Should I put my photos and videos in the “cloud?”

The “cloud” just means an online storage service, like Dropbox, Google Photo, or iCloud. And the short answer is yes, of course. Your family photos and videos could be the most valuable thing you own. Why would you want to put them in the cloud?

To keep them safe – When a house burns down, people make sure the kids and pets are out and then grab the family photo albums. Hard drives and computers all eventually stop working, so online back-up is really the only choice. (There is something called a NAS, but that’s a more technical topic). Also, phones get broken and that can destroy years of memories. It doesn’t hurt to have them on a hard drive too, but the cloud is the sure way to protect them. Make sure you back up videos, too!

Access them from anywhere – In this mobile world, you never know when you want to look at those pictures from 10 years ago. In the cloud, you can get all your photos all the time.

Free up space on your phone – Photos and videos are large files. By backing up to the cloud you can clean a tremendous amount of bytes off of your phone and reclaim that disk space.

While the cloud is the preferred long term home for your memories, unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with the cloud. I’m going to go through them one by one and offer some potential solutions.

First, the cloud isn’t free. Pricing changes quickly and many product offer some space for free, but ultimately it costs money to back up your photos and videos in the cloud. Sorting your photos to just the one you might want to save can help keep costs time in exchange for your time.

Second, it’s not easy to get all your files to the cloud. The easiest files to get into a storage service are the ones on your current phone. Getting you files from old computers, old phones, and out of services you no longer want to use…that can be a timely task. Without Pickle Pics, the best way to do this is to follow the service’s instructions for how to export (download) them, put them into your “photo” folder on your desktop, and use a deduplication utility to remove the doubles.

Links on how to export photos:

  • Google Photos – Use Google’s Download Your Data utility. This will require you requesting the photos and possible waiting days to get multiple files to download.
  • Apple iCloud – To get your photos out of Apple iCloud, you will need to enable iCloud Photos,for a Mac or download and install for a Windows machine and then tweak the settings to copy all your photos to that machine
  • Flickr – For Flickr, you need go to your Flickr settings, and under your Flickr Data, click the blue button that says Request My Flickr Data. This will create zip files that you need to download 1 by 1. For my personal photo archive on Flickr, that was 83 separate files.
  • Smugmug – There’s an app called RapidFetcher, but it’s been unavailable for over a year. For Smugmug, you currently need to go gallery by gallery and save them.

Our recommended desktop utility for de-duplication is the aptly named Duplicate Photo Finder, which costs $49.95.

In conclusion, while it’s a lot of work to get your photos all safely stored in some cloud service, it’s worth it to make sure your memories are safe and secure.