Cloud Storage for photography

There are many options in the market to save and backup files, yet many of them come with a price tag that have prevented me from actually making the investment until now.

Photography can take a toll in your hard drive; if you are a photographer chances are you keep a copy of all RAW files, which means each image is 12, 16 24, 36 MB or larger depending on your camera. Every time I go out to take pictures I end up with at least 1.6GB of images that I then transfer to my computer and modify using Adobe Light Room. Light Room creates catalogs, previews, and backups that grow over time to be several GB. I have a RAID1 4 TB hard drive where I store all my pictures. RAID1 gives me the security that I will have fewer chances to lose my pictures because it mirrors all data on two different hard drives. Despite this redundancy my pictures are not completely safe, some one can steal the hard drive, it can burn, or get damage beyond repair. Adding an extra layer of redundancy is the best way to save pictures and files, and by using a cloud storage solution we can achieve a greater level of redundancy.

There are many cloud storage providers and below I describe some of the most popular services and state the reasons why or why not they are adequate for backing up your precious images.

Dropbox is an excellent tool, it syncs files seamlessly and you get 2 GB for free but 2GB is not good enough, I need more space. The next plan up is $9.99 a month. That is roughly $120.00 a year! With that money I can buy new HDD every year.

Next to Dropbox there is Google Drive; it provides a similar set of features, but they give you 15GB for free, and if you have a Gmail account you already have access to Google Drive (notice that this 15GB is shared with your Gmail data). What is nice about it is that if you pay $1.99 a month, you can get 100GB of storage. I think this is really good, but once again, for photography this is not enough space, the next plan up is $9.99 a month for 1TB (same as Dropbox), $99.99 for 10TB, $199.99 for 20TB, etc.

I like Google Drive and have moved away from Dropbox, so that I can enjoy the free 15GB of space, and so far has been working great! Unfortunately, I need more space and the price for large amounts of storage is not very good.

Microsoft OneDrive has a similar offering to Google Drive, 15GB for free, and 50GB for $1.99 a month. If you want more, you can get Office 365 + 1TB of data for $9.99 which is not a bad deal.

I haven't used OneDrive so I cannot say much about it other than I'm not planning to use Office 365 at this moment.

iCloud is another option that is getting big in this space, and while I do have a Mac and an iTunes account, I do not use iCloud. Pricing is similar to all the other competitors: 50GB for $0.99, 200GB for $2.99 or 1TB for $9.99 a month.

You can find many other competitors, but these have been the four most popular, yet there is one other player that was the one that invented the first cloud storage solution for business and developers, and has had a cloud storage solution for consumers for a few years now: Amazon Cloud Drive. I have been a faithful Amazon customer for over 13 years, and I'm a Prime member. But oddly enough, even though I knew about Cloud Drive, I never bother to check it out...  

Amazon cloud drive has the best offer I have found so far for cloud storage: Unlimited photos + 5GB of videos and files for $11.99 a year, this is less than $1 a month and includes RAW photo files. The best part is that it is free for all Amazon Prime members. The next tear up is $59.99 for unlimited everything that is less than $5 a month.

While it is the best offer it is not perfect. It lacks some features that are standard in other cloud storage services, mainly the ability to do file-synching which almost defeats the purpose of using it. In addition the desktop uploader provided by Amazon is very limited and you can't share folders only files.

The solution: Amazon Cloud Drive + Odrive 

Odrive is an interface to many cloud storage providers including Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and many, many more. Odrive provides a way to unify access to all these cloud storage solutions, and it gives you a Dropbox-like experience from your computer. The best part is that it is free to use.

How does it work? After you create your free account, you must link to the different services you want to allow odrive to access. Then you install the odrive client (Windows and Mac only) that will let you browse all your cloud services and the online files stored in them. At first directories and files stored online are simply place holders, but they can be quickly synchronized and downloaded to your computer. Odrive will synch (dropbox style) all files and folders you drop in them. 

After dragging and dropping the Lightroom directory into the Amazon Cloud Drive in the Odrive application it started synching. All the pink and blue directories are place holders that can be synched at any time. 

After dragging and dropping the Lightroom directory into the Amazon Cloud Drive in the Odrive application it started synching. All the pink and blue directories are place holders that can be synched at any time. 


At this time the answer to the question "what is the best cloud storage solution for photography?" requires a combination of price, storage size and application features. Amazon Cloud Dive is the one that delivers on the first two but lack many of the essential characteristics that a cloud storage solution should have. Odrive is a free solution that complements Amazon Cloud Drive adding all the features Amazon lacks. Unfortunately, right now the answer to the original question doesn't boil dow single service, but rather an ingenious combination of Odrive and Amazon Cloud Storage.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments below.