Google Drive Price Drop – A Tipping Point For Photographers

Although cloud storage prices have been continued to drop at impressive rates, they have remained out of reach for many serious amateurs and professional photographers who have accumulated years’ worth of image files. This has been particularly true for the purists among us who religiously shoot RAW and tend to create huge multi-layer Photoshop files. Improvements in DSLR sensor technology have also pushed file sizes upwards as well, with the majority of DSLRs now capable of producing 16MP to 36MP images.

I have always considered a cost effective rate for 1TB to be the juncture at which serious amateurs and professional photographers would consider backing-up their photo archives to the cloud. Google’s dramatic cloud storage price drop this week has finally reached this tipping point. As of today, storing 1TB of image files on Google Drive will cost $9.99/month. This is a huge announcement that will ripple across the photography community and cause many people to change their back-up strategy.

GoogleDrivePricing

1) The Economics of Google Drive

$120/year (rounded) for storing 1TB of your images in the cloud may sound a bit expensive compared to a one-time purchase of a 1TB back-up drive for $70-$100. But you have to consider that one good flood, fire, hurricane, burglary, or power surge may wipe out both your primary and secondary drives. As I write this, I am staring at 5 external hard drives on my desktop. While hard drive technology has been getting more reliable over the years, I have found that on average, I have one hard drive go bad per year. And although my stepsons have a great time destroying the defunct drives with sledge hammers, I rarely look forward to restoring back-ups, buying additional drives, and other related challenges that can chew up quite a bit of time.

Would I rather forego dealing with an annual failed hard drive exercise and spend more for Google’s Cloud Storage solution? At the previous price of $49/month, it simply wasn’t cost effective, at least not for a serious amateur photographer. For $9.99/month, however, Google’s Cloud Storage represents a tremendous value. It eliminates the fear and concern of relying solely on an in-home back-up strategy and having to waste time dealing with hard drive failures.

Google Drive

What’s the net cost of a Google Drive 1TB plan compared to backing up my files to an in-home hard drive? $120 (annual 1TB plan) – $80 (annual cost of replacing a hard drive) = $40/year. The other issue to bear in mind is that Google Drive provides redundancy for your photo archive based on its network of sophisticated data centers. You would actually have to have multiple hard drive back-ups of your photo archive in order to match Google Drive’s offering. But again, one good calamity and all your hard drives could be lost.

The best part regarding Google Drive reaching this critical pricing threshold? These prices are going nowhere but down as technology improves and Google and its competitors – Microsoft, Dropbox, Amazon, etc. – leapfrog each other in their desire to gain market share. Here’s how the cloud storage vendors stack up as of today:

CloudStorageCosts

The other cloud storage providers will have to approximate or beat Google’s new price if they are to remain competitive in this fast growing market. Within another year, I would not be surprised to see 2TB offered for as little as $5/month. At that point, I suspect we will see a drop in the number of external backup hard drives purchased by individuals, since the economics, benefits, and convenience of cloud storage will represent a far better value. For the frequent travelers who rarely find themselves at home and have modest storage needs, I can even imagine that they might use Google Drive as their primary drive, with their PC or tablet serving as temporary storage.

2) Of Pack Rats And Men

Contemplating Google Drive’s price drop for the 1TB $9.99/month plan, I decided to do a bit of analysis on my photo archive. Starting in 2007 with my humble 10MP Pentax K10D, I accumulated ~45GB of files. I took pictures of anything and everything. At the time, I was thoroughly enjoying my renewed interest in photography and the move from film to digital. I honestly believed many of my photos and Photoshop enhancements were pretty good. With a bit of education, time, and experience, however, I now look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking! At best, perhaps 5-10% of my early photos are worth keeping – and I am being extremely generous with this estimate! And most of those would suffice as high resolution JPEGs, not RAW or PSD files.

Over the years, I upgraded through a series of DSLRs (K10D, D300, D7000, D800 and infrared converted DSLRs – D40X, D90, and D7100). The amount of storage I accumulated in any given year continued to steadily increase. In 2013, I managed to capture, process, and store 365GB of image files. I have shot RAW files exclusively since picking up a DSLR, despite the fact that this was clearly overkill in many situations. God forbid I take that once-in-a-lifetime photo only to find that I only have a JPEG version to edit! Horrors! The other reason is that is simply not very practical to constantly switch back and forth between JPEG and RAW file formats.

I have also determined that part of my genetic code is related to the Pack Rat (genus: Cantseme Tuletgo). If and when I do manage to let something go, it almost always has claw marks on it. Unfortunately, this bad habit extends to importing photos into my Lightroom catalog. I continually promise myself to show more discipline in the future, but never quite manage to separate the wheat from the chaff. And the day when I set aside a few hours to conduct that massive Lightroom clean-up operation? Well, that keeps getting postponed for all kinds of flimsy excuses. If I were shooting high resolution JPEGs, my bad habits wouldn’t be such a big deal. But constantly shooting a 36MP D800 in RAW mode without ever cleaning up your photo archive? Well, that’s the stuff that drive manufacturer CEOs dream about…

Chinchilla

Failing to collapse my multi-layered Photoshop files? Apparently I am guilty of not being able to part with my collection of Photoshop layers as well. In 2007, such sloppiness cost me 97MB for my largest Photoshop file. In 2013, exiting Photoshop without collapsing layers cost me 677MB for a single file!!! Ouch…

3) Cheap Storage, Lens Boxes, And Flat Stanley

After 7 years of shooting extensively in RAW format using some of the best DSLRS made, and having some bad habits relative to flattening my Photoshop files, I have accumulated 2TB of data. So why do I have 2TB of image files? Primarily because storage prices plummeted over the years and thus I have paid less attention to how I managed my files.
My 97MB file? It was one of my favorite photos of our friends’ beautiful daughter and her good friend. But did I need to keep over a dozen layers in the PSD file, which were the result of some of my early Photoshop experiments and training exercises? Nope…

Christie & Molly

At least the 97MB file was a decent picture. The 677MB file mentioned above? Was it a stunning landscape? Perhaps a beautiful buck with steam coming out of his nostrils on some winter morning at sunrise? Could it be an infrared photo of the majestic Canadian Rockies? Maybe it was a photo of my beautiful wife, Tanya, against a backdrop of Washington, DC’s stunning cherry blossoms? None of the above… This monster file turned out to be a multi-layered Photoshop photo of the box for my Nikon 300mm f/4, which I sold last summer! Apparently I was tinkering with some adjustment techniques, created 10 layers, and never got around to flattening them. Collapsing the layers reduced this file to ~182MB. Considering what I did with the picture – post it on my eBay listing, a 1000 X 700 image at ~1MB was all I needed! And since I sold the lens, I had absolutely no reason to keep even a single photo of the box!

300mmBox

As I looked over 25 of my largest Photoshop files, I found similar results – few of these massive files were worth storing as anything more than a 3000 X 2500 JPEG file. Almost all of them were due to my failure to collapse the various layers and consider what file size/format was appropriate for a given image. In some cases, I found duplicates of these huge files, each representing some different Photoshop experiment. This photo, while showing off one of Pittsburgh’s handsomely painted dinosaurs against the backdrop of Heinz Field, surely didn’t deserve 578MB of hard drive space!

Dino

Two years ago, my wife’s cousins asked us to take some photos with their son Danny’s Flat Stanley cutout. I never heard of Flat Stanley and was quite amused by the concept. Not wanting to risk having Danny be psychologically-scarred and/or fail to achieve his ultimate life potential due to a single poor grade on his second grade Flat Stanley project, we took Flat Stanley with us to Washington, DC, New York’s Finger Lakes region, Lake Erie’s wineries, and made sure he saw just about everything worth seeing in our hometown of Pittsburgh. Our reward for taking Danny’s Flat Stanley on a whirlwind tour was having Danny’s sister, Rebecca, send us her Flat Stanley cutout the following year! I found that I had accumulated over 300MB of RAW and JPEG Flat Stanley files. Cute photos indeed, but not quite worth keeping the associated hefty RAW files. I could have simply performed some basic editing in Lightroom, exported the 800 X 600 JPEG files, and deleted the RAW files altogether (or simply taken JPEGs to begin with). Then again, had I landed my own reality television show touring the nation as a Flat Stanley Ambassador, I might have felt differently about the amount of storage dedicated to my Flat Stanley photos.

FlatStanleyinDC

Suffice to say that after a detailed inspection of my photo archive, I realized that I do not have 2TB worth of valuable image files, this despite having had multiple DSLRs at any point in time and shooting quite extensively over the course of 7 years. Once I complete some image housekeeping, I will end up with between 500GB – 750GB of images in RAW, PSD, and JPEG formats. And this is probably a conservatively high estimate. Thus I probably fit within the $6 – $10 per month plans. At these rates, however, I will simply sign up for the 1TB plan.

4) What About Privacy?

People are justifiably concerned about the privacy policies of email, photo, and cloud storage providers. But as long as you mark your Google Drive archive as private, Google promises to keep it private. The crux of how Google treats your documents relates to the public and private designation. Here’s the language from its Privacy Policy regarding Google Drive. Google changed this policy a few months ago, after many complained that its terms were too ambiguous and left quite a bit of room for interpretation. The language below seems pretty straight-forward.

What do Google’s Terms of Service mean for the files I upload to Google Drive?

As our Terms of Service state, “You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”
We do not claim ownership in any of your content, including any text, data, information, and files that you upload, share, or store in your Drive account. What our Terms of Service do is enable us to give you the services you want — so if you decide to share a document with someone, or want to open it on a different device, we can provide that functionality.
To sum it up:

  • You control who can access your files in Drive. We will not share your files and data with others except as described in our Privacy Policy.

So, for example:

  • We will not change a Private document into a Public one;
  • We will not use a Private document for marketing or promotional campaigns;
  • We will keep your data only as long as you ask us to keep it.
  • You can take your data with you if you choose to stop using Google Drive.

5) Summary

If you can identify with some of my bad habits, you may also have been a bit lax in your accumulation of images, determining when to shoot RAW vs. JPEG, or keeping your PSD files to a minimum size. With a bit of photo archive clean-up, you may discover that your photo archive is probably comfortably below the 1TB threshold as well.

If so, Google Drive’s 1TB $9.99/month plan represents a great way to finally incorporate secure cloud storage backup space into your photography workflow at a cost effective price (or the other Google Drive plans if you have less demanding storage needs). And by the time you need more than 1TB, I suspect Google will have dropped the price yet again. Don’t forget to configure the Inactive Account Manager feature which provides archive access to a designated family member or friend should you become incapacitated (or worse!) and wish to have them access and manage your photos. This is a handy feature that anyone using Google Drive should avail themselves to.

What do you think? Will Google Drive’s dramatic increase finally encourage you to use cloud storage for your photo archive back-up needs?

Comments

  1. Profile photo of Clarence
    1
    ) Clarence
    March 16, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Bob,
    Thank you for the nice article. I have about 400GB of photos. Would it not take too long to upload to the cloud?

    • March 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      Clarence, it sure would. My recommendation would be to only keep the best work for archival and not backup everything you have for now. You can get started with your good shots, then follow-up with the rest when the first part is complete :)

  2. 3
    ) MartinG
    March 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Well it should but I am not really planning to. Logically I should. It is Google, however. They keep demanding and pushing, join this do that, sign up. Otherwise I would. Their approach is starting to worry me .. A bit.

    I have good storage and a backup system, plus a portable (LaCie rugged) hard drive. I have 4 copies of the photo archive.

    I can however see the point.

  3. March 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing Bob. Another Back up for my back ups, back up! lol I think it will be worth it to store some raw files and important family photos.

  4. 5
    ) Karl
    March 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I use CrashPlan so far and find it OK. It’s cheaper and unlimited BUT it’s also a lot slower. I remember being in Thailand at a CyberCafe, trying to upload my Gigabytes to Dropbox and it was taking ages until I switched to my Google Drive to see what difference it could make, and I saw that even if it was still a bit slow, it was significantly better (to me).

    Now, I just don’t go around the world without my laptop and hard drive and as soon as I have an Internet access, I sync to my cloud. I’ll give Google Drive a shot for my current few GB’s and if it is THAT better than CrashPlan (as I think it will be), I’ll switch for sure.

    Privacy was my only worry but as I’ve read on your post (and some other places), it’s more straight-forward now and I don’t worry anymore.

    Thanks for the article!

  5. 6
    ) David Hansson
    March 17, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Why Google Drive, when there are alternatives that provide backup clients (software) and unlimited storage for a better price? For example, a 4 years subscription at CrashPlan give you just that for about $9/month. I believe they are using Amazon as their underlying cloud storage infrastructure.

    I am very happy with it so far!

  6. 7
    ) Fred
    March 17, 2014 at 12:38 am

    What do you think? Will Google Drive’s dramatic increase finally encourage you to use cloud storage for your photo archive back-up needs?

    Definitely not.
    The cost of drives are dropping so dramatically, I keep all work backed up x 3 on separate drives in separate locations and I have started using SSDs now because they are becoming so cheap. Of course, the customer pays for them in the long run so price is not a horrific factor.

    • March 17, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Fred,
      I doubt if most people will opt for dealing with storing their drives in different locations. It is simply not worth the time and effort for most. You can still build your own PC, but relatively few people opt to invest the time in such an exercise.
      Most people will simply pay the equivalent of a few cups of coffee per month and let Google or one of the other players handle their cloud storage/back-up needs now that the cost is coming down. Then again, it will likely always be cheaper to build your own back-up solution if you are willing to invest the time and effort.
      Bob

  7. Profile photo of IBorys
    8
    ) IBorys
    March 17, 2014 at 12:56 am
  8. 9
    ) Richard
    March 17, 2014 at 1:19 am

    I love this and will probably pay for it as my free drop box extra storage (from buying several android devices) is coming to an end. That being said, the issue with drive, drop box etc is that it’s too easy to delete your archive. As these run as a folder on your pc, it only takes one mistake and it could tell your cloud storage to wipe the lot!

    • 10
      ) David Hansson
      March 17, 2014 at 1:25 am

      That is one reason why you should use a real backup service with a real backup client handling things like that, instead of pure cloud storage.

      • 11
        ) Richard
        March 17, 2014 at 1:32 am

        I currently use backblaze for things like that anyway. Another issue with dropbox and the likes are that you need to have these files on your pc as well as in the cloud as it’s a sync service rather than a backup. I sync across several pc’s so having more than a few hundred gb could prove problematic. Unless of course it offers upload only

  9. Profile photo of Daniel Michael
    12
    ) Daniel Michael
    March 17, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Hi Bob,

    I’m not a big fan of Google when it comes to data protection, and I feel they are still not great value when it comes to companies like Backblaze which offer $5/month for unlimited storage. They use an app which automatically updates all your files from your computer and keeps it updated. Since they are specifically just for private backups and not for sharing, their privacy is even more assured. They even have a smartphone app where you can access all of your files on the go. Been using them for a while and I’m very happy with the service. I’d think twice though about using an online system that can be used for sharing as well backup especially a Google solution. Google are out to make money not provide a quality service.

    But I totally agree, cloud backup is a must for anyone with precious files!

    Daniel

  10. 13
    ) TR
    March 17, 2014 at 2:21 am

    This may be useful for some, but I use BackBlaze for a flat fee of $50 a year – unlimited backup storage. This is cheaper and better than Google for backup. I haven’t quite reached the TB yet, but I am getting close and no issues.

    • 21
      ) Jack
      March 17, 2014 at 9:13 am

      I’ve been using BackBlaze as well for a number of years. I also use Dropbox for my archive of Tif files (useful for sharing when needed). My main gripe with BackBlaze is that their uploading is soooo slow, dramatically slower than Dropbox. What good is unlimited storage if it takes ages to upload?

      So I wish these companies would publish their average upload speeds; to me that’s a far more important spec that everyone seems to be overlooking.

      • 23
        ) Daniel Michael
        March 17, 2014 at 10:39 am

        Hi Jack,
        As far as I’m aware Jack, your upload speeds mainly depend on your ISP. With Backblaze the inital upload is slow since it is everything on your computer, which is usually loads. They also limit the bandwidth, so it doesn’t slow down your internet for days. After that the incremental upload is quicker since it is less info.

        Daniel

        • Profile photo of David Ahn
          25
          ) David Ahn
          March 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

          I’m assuming Jack is referring to BackBlaze being slower than DropBox on the same connection.

          • Profile photo of Daniel Michael
            26
            ) Daniel Michael
            March 17, 2014 at 1:45 pm

            So am I. Backblaze does say it uses minimal upload speed so it doesn’t bomb your bandwidth for a long time. You can change the throttle rate in the preferences.

            • 33
              ) TR
              March 18, 2014 at 1:27 am

              That’s also my experience – Backblaze is set up in such a way as to not suck up all your bandwidth, but if you manually tell it to upload as fast as it the process speeds up significantly. Still a little slower than manual upload to a fast FTP server for instance, but as the software runs 24/7 you need to have a little bandwidth left. Even so I can get close to the maximum upload my ISP allows.

  11. Profile photo of David Ahn
    14
    ) David Ahn
    March 17, 2014 at 2:37 am

    What about Flickr? They offer 1TB for free, though I have my reservations about having all my family photos and pointless experimental photos available to the world.

    • 15
      ) TR
      March 17, 2014 at 2:49 am

      Flickr only store JPG and not RAW files, and getting files back is more of a hassle. BackBlaze stores all kind of files, so is much more versatile, and if you need your backup they ship a whole hardrive with everything (although that comes at a cost). However, if you only have JPG files Flickr may be an option – you can set “backup” images to be private/family only.

  12. March 17, 2014 at 6:13 am

    BackBlaze? I would be concerned with the company’s long-term prospects. They may have had a good run, but Google’s, Microsoft’s, Dropbox’s, and Amazon’s models are the way of the future. Accessing your documents at anytime from anywhere.

    BackBlaze has also had more than a few complaints relative to issues with retrieving data. Do I want to save the equivalent of a few diet cokes per month and bet on BackBlaze or Google relative to data center technology, profitability, and long-term viability? http://www.inc.com/magazine/201305/jeff-haden/the-bootstrappers-bargain.html

    While I admire their spunk (and any start-up for that matter), you have wonder how BackBlaze will compete with the big guns in the long run. They are about one price-reduction cycle or two from being equaled by Google. People seem to forget that technology companies come and go. I recall during the PC’s early days (shortly after the stone age…), when there were literally hundreds of no-name PCs, each reducing their price by $25 or so below the next guy.

    Suffice to say, almost all of those companies went belly-up, as most people chose reliability, customer support, reputation, and vendors with some long-term viability, rather than chasing the bargain of the month. The cloud storage market will eventually have a shake-out, particularly as the prices start coming down. Many of the smaller players won’t be around. That’s just the way these technology plays evolve over time.

    Kim Dotcom’s Mega Cloud storage is another option. Then again, I don’t want to have to bet on Kim staying out of jail in order to access my back-ups! ;)

    • 22
      ) Daniel Michael
      March 17, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Bob,

      Backblaze has been around a while now and in many reports was in the top 5 cloud back systems. You have to remember what you are trying to achieve here. This is a back in case heaven forbid, you lose your info. It’s not meant to be so you can share /access photos when you want. If you are worried about long term prospects of something like that then you’re using it for something else which it isn’t meant to be, like extra storage. If a company like that goes ‘belly-up’ then all you do is upload your stuff to another system. Backblaze will also backup your external drives linked to your computer where as I don’t think Google does.

      You think companies like Microsoft and Google don’t suddenly shut down non-profitable systems? They do it all the time. They pull the plug. They have nothing to lose since they have other sources. Companies like Backblaze have more to lose so they continually improve.

      I’m far more worried about the privacy terms of these bigger companies who have both a sharing and widespread use by many people. They can change their privacy settings / terms at a drop of a hat and your stuff is in the wild. In my profession, we take data protection very seriously, and Google / Microsoft / Facebook are definite no-nos. If you want to share your work easily then by all means, those companies are great for that, even when you don’t want to share.

      In the end you need to see what you need the back up system for. Is it just for emergencies or somewhere you can access your data from anywhere?

      Daniel

      • March 17, 2014 at 10:16 pm

        Daniel,
        I think many people take data protection seriously. I can’t imagine that BackBlaze takes it any more serious than Google, nor do I think BackBlaze would be better equipped to handle security. Indeed Google or Microsoft could shut down their cloud storage plans tomorrow. But given their email, applications, advertising, and other software businesses, they at least have a bit of diversity associated with their financials . BackBlaze is a pure backup play with prices on par, perhaps a bit cheaper than some of Google’s plans. I suspect Google & Microsoft, due to their buying power, have enough leverage to match or undercut BackBlaze’s prices over time. All these issues should be considered when making a bet on a cloud storage provider.
        Bob

        • 34
          ) TR
          March 18, 2014 at 1:41 am

          Bob, Backblaze allows me to access all my files from any computer with internet access – how is that so different from what Google offer? And if Google with their massive data centre technology are automatically cheaper than Backblaze why haven’t they beaten their prices for the past few years? Why should I not consider a company that from the start has been the cheapest on the chance that others may undercut its prices at some point? Based on those assumptions you should never buy a mirrorless camera that is not made by Canon or Nikon as they are the only players who are profitable and therefore by default they will eventually have the better system.

          And regarding data protection: does Google by default offer a second layer of encryption for which only the user has the key, so that Google cannot get to the data? And regarding convenience: does Google offer a software that automatically backs up all data on your machine without you having to do anything at all? The market situation may change but right now there is no question that for archiving your data – not for sharing – Backblaze is better value.

          • March 18, 2014 at 7:24 am

            TR,
            Everyone needs to determine what company they believe is best for their needs and addresses their concerns for value, security, and viability.

            I am merely pointing out that as some markets shake out, prices come down, and economies of scale become a larger factor, the early entrants don’t always sustain their momentum.

            Regarding the Nikon & Canon argument – I did switch from Pentax to Nikon for the broader array of Nikon and 3rd party lenses, infrared conversion services, and support. I would indeed think twice before switching to any camera manufacturer simply for features alone. But that’s me…

            If BackBlaze works for you and you are happy with it, it is not my job to change your mind! I am but adding a bit of perspective having seen the technology markets go through quite a bit of change over the years. This particular market is changing rapidly so time alone will tell us who makes it and who does not over the long haul.

            Bob

            • 36
              ) TR
              March 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm

              Bob, I appreciate that you want people to consider all aspects of this and be aware that the market is changing – having that discussion is useful. However, I thought it useful to elaborate a little on some of the points we made to clarify issues around security and price you didn’t explicitly get back to me about, and to deal with the economies of scale argument.

              First of all pricing. In your article you say that 1TB is the relevant amount of storage to look at, but in your comment you suggest prices are “on par, perhaps a bit cheaper” and that is not correct for 1TB or above. $50 for one year of unlimited storage at Backblaze does compare very well against $120 for 1TB from Google. So in the category you declared relevant Backblaze charge less than half of what Google want; if you go over 1TB Backblaze is even cheaper. So it would be better to say that Backblaze is significantly cheaper than Google, unless you only have a relatively small amount of data (i.e. not over 100GB).

              Secondly, you say: “I think many people take data protection seriously. I can’t imagine that BackBlaze takes it any more serious than Google, nor do I think BackBlaze would be better equipped to handle security.” – to which I responded that Backblaze gives you the option to encrypt your data with a key only you have, so they cannot get to it nor could US authorities (other than through brute force attacks). From the Snowden files we know how secure Google and Microsoft are in this respect. Not. Now, there are always issues around implementation but I think it is unfair to imply Backblaze may be less secure just because you imagine they are, even though I have given a good reason for why the opposite may be the case.

              Thirdly, the economies of scale. True, Google and co. should have an advantage here. However, they should have had that advantage from the start, especially at a time when Backblaze was small. And yet despite that advantage they don’t come even close to beating Backblaze on price. So why should we assume that Google will beat Backblaze on price in the future, and why should we consider a complete reversal of relative pricing that may or may not happen some years down the line for our decision now? The fact is that for larger backups Backblaze has consistently been cheaper and there is no hard evidence to say that that will change in the future. So if price is a consideration this clearly goes in the favour of Backblaze

              And regarding the camera argument I think you misunderstood my analogy. I was saying that if your logic is that you have to go with the biggest company no matter whether what it offers now is better than what the competition have then you’d have to get an EOS M over a EM1 or GH4 because Canon will eventually have a better mirrorless system than Olympus as it is bigger and more profitable. That seems to be your argument and I wonder how many professional photographers do currently follow this advice. Now, that is an extreme way of putting it as the Google offer is relatively better to Backblaze than Canon’s mirrorless system is to Olympus’, but it might help you understand why I am a little irritated with the way you suggest people should factor in the way you assume the market may go even if right now it is not relevant. Should in a few years time Google indeed get cheaper then we can switch to Google, in the same way as the current Olympus shooters would switch to Canon if Oly got bust or Canon finally managed to deliver a system that really betters the OMD line.

              Mind you, I am not saying Backblaze is by default better. If you have a significant amount of data Backblaze is much cheaper than Google and it may be more convenient and perhaps also more secure, so for pure backup that is an advantage. However, if you don’t have much data Google may be cheaper, and if you want features beyond backup and restore then Google is, as you rightly say, clearly the choice.

              In the end I think it is rather simple: Want backup and have >100GB data – go for Backblaze. Want other features and/or have <100GB data – go Google. It should be along such criteria that decision should be made, not on a speculation how prices may develop in a few years. That's my point.

            • Profile photo of Daniel Michael
              37
              ) Daniel Michael
              March 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

              Very well put TR.
              I would elaborate further on the camera analogy and repeat my point that if, in the future, Bob was right and Backblaze did not survive, then it is even easier to move to a different company than it is to change camera systems with all the accessories and lenses. By definition, this is a back up system, that is used when your computer HD and your external HD both fail, so by definition this should not be accessed every day. It’s a fail safe. Therefore, you just cancel your sub and get a new one.

              If we worried about the future of any company we used because of size, we’d never see any innovation save for the big players :)

            • 38
              ) TR
              March 19, 2014 at 7:37 am

              Thanks Daniel, a good point on the camera analogy.

              Just two more things to add: I have just come across CrashPlan, another backup service that offers features and pricing similar to Backblaze. They even include a free option with limited features that may be attractive to some, and you can also send them a harddrive with your data so you don’t have to upload everything which may take weeks or months. I am not endorsing them but were I to look for a backup solution right now I would seriously consider CrashPlan.

              And regarding Backblaze – they just announced that they are now storing 100 Petabytes of customer data, which they state is about 1/4 of all the data Facebook stores. Now, that is not Google size but it is also not a small scale operation – and they are quite transparent, which I like.

  13. 18
    ) David
    March 17, 2014 at 6:46 am

    Great analysis and article, Bob. I would add two other considerations. Many Internet providers impose caps on traffic, and uploading or downloading a terabyte of data or even 200 GB of data in addition to one’s normal Internet use in any one month is likely to cause a problem. With some providers, you get warned. With others, you can be charged an eye-popping bill with no warning. Other providers are moving towards capping this kind of activity but aren’t there yet, but the direction they’re all moving is clearly in favor of capping data traffic per month, and it’s likely to be well short of a TB. It isn’t the storage that’s the issue; it’s uploading or downloading all your files at once that will cause a problem. Also it would take a long time to upload a TB of data on most home broadband Internet connections. All of this of course is another reason to engage in file housecleaning and flattening. But for one-stop uploading or downloading, cloud storage is not always the best way to go.

    Another consideration is that where precious, irreplacable files including digital photos are concerned, it isn’t smart in my opinion to only have one backup, including in the cloud. Of course the hand-wringing posts on Internet forums make it clear that too many photographers don’t have ANY backup solution, let alone multiple, redundant backups. But people contemplating putting it all in the cloud should keep in mind that they are then at the mercy of the cloud company. Cloud company failure (hardware, software, or financial), merger, change in pricing, etc. could all impact the backup. Of course, Google may seem less prone to failure than a smaller company like Dropbox, but Google’s size could make them a target for malware attack. Of course they will have their own backups, but those can be infected too. Just considering how fast camera and imaging technology has changed in the past decade should remind us all that nothing in the way of storage, whether hard-drive, cards, cloud, whatever, can be regarded as truly permanent or even long term. The most prudent backup strategy involves local (home or office) hard drive storage, offsite hard drive storage, and cloud backup.

    • March 17, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      David,
      Many photographers have no external back-up strategy, since the price of such plans has been out of their reach, BackBlaze and Kim Dotcom sites aside.
      There are risks with any back-up strategy. You also have to consider how much time, money, and energy you are able to commit to dealing with such issues. Moving one’s archive to the cloud will likely take some time. But then again, better to start sometime than never begin at all!
      Bob

  14. 19
    ) Luis
    March 17, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Maybe for professional with too much files and mobility to show his work…..
    Not for amateurs like me with only 4.000 raw photos a year.
    Nowdays I don´t belive any kind of terms of service of any internet company. The change it when they want. There is no privacy on internet. Sometimes we are stupids following all kinds of new services.

    • March 22, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Luis,
      Then you have to live with the threats to you home – fire, flood, burglary, etc. – and rely on an in-home strategy. Everyone has to determine how valuable they consider their photos and other files and a cost-effective strategy to ensure that they are not lost.
      Bob

      • 47
        ) Luis
        March 22, 2014 at 6:02 pm

        Dual backups is enough since 1993 for all kind of computer files and once a month (each 15 days in my company) keep hard drive on external bank box here in Spain.

      • 48
        ) Luis
        March 22, 2014 at 6:04 pm

        Cloud for me is only for mobility solutions, not security ones.

        • March 22, 2014 at 6:18 pm

          Luis,
          You may be comfortable with backing up your drive and storing outside your house. I suspect that for the majority of people, however, that is more work and involves more time than they care to engage in. The cloud offers convenience. That has quite a bit of appeal to people.
          Bob

          • 52
            ) Luis
            March 22, 2014 at 6:25 pm

            Yes, it´s true, more work but more security and cheaper, 50 Euros/year.

  15. 20
    ) Oguzhan Altun
    March 17, 2014 at 8:00 am

    I think the only problem with this solution is that google drive doesn’t work with multiple hard disks. I already use GDrive on the main HDD of my Mac Book Pro, while majority of the photos are in external HDD’s. There is (currently, as far as I’m aware) no way to make google drive folder across multiple drives.

    • 27
      ) Rick
      March 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      Oguzhan, you hit the nail on its head. That is exactly the issue I have with Google Drive. With Dropbox or SkyDrive (now OneDrive), you can get around that problem easily with symbolic link (symlink).

  16. 24
    ) Jay
    March 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I’m more interested in setting up an internal cloud in my own home network. This is where the advances are coming and prices are coming down. There are servers out there that will take 4tb drives and set them up for redundancy and speed. More of an initial capital expenditure, but something you can have complete control of.

    • 28
      ) Rick
      March 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Jay, I’ve been there too, and I used Tonido for a while. I think they are the best home cloud solution. The problem with Tonido – and the reason I dropped it – is that you have to open a port to your file server if you want to access your files from outside of your home. It’s just one more invitation to hackers. On the other hand, with cloud storage like Google Drive, you can access your photos anywhere without worrying about the integrity of your home network.

    • March 17, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Jay,
      A good, cost-effective solution – providing nothing happens to your house!
      Bob

  17. 39
    ) Tim
    March 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    100G @ $1.99/month, OK
    Knowing you’re not sending a timestamped geotagged list of your whereabouts to the NSA: Priceless.

  18. 40
    ) John Price
    March 22, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Another Great article Bob. I agree on all your points except for privacy.
    Unfortunately for me Privacy is the driving factor. Privacy statements are just that, a statement. Once your data is in someone else’s hands, you have lost control. I’ve been an administrator with “root” access all my life and believe me “someone” else does have access to your data. As the saying goes, “the best hackers are the ones you don’t know about”. But you have to trust your service provider right???

    • March 22, 2014 at 11:54 am

      John,
      I understand your concern. But you have to be realistic regarding your assessment of risks. If you don’t rely on a cloud storage vendor, you have to live with the threat of fires, floods, burglary, drive failures, and computer viruses – all of which are real threats to an in-home backup strategy. And home insurance won’t get any of your photos back.
      The other way to look at it is that in the event that Google (or anyone else) uses your photos, you will have the making of a landmark lawsuit! ;)
      Bob

      • 45
        ) John Price
        March 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm

        Yes! Lawsuits! But the damage is done. Besides storing files on a Synology NAS, backups done monthly, and the backup external drives stored in a waterproof case inside a 90min fire rated firearms safe, I can live with this level of risk. It is really a personal choice to decide how much risk one can accept and also being technically capable of implementation. I personally don’t like external service providers having my data, but for some it might make sense. Everyone’s situation is different.

  19. 53
    ) Phil Wells
    July 22, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Bitcasa now offers 1TB for $10/mo or $8.25/mo if paid for a year in advance. Their offerings:

    20GB Free
    1TB $10
    5TB $49
    Inf $99

    So those of us who don’t trust Google (e.g.) and don’t like Amazon’s employee treatment have another choice.

    Here, I have measured the UPLOAD speeds to Google Drive, Bitcasa, and DropBox using my 6 x 3 Mb 4G connection and a 6MB file (assuming 10bits per byte to account for overhead):

    DropBox 22 secs 2.7 Mb/s
    Drive 25 secs 2.4Mb/s
    Bitcasa 27 secs 2.2Mb/s

    This is only valid for me, via my WiFi hotspot in my phone, via Verizon’s network and backbone providers in my market. A person elsewhere could be on a network with a faster connection to one of the other 2 players.

  20. 54
    ) melanie v
    October 27, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Hey Bob – thanks for this post. I can surely relate! I just started using Google Drive. I’ve only uploaded 30GB so far and I’m finding it exceptionally slow! Has this happened to you? Are you able to move around the folders, etc, with ease, even with so much data uploaded? It’s taking me forever to access my folders once they have been uploaded.

    Would love to hear your thoughts.
    Thanks,
    Melanie

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