Monday, April 21, 2014

Thinking about options for photo storage

Since 2007 I have stored my public and private photos on Yahoo's photo sharing site Flickr.  Until last year Flickr had a nice interface for uploading, editing, and organizing photos.  However, during the past year Flickr has made several changes to the navigation of the web version (accessed from computers) and the apps.

Time for a change from flickr

Each time that changes occurred, the feedback generally was negative.  I, like others, found that the changes did not work for me in terms of viewing images and sharing images.  Last year, when I paid the subscription price for the pro version (i.e., no ads) I thought "I need to find a better solution."  This year, after again paying for the subscription and recent changes made to the iPhone/iPad apps, I realized that the time for change had come.

Process to review other options

I knew that there were other photo sharing/storage site and wanted to explore the possibilities.  I did a simple web search for "best sites for online photo storage."  Several different lists were provided.  After reviewing the lists, I decided to try two online sites.

However, before starting the evaluation process, I made a list of requirements for what I wanted:
  • Online - I must be able to access the photos from anywhere anytime without having to be connected to my home network.
  • Sharing - I want to be able to share images with others and online (blog posts and web sites).
  • Access from iOS - I need to be able to view and manage photos from my smart phone and tablet.
  • Tagging - It would be nice to add keywords to the picture metadata (fields that describe the photo) for quick searches.
  • Keep original sizes - I want to ensure that any solution would permit me to store the full size images.
  • Upload from any device - Because I take pictures with my phone sometimes edit them on my tablet, I need to be able to add pictures from my phone, tablet, or computer.
  • Cost as a factor - I would like to save some money where possible.
  • Interface satisfaction - I want an interface that I find easy and intuitive.  

Comparison of results

After creating this list, I compared Flickr, SmugMug, Zenfolio, DropBox, and simply using my computer's hard drive to store photos.  The chart below displays the results of my evaluation.  A "check" means that the requirement was satisfied and an "x" means that it was not.

You'll notice that the cost per year for DropBox has a "*" beside "Free."  Because I subscribe to DropBox anyway, there is no additional cost for adding my photos.  So far, after 7 years of photos, my photo library accounts for about 3% of my total available storage on DropBox.

Decision - DropBox

At least for now, I will use DropBox to store my photos.  In addition to easy access for all devices for viewing and uploading, DropBox's public folder makes it easy to share multiple images, and I can share as needed in addition.

This is a fairly risk-free decision because all my photos that are currently on Flickr will remain there.  If I see that DropBox does not work out, I'll definitely post the results here and explore more online solutions at that time.

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