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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hi-Tech Studio: Cloud Storage Basics

Fast transfer rates and falling prices per terabyte have made the cloud an excellent option for off-site long-term archive storage


Amazon's Cloud Drive provides 5 GB of free online storage, and you can add more from 20 GB for $10 per year to 1,000 GB for $500 per year.
Just install the Cloud Drive app on your Windows or Mac computer, put your desired files into the Cloud Drive folder, and File Sync makes sure all devices can access the most recent versions of your files. You can access files online via any Web browser. There's also Cloud Drive Photos for Android and iPhone, and you can even access your files on a Kindle Fire. You can save and access photos, documents, videos and music. Amazon recently added file-syncing, so when you make changes on one device, they'll be available via any device. www.amazon.com

After killing MobileMe in 2011 and iDisk in 2012, Apple moved to make iCloud a multifaceted storage and backup system that's accessible from all of your digital devices. You can get 5 GB of space for free and 50 GB for $100 per year. That's attractive pricing for maintaining a backup of your most important images, but iCloud really isn't designed for professional photographers looking for a full archive backup. www.apple.com

The Bitcasa Infinite Drive enables you to store, access and share your files—photos, documents, movies, songs, etc.—everywhere, on your home computer, work laptop, smartphone or tablet. Infinite Drive appears on your desktop, and you use it just like any external hard drive, but your files are encrypted then stored on Bitcasa's cloud servers. Never run out of space, no more external hard drives, no more backing up. Two versions are available: 10 GB for free or $99 a year for infinite storage/backup, infinite file-version history, and chat and email support. www.bitcasa.com

Box is an access-anywhere cloud-based service that offers 50 GB for $19 per month (a 5 GB account is free). The 50GB "personal account" limit makes it viable for cloud storage of your most precious portfolio pieces, but if you want to store a full archive, you're going to need to consider a business or an enterprise plan. The business plan is really centered around multiple users, but it does offer 1 TB of space for $45 per month. www.box.com

With 2 GB of free space (boostable to 18 GB if you refer other users), Dropbox has gained a following as a simple image delivery system for large files, both still and video. Users can designate single or multiple clients for sharing folders conveniently. For temporary storage and delivery of selected images, 2 TB is workable, but it's not going to cut it for archiving or delivering video files. Unless you have a lot of people you can get to sign up (you get 500 MB per person you recommend), you're going to want to step up to a paid account. You can get 500 GB for $500 per year. That's sufficient for storing most, if not all, of your most important image files. You can upgrade to a business account for $750 per year, and that gives you up to five accounts and "as much storage as you need."www.dropbox.com

Google Drive provides "one safe place for all your stuff," and allows you to access them from anywhere and share them with others. It comes with up to 15 GB of free storage. You can purchase additional storage from 100 GB ($4.99/month), 1 TB ($49.99/month) to 16 TB ($799.99/month), which can be shared among Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos. As you'd expect from Google, there's a powerful search engine that can even recognize objects in images. Google Drive allows you to work offline, chat inside documents, and leave comments on files and images. You can also create new documents, spreadsheets and presentations. www.google.com

We expect to see many more cloud storage options becoming available in the future. Also, this article doesn't examine the services of companies like PhotoShelter and SmugMug, which are oriented around the delivery of images and e-commerce solutions for professional photographers. As storage becomes less expensive, these photography-centric full-featured services will probably become good options for full image archive storage. Lastly, in the social arena, there's some crossover between image storage and "photo sharing" amid sites like Flickr, 500px and Google Plus. Check out "Move Forward With Social Media" by Jim Goldstein in this issue for more information about how these services might fit into your overall business plans.

 

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