The Cloud, Day 12: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

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30 Days With the Cloud: Day 12

Photos are irreplaceable. They capture special events and moments in time that can’t be recreated. They are memories filled with emotional, sentimental attachments. They are a chronological record of our lives captured in images. How and where they are stored is crucial, because--simply put--they are priceless.

Sitting behind me as I type this, there is a shelf in my office filled with photo albums. There are eleven of them to be exact—containing the combined photographic record and sentimental memories of my wife and I…until about twelve years ago.

What happened twelve years ago? I bought a Sony Mavica digital camera so I could start capturing pictures digitally using 3.5-inch floppy disks instead of film. We have since moved on from the Mavica to a Nikon D700, and my wife has moved from amateur to professional photographer. Now, my “photo album” is a folder of files on my PC.

As concerned as I am that my house could be hit by a fire or flood and the photo albums on my bookshelf could be destroyed , I am way more concerned about the vast catalog of images on my PC. I have them backed up on an external USB drive that is stored in a fireproof safe box. I also have them backed up on an ioSafe drive that is virtually indestructible. Now I can store them in the cloud as well…just to be sure they’re protected and safe.

While my wife is the magician with the Nikon, the extent of my picture taking is generally limited to point-and-shoot snapshots with my mobile phone. At least once, I have erased or reset a mobile phone without first saving the pictures to my PC, and ended up losing those memories forever. Thankfully, the smartphones have gotten smarter and I don’t have to worry about that any more.

iCloud and iOS 5 keep my photos synced between my iOS devices and my PCs.
The Windows Phone 7 “Mango” device I used for 30 Days With Windows Phone 7, my iPhone 4S with iOS 5, and my Motorola Xoom running Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” are all capable of automatically syncing pictures to the cloud as they are taken. Windows Phone 7 syncs pictures to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, iOS devices use PhotoStream to sync pictures with iCloud, and Android syncs pictures to Google’s Picasa.

The beauty of the automatic syncing is that the pictures are instantly backed up. Even if I drop my iPhone in a lake, or someone steals my Motorola Xoom, the pictures I have taken will still be available to me online.

Now, the extension of my paranoid need to have multiple backups of the pictures stored on my PC is that I also don’t entirely trust them in the cloud. I appreciate the convenience and peace of mind of knowing they’re automatically synced and available in the cloud, but I still need to back them up locally and make sure they’re protected…redundantly.

I’ll go into more detail about the services available to store and manage photos online, and how I use them tomorrow.

Read the Last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Windows Phone 7

Day 11: Music in the Cloud

Day 13: Storing and Managing Pictures in the Cloud

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