Take a lot of pictures with your mobile phone? We do, too, and it's not easy backing them all up to a safe place. ICloud's okay for syncing photos across devices, but you can’t (freely) save all of your iPhone photos with it. The situation is probably worse for Android. A quick Google search reveals users desperate for ways to back up their photos. Too many of us leave our valuable photos living exclusively on our phones. Don't do it!
Here are several options to help you automate the process of backing up all the photos automatically to the cloud, pretty much as you take them on your phone.
Everpix provides a repository exclusively for photos, regardless of source. Accounts are free and unlimited in size, but photos are stored on a revolving 12-month basis, plenty of time to decide if you find the service useful. Photos aren't deleted, but after the one-year period, they're locked. You'll need to pay for a subscription, $4.99/month, for access to all of your older photos.
The standard sharing options are all available, including the ability to share photo mail to other Everpix users, create a photo page accessible on the web, and create a photo book through Mosaic. There are also additional features that make the Everpix service more useful. For instance, "Flashback" shows you photos taken one year earlier on the given day.
Everpix is able to import photos directly from services like Gmail, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter, which is absolutely delightful. You can, for instance, automate the import of Photos you’re tagged in on Facebook. Gmail photo attachments in your Inbox will also show up automatically, which is practically magical.
Updated: Everpix is currently iOS only, but an Android photo uploader is coming 8/29/13 with other platform versions planned as well.
The Google+ service includes both social network-style shared photos and private photos as part of your Google+ account. By installing the Google+ app on your iOS or Android device, you can set up automatic backup of photos and video to a private photo album that's part of your Google Drive space quota. Backup is setup automatically for Android users, while iOS users need to give the app access to their camera roll. For Android devices, Google offers full-size backups while iOS is limited to a max pixel length of 2048. Full-size images count against your Google Drive space quota, while standard size images do not.
Automatic photo backup to a social network isn't ideal, but you can think of this automatic service as part of Google Apps through Google Drive (which is confusing, but that's how Google does it). At the same time, the aren't many Android options that are free, automatic, and that work seamlessly. Facebook’s mobile app also provides automatic photo backups, but then you really are using a social network for archival purposes.
Loom is currently in a limited beta, but you can sign up to reserve a spot. Loom claims to be solving a different problem than other services. Not just photo sharing, but better tools to organize and manage a photo library. There's still overlap with existing services.
For instance, like Everpix, Loom is a cloud-based service dedicated to photographs (video will follow). Like Dropbox, Loom creates a file folder on your desktop that syncs with your account. Like Google+, free accounts have a 5GB storage limit, and you can expand that by paying a monthly subscription.
While in beta, Loom is iOS- and Mac OS X-only, but they plan to expand. They're focused on creating clean, highly useable apps, and don't yet have as many features as other services. But in the long run, they intend to compete against freemium services, such as Flickr and 500px, so keep your eyes on Loom.
Ever since Dropbox implemented automatic photo backups, it's been the most obvious choice for Dropbox users. It's extremely popular, there are versions for all the major mobile and desktop operating systems, and people find it easy to use. Turning on the feature creates a "Camera Uploads" folder in your Dropbox, and opening the app triggers an automatic upload of all new photos taken since your last upload. You can use your Camera Uploads folder for manual uploads from any source, as well. Dropbox provides 2GB of free storage, which is less than some others, but boasts bulletproof apps for every platform.
Stream Nation is the result of a year's study of existing services by a cofounder of Deezer, a web-based music streaming site. The Stream Nation home page sums up the service quite succinctly: "stream, share, and store your photos & videos securely."
The streaming aspect makes this feel more like a media storage center than the other services. This can also be felt in the interface, which has a more technical focus on formats and resolutions. There are simply more options and more flexibility with Stream Nation, including desktop applications, plug-ins, web apps, and iOS apps.
Stream Nation has a unique way of enticing users to try out the more advanced features. You're rewarded with additional storage space for going through the tutorials. You can go from the standard 2GB, all the up to 10GB of free storage. There are numerous paid subscription plans, including 500GB for $9.99/month, an incredible bargain compared to the plans of other vendors.
Stream Nation is especially good for those focused on video, but it might be overwhelming for the more casual photographer. The UI lacks cohesiveness, and the options layout can be confusing at first, though nothing that would prevent a more advanced or savvy user from making good use of the service.
If you’re phone is unsupported by these apps or you don’t want every picture saved, IFTTT may be your best option for automatic backups. The name, IFTTT, is an acronym for If This Then That, and the service is essentially a channel-based scripting tool. You use it to create recipes that trigger actions, like automatically backing up photos.
An account to use the service and web app is free. There's also an iOS app, but no Android app, yet. Try setting up a trigger to save your Instagram or Facebook photo uploads to your Dropbox or SkyDrive. When you post photos to Flickr have them automatically save to another cloud service. Or have a Vimeo upload backed up somewhere besides your mobile device.
The beauty of the service is in its flexibility. Even better, if you aren't able to create exactly the automated photo backup recipe you want, you can get help from IFTTT.
[Image: Flickr user Marked141]