It used to be that only the professional’s and hobbyist’s that lugged around big SLR camera’s were the one getting great shots while out and about. Over the past few years though photography has moved out the hands of professionals thanks to many different things, the chief one being smartphones. If you take a look at the Flickr Camera Finder you can see that 4 of the top 5 camera’s are not only smartphones but specifically iPhones.
Having a decent camera at all times in your pocket has changed the photography world but it has also opened up the door to a new market, cloud backups. Over the past couple years a few different companies have been making interesting products but I think one is a clear winner.
While Dropbox really started the cloud storage game I think they have been surpassed pretty quickly. They do offer Camera Upload feature and now also have a dedicated gallery app called Carousel. Their apps work very well on iOS and Android but Windows Phone is left out to dry. The big drawback to Dropbox is how they do storage pricing. A basic free account only starts with 2GB but through promotions and inviting new members you can “earn” more storage for free. Beyond that 100GB costs $10 a month which makes it one of the more expensive options. If your already invested in Dropbox workflows or have a Pro account already it’s a decent alternative but I think your money could be better spent elsewhere.
Being that Google develops Android the also have a photo backup solution that has its roots set in Google+ (for better or for worse). In the newest version’s of the operating system I believe that this feature is turned on by default as it should be. Because you already have a Google Account being that you have an Android device it comes with 15GB free which should be a good amount for most users for quite a while. Google has also started the trend of cheap expansion prices and for just $2 a month you can get 100GB of storage. Overall its a good solution for Android users as its built in and iOS users can get access to it via the Google+ app. The main turnoff I see here is the Google+ tie in which honestly no one really uses.
While iCloud has always been a pretty locked down storage system it does a few things very well, mostly backups. When ever I restore my iOS device I know that by doing a iCloud restore everything is going to come back down exactly the way I had it set including all of my photos. With iOS 8 iCloud begins to open up a bit more and the photo backup situation gets much better. Right now and in the future users are given 5GB free but that is used for everything the user is storing. A light iOS device backup can hit 1GB without really trying so your available storage for photo’s goes down quickly. Luckily for users Apple is going to make things a bit easier as they are dropping their prices considerably. When iOS 8 launches the prices will drop to $12 for a year of 20GB storage and can be bumped up to 200GB for $48 a year (Source: Mashable). I think for iOS only users this is a no brainier. Most of them need the extra storage for device backups so why not have you photo’s reside in the same place.
Note: I do work for Microsoft :). That being said OneDrive, formally SkyDrive, has turned into quite the competitor in this space in a very short amount of time. Just this month some staggering changes have come to OneDrive, again along the lines of storage and pricing. The OneDrive team announced that all account’s now get 15GB for free which brings it up to the level of Google Drive.
The really interesting part is the new pricing structure along with Office 365. If you sign up for an Office 365 plan at either $10 a month or $100 upfront for a year you not only get access to the full Office 365 plan, you also get 1TB of OneDrive storage for 5 users. Obviously this plan is meant for a family situation but there is nothing stopping anyone from signing up with 5 live accounts that they own and having access to 5TB of storage.
With so many options out there what is the best solution? Well as usual it will depend on your situation but I am putting my money on OneDrive. Microsoft has shown that they are committed to getting their services working on the platforms that users are actually using, 5 years ago that was never the case. On all my devices/phones I have the OneDrive app installed and I have the safety of knowing that any picture I take is going to be backed up to one place and that’s just plain awesome.