When we talk about photo storage, we generally don’t think about cloud storage for photographers, but rather external hard drives and other storage devices. But first, let me describe the circumstances that I went through and what caused me to alter my viewpoint. In this article, I will also discuss the advantages of cloud storage for photographers.
I used external hard drive HDDs that were 1 TB, 2 TB, 5 TB, and so on for a time, and one fine morning, some of the HDDs abruptly stopped working or crashed for no apparent reason. I attempted to recover it by sending it to the service center, and it was sent to the Netherlands for data recovery, only to receive a call after two months saying that the data could not be recovered and that I would have to pay the import duty for the damaged hard disc if I wanted the HDD back, to which I replied, “No Thanks.”
The unfortunate thing is that I had created a partial backup of the images. The external hard disc, which contained 8 years of travel data, photos, and videos, has vanished. Cloud technology was still very new and pricey at the time. With all of the moving components within the hard disc HDD, I opted to go with the SSD – a solid-state device with no moving parts that are now used in virtually all laptops, is significantly smaller in size, and costs twice as much.
There is alternative NAS storage available too. This SSD’s read-write performance is substantially faster and more reliable, and it is now a component of my travel equipment. But this is expensive, and if I want to produce two or three duplicates, I’ll need an equivalent amount of hard drives. Taking backup, management of photographs, etc, made this excessively time-consuming and highly expensive. This is acceptable for little projects, but when you have a significant number of data, it becomes nearly hard to handle.
This is where the idea of cloud storage for photographers came from. With the lower cost of internet, both broadband and mobile data, and simple access, as well as the lower cost of cloud storage, I’ve been wondering why not migrate to the cloud instead of all these time-consuming responsibilities of maintaining data, hard drives, storage, safety, and so on. I performed some research, and this is what I discovered based on my personal usage, as well as why shifting to the cloud is a far better alternative.
Backup storage for photographers
As previously said, backup storage for photographers is a nightmare. To save 5 TB of data, you must have the same space or another hard disc of the same cost and capacity for only one backup, which is the bare minimum. Consider managing folders and files in each of these backups and duplicating on all copies. This is inconvenient when you have TBs of data storage. Most cloud storage service providers feature backup, so you don’t have to think about it. You only need to upload and download photographs, and backup is handled automatically.
Cost of storage – cloud vs on-premise
An HDD has a limited lifespan, about 4 years on average if used intensively in my case. Because it has moving components, the more you transport it when traveling, the shorter its life, in my experience. It also relies on whether you removed your device carefully before disconnecting. Even while HDDs can manage it, the read-write head may not return to its default position on occasion (rarely), causing a problem.
There is no dedicated cloud storage for photographers, but there is cloud storage for images, the finest of which are Google Photos or Google Drive. There are other different cloud storage service providers, but I’ve been using Google Photos since my fourth HDD failed.
When it comes to costs, the costs would include hard disc costs (HDDs are less costly than SSDs), backup storage, safe storage of these hard discs, data recovery costs (very expensive), and file administration costs (in case of a large number of data). This is not the case with cloud storage.
As of this writing, the pricing of Google Photos is ₹1,300 a year for 100 GB. You may check the latest price and different plans available on the Google One homepage. I would strongly advise using cloud storage. The plan becomes less expensive with a yearly plan and more storage. Begin with the simplest layout and gradually raise the size as you upload.
Upload and transfer time
Some high-end external drives are power-hungry. Data transfer is slow in HDDs and slightly faster in SSDs. However, for cloud storage, it is simply the network bandwidth. Again, retrieving data via archival cloud storage takes time, although this is mostly for industrial or business usage. When it comes to cloud storage for photographers, the standard package is enough.
Compression and quality
If you are a professional photographer, you may always save your photographs in raw format. It should be noted that raw files are much larger than JPEG files. This is because raw files have all of the color information and can be retrieved while editing images, while the compressed JPEG format does not.
However, if you are a semi-professional or a casual photographer and do not see a purpose for these raw files, there is no use in retaining them. For non-professional photographers, Google Photos or standard online storage is adequate. So, modify these files and convert them to a compressed high-quality JPEG format. Upload these JPEGs to the cloud. Many cloud storage providers further compress without much loss of quality, which is sufficient for social media use. You may even save the raw files.
Easy access to images
The photographs in Google Photos may be simply viewed using the cloud service provider’s app. Many have party support, which allows us to access the editing tool and easily import from the cloud service provider. And this type of cloud storage for photographers’ services might be really beneficial. It will be simpler to send directly from storage to your customer or on social media.
Location-based search made easier
Most cameras these days include GPS tracking, and the picture location data is collected when the shot is taken. The photo may be searched directly in the cloud storage for photographers rather than downloading or scrolling through the photographs as is the case with typical external hard drive storage. When you search in the search field, it will take you directly to the image from a place, which saves you a lot of time.
There’s no need to be concerned about transporting the external hard drive safely. Cloud storage is the greatest solution for photographers. Simply log in and access it from any location and device. All you need is a device and an internet connection to get started. It even works with mobile data. So, the next time you go somewhere and forget to bring an additional memory card, you can always download your images to the cloud or connect your camera SD card to your phone through OTG and transfer the raw files to the cloud and erase the card. And the card is now ready to be used again. So there’s no need to worry about transporting your hard disc.
Read text from Images
It is difficult to search through TBs of data. Cloud service providers such as Google can even scan text from a picture, search for that content, and return accurate search results in a matter of milliseconds. It’s that simple, quick, and easy. In traditional image storage, you must examine each image and verify that it is the correct photo of the document. Consider looking through all of your files when you have TBs of data. It is nearly difficult, thus cloud storage for photographers is the best option.
In the event of a hard disc crash, you must ship the hard disc to a service center, which will take a long time to recover, assuming it is recoverable. Furthermore, data recovery is quite expensive. So, unless this is for an inquiry, the data is simply not retrieved. When it comes to images, photographers will need all of the files, thus cloud storage for photographers is the greatest solution because data recovery is not an issue. Your data will be handled by cloud service providers. You may always download and keep a backup.
Security and safety
It is critical to keep the images from your assignment safe and secure. Data security is critical in cloud storage, and it will be extremely secure. If you are concerned about data abuse, you should always store conventional hard drives in a safe room or locker.
When cloud storage for photographers is not an option
When you are working in the field or at a client location, for example, I went on a travel assignment to the mountains where there is no network, in this case, I usually carry an SSD external device or multiple memory cards. Why SSD instead of HDD is much faster and more reliable even though it is costlier. Cloud storage for photographers will not be beneficial and can be used once they are back at home or in their studio.
As a photographer, these are the most important cloud storage benefits that I see. So, what is your view on cloud storage for photographers? By the way, hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. Buy me a coffee to support my work or you can go to my store to buy some of my images. Also, do not forget to join my FriendZone by signing up for my newsletter. Consider subscribing to my YouTube channel.