# What options are there for good, cheap online backup of photos?

What is a good and cheap solution for online backup of over 100Gb, probably growing to 200+ in about a year, and then no doubt more after that.

I am looking for something that can work in the background on a mac. I am using Aperture 3. The cost is the limiting factor. I have thought about an external HDD, but I want my data in another place to keep it safe.

• If you use online services: don't neglect the importance of encrypting your data before you hand it out to company X. For Dropbox exists a client-side encryptor (BoxCryptor) for example. – Leonidas Feb 11 '11 at 15:57
• @Leonidas, on the topic of encryption, it depends, but I'll agree that generally its good idea to encrypt. I personally don't bother with encryption of the actual photographs but I encrypt the other data... – Pharaun Feb 11 '11 at 16:14
• Does it need to be online? Would a pair of 250GB external hard drives, one at home being updated and one stored off-site (and swap them every few weeks or whenever you have a new set of irreplaceable photos), fulfill your requirements? That's an upfront cost of around $100 or less, and no maintenance costs, provided you have a place (like at work or at a friend's or relative's house) to store the off-site drive. – user2910 Feb 11 '11 at 18:14 • @Designer023 Don't forget that an option that is completely silent will merrily back up corruptions too – Rowland Shaw Feb 13 '11 at 20:24 • @Designer023/drewbenn - there is a pretty common tool for this called rsync, that does incremental backups. A little googling will find some nice front ends for it. – Jon.Griffen Feb 16 '11 at 9:08 ## 13 Answers There are quite a few different online backup options, such as: One of the better options given your information is an unlimited plan, these are getting harder to find, but Carbonite is one of the sites that does still offer this option. • I already use dropbox, but to pay for the space I need looks far to expensive. I will check out carbonite as it looks much more like what I need. Thanks – Designer023 Feb 11 '11 at 15:11 • Note that Mozy recently dropped their unlimited plan. Given how competition works, there's a chance Carbonite may too in the near future. With any service, be prepared to switch if necessary. – Craig Walker Feb 11 '11 at 15:45 • I use carbonite to backup everything on my computer, pictures included. – CyberKnoy08 Sep 6 '12 at 18:43 • That's not an affiliate link for Carbonite, is it? The /4486 at the end doesn't look quite right. – Tom Brossman Sep 21 '12 at 22:49 • Not that I know of... I'm not even a customer, I just know they have decent rates... – chills42 Sep 22 '12 at 1:12 not the answer you want, but I don't consider online backup to be cost effective yet. Costs are going down, but I find the annual cost is still more than it'd cost to buy a good firewire drive, copy the data, and store it in a drawer at a friend's house or some other offsite location. And think about this. How long will it take to archive 100Gb of data onto an online service? I know when I experimented with this, a 50Gb set of data took weeks to get fully backed up online. And if you ever need to recover that data, how long will it take to download it again and get it back where it's available? Again, weeks. The cost of storing the data is one cost. The cost of the time needed to make the bakcup, and even more important, the cost of the time lost waiting to rebuild the archive off of the cloud, is a killer for me. For relatively small, temporary backups I'll use dropbox. But for a permanent solution, it's multiple copies in multiple locations on multiple hard drives. • Yes it would seem that the online backup I require is probably still a few years away from what everyone has made clear. While there is the space and cost that ok now, the speed and time are far from perfect. For now I guess it's going to have to be a HD and then store it somewhere safe that is in another location. – Designer023 Feb 12 '11 at 18:48 • There's quite a difference in reliability between a good online service like S3 and an external drive in a friends house. – Jon.Griffen Feb 14 '11 at 19:40 • For uploading, Amazon offers a service where you mail them a drive and they load it into S3. It's described here: aws.amazon.com/importexport – Jon.Griffen Feb 14 '11 at 19:42 • @Jon.Griffen I didn't know that Amazon had that service. +1 for that bit of info :) – Designer023 Feb 16 '11 at 9:11 • the new amazon glacier service looks to be worth investigating, but at this point, I'm waiting to see what front end systems are built to take advantage of it. (expecting Jungledisk to have a good product at some point). – chuqui Sep 6 '12 at 15:46 There are several services available. There's a few reviews of these here: It's worth also checking if your broadband upload speed is fast enough. Using this calculator, for a 512kbps upload speed 150Gb would take just over a month. Another check is that you don't get charged extra for large amounts of uploading, especially if you have a limit to the total "downloading" (also includes uploading!) you do each month on your broadband tariff. • I hadn't thought of how long it would take. A month! That could pose a problem, since would like to upload the whole aperture library! – Designer023 Feb 11 '11 at 15:52 • I'm using Crashplan and it's going great. It took about 3 weeks to upload 200GB+ but now it does it every night and I'm worry free. – Hondalex Feb 17 '11 at 15:19 • As I mentioned in my post, CrashPlan offers a seed service that is awesome. I had over a TB for my initial backup, no way was I going to wait a few months to have my stuff safe. They sent me a HDD, I filled it up overnight and then sent it back. A day after they received it, my backup was online and from then on out, my computer just sends the updates it needs to as I work. No one else offers this, and I think that's a shortcoming of all the other services. – camflan Sep 8 '12 at 3:49 • It should be noted that some of these services are considerably cheaper than others. CrashPlan and Backblaze are all you can consume for a low monthly rate (~$6) Dropbox has set storage limits. – Shizam Sep 10 '12 at 19:01

I've tried several of these services - Backblaze, CrashPlan, mozy, carbonite. However, I've recently commited to CrashPlan for several reasons:

• Cheap monthly fee for unlimited storage.
• Can backup to more than one destination - I have a fileserver here in my house, so I backup to it and to CrashPlan online storage. VERY useful.
• you can have your friends backup to your machines, or you can backup to your friends machines. The flexibility of backup destinations and solutions is great
• You can use the seed program, which for ~ $100 bucks, they send you a HDD and you fill it up with all your data and then you send it to them. That way, your initial backup is super fast. It would've taken me over 85 days to backup my initial data set - during that time, you're paying for a backup service that doesn't have all of your data - the seed service changes that. For photographers, CrashPlan + the seed service is the way to go. • +1 for Crashplan +. I've been using it for over a year now and have over 300GB of photos backed up (Aperture). I've never had a problem restoring and it stays out of the way as it works. – ckoerner Nov 30 '12 at 21:58 • This is why shopping advice is OT. CrashPlan has changed their services and pricing and it's no longer nearly as cheap as it used to be. :( – FreeMan Mar 5 '20 at 20:28 For photos only, check out Snap Haven (out of business as of 2020). It's$99 for an unlimited plan with images at full-resolution.

The membership supports the non-profit Foundation for Data Permanence, which is meant to protect your data in the event that SnapHaven goes out of business.

• What I can't figure out from that site, if the "full resolution" photos are JPEG only... it seems more aimed at consumers than heavy photographers. But for casual users it could be an awesome service. – Kendall Helmstetter Gelner Feb 16 '11 at 4:53
• Yes, is is JPEG only. They changed the business model slightly since the launch which was 1 cent per photo for life, I guess volume became an issue. – Itai Feb 16 '11 at 17:32

I know it's not an answer to the question as asked, but I too would go with a set of external drives kept off-site. Also, look at rsnapshot. It's a rsync front-end, and I don't know how well it works on Windows, but on Linux and with file systems that support that, it uses hard links to minimize data duplication while allowing you to access old revisions of files by keeping a configurable number of backups around (rotating them automatically once the limit has been reached). Takes a little fiddling to set up but is pretty much set-and-forget, and you can copy any backup to another drive and be back where you were when that backup was taken.

• I will have a look into it. I am now considering backing up using a combo of rotating HDD's backed up with rsync moved off site after each backup, and I may possibly be going to try syncing to s3 or a similar service using rsync too. Nothing like overkill! – Designer023 Feb 17 '11 at 14:16

Storage is easy, and there are thousands of options. What I believe is critical is what else you need beyond storage.

What kind of files?..JPEG, JPEG+RAW, RAW only.

What kind of viewing?... confirm image files are stored, view photos, sort/view/share photos.

What other types of files?...psd, tiff, dng, library backup.

Considerations:

• Storage only: Amazon S3, Crashplan, Mozy, Backblaze. These solutions are backup/storage services, where you can view the files online, but not photos. In other words, you can confirm a list of image files uploaded, but not view the images themselves. Amazon S3 has APIs, all others use their own client interfaces. These have the benefit of being able to store not only images, but also any other file type, including LR or Aperture library files, psd, tiff, dng files.

• Storage and viewing. Again, thousands of solutions. Some like Dropbox, provide real-time access and replication, others, like Smugmug, store your JPEG files for sharing and viewing, and via integrated Amazon S3, can also store your associated RAW files.

• Viewing and sharing. Thousands of options again. Services such as Flickr, Picasa, 500px, focus on sharing of JPEGs only, though of course are a sort of 'backup', since these files live in the 'cloud'. Typically, bulk download can be much more troublesome than solutions in #2 above.

Another one is Mosaic (out of business as of 2020), but is only for Mac users.

From web site of Mosaic

 When starting with Mosaic or after a big shoot,
Mosaic can mail an external hard drive to get your
photos backed up quickly and securely.


Αnother is the new Project1709 (later renamed to Irista, no longer in service as of 31-01-2020). Which is still in Beta but looks very promising. The most important is that it accepts raw files. But as i said before it is too early to make any comparisons as it is in BETA.

If you own a Google Pixel you have unlimited free space for "Original quality" photos

I am using a combination of JungleDisk and SmugMug to backup my data. My photographic data is backed up to SmugMug (unlimited storage for a flat fee starting at US\$40/year). I have almost 12GB of data up there, admittedly it could take a while for your 100GB to upload. However being that one can use a web browser to upload images you can use a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th computer to upload. I am using JungleDisk for my data backup. It does a block copy instead of each individual files which makes it faster and taking less bandwidth.

I like these services for the data durability as they both use Amazon S3 which has reliability that is almost unimaginable.

So services are starting to drop unlimited storage and costs for a lot of storage are still prohibitive, yet mailing disks off to a remote site takes a lot of work and means you could lose months of works since it's not something done regularly.

Perhaps a combo approach is best. You could keep a few offsite hard drives around, with stuff that is a year older or more. For anything newer than the archive drives, you use one of the services to back up through the year (or for a few months, depending on your image volume). Then you update the offsite stores again, and wipe everything from the remote backup.

It's still more risky but it could be the only practical way to ensure you have time-machine like regularity to backup without breaking the bank.

I used to use Mozy for online backups, but a combination of them upping their prices/cancelling the unlimited plan and the sheer amount of time that it takes to upload data meant I switched to a hard drive base solution.

However, I also use Photoshelter to back up my processed jpegs (although they do accept raws/DNGs/PSDs etc) and run my website. It can get costly to store that much data, but you only have to upload once, or you can mail them a hard drive to get the initial upload sorted out without it taking a few weeks!

I use MyPCBackup, it's fully automated after initial back up, it has unlimited storage, you can share files and sync multiple computers, also the convenience of being able to access your files and photos from anywhere. Most importantly it's encrypted and fully secure, it's pretty cheap too so it does the job for me:)

• Most importantly it's /.../ fully secure - how do you know that? Do you have any references to a security audit, or are you actually behind the service? – Imre Dec 2 '12 at 12:54