When it comes to files, I am kind of a hoarder. I have always had plenty of storage space to store files so I tend to hang on to files. When it comes to the photos and videos I take, I like to save just about all of them. Unless it’s just not a good photo, I keep it. As a photographer, I have a system of organization down for my photos and videos, but it has not always been easy to have them with me all of the time.

Since the very first iPhone was released, I have always purchased the largest storage option available. I would do this to allow me to always have space to capture and save any photos or videos I wanted. Before the iPhone, I had iPods and other media storage devices, so I was aware of my need for storage in order to have the media I wanted available. These days I stream all of my music, so there is no need for extra storage to have songs on hand. Apple currently offers iPhones in 16, 64 and 128GB storage options. The price difference between the 16GB and 128GB options being $200.

Google recently announced their new Google Photos service which allows for unlimited storage of reasonably compressed images. I have been allowing my photos to upload to the Photos section of Google+ for quite some time now and have enjoyed being able to get access to other photos. I also switch devices often as I also have a Google Nexus 6. When I take photos on that phone, I like the fact that all of my photos are saved to a general pool where I can access all of my photos regardless of the device I am on.

Photos Google Photos

Google does compress your photos on upload which means they are not exactly the same quality of photo you started out with. They do this so that people like me don’t start uploading RAW files out of my camera at 30MB each. Large JPG images can also be 20MB in size. Google has limited the size of photo they will store to 16MP which is enough resolution for me. I primarily want to use Google Photos to back up photos and video captured by my phone. I will find another solution that is more cost effective for backing up photos I capture with my DSLR style cameras. Here is what Google says about the print quality of their “High Resolution” photos:

You can print good quality 16 MP photos in sizes up to 24 inches x 16 inches, which is larger than typical printing sizes.

IMG_9358In this screenshot, you can see where I stand with storage. About a month ago I backed up and deleted about 20GB of photos and videos using Dropbox. With Dropbox, if I want to keep everything backed up, you have to pay for the storage regardless of the type of file you want to keep backed up. I was using the Dropbox app to automatically upload all of my photos and video to Dropbox and then I would periodically move that backup folder over to a hard drive that I have at home. Just to give you an idea of what kind of storage that has required, my Camera Roll backup folder currently contains 140GB of photos and video clips. I know people with four times that amount of media that they have captured with their iPhone alone.

I have three young children. Since having kids, I now capture a lot more media then ever before. My wife and I love to look through old photos. Kids grow up fast and even though my oldest son is just turning 5, it seems as if the time has flown by. One of our favorite past-times is looking through old photos. We usually do this once each week.

The problem with having so much media is that we want to have it accessible at all times. It is not easy to have 140GB of photos and videos available at all times, but in the Google Photos app, I will be able to “stream” my photos and videos to my phone at any time and through whichever phone I happen to be carrying. This means that when I get my LG G4 on Friday, I can log into the Google Photos app and have all of my photos and videos right there. If I take any photos with the LG G4, they will automatically upload to Google Photos and when/if I switch back to my iPhone, the photos are there. This is how life should be.

The problem with Apple’s iCloud Storage is that the cost for that service scales. I have a 200GB plan that is shared across several Apple devices that is 75% full. The more I want to back up, the more it will cost me. I am also stuck on an iPhone as I can not easily access my iCloud Storage from another device. Google Photos keeps me cross platform.

Because of services such as Google Photos, I will no longer need to pay for large storage devices like my current phone, the iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB of storage. After deleting the 19GB of media currently stored on my iPhone, I could easily get away with a 32GB phone. When on Android, a 32GB phone is more than enough for me, so I look forward to being able to purchase the next iPhone at a cheaper price.

Google just launched Google Photos and of course there are limitations. I am sure that their free offerings will grow as soon as they have an idea of what people will do with it. My hope is that Google would remove the file size limitation or cap it at 2GB like Amazon does. I would also like to see support for RAW files in their free offering.

Other Photo/Video Storage Options:

Google Photos is not the first to provide Unlimited storage as a free option, however, they are the first to bring a simple to use, cross platform solution that still gives you good quality media for free. Flickr gives you 1TB of free storage and I do not believe they compress your photos the way Google does, however it just becomes a race to that limit. 1TB is a ton of storage, but ifI decided to upload everything there, I would quickly hit that limit. My photo/video server currently has 32TB of storage space and it is 65% full. Flickr is also suppose to be used to display your photos and share them. To use it as a storage/backup option would be different than it’s intended use.

Amazon Prime Photos allows you to upload unlimited photos for free but it not as nice of a platform as Google Photos. Amazon Prime Photos accepts any photo or video up to 2GB in size per file. There is no mention of compression so it sounds like you are able to keep the large file size originating from your device. There is RAW support which means if you take a large RAW file with your DSLR camera, it saves that as well. As an Amazon Prime member, which you have to be in order to use the service, you get 5GB of free Amazon Cloud Drive for files and then unlimited photo storage. Amazon does not include unlimited videos in this plan, just photos.

Amazon Cloud Drive Photos

The main reason I have not adopted Amazon’s offering is due to the slowness of their app. I have tried to backup my photos and videos to Amazon Cloud Drive, but they never get there. Their offering is just about the best I have found as they have an Unlimited Everything plan for $59.99/yr which means you can upload unlimited photo, video and files. I like the no limits option, but their app is horrible. Should Amazon update their app to be more intuitive, I might switch from Google Photos to Amazon Prime Photos/Cloud Drive.

What is your method of backing up your photos and videos? Are you still connecting your phone to your computer to backup, or are you using a service? We would love to hear about your backup method. Share it in the comments below.