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Best Smartphone Photo Storage Apps

smartphone photo storage

That Camera You Can Make Calls On

If you’re like me, your smartphone is used for far more than simply making calls. Social media, email, calendars, Google – there are endless uses for your device. While many of these tasks don’t require much in the way of storage, taking photos will quickly chew up your smart phones limited memory.

Modern smartphones have high resolution cameras. They take superb photos, often rivaling some brand name digital devices. But when taking such rich and detailed photos, your cameras built in memory can soon run low. This can prevent you from taking more photos, or installing new apps. The only remedy is to delete information from your phone, but who wants to lose all those awesome selfies you took? Or the picture of your cat sleeping on the windowsill? How will life go on?

Free Film Equals Thousands Of Photos

Smartphone manufacturers and software developers quickly realized that the limitations in smartphone storage versus our snap-happy lives would soon reach a boundary. Fortunately, the solution was simple. Cloud based storage for your photos provides nearly limitless capacity, and allows you to access your photos from any device, as well as provide a backup in case your phone is lost or broken. When you take a photo, the software on your smartphone will trigger an action to send the photo to the cloud. You can then delete the photo from your device – but still have it available through the app or by logging in through the web. Some smartphones have this technology built in, such as Apple’s iCloud and Androids photo backup. Others require the assistance of a third party app to automatically send your pictures to the cloud. While the idea may seem too good to be true, it requires some careful thought before jumping in. There might be a concern for security, and who has access to your private images. You may want to know if some cost is involved. And will the app cause some sort of malfunction on your device, or not offer all the features you thought it did?

Proprietary Photo Storage Solutions

Apple’s iCloud is a native feature to Apple devices running the latest update. When enabled on your iPhone (Settings > iCloud > Photos, then turn on iCloud Photo Library) you get up to 5GB of storage free. Additional storage is available, starting at $0.99 a month for 20GB, and up to 1TB for $19.99 per month. Your photos will be stored in the original, high resolution format in iCloud, with options to keep lower resolution photos on your device – which takes up less space. If you edit your photo, such as applying a filter or cropping, the updated photo is mirrored across all devices logged into the iCloud account. Another added feature is the ability to share selected photos or albums with family and friends – without sharing all your photos.

Android devices also have native photo backup, if it’s been enabled (Photos > Settings > Auto Backup and enable). Google+ Photos will automatically backup your photos to the cloud, and allow you to access them through the web. There is currently no limit on storage, but only for photos less than 2048×2048 resolution – and most modern phones exceed this resolution by default. Google Drive, another offering from Google, allows 15GB of storage for any size photo – and can also automatically store your photos to the cloud. Installing the Google Drive app and enabling the service (Google Drive > Settings > Auto Add) will automatically place your photos in a folder on Google Drive. You can then access them from the app, or through a desktop computer.

Yahoo’s Flickr service allows you to store photos from your iPhone or Android device, and your Windows or Apple computer as well. It offers a generous 1TB of storage FOR FREE! Flickr’s photo management capabilities are impressive as well, offering some editing options, facial recognition, and sharing.

Microsoft’s OneDrive is quickly becoming a popular alternative to the old standbys. It also offers 15GB of storage, and will automatically upload your photos. OneDrive is accessible on your Android, iPhone or Windows based smartphone, and through your PC or Apple desktop or laptop computer.

Photo Storage Security

Security is a major concern today, and anything you put online should be carefully considered. While most cloud photo storage apps for your smartphone will keep your photos private by default, no service is 100% impervious to accidental – or malicious – access. Like my mother says, “don’t say anything about somebody you wouldn’t say to their face”, you shouldn’t save photos to the cloud you wouldn’t want someone else to see. And make sure you have a thorough understanding of how the photo sharing options work if you decide to share a photo using one of these services. Finally, take the time to read the privacy policy of your preferred service. Some policies state the provider can scan your photos for copyrighted content, and although this is likely an automated process, it still makes me a little leery.

I’ll occasionally go through my phone’s photo library and clean out any old photos I don’t want to keep. I’m always taking photos of things I need to remember, like a product label or serial number, so I can refer to it later. But once “later” happens, I don’t need it anymore. With cloud photo storage, you’ll need to delete the photo from the cloud service as well – otherwise you’ll be taking up space with useless photos. Admittedly, it’s sometimes entertaining to go through the old photos and see what’s there.

With so many options for cloud photo storage, it might take a few tries before you find what works best for you. Since most offer a free introductory offer, or are free to use for life, it can’t hurt to give them a try and see what you like best.

I’m always looking for ideas for this column. If you have an idea, please send me an email. I would love to hear from you!

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Matt Rice, CTO

Matt is a graduate of Central Maine Technical College. He has been with Burgess since 2001, acting as Service Manager, then General Manager, before becoming an owner. Matt focuses on developing and delivering technologies that fit best with customer needs.

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