What am I going to do with all of these photos? Like desktop documents and spreadsheets, my smartphone photos accumulate faster than I can deal with them. And, I lack the patience to cull, label, and organize them for future enjoyment, so they sit on my phone and my PC. Because of this and until recently, my iPhone was the vehicle of my downfall; my Achilles heel. My photo storage was a mess.
This unfortunate state of affairs ended when I discovered Prime Photos by Amazon. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription this service is free to use. It allows you to upload, store and access unlimited photos, and up to 5GB of videos. The service doesn’t discriminate over where my photos were taken or previously stored; it will take them all. That means existing photo libraries you may have tucked away in USB storage somewhere can be uploaded, and it will only cost you time.
On the topic of cloud availability, photos may be uploaded directly from your smartphone via the free iPhone or Android app. The app immediately uploads your photos to the Prime repository when you take a picture. This is handy in two ways because most people don’t back up their phones, and everything uploaded can immediately be accessed from the website.
Over the past twenty years, my wife scanned our extensive family photo archives and amassed over 110,000 pictures and videos, going back to the early 1900s. Until recently we used Google’s Picassa desktop program on a desktop PC. Picassa let us tag and edit photos, and kept everything accessible in one place. Picassa used facial recognition which let us categorize large swaths of photos by tagging whoever was photographed. Searching for someone was easy if you had tagged their face using the program. (Prime Photos has that feature, too.) One drawback with Picassa was that all photos were stored locally on your PC. Good backups are always important, but they’re critical when you could lose your whole tagged photo library. Also, being local, Picassa didn’t lend itself to sharing photos with our kids or relatives. In an attempt to move people to the cloud, Google stopped Picassa development and encouraged everyone to move their libraries to Google Photos.
Unlike Google, Amazon allows you to store your photos exactly how you took them with no compression. This is important. In the end, these decisions are always about money, and because Amazon is already collecting $100 for my Prime subscription they have some wiggle room on the storage they’ll give me for “free.” Google doesn’t have a “Prime” system, so they have to charge.
When visiting with relatives we’ve used the Prime Photos smartphone app to instantly access and share our huge archive of photos. It’s very fast, and it stores the photos in their full uploaded size so you’re not working against tiny thumbnails or photo compression that degrades the quality of the picture. And, when someone wants a photo, sharing pictures from the app could not be easier.
The Prime app is not perfect, and improvements keep coming. Amazon appears to be actively working on it, investing a ton of effort into making the app easy to use. While the service itself is free for Prime customers, you will need to pay for any video storage over the included 5GB allotment. This is completely reasonable, because a single video could be as small as a few megabytes or it could be a full-length, two-hour-long video, hundreds of gigabytes in size. Their storage could be overwhelmed if they didn’t charge for video space. As such they allow you to “buy up” your video storage for a very small price. I chose to do so and felt it was entirely reasonable. Extra video space is $11.99/year for 100GB, or 59.99/year for 1000GB (1TB) of storage.
Memories are important. Photos are an important way for us to put a pin in the great corkboard of life and say “I did that. I was there.” It’s a shame to hide those memories on a disorganized computer, or worse, to lose them because they weren’t backed up properly. Let PCIO help you get organized and you’ll never look back. Prime is an awesome tool, and I know you’ll love the results.