All posts tagged backups

→ Protecting Your Photographic Memories

Speaking of videos that have been making the rounds recently, this video on the importance of organizing and backing up your photos is also worth a watch.

Choosing an Everpix Alternative

The shutdown of Everpix has left some people scrambling to find an alternative photo backup service. It appears Apple may have solved part of the problem by removing the limit on the amount of photos you can store in Photostream. As Shawn Blanc points out , howver, it is unclear what this KB and new FAQ page actually means, and, regardless, it does nothing to address the photo re-discovery problem. Furthermore, this solution would only work for iOS photos and the photos that you upload to your photostream from iPhoto or Aperture.1 Consequently, there is still a need for a photo backup solution that both

  1. easily backs up your photos; and
  2. helps you re-discover the photos that you have previously taken.2

Examined Alternatives

Loom

I believe I first heard about Loom via a tweet or post from M.G. Siegler, and I am pretty sure that said discovery occurred within the last month. Consequently, I think of Loom as the “new kid on the block,” even if that is not actually the case.

Loom has both an iOS application and a Mac uploader. The iOS application is nicely designed and allows for easy uploading of all the pictures you take on your iOS device. The Mac uploader allows you to specify locations that wish to backup and, as of October 4th, 2013, allows for the uploading of RAW files.3

Loom does not have any direct backup support with any of the photography centric social networks like Facebook or Instagram.

Loom provides a “Timeline” view of your photographs, but does not provide any way to easily see photos from “1 year ago today” or similar such “re-discovery features.”

Pricing for Loom comes in three tiers:

  • Up to 5GB – Free
  • Up to 50 GB – $3.99 per month
  • Up to 250 GB – $9.99

Picture Life

Picture Life is a service I had heard about here and there, but, because I was so happy with Everpix, I never really looked into it.. Obviously, that situation has now changed.

Picture Life has an iOS app4 and a Mac uploader. The iOS app is functional, though it lacks the UI polish of Loom.5 Like Loom, however, Picture Life does automatically upload all of your iOS photos from directly within the iOS app. As with Loom, the Mac uploader allows for the selection of locations from which you wish to backup your photos. It also supports the upload of a ton of RAW photo formats.

Unlike Loom, Picture Life does include direct connection to your various social networks. It includes backup from a number of services, including Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr. This is especially nice for seeding your Picture Life account with your most important photos without taxing your personal upload bandwidth.

Picture Life has a “Memories” feature, which is very similar to Everpix’s “Flashback” functionality, and allows you to see photos taken from today’s date in previous years. At this point, however, I am unable to determine if Picture Life is as good at picking out the “best” photos from given date as Everpix was. Instead, it seems like Picture Life just displays all photos from a given day in straight chronological order.

Pricing for Picture Life comes in three tiers:

  • Up to 1,700 Photos or 5GB – Free
  • Up to 34,000 Photos or 100GB – $7
  • Up to 100,000 Photos or 300GB – $15

Mosaic

Mosaic take a different approach to photo backup: it backs up photos by reading your Lightroom catalog. This means, of course, that if you are not a Lightroom user, then Mosaic is not the solution for you.

Because Mosaic is based on backing up photos from Lightroom, there is no direct backup of photos from your iOS devices.6 Instead, all backup to Mosaic occurs on the Mac.7 Though there are obvious disadvantages to only being able to backup photos from your Mac, however, Mosaic leverages the Lightroom catalog to provide some advantages as well. For example, Mosaic allows you to do selective backup based on Lightroom ratings, flags, and collections. This can be especially useful for photographers with extremely large photography libraries and for those who do not care if every shot of his or her palm between HDR sets is backed up to the cloud. Also, since the uploader is based on Lightroom, any file format, RAW or otherwise, that can be processed by Lightroom can be uploaded.

As you would probably expect from my description of Mosaic so far, Mosiac does not feature any direct connection to social networks. Mosaic also does not feature any re-discovery features to help you remember you old photos.

Pricing for Mosaic comes in a number of tiers, including:8

  • 2000 JPG Previews in the IOS app, but no backup of original photos – Free
  • Unlimited JPG Previews in the iOS app, but no backup of original photos – $7
  • Unlimited JPG previews in the iOS app, and 400GB of original photo backups – $12

NOTE: In an earlier version of this post, I incorrectly stated that the free tier allowed 200 JPG Previews instead of the 2000 it actually provides.

What I Am Doing

Though I prefer the iOS experience in Loom and feel that its $9.99 for 250 GB of storage is the quite reasonable, Loom’s lack of any photo “re-discovery” features keeps me from making it my Everpix replacement of choice. Instead, I have already started uploading my pictures to Picture Life and anticipate that I will soon be using the $15 a month for 300GB tier. Also, between the photos I have uploaded and the photos Picture Life has sucked in from my social networks, I am already starting to see some good results in Picture Life’s “Memories” feature.

I do really like what Mosaic is trying to do with the Lightroom integration, but, at this point, it does not really have any compelling functionality that makes me want to invest in the service. If a new version of the iOS application comes out with two-way sync I definitely give it a shot. Of course, by that point, Adobe might have released Lightroom for iOS and knocked Mosaic completely out of the game.

The loss of Everpix was disappointing. I really enjoyed the service, and its price was unbeatable. Of course, it appears the price was unbeatable because it was too low for what it offered. My hope is that paying the slightly more a month fee to Picture Life will help keep that service alive significantly longer.


  1. This upload process has always been a little clunky, and, more importantly, does not support the upload of the RAW versions of the photos. 

  2. Though this article focuses on photo-specific backup services, that does not mean a general backup service cannot also be used to backup photos. For example, my entire photo library is backed up both to various external disks and to the Crashplan cloud. NOTE: That Crashplan link is one of their “20% of friends and family offers. I don’t think it actually gets me anything, but it is somehow tied to my accounts. 

  3. Well, the release said that during my first revision of this article, but the new version of the release notes seems to have pulled it. 

  4. The iOS Icon is terrible. I bury it in a folder just to avoid having to look it. 

  5. The app was just updated today, however, and does work a little bit better. 

  6. There is an iOS application, but, at the moment, it is just used for viewing photos that are currently backed up. Mosaic has announced plans for some level of two-way sync between the iOS app and Lightroom, but that has not be released yet. Also not released yet is Adobe’s Lightroom for iOS, which was previewed earlier this year. Lightroom for iOS is especially interesting since it would, most likely, leverage Lightroom’s Smart Previews feature and allow for on-the-go editing of photos without having to transfer the large amount of data associated with the original RAW files. UPDATE – 11/11/13 – Mosaic has contacted me and informed me that it intends to submit the iOS App update with 2-way Lightroom sync this week. 

  7. Of course, if you are so inclined, you could setup a workflow to automatically import your iOS Photostream into Lightroom

  8. There are extremely large plans for professional photographers and studios. Those plans are beyond the scope of this review. 

→ Why it is Important Multiple iOS Backups

This iMore article strikes me as particularly important after my recent experience upgrading to iOS 6. During my upgrade, restoring from my iCloud backups seemed to either fail completely or result in only a partial restore of my applications. Thankfully, I performed a backup to my computer a few weeks prior that I was able to use to restore my device.

My lessons learned as result:

  1. Make sure I backup my iOS devices to my computer at least every two weeks(I set a repeating Omnifocus task for this).

  2. On the day before any iOS update, backup my iOS device to my computer.

I intend to continue using iCloud as my “automatic” / “nightly” backup mechanism, but I will be supplementing that with backups to iTunes on my computer going forward.