At some point in the rapid advance of technology, we started hearing about the cloud. “Where is this cloud? What can it do for me?,” you may wonder.
The cloud uses a shared pool of computing resources. This network of data centers allows information to be stored and retrieved quickly and inexpensively. Think of it like an electrical grid: you don’t know exactly where it comes from, but you can draw from it when you need it.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that you need to back up your photos in more than one location. If there’s a disaster in your home, having your content offsite means you can retrieve it and important things are not lost. The cloud seems like a great solution for backup and for saving and showing off pictures when you’re away from home, but you need to be aware of some drawbacks to this method.
I don’t know about you, but I have never read every word of the agreements I agree to when I join a new website. Sure, I skim over the sections and maybe read certain parts, but those things are long! When you’re turning over your precious photos to a cloud storage site, it’s important to know what you’re allowing them to do.
You may think that because you took the picture, you are the owner (copyright holder). Unfortunately, some websites claim to own anything on their site, no matter who uploaded the content. Be aware of ownership statements that supersede the original ownership.
What happens if the cloud site shuts down or the company goes out of business? Will they give you a chance to retrieve and move your content, or do you just lose everything at the site? How easy is it for your heir or estate manager to retrieve your pictures if something happens to you? Look for wording that provides guidance for “what if” situations that may occur by either you or the storage site.
Do you want anyone on the planet to be able to see your photos? There are varying levels of privacy on cloud storage sites. Are you storing content behind strong passwords that are required to get back to the content? Are the photos “kind of” hidden, but anyone might be able to stumble upon them if they get lucky? Or are they posted publicly right from the start? And who can download them to their own computer? Understand just how the storage site protects your uploads.
Some cloud storage solutions will compress your pictures to save on the amount of space they take up. The picture will still look great on the computer screen, but if you download it and try to make a print enlargement, the quality can be compromised. Look for a site that will upload your full file (all 10MB per photo if you took them that way) so that you have full functionality when you retrieve the photo from the cloud.
Popular Cloud Storage Sites
Amazon Photos – Apple iCloud – Carbonite – Dropbox – Flickr – Google Photos – Microsoft OneDrive – SmugMug
Cloud storage may be a wonderful solution, but take the time to understand the agreement before you upload your photos to any of the sites. The solution may not be worth the benefit.