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    • OK. This is a cry for help.

      I am in a predicament that is surely not uncommon. Over the years I have amassed a veritable mountain of family photos, 1080p videos and other stuff. The media was originally created on several mobile phones, various types of camcorders etc.

      I know I am running a risk just having these stored on a desktop PC, backed up to an external hard drive in the same room.

      Furthermore, a lot of more recent mobile phone things sit exclusively in Google Photos. I used to think Google Photos was the best thing ever - free unlimited storage, what could be better. But then I started to see references to Google Photos not really being intended to act as a back up service as such, and photos stored there not being as safe as I had otherwise imagined.

      In short, it is time to get organised and back up these items to an offsite cloud service that is secure, whilst also being accessible.

      As Neo would say, "choice; the problem is choice".

      Some services such as Dropbox, seem to have a high price tag and (allegedly) poor accessibility. Other, such as Google One or OneDrive, seem to safe except insofar as they can read and share your data with other "associated" entities.

      My wife, displaying her usual facility for not suffering fools gladly, tells me that cloud storage is a "racket", and has told stories of friends who were effectively locked into a service and suffered its price hikes because the service provider made it so difficult to extract or transfer their media elsewhere.

      Hence my request for comments and thoughts from the venerable Cake community. I would like to choose a cloud service provider for the long term and not have to change horses in the future.

      Important points: (1) safety - media must be secure, (2) security, high level of encryption (3) flexible management of cloud based files, including ability to share (4) easy to upload and download files, either individually or in batch (5) reasonable cost

      Any perspectives gratefully received.

    • I am pinging @mbravo, @rtwPaul, and @Factotum on this as I’m guessing that they can share some practical insights, including non-cloud options.

      You mentioned a concern with your external drive being in the same room as your desktop. A simple separate “off site” storage solution might be to mail an extra external drive backup to a family member after every major life event (Christmas, weddings, vacation) for safekeeping. I started to suggest a safe deposit box, however, with the crisis that may not be advisable.

    • I know there used to be peer to peer services similar to cloud services. Two friends would each have in their residences a hard drive belonging to the other friend which would serve as a mirror or archive of the content of its owner. Everything saved on the owner's hard drive would automatically be copied to the drive in the friend's house.

      I haven't looked into that recently but if such services are still available that would be much more efficient than shipping external drives back and forth.

    • But then I started to see references to Google Photos not really being intended to act as a back up service as such, and photos stored there not being as safe as I had otherwise imagined.


      Other, such as Google One or OneDrive, seem to safe except insofar as they can read and share your data with other "associated" entities.

      Can you explain in more detail what the concerns regarding the various Google products are?

    • I use iCloud

      remotely Sandisk SSD this one

      ...but a word of warning from a product developer I met. A US guy in Peru last year

      Never never never buy these in bulk from the same place at the same time.

      Failures do happen and in the case of a hard drive they are made in batches so if you sadly bought and got a bad one you can lose all your data.

      If you bought a bunch they could all be faulty from the same batch and you lose EVERYTHING

    • I use Apple Photos synced to iCloud to back up all of my iPhone snaps and videos. For archiving and organizing DSLR photos and scans, I back up everything to Dropbox. Having them all in a synced Dropbox folder makes it easy to switch back and forth between Mac and a PC, which I do all the time.

      Dropbox gets expensive fast if you have more than a couple of terabytes of photos. I'm not there yet.

      I also have a 12TB external drive where I dump photos, videos, and everything else just in case.

      We had some great discussion about backing up photos to different services. It is worth revisiting:

    • With Google Photos it is more anecdotal. People i know cautioned that it wasn't as safe for a back up as some might imagine. They suggested GP was more a tool to access a wide range of photos rather than a secure back up of same.

      With Google One (or Google Drive), my worry was that my data might be shared with third parties.

    • The thing with Google Photos is that it works in two different modes. It either stores your photos for free, but not necessarily in their original quality (<16MP, recompressed) - or it stores them in their original resolution and quality, but counts them towards your quota that is shared between all Google products.

      Depending on what your goal is, the free variant might not be enough: do you need original quality, for example to later edit and print in large size - or do you just want safe storage for your memories? Pricing for additional storage (via Google One 1.99/month for 100GB) isn't too bad, if you need your photos to be stored in high quality.

      In either case, I don't think that "third party access" is a real concern with Google products, at least not a bigger one than with any other cloud service.

      Being locked in is always a concern, especially considering that Google likes to kill off their products if they aren't absolutely successful. The good thing is, Google Photos is one of their most-used products, so it's probably a safe bet for the time being. To avoid having to download everything in the future, having a redundant local copy might in fact be the best option.

    • I don't need to store anything in original quality, and 1080p video is just fine. The question is: can I consider Google Photos to be a backup, and safe storage service?

    • And I take your point on Google sharing with third parties. I am fully aware that neither me nor my family are interesting enough to warrant any interest for them.

      I just don't get invited to those kind of parties?

    • Google has thousands of professionals that work to make sure their data is safe and sound. It is central for them to be able to continue functioning as a business. I would certainly rate them better at that than anything I, or any single person, might cook up. I certainly wouldn't worry that they might lose your data accidentally.

      But, with that being said, I would still advise against using Google (or any other cloud storage provider) as a caretaker of your only copy. Not because they might lose it, but because you may lose access to your account for whatever reason (hacking or something). Keep a copy somewhere offline (preferably two copies on different physical locations) and sync it occasionally, just in case.

    • Yes. I am beginning to see that my choice of online storage is one thing, but I still need to keep copies offline too.

      Its amazing how things have changed in only one generation. For example, I have over a 1,000 photos just on my phone (how, I do not know). And that is in less than 18 months. My mother, by comparison, has a moderately sized cardboard box with comparatively few photos in spanning all her adult life.

      Can't help feeling that the direction of travel (or at least the pace) here is unhealthy.

    • Make sure you know the behavior of the product you choose.

      Some of the backup services delete files from your backup if they have been deleted from your backup source - so if you are using an external drive that is not always connected to your computer, make sure the backup won't be removed. Both Backblaze and Carbonite help indicate they delete files that have been removed from the source after a 30 day period.

    • Google One or OneDrive, seem to safe except insofar as they can read and share your data with other "associated" entities.

      In this aspect, I personally noticed once several strange pictures (from what appeared as some sort of sales meeting), that weren't mine, in my Google photos. It really freaked me out, this could have happened only if account had been accessed or something happened with the service itself. After much consideration I decided it was the latter. The phenomena didn't repeat, but since then I always remember that whatever I store there will eventually end up under someone else's eyes. The only way I'd trust any cloud service with truly sensitive data is if using my own encryption.

    • You may want to consider using InterConneX from Econtechnologies on your iPhone with ChronoAgent from the same company on your Mac. (I hope you have a Mac, because I don't think there is a Windows version.)

    • I am getting to think that this is the inevitable consequence of any kind of cloud storage. There are end to end encryption services where the provider cannot access your data, but then you have the fear of losing or forgetting your access codes.

      Choosing the right cloud storage service has taken more thought than I had imagined.

    • My take here is that, first and foremost, there are two problems to solve, not one.

      One is the actual storage. You want it to be redundant and reliable and accessible in various ways.

      The second one is the exhibition and publishing of the media. This does not have to be tied to storage and data recovery solutions, and is a quite separate can of worms.

      On the first part, there is a decision between on-premises, cloud, or a combination. For some reason people tend to forget that these days it is pretty easy to have your own storage solution right at home, which, even accounting for initial expense and including additional purchase such as an UPS, is ultimately cheaper over mid-to-long term. Depending on your personal technical prowess, buying a decent NAS solution from Synology or QNAP, or building one yourself from e.g. an HP MicroServer and FreeNAS, plus a cheapish APC UPS or similar, can provide you with multiple terabytes of reliable storage at home. It can be further augmented by additional online backups to something like Backblaze B2, or similar services. And if your Internet connection is good enough, most of those NAS systems allow you, after some careful configuration, to use them when out and about, and to share files with selected audiences - thus partly or fully covering the 2nd problem we want to solve.

      And if we look at just the 2nd part in isolation, I'm sad to say I do not know a universal solution. SmugMug or Flickr are superb at exhibiting photos; YouTube or Vimeo are great for videos (though some of the DMCA-related craziness is annoying); SoundCloud can be used for audio. But all of this assumes not insignificant efforts for curation, upload and management from the master collection. Which is why I don't really do it anymore.

    • My thinking is along similar lines. I am veering towards keeping everything on Google Photos, but backed off to 2 domestic HDD's (or NAS, maybe). Google Photos is good enough for sharing etc, and can be accessed anywhere there is a Wi-Fi or 4G data signal.....

    • my 2c,

      photos from card to laptop, nas drive and Mac Pro

      Then uploaded to a gallery on smugmug.

      From the SmugMug iPhone app, I can share to social media.

      Mac Pro photos are backed up to an internal

      Drive using time machine.

      iPhone photos are backed to iCloud and to SmugMug automatically

      If I lose all photos after doing this then Arnie is stalking John Connor 🤣

    • Thanks. Unfortunately I am not in the Apple ecosystem so the Time Machine option is not for me. However, I will look into SmugMug. Can't imagine why I didn't think to do so before. Sorry @Chris !