Photos Away

Location
Home, UK

When I’m away, I plan on taking a lot of photos, and I mean a lot! I will only be stopped by a bursting memory card or a dwindling battery. This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I want to make sure that nothing is forgotten.

Now, this poses a problem. Even the biggest memory cards can only hold so many pics, so I need a way of storing the mass of photos I will be taking somewhere else. There are a number of options available that I will outline below:

  • Take a portable external hard drive
  • Buy loads of memory cards
  • Upload to my web hosting
  • Get a pro Flickr account
  • Get a pro Picasa account
  • Pay for MobileMe

External Hard Drive

While looking in to this, I have been surprised by how popular this option is. You can buy 500gb rugged portable hard drives now for around £50, so I suppose it is a fairly affordable option. The idea is that every now and then you can pop into an internet café and clear off your memory card onto the hard disk. 500gb should be plenty of space unless your planning to take photos at a ridiculously high resolution!

This should be a quick and easy process, and as I said above this will be plenty of space for your photos and more. I suppose you could also use the extra storage to keep digital backups of important documents which would be useful.

The problem is, your eggs are all in one basket. If this disk is lost, stolen, broken, or comes into any other harm at all, your photos are gone instantly, which of course would be heart breaking. This just isn’t an option for me so for that reason I’ll be giving external hard drives a miss.

Memory Cards

This is a bit of a silly option really. I plan on taking a pretty big memory card any way, around 8gb, but it would be very impractical to have any more than two of these. For a start they are tiny, so they would not be very hard to lose, misplace, sit on, eat, you get the point. Again, although not as bad as with a hard drive, I still get the feeling that my eggs would all still be in one basket.

The other problem is storage/price.  An 8gb card for any normal holiday should be far more than what is needed. Unfortunately this isn’t a normal holiday, and we are going to be out there for a long time. I can quite easily see us filling up a number of 8gb cards, so although they are not that expensive, the costs would soon rack up.

My Own Web Hosting

At first I thought this could be quite a good option. Seeing as I work in web design, I was already in possession of some quite substantial web hosting space. I could just upload my photos to my web hosting where they could be stored until I downloaded them at a later date.

This is a cost effective option, and even if you don’t have your own hosting, you can buy basic web hosting packages with quite generous amounts of storage very cheaply.

This also provides a solution to my fears of losing memory cards or external hard drives. My photos would be safe online whatever happens to me!

The main downfall with this approach is that its a bit too techy. The computers I’m going to have access to aren’t going to be what I’m used to at home, and I would need a dedicated ftp client to upload my photos which to be honest, is just a bit of a hassle. So web hosting could be a viable option for some people, but not for me.

Picasa

Google! You’ve got your foot in every door going! Picasa is an online photo storage solution run by Google. You can create an account for free, but you will only get 1gb of space, so I would be needing one of their five paid options.

The cheapest of these costs $5 a year and you get 20gb of space. This would be ok for a lot of people, but to be on the safe side I would probably opt to go for at least their $20 option which gives you 80gb of storage.

The cool thing about Picasa is that you can download a Picasa app where you can edit your photos offline. If your taking a laptop or netbook this would be a very nice feature to have, unfortunately for us, we’re not taking one so it is unlikely the computers in the internet cafés will have the program installed. Nevertheless, its a nice option to have.

I would probably go with Picasa if it wasn’t for Flickr. Be patient, I’ve written about Flickr below.

MobileMe

Apple’s offering to the online storage table is MobileMe. Being a Mac user MobileMe might seem like a logical choice. Like Picasa, photos can be edited offline using iPhoto. This is all well and good but where am I going to find a Mac complete with iPhoto in South America?

If we forget about that slight problem for the moment, and assume that I was able to find a Mac somewhere, even still MobileMe is not a very appealing solution. For a start its $99 a year making it bad value compared to the other solutions here, especially when MobileMe only offers 20gb of storage!

I suppose that when looking at this price, you have to remember that MobileMe is not just an online storage solution, but it also includes many other services like email, web hosting etc. I don’t need any of these though so I’m not going to be using MobileMe.

Flickr

My chosen solution, Flickr, is another online photo storage and sharing service much like Picasa. Where it beats Picasa in my opinion is value for money, its web interface, and its photo sharing abilities.

Flcikr has only one price option, and this is certainly not a downside. For a modest $24.95 a year, you can be the proud owner of a Flickr Pro account with unlimited storage! This means however many photos I take, I will be able to store every single one securely at its original resolution. This is really, really good value.

To upload photos you need to visit the Flickr website and sign in. Once your logged on uploading photos is a breeze, and you can bulk upload your photos very easily.

Like Picasa, Flickr has photo editing options, but they are all completed online. This is useful from our point of view as we should be able to access these tools from any Internet Café computer. Flickr also has a number of cool options for sharing your uploaded photos including a variety of galleries. Also, Flickr differs from Picasa in the way you can download your photos. Flickr gives you the option of downloading a number of sizes, where as Picasa only offers one.

For our situation, I really think Flickr offers the best value for money and will be the most accessible. Don’t get me wrong though, if your planning on taking a netbook or laptop, Picasa could be a very appealing alternative.

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