Don't lose those holiday snaps

Set up automatic backup on your phone

Christmas lights smartphone
Credit: Flickr

Not too long ago I switched to a new cell phone and had some trouble transferring data to my new phone. It got me thinking that I should do a better job backing up all my mobile data, including photos.

Historically, I’ve done so manually, by physically connecting my phone to my laptop and then choosing which photos to store online (I use SkyDrive). But since I do that pretty rarely, I decided to look into automatic photo backup services.

If you need an automatic backup, here are the options I considered. Plus, I’ll let you in on my observations about which appear to be the most popular (Hint: Despite Amazon Web Services’ position as the undisputed king in offering compute services to businesses, it appears to be lagging far behind competitors in attracting consumers to its cloud services.)

--DropBox could be the most widely used file share service out there. The Google Play store shows that the DropBox Android app has had 100 million to 500 million downloads. That’s a wide range but far more than any of the other services I looked into.

DropBox can be used for much more than backing up photos, so there’s a good chance that a lot of customers don’t use it to upload photos. In fact, I had the DropBox app on my old Android phone and never used it for photos.

Nonetheless, it’s a good option for doing photo backup from your phone. An automatic option sends every photo you take to DropBox, where you can visit at any time to delete photos if you run out of storage space. DropBox is among the stingiest with storage though, offering you just 3 GB for free. But it uploads the original size and full quality of your photos.

--Google Drive also offers an automatic photo backup service. You can upload an unlimited number of smaller photos (where the longest edge is 2048px) but after that, photos count against your Google Drive storage quote. Drive offers users 15 GB of free storage, including anything you have stored in Gmail and other types of file stored in Drive.

The Play Store shows that Google Drive has had 10 million to 50 million downloads. Like DropBox, Drive can be used to store all kinds of files so there’s a good chance that a lot of users don’t use it for photo backup.

--Box, with 5 million to 10 million downloads from the Google Play store, is another popular option. Like the others, it’s for sharing more than photos. It offers 10 GB of free storage so it’s a good bet if you don’t want to pay for more storage or manage moving your photos after you hit a lower storage limit.

--Popular photo sharing service Flickr offers a whopping 1 TB of free storage but has a big downside. One reason Flickr may not be more popular among Android users – the Play Store reports 1 million to 5 million downloads – is that there’s no automatic upload feature for Android. Auto upload was only introduced for iOS in November so there’s a chance it’ll come to Android too.

--Sugarsync and SkyDrive both have 1 million to 5 million downloads from Google Play. Both do automatic uploads.

--Amazon’s Cloud Drive Photo has the least number of downloads on Google Play of any of the apps I checked out – 100,000 to 500,000. That’s a tiny range for such a big name company. Users get 5 GB for free. Amazon doesn’t appear to have convinced Android consumers at least that it’s a good option for cloud storage.

Despite all of those options, it turns out that I don’t really have much choice. I recently started using a BlackBerry Z10 and the only one of the above services with an official app comes from Box.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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