Dropbox recently announced that it’s done away with its Photos folder. In its place, Dropbox has rolled out a new feature – the Photos page – which gives you an overview of all the photos uploaded to your account.
This got us thinking: is Dropbox really the best place for photo backups now that CDs and DVDs are outdated? Or is there a more convenient, or more affordable, alternative for remote file backup?
In this article, I’ll rank five competitors in terms of their photo storage capabilities. Some are remote backup services; some are cloud photo storage sites. In all cases, I’ll highlight whether the service has an automatic backup feature for mobile devices (similar to Dropbox’s Camera Upload).
1. Picasa Web Albums
I’ve always felt that Picasa is neglected compared to some of Google’s other products, which is a shame, since it’s very useful, and its online file storage is very affordable too.
The downside is that Google can use any of your photos for their own marketing purposes without paying you a penny.
How Does Picasa Work?
Briefly, Picasa is a photo organisation application, first and foremost. It’s similar to iPhoto. But users can use Picasa to upload photographs to Picasa Web Albums, an online photo storage and sharing website. In order to create true backups, users must ensure that they change the settings in the Picasa software to preserve the original quality of their files. Otherwise, they’ll be compressed.
How Much Does Picasa Cost?
Google Drive storage can be used for Picasa. It offers 100 GB for 19.99 $/year. The first 15 GB is free.
Does Picasa Offer Automatic Mobile Backups?
Yes. If you use the Google+ app, you can set it to back up your device’s photos automatically. Having said that, it isn’t perfect. On iOS, pictures are resized to 2048 pixels on the longest side. On Android, you can opt for full-resolution uploads.
Thanks to a recent revamp, Flickr is back in the game. Its storage limit has been increased to a generous 1 TB, and the old monthly upload limits have been removed, making Flickr a far more realistic option for remote backup.
How Does Flickr Work?
Flickr is, first and foremost, a gallery site. Photos are uploaded to Flickr using a desktop application, primarily. There are also plugins for other applications, such as iPhoto, which offer one-way transfers.
How Much Does Flickr Cost?
Flickr offers 1 TB storage free. Even better, you don’t need to pay to access your original, full-quality files any more.
It’s perhaps not the most convenient photo backup solution in our list, but that massive storage limit is one of the best we found for remove photo backup.
Does Flickr Offer Automatic Mobile Backups?
No. there are apps that apparently offer this, but they’re not cheap.
SkyDrive is a remote file backup service suitable for any content you happen to want to store, sync or share. But it’s made our top 5 because it recently opened up its full-resolution photo backup of Windows Phone for users in all countries. That makes SkyDrive one of the easiest solutions for storing your Windows Phone pictures in the cloud.
How Does SkyDrive Work?
SkyDrive is a remote file backup and sync service, much like Dropbox or Copy. Set it up and it’ll back up and sync your files in the background.
I really like the way SkyDrive displays photos in its web interface – it’s one of the more attractive layouts from a cloud backup service, and it gives it the edge over other comparable services.
How Much Does SkyDrive Cost?
SkyDrive offers 5 GB for 0 $/year, which isn’t bad, but it’s up against some pretty tough competition in our list. Unfortunately SkyDrive did cut its free storage quite significantly when it started to gain traction.
Does SkyDrive Offer Automatic Mobile Backups?
Only on Windows Mobile devices, although Microsoft could expand this in future. I’m fairly sure it won’t, but you never know.
SugarSync is a little more comprehensive than some of the other remote file backup solutions in the list. And, generally, it goes a good job of covering all bases. It manages photos well without restricting users to a single set of functions.
How Does SugarSync Work?
Like SkyDrive, SugarSync lays out photos in an attractive gallery interface. It creates albums automatically, and users can choose to share albums as photo content or as plain files. That gives you the best of both worlds.
The folder sharing option effectively makes SugarSync collaborative; your contacts can contribute pictures as well as viewing yours. Read more about it here.
How Much Does SugarSync Cost?
SugarSync provides 30 GB for 30 $/year.
Does SugarSync Offer Automatic Mobile Backups?
SugarSync impressed us because of its cross platform upload from smartphones and tablets: it works with iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices. BlackBerry is often neglected, so it’s good to see some coverage here.
5. Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon Cloud Drive is angled towards amateur photographers that want convenient photo backups; it specifically mentions giving users space to store up to 2,000 shots without payment, although these would need to be fairly low-res to fit in the cloud storage space you’re given for free.
How Does Amazon Cloud Drive Work?
It’s a sync service, much like Dropbox. But Cloud Drive is focused on mobile rather than serious backup, and we found its features quite limiting. If you just need a ‘set and forget’ mobile solution, it’d work fine, but pro photographers would quickly run out of space anyway.
How Much Does Amazon Cloud Drive Cost?
Amazon offers Unlimited GB for 59.99 $/year via the Cloud Drive service.
Does SugarSync Offer Automatic Mobile Backups?
Yes – that seems to be its primary focus. Amazon Cloud Drive can sync from Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android; files can be viewed on all of these devices, plus Amazon’s own Kindle Fire tablets. (Remember: only the Kindle Fire HD has a camera, and it’s a fairly poor front-facing model).
While all of these remote backup services are adequate for cloud photo storage, there are two clear winners.
For space, it has to be Flickr; no other service comes close to providing the same capacity.
But for features, and convenience, we’d recommend SugarSync as a well-rounded, affordable photo backup solution.