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Several options exist to store and backup your digital photos. Here are three inexpensive solutions, with no recurrent monthly fees, to make sure you won’t lose any of your pics.
Store, share and backup digital photos
External Hard Drives
External hard drives are a classic when it comes to backing up, especially when on a budget of sorts. You can get hard drives with a varying amount of storage space. It is best to get at least two sets of hard drives with identical backups on, and to not store them at the same location.
Using hard drives is typically faster than uploading files to the cloud, however, it requires setting aside a certain amount of time to ensure your backups are up to date.
But a s we said, using an external hard drive, require two conditions: being able to store it in a different location from your home (at your office, at your parent’s place, etc…), and using encryption like Cryptomator of this mobile storage.
Price: Around $200 for a basic drive.
Pros: Cheapest solution.
Cons: Requires manual backup and storage at an offsite location.
NAS Photo Station, combined with Plex media library
Here, you essentially build your own cloud storage server, called a NAS at home. It’s a physical device you keep at home, with several redundant hard drives, that you can access from anywhere with advanced, highly-customizable software.
So, instead of a unique external hard drive that you plug into your computer, a NAS is a disk or array of disks that you access over a network. NAS devices are standard in many businesses, and are becoming more popular at home as people realize how flexible and powerful they can be.
The Synology NAS, comes with the free Synology Photo Station. Synology gives you your own personal cloud storage on a device you own. You can then access your photos and other files from anywhere.
Synology Photo Station lets viewers engage with your images by leaving comments and clicking on highlighted areas, so it’s great for sharing images with clients or even the general public. Storage space isn’t a problem, since you can just add more drives to your NAS or swap out the existing disk for a bigger one.
Coupled with Plex (a free media manager running on NAS Synology), you can access and share your photos even more easily
Price: Around $200 for a basic enclosure, plus the drives you’ll purchased separately.
Pros: Highly customizable, infinitely expandable. Easy to share photos with others and no long-term recurring fees. Very fast access at home (because on your local network). Connected to your mobile through free app.
Cons: Steep learning curve. Not true a cloud-storage service, so your photos aren’t backed up remotely.
pCloud, the only cloud storage with lifetime plan
pCloud is a cloud storage option that has a one-time fee option instead of monthly or yearly charges. While the one-time fee is expensive, it is far cheaper in the long term if you plan on using the service for years.
pCloud is a great choice for photographers on a budget who don’t want to commit to expensive yearly fees but require solid online photo storage.
pCloud’s options for photographers won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but they do have some pleasing features. The mobile app can upload your images directly to pCloud, and the web-based interface lets you resize your photos to make them smaller. This is useful if you want to share photos while keeping an eye on file sizes and bandwidth usage.
Free Version: 10 GB storage. Includes all pCloud features in the commercial version.
Paid Version: $175 one-time fee for 500 GB storage. $350 one-time fee for 2 TB. $700 one-time fee for 4 TB.
Pros: One-time fee. Uploading via the mobile app. Redundant and reliable offsite backup. Connected to your mobile through free app.
Cons: Expensive up-front cost. Slow remote access.
External hard drive is the cheapest but also the less resilient and less up-to-date solution. It remains a must have though.
Both NAS and lifetime cloud are very reliable solution, easy to access from your phone and to share with your friends. Both are complementary, and once purchased, will not cost you a penny.
We recommend you to combine the three.