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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is Cloud Storage For You?

Recent announcements by several tech giants have brought cloud storage into the mainstream. Will it work for you as a professional photographer?

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The Internet is nothing new to photographers obviously, and it has had a tremendous impact on the overall photographic industry. In some ways that impact has been remarkably good, such as it's enabling photographers to reach a huge audience at very little cost. And in some ways that impact has been troubling, such as it's enabling a meteoric rise in the availability of photographic images that has caused a significant drop in the licensing fees paid for stock photography in many circumstances.

The key underpinnings of the Internet are data storage and transfer. Relatively recently, the term "cloud computing" has come into vogue. The idea began gaining popularity around five years ago, but interest in it has exploded suddenly with Apple's announcement of their forthcoming iCloud service, available this fall. This announcement likely caused many photographers to renew their thoughts about whether they can leverage cloud storage for their own photographic images.

As the number of options ramp up and costs drop, cloud storage is becoming a viable option for professional photographers. LEFT: Carbonite is one of the most popular cloud service companies. RIGHT: The MozyPro website.

The ability to store files online is not new, of course. But as broadband connections to the Internet have become more widely available, an increasing number of companies have started offering cloud storage services. For many photographers, these services can provide tremendous benefits.

Cloud Benefits

One of the biggest reasons to consider the use of cloud storage is as an online backup. If you've ever lost any photos due to a failed hard drive, you certainly can appreciate the importance of a reliable backup system. There are many options available for backing up your photos, but an online backup provides an extra benefit by virtue of the backup automatically being stored in a different physical location from the original data.

By storing your backup in a different location, you're helping to minimize the risks of data loss. In theory, you could simply store a backup drive somewhere other than your primary location. The problem with this approach is that you need to have your backup drive on location part of the time, at least for purposes of updating the backup, and there's also a risk that you'll neglect to move the backup drive to another location despite your best intentions.

Another benefit of cloud storage is the ability to access your images from anywhere on the planet provided you have a connection to the Internet. At a very basic level, this ability makes it easy to share a portfolio of images with others as you travel around the world. But perhaps more significantly, you actually can get real work done if you have access to your images from virtually anywhere.


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