© 2013 photobookgirl Online File Storage Cloud

How Should I Backup My Photos? Part III – The Cloud Online File Storage

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Welcome to Part III of my multi-part series on “How to Back Up Your Photos”. To recap, my first post covered external hard drive and DVD backups. Part II took a look at photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Shutterfly. This post is about backing up not only photos and videos in the cloud, but any and all files that may reside on your computer, such as text documents, PDFs, music files, etc.

Online File Storage

While I believe photos and video are some of the most important files to back up cause they are often records of one-time events, you may have other documents that are just important to keep safe such as financial records and business documents. If you have other files that may need backing up, it may make sense to back them all up together instead of having to think about separate back up services. As with the photo sharing sites I looked at in the prior post, these companies all have different features so you’ll have to do some thinking about what you need from an online file service. Some companies offer backup only while some are cloud services – allowing you to access your files no matter where you are and to share and sync across more than one computer.

Pros

  • Streamline your backup by not having to worry about different backup services and different processes for photo versus non-photo files;
  • No per file limits as there are with some photo sharing sites;
  • May be a better option if you have large video files or RAW files that exceed maximum file size set by photo sharing sites;
  • Pricing options are fairly similar with to photo sharing sites but your file type is not restricted;
  • Automated backup;
  • Can select what files to backup;
  • Some companies allow you to share and edit files, and provide access to your files anywhere you have an Internet connection;
  • All companies below use some type of encryption such as 128-bit (also used commonly by online banking)

Cons

  • If photo organization, sharing features are important, regular online file storage won’t work (some online file storage sites do allow for photo organization and albums – see chart below)
  • Some companies may reserve in their Terms and Conditions, the right to access your content as well as disclose content to law enforcement (music files may be checked for copyright infringement);
  • Companies may change pricing levels or policies

Online Storage Comparison Summary

Company
Free Storage? Pricing
Maximum Capacity
Accessibility Special Features/Notes
Amazon Cloud Drive
5 GB free storage (Videos limited to 20 mins in length) 20 GB: $10/yr50 GB: $25/yr

100 GB: $50/yr

1000 GB Can be accessed on mobile devices such as iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android; Unlimited access to files from any computer Cloud player for music (250 songs free; more with addtl fee); No file sharing, no editing in the Cloud
Carbonite
No Unlimited (1 computer): $59.99/yrOther options for backing up external hard drives and other options for businesses Unlimited From any Internet-connected computer, smartphone or iPad Free trial for 15 days; Full system mirror image backup; Backup of external hard drive not available for mac home users; No file sharing
Crash Plan One free month trial (free version is for backup to other computers or external HD, not online storage) 10 GB (1 computer): $32.99/yrUnlimited (1 computer): $59.99/yr

Family Unlimited: $149.99/yr

Unlimited Mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and Windows Phones Deleted files are available to be restored forever; No file sharing; Supports backup of external drives with no addtl fee; Family Plan allows backup of up to 10 computers
DropBox
2 GB free (up to 18 GB per referral) 100 GB: $99/yr200 GB: $199/yr

500 GB: $499/yr

Other options for business

500 GB (unlimited for business) From computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, tablets Share photos and videos and create albums; Share files; Edit docs
Google Cloud No 20 GB: $20/yr50 GB: $50/yr

100 GB: $102/yr

Unlimited Not clear Pricing structured a bit differently from other companies; Appears more geared towards businesses; Info on service hard to navigate on site
iCloud
5 GB free storage (purchased music, movies, app etc. do not count against storage) 15 GB: $20/yr25 GB: $40/yr

55 GB: $100/yr

55 GB iPhone, iPod touch, iPad Auto sync across devices; iTunes sync; No file sharing
Mozy 2 GB free (plus more with referrals) 50 GB (1 computer): $65.89/yr125 GB (3 computers): $109.89/yr

Other options for business

1 TB Mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android Can add addtl computers and addtl increments of space for extra fee; No file sharing

Summary

This post was much harder to research and write than the prior two. For one thing, some of the company’s sites were not too user friendly in laying out the information. I had to do a lot of digging to get some of the information I needed. Secondly, although I wish I could test drive the services for you, if I did it would take me a long, long time to do so and this website would end up being called OnlineCloudGirl.com rather than PhotoBookGirl.com. Unfortunately I can’t get into how user friendly their backup software is or how easy data recovery may be. Regardless, I hope you’ll find this article at least useful in letting you know of some of the companies out there as well as some of the basic features and prices.

In evaluating the above services, as with the photo sharing sites, my eyes go towards the “unlimited” plans. That narrows it down to Carbonite and CrashPlan. Both services charge $59.99 per year for unlimited backup of one computer. Where CrashPlan stands out in comparison to Carbonite is the ability to back up external hard drives, included in that price whereas Carbonite charges $40.00 additional per year to include that feature for PC users. Additionally, Carbonite doesn’t offer that feature in its home plans for Mac users. As a Mac user, I would have to pay $229.99 per year to be able to back up an external hard drive. Note also that CrashPlan allows for more than external drive to be backed up versus only a single drive allowed in Carbonite’s $99.99 plan. That’s a pretty significant difference to me. CrashPlan comes out way ahead of Carbonite in terms of what they offer for the same price. If I decide to go with an online backup service, CrashPlan seems like the best option for my needs.

Let’s not forget about the freebies however, if you only have a smaller subset of files you want to back up, then iCloud or Amazon Cloud Drive may work for you – each of those provide 5 GB of free storage. If you can narrow down the essential files you want to back up (versus a complete mirror of your computer), then a free tier of service may work fine for you.

So What Now?

I initially thought I would write this series in three parts, but I decided to do a fourth which will be forthcoming. In Part IV, I will let you know what I decide to do and why!

Do you use an online backup service? I’d love to hear from you!

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Every effort is made to insure accurate information, but companies may change specs and prices. Please double check any info before purchasing and feel free to let me know of any errors. I was not asked or compensated by any company to write this article and I am not an affiliate of any of the online backup companies above. My opinions are solely my own and an honest opinion is given whether positive or negative.

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10 Comments

  1. Karen
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm | #

    I use Backblaze as my off site backup. I think it is similar to CrashPlan, but I pay about $50 a year for unlimited storage, including external hard drive. So far I have had no problems with it, but I also have not had to try to recover anything.

  2. John
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm | #

    It should be noted that Crash Plan, unlike Carbonite, does not reduce the speed at which the data is transferred.

    Indeed Carbonite transfers data at a maximum rate of 2 Mbps ( about 22 GB per day) for the first 200 GB. After that point, Carbonite throttles the data upload to 1 GB per day.

  3. Shelley
    Posted September 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm | #

    I use Backblaze as well and love it! I have tested recovering files and folders, and it works well. I would highly recommend it. It backs up external drives too, as long as you hook them up at least once a month.

  4. Posted December 6, 2013 at 4:44 am | #

    Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your
    content. Please let me know. Cheers

  5. Rachel
    Posted December 2, 2014 at 7:48 am | #

    Hi PBG,

    What do you think about ThisLife by Shutterfly? I just started using it and I love having a true photo gallery stored in the cloud. Plus, it’s easy to manage with my husband (we are joint account owners) as well as share photos with family and friends. It does make me a bit all-in with Shutterfly although you can downloaded high resolution photos (currently you either have to do it one by one or download all photos at once).

    Also, Amazon recently announced free cloud storage for Prime Members so that might change some people’s decisions as well!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted December 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm | #

      Hi Rachel,

      I haven’t looked at ThisLife in depth. Once I went through my analysis and wrote those posts, I set up my cloud backup with CrashPlan and didn’t give it much thought after. Mine is strictly storage and not a sharing site, so if sharing is a feature you’re looking for, it makes sense to go with a site like Shutterfly or the like. At some point I’ll probably have to update these posts! Things change so fast!

  6. Sheena Mawson
    Posted January 8, 2015 at 7:04 pm | #

    I love smugmug. Reasonable, unlimited storage, options to upgrade if you are professional.

  7. Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:17 am | #

    One thing I have yet to read in any of these comparisons floating around the internet seems to me to be THE most basic, obvious and ultimately critical factor: the viability of the company involved. What if they go out of business tomorrow? What if they get bought out? What if they change the business model so they are holding all your data to ransom – or just decide to do something else entirely? In short, how do you evaluate their trustworthiness? Do you even know which country the servers are in? I would be interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted April 4, 2015 at 9:51 am | #

      Yes, those are all very valid questions. Thee same can be said of companies that host our email. Privacy is always a huge concern and I know I don’t have all the answers and I can’t eliminate risk 100%, but I weigh the pros and cons of losing the data with how important having a cloud backup is to me. The way I see cloud file storage is to only backup data in the cloud that is non-sensitive. I only backup photos, videos and other odds and ends. I also have a second and third backup of all my files locally on hard drives and another portable hard drive that I update from time to time that I give to grandma. Yes – the grandma solution is one of my best off site back ups and it’s free except for the drive itself! My solution is far from an ideal solution of course, but I think having multiple backups even if you have cloud storage is key. Similarly, I rarely use a company’s software program to make photo books anymore. I have my own design software so I can keep my own layouts and always have access to them rather than be at the mercy of a company going out of business. If something is important to you, you shouldn’t trust just one backup.

  8. Dayana Pears
    Posted June 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm | #

    There are always cons to some things, nothing is perfect of course, but I personally feel safer when I back up to the cloud, and it is always handy when you can also access those files from your phone as well if you are for example backing up on Google Drive. I actually started to back up not so long ago after I ran across this guide: http://www.winzip.com/win/en/features/cloud-backup.html some time after my laptop crashed for no reason and I lost EVERYTHING. So you never know when technology can fail you, and it’s better to be safe than sorry 🙂

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