In the olden days of storing travel photos when hard drive memory filled up, travelers turned to a variety of external storage devices to manage the shots they had take along the way. Zip Drives, Memory Sticks, DVDs and other forms of storage have all had their day. Today, a variety of storage devices, cloud storage like Google Drive and even social media oriented storage options offer more choices than ever. But which is right for you? Let’s take a look at the options available right now.
External Hard Drives
External hard drives came down in price and up in storage – going from over $500 for a few Gigabytes (GB) down to about $100 for a Terabyte (TB) of storage – and still offer an affordable option. iPhone users can turn to Apple’s Time Capsule with continuous backup of their Macs and 2 or 3TB of storage. Western Digital, among other manufacturers, offers up to 16TB of storage. Nice to know: lots of space for storing travel photos, but not convenient to take on the road.
Moving and sharing photos became easier too with flash drives like Kingston’s 16GB model for around $20, which works for many travelers who might later move that 16GB of photos to another source when travel is complete. Eco-friendly flash drives, too, have been popular with business, replacing brochures and packets of printed information.
First, if our hardware device is lost or stolen, all our digital photos are not. Safe and secure in the cloud, we can access them from anywhere in the world. Most travelers can store a huge number of photos for free from a variety of sources like Google Drive, a file and synchronization service that rolled out last April.
Google Drive gives users 5GB of storage free, with more available for a fee – 25GB runs $2.49 a month by subscription and storage can be up to 2TB in size. Google Drive is also now the home of GoogleDocs, a suite of productivity applications offering sharing and collaboration of documents, spreadsheets and presentations too.
But is cloud storage of travel photos safe?
The short answer: yes.
“Photos are safer when stored on line,” says Suzanne Kantra from Techlicious in a USA Today article, adding “files are encrypted on most major cloud storage sites” and “unless you are a celebrity, your family photos are only valuable to you,” concluding that “most of our photos aren’t worth a hacker’s time and effort.”
Other cloud-oriented services like Flickr offer a great deal of storage for free then charge a fee for premium accounts with more storage. But using a variety of sources can eliminate the fees and provide some redundancy for critical shots, which can be stored on multiple sites for the most severe skeptics.
Many travelers choose to shoot and upload on the go to social sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest that share their journey as it unfolds. HipGeo is a convenient journaling app that enables travelers to keep track of what they saw and where they saw it. Users then share their travels and use what other people share to enhance their own travel experiences.
In a new release, HipGeo instantly transforms all those elements into virtual journals that can then be automatically shared a variety of ways. A new one, ThisLife, allows users to store 1000 photos and uses geotagging to create a timeline of all photos uploaded, making finding them easier. ThisLife wants to be the permanent home for all our photos
Regardless of what device or cloud storage service we use, there are a bunch to choose from so look for one that seems like it will be good in the future too. I used Webshots for years but compared to other options today, I find it clumsy and difficult to use. At the time it was one of the few choices available, but today there are so many to choose from that picking the right one for your needs is critical.
Facebook, for example, is limited to tagging, likes and comments. If users want to order prints or search for photos, they are out of luck. Probably of more importance, what happens when Facebook is not their primary place to go. Let’s not forget MySpace right? Thinking that way, a service that is totally photo-focused like Flickr, Snapfish or Picassa might be the best choice.
Each individual traveler’s photo storage decision might depend on the volume of photos we are talking about too. For most non-professional photographers, just regular people who travel, a good free cloud-based service will probably be just fine. For mega-users, premium cloud storage sites like SmugMug, PhotoShelter or ZenFolio might be better.
Today there are so many options to choose from when storing travel photos that travelers can surely find one that will work for them now and in the future. Check CNET’s “Google Drive is not for everyone, so try these alternatives“ or a variety of articles from our friends at Engadget about photo storing for more information.
[Flickr photo by Gilderic Photography]