The world of photo sharing and online photo storage and sharing is ever changing. By the time the ink dries on your screen, much of what you are about to read may be outdated.
There are some inherent advantages to uploading your images to “The Cloud.” Offsite storage of data prevents you from losing your precious photographs in the event of a power surge, fire, or other disaster at your home or studio. With all of your pictures stored online, you may access your images from a remote computer or mobile device with a web browser. Online storage will allow you to free up space on your hard drives or devices for adding more images.
Many of these services are free, or have free storage up until a certain amount of data or, some offer additional features for a fee. Some common features include the following:
- Image sharing on the storage site
- Image sharing on social media sites
- Mobile support
- Printing services
- Automatic backup
- Search functions
- Organizational functions
- Image editing services
- Security features
- Automatic backup features
These days, many of them have incredibly similar feature sets, so which one you choose might just come down to a completely personal preference. Other considerations to make are:
- Ease of use
- Sufficient storage space
- Maximum resolution allowed
- File formats allowed (JPEG, RAW, TIFF, DNG, etc)
- Upload/download speeds
- Sharing services
- Website services
- Mobile/remote access
- Commercial uses if you want to sell your prints
- Corporate staying power—you don’t want your cloud to file for bankruptcy!
As larger corporate entities are entering the fray in this field, there are seven photo storage/sharing sites that have captured the bulk of the market.
Amazon Cloud Drive / Prime / Amazon Photos
Amazon is fairly new to cloud storage services, but a few years ago they were new to online commerce, too, when they burst onto the scene as a bookseller. Now, the e-commerce giant is in the data-storage business. Amazon’s Cloud Drive connects easily with your existing Amazon.com shopping account and offers unlimited storage plans for photos or plans for photos and other types of files.
If you are a user of Apple’s iPhoto, storing your images on the Web will be extra easy with the Apple iCloud Photo Library service. The service also creates shared folders that not only let others view your images; it allows them to add images to your collection, as well, while organizing your pictures by moments, collections, or date. You can also integrate with Apple TV to produce slideshows easily on your television for friends and family.
Dropbox has been in the cloud file-sharing business for a while, and is now starting to add photo-specific features like automatic backup of mobile devices and organization capabilities. Although it’s fairly new to the photo storage realm, but established as a top storage and sharing site, Dropbox will likely keep improving the photo part of its services.
Synonymous with photo sharing since 2004, Flickr has a powerful organizational system running in its code for online photo storage and sharing. Purchased by Yahoo! several years ago, Flickr has gone through some changes, and not all were popular. Backed by a large community of photographers, Flickr remains a top photo destination and storage service.
500 Pixels, or 500px, is a sharing and storage site created in the mold of Flickr and is designed to showcase a photographer’s portfolios, as well as provide a social community for photographers around the world. It also offers printing services. 500px’s elegant interface and high-quality imagery will keep you coming back, even if you don’t use it to store or share images.
No longer a part of Google +, Google Photos is a comprehensive and feature-filled photo storage and editing service that ties in a lot of the capabilities of the Google brain, including a search engine based on—you guessed it—Google. With all that horsepower behind it, photographers have a host of tools to manage and organize your images while they are stored in the cloud.
While not photo-specific, one benefit of Microsoft OneDrive is that you can store any type of image file on the servers. OneDrive features the capability to automatically back up your mobile images. Like most storage solutions, your files will be available any place you can get a computer or mobile device connected to the Internet.
The seven sites listed above are some of the biggest players in this ever-changing landscape of storage and sharing options. Here is an alphabetical list of other sites if you wish to explore other options:
- Adobe Revel
- Full-featured photo storage and organization
- Online editing
- Import/export from other photo and social sites
- Popular image-sharing and social interface
- Guaranteed 100-year-plus storage
- Monthly photo contests
- Integrated web page
- Social media integration
- Website design
- Easy sharing of large files
- Automatic backups
- Kodak printing services
- SmugMug Vault extra service
- Photo-customizable gifts and photo books
- This Life by Shutterfly
- Photo-customizable gifts and photo books
- Easy sharing and basic editor
- Portfolio website and storefront
Camera Company Storage Sites
Many camera manufacturers offer online photo storage. Brand loyalty to your camera company? You might want to check out their services and features. A few of them are listed here.
As I stated at the top, this is a rapidly changing industry and new products and services are always emerging. Please feel free to share with us your experience with these and other sites, in the Comments section, below.
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