Your Holiday Photos

How are you going to organize, share and protect your holiday photos this year?

Here are my recommendations:

First, and most important, is backups….

Android can back up photos to Google+ automatically.  I was surprised and amazed when my new Android phone did it.  Really great!

iPhone owners can get Dropbox and enable Camera Upload to do it automatically.  I just set this up for a client last week.  Really slick because you don’t have to plug your phone into your computer and you can share Dropbox files with others.

You might also want to occasionally make full backups onto an external drive and store it somewhere in your home or off-site.  One of my clients had spend a gazillion hours scanning 100’s of heirloom family photos after her parents died, and I showed her how to save them on flash drives for each of her siblings.  What a special Christmas gift!!!

If you just want to order prints, you can upload your photos to Walgreens’ or CVS’s website and pick them up in one hour.  You just go to their website, set up an account, upload your photos and select sizes.  It’s very clear and easy to use.  I’ve taught several clients to do this and they love it.

If you want to share your photos and order prints or other products like calendars, photo books, coffee mugs, etc., here are some other options.

2. Photobucket is a well-organized and easy-to-use photo sharing web site. You can customize and display albums, including adding music for slide shows. A scrapbook builder allows easy drag and drop organizing. You can post to most of the popular social networking and blogging sites.  There is a huge variety of cards, mugs, posters and other gift items available.  Your friends and family don’t need an account to view the photos and there are multiple privacy options available.   Web site:  Cost: Basic: Free; Pro: $24.95/year

6. Snapfish is a photo sharing site but with the emphasis on ordering prints and personalized gifts.  It’s well designed and easy-to-use and has online editing features to enhance photos and fix problems like red eye. It works with any device that can run a web browser. There is downloadable software available to help transfer photos from your camera.  However, there is no upload application for gadgets, so photos on phones and other mobile devices have to be e-mailed to your account.  You can set up private “group rooms” for family and friends and they can add their photos too.  I taught a client how to create a room for a trip to Hawaii with her old college friends.  She uploaded hers and then emailed and invite to the gals to do the same.  This is a great feature for group events like weddings and anniversary parties too.  Everyone can share their photos in one place and choose which ones to print.   Web site:  Cost: Basic: Free, plus 20 free prints when you sign-up

7. Shutterfly is another popular site for uploading photos and turning them into greeting cards, posters or calendars.  It has easy routines for uploading and sharing and free, unlimited storage space. You can create a customized web site to display and share your photos and allow others to add comments. It includes downloadable software to organize and edit your photo collection. There is a video sharing version of Shutterfly also.  You get 50 free 4×6 prints when you sign-up!   Web site:  Cost: Free, and you get the 50 free prints

8. Flickr is owned by Yahoo and is one of the most popular sites for posting and sharing photos.  Now it’s offering 1 terabyte of online storage for your photos. That makes Flickr the cheapest and largest option for storing all your digital photos on “the Cloud.”  However, you will have to upload the photos manually from your hard drive.  No big deal, but it’s not automatic like with Google+ and Dropbox.

Once your photos are in, you have Flickr’s photo organizer to manage them.  If you have hundreds and hundreds of photos, and they’re roughly organized into events, you can do some sorting, searching, and set-making to get your stuff together.  You are the one who will need to name the folders, set them into the online filing cabinet, and decide which photos are worth saving, and which are just extras.

One terabyte gives you a lot of space, and your photos are away from your house and your techie mistakes.  You can store full-size, original-resolution photos.  It is the most long-term means of backing up your photos — depending on Yahoo’s long-term prospects, but Yahoo is likely to give everyone a notice to transfer their stuff if the worst comes to pass.

In Other Words, Use Flickr as the destination photo keeper–after you’ve sorted them out in iPhoto, Picasa, or other photo-sorting software.

Google+ and Picasa
Google now offers 15 GB of space for full-size photos uploaded to Google+ (shared with your Gmail and Google Drive space. That’s the middle range of free options. The tiers for upgrading are not very costly.

How do you get your photos into Google?  If you have an Android phone, you can activate “Auto Backup” (formerly dubbed “Instant Upload”) in the Google+ app. You can also tap a button to upload everything on your phone, and choose whether you’re uploading full-size or otherwise. On the computer, your best bet is to install Picasa for Mac or Windows and use it to find and upload all your photos.  You can have it search your computer, external drives, DVDs, or whatever.

As for organizing, Google does some of it for you. Photos in Google+, are broken up into broad date and location categories, so that the 50 photos you took at one beach outing are together, as are the slow trickle of personal shots snapped over a 5 or 10-day period. Each photo is auto-enhanced, and the effect is generally positive, especially for low-light and off-color smartphone shots (You can turn off the auto-enhancement). Perhaps most importantly, all the photos you “Auto Backup” to Google are stored privately by default, and you don’t have to use Google+ in any fashion to store, view, or download your images.

So use Google+ For: auto-organizing huge sets of vacation photos and Android backup.

Use iCloud and Dropbox: for just backing it all up (and for apple die-hards)

iCloud gives you 5 gigabytes of storage for all your iCloud things: documents, non-iTunes-purchased music, tiny calendar/contact things, and photos. It’s $20 per year for another 10 GB, and up to $100 per year for 50 GB.  The best part of iCloud is the seamless synchronization between your MacBook, your iPad, your iPhone, your Apple TV.  When you shoot a photo on your phone, it’s visible in the Photo Stream on all your devices, and backed up from your Camera Roll.  The best tool for organizing all those photos is iPhoto.

If you’d rather separate your photos from Apple’s cloud, or save your free 5 GB for your device backups, you can back up your photos to Dropbox. The iPhone and iPad app offers an automatic Camera Upload option that’s remarkably simple and easy to use, and it’s even polite–it scales itself back when you’re getting close to your data limit.

There isn’t any photo managing software with iCloud’s Photo Stream or Dropbox.  You have to manage it yourself, using iPhoto, Picasa, Aperture, or whatever you like best, but you can use these as a secondary backups since they give you the space for free.

In Other Words, Use iCloud/Dropbox For: Sheer peace of mind about photo storage, and easy iPhone backup.

Your own photo software and hard drives are the option you don’t appreciate enough.

Whatever huge online space you use for free, always keep a local copy–that is, something on an external hard drive at your house. Computers get coffee in them, big companies occasionally close services and discontinue features, and your memory of where everything is can be faulty. Online and auto-organized photo collections are convenient, but will your grandchildren have easy access to your Google account?

In Other Words: Always back up your own stuff at your own house. You will certainly outlast a few of these big data companies.

If you use any services or products not named here, please let me know.  I’m always eager to learn new things and share them with my clients

If this is newsletter seems like it’s written in a foreign language or you have no idea where to begin, let’s get together for some instruction.

We can do my usual private sessions or you can invite up to 7 friends to a “Play Shop” at your home or office.  (8 gadgets is the maximum for home Wi-Fi routers).  The host is free and the other participants only pay $20 for the 2 hr. play shop. (The minimum requirement is $80)  I will also be happy to do more Play Shops at the Mastermind Seminars’ office on Date Palm.  Just let me know the best days and times for you.

May you have a very, very happy holiday and take lots of amazing photos to share.

In Joy,

“Restoring peace and joy to the world through computer education.”

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