos feature is directly connected to Google+. Whatever you upload there is published in your Google+ account as well making it available for everyone in your network to see.
Similar to Flickr, SmugMug has recently experienced a reboot. Its look was de-cluttered and is now offering easier customization of your portfolios. It is the only service in this list that does not offer any free package or service. Price ranges from $40-$300 depending on what services you want to avail.
For iOS, it offers Camera Awesome app which is somehow limited compared to its Android counterpart which is the official SmugMug app. It may seem less friendly than the other apps but you have to take note that this caters mostly to professionals. Showcasing your work takes priority over socializing.