One of the key advantages of cloud services is the ability to help ensure we don’t lose valuable photos should our hard drives crash. Family photos, nature shots and stolen moments of celebrities sunbathing have value, often more than the computer they’re stored on.
While most of the best online backup services can be used to backup pretty much any image file type, including .jpg’s, .gif’s and .bmp’s, remembering to mark those files for backup would probably lead to eventual oversights in your backup plan. Result: kiss that $10,000 payoff from TMZ goodbye.
In this article, we’re going to look at how to backup images automatically stored on your computer using some of the best online backup services today: Backblaze and CloudBerry Backup. If you’re looking for cloud storage for your photos, instead, give our best cloud storage for photos guide a read.
Image Backup with Backblaze
Backblaze ranks as probably the easiest service to use of any listed in our online backup reviews library, which makes it ideal for ensuring images are being backed up with minimal brain work on your part.
On top of that, Backblaze is also among the cheapest backup options, costing just $5 a month or $50 a year. That’s for unlimited backup, too, so you never need to think about curbing your shutterbug ways.
When we say simple, this is one of the few cases where that applies to pretty much everyone five to 105 years old. You’ll need to sign-up for service or create a 15-day free trial account, then download and install the client.
Once you start the client up, it’ll begin scanning your hard drive for files to backup.
The client automatically targets pretty much everything, including all image file types. You don’t need to worry about how much data is being backed up, of course, thanks to Backblaze’s status as an unlimited backup service. You don’t even have to worry about where the image files are stored on your hard drive because the scan encompasses your entire file system.
Once the scan is done, Backblaze will return the results, including how much image data is found to protect.
Going forward, any time you create a new image file — or most other file types for that matter — Backblaze will see it and back it up automatically without you having to do a thing. By default, Backblaze runs continuous backup, so automated protection should kick off right away unless you switch it to scheduled backups, which we don’t recommend.
As good as it all seems on paper, though, Backblaze isn’t perfect. Most notably, the backup process can run slowly, which is especially a problem with initial backups. Part of the problem is that Backblaze doesn’t have the infrastructure of, for example, Google Cloud or Amazon.
That’s usually just an issue on initial backups, which can take weeks to finish if you’ve got terabytes of photos and other files to backup. You can see the results of our Backblaze speed tests in our Backblaze review.
For better speeds (but also more money), CloudBerry Backup is a better option.
Image Backup with CloudBerry Backup
CloudBerry Backup doesn’t provide its own cloud data centers. Instead, what you get is backup software capable of backing up to the cloud service of your choice. The service has over 50 different options at this point, which you can read about in our CloudBerry Backup review.
The best options to pair with CloudBerry are cloud infrastructure services like Amazon S3, Google Cloud and Rackspace Cloud Files, which have multiple data centers around the world to decrease distance and server congestion.
The other thing to know about CloudBerry is that it isn’t nearly as easy to use as Backblaze. There are more settings to play with, you have to subscribe to a cloud service and you need to know how to integrate CloudBerry with that service. We’ll give you the basics, with a focus on image protection, coming up to help you along the way.
Once you’ve installed the client, which costs $49.99 for the lifetime license (there’s a freeware version, too), boot it up. To create a backup plan, you’ll want to click the “files” button on the top-left side.
On the next screen, select “local or cloud backup” to backup to a cloud service. There’s an option for hybrid backup, if you prefer, which will let you backup files to both a local device and a remote data center simultaneously, following the 3-2-1 backup rule.
We’ll just be looking at standard cloud backup but we do have a hybrid backup guide featuring CloudBerry that will help there, if interested (it’s geared towards business users but really applies to home users, too).
Next, you’ll need to choose your cloud storage provider.
If you haven’t already integrated that provider with CloudBerry Backup, you’ll need to click “add account.” If you intend to use a cloud infrastructure service, you’ll need to obtain your API key from that service to complete the connection. We won’t be going through those steps but any of these guides will give you an idea of how to do that:
Make your choice, click next, and on the following screen give your backup plan a name. Because we’re just going to be backing up images, we called our backup plan “image backup.” We’re creative like that.
Click next. The following screen will have you choose a backup mode.
We recommend leaving it as “advanced,” since that mode includes private, end-to-end encryption, meaning only you can decrypt your sexy selfies (if only Jennifer Lawrence read Cloudwards.net … wait, scratch that).
Assuming you choose the advanced mode, on the next screen you be able to toggle certain features that mode includes. Make your picks and click next.
Up next is an important step: choosing drives and folders to include in your backup plan.
If you plan on keeping all of your image files in a single folder or set of folders, you can select just that folder or those folders for backup. If you’re like this writer, disorganized, prone to daydreaming and possessing a tendency to store important files in random places, you can choose the entire drive.
For this article, we’re going to do just that. The next screen will have some filter options that will help you control what types of files get picked up and what don’t, so you can still effectively control how much data you backup (important for pay-per-gigabyte services like Amazon S3).
The first option is simply to backup all files in the selected folders. If you want just images in your backup plan (you can create different backup plans for different files and folders if you want), click the second option, instead: “backup files of these types.”
You’ll need to manually enter the various file extensions for images that you use. One of the few feature shortcomings of CloudBerry Backup is that it doesn’t provide a tool to help you select common file types.
For our backup plan, we entered the following string of image extensions:
- *.jpg; *.jpeg; *.png; *.tif; *.tiff; *.gif; *.bmp; *.bpg; *.bat; *.webp;
Each file extension needs to be separated by a semicolon and preceded by a wildcard character (*).
If you prefer to backup a full drive and many different file types besides images, you can choose the third option, too, which is to list extensions for file types you don’t want to be included in your backup plan. Usefully, at the very bottom of the filter screen, there’s already a filter set to automatically exclude system and hidden files.
Other filter options include skipping certain folders and not backing up files larger than a certain size.
Make your packs and move on. The next step is to enable private encryption and set a password. While this option is recommended for cloud security, don’t forget your password. As with a zero-knowledge cloud storage service, if you forget it, you’ll lose access to your photos. We suggest using a cloud password service like LastPass to save it.
After that, set your retention policy. This refers to how many previous file versions are kept in case of edits. This is useful if you work in graphic design and make a lot of changes to image files since you’ll be able to rollback to a previous version if you bork it.
The next step is to set a backup schedule.
By default, CloudBerry Backup runs continuously, meaning files are backed up in near real-time as they’re added. As with Backblaze, we suggest keeping continuous backup on, since otherwise, you may lose files if something happens to your computer before your scheduled backup.
Once you’ve made your scheduling choices, you’ll be given the option to set up notifications for events like backup failures. After that, you’ll have a chance to review your entire backup plan. Take a moment to make sure everything looks good, click next and you’ll be ready to kickoff your first backup.
Going forward, all images added to your computer hard drive will be automatically backed up to your cloud provider. As you can see, working with CloudBerry Backup to automatically backup images takes quite a bit more thought than going with Backblaze.
However, as mentioned, there’s an advantage of speed should you choose a capable cloud infrastructure service, as well as options like hybrid backup that Backblaze doesn’t have.
Backblaze and CloudBerry are just two of many online backup providers available to automatically protect images kept on your computer hard drive. We chose them because of all the choices, Backblaze is the simplest solution while CloudBerry Backup is perhaps the most sophisticated. Our best online backup guide lists some of our other top picks.
For mobile image backup, many of the best cloud storage providers have Android and iOS apps that perform automatic photo uploads to the cloud. A few online backup services, like IDrive and Acronis True Image, also provide mobile apps that can protect your mobile snapshots. Our best online backup for mobile guide lists our picks for smartphone protection in general.
That’s our quick guide to backing up images automatically. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below and thanks for reading.