A week ago, thieves broke into my car and stole my hard drive. My first concern upon discovering the theft was for my photos. Fortunately, I had all my photos on my laptop. Then a couple of days later, Microsoft pushed some Windows 10 update that conflicted with the Nvidia graphics driver on my computer and I had to reset the system.
Over the last couple of months I have probably taken on average a thousand photos per month. On one particularly busy weekend I took about a thousand photos each day from Friday to Sunday. Imagine watching your computer crashing and wondering if you are going to lose all those pictures.
Except I wasn’t really worried. Having lost all my stuff when my hard-drive crashed several years ago, I have learnt my lesson. I follow the advice any IT pro will tell you of keeping at least 2 backups, one of them offsite or in the cloud. My offsite backup is Google Photos.
I really cannot think of a reason why anyone would not use Google Photos. It offers free unlimited storage for your photos. Yes, unlimited. And yes, free. I have a friend who relies on Instagram to back up her photos, which I find to be a terrible security strategy. Other than the fact that you can’t really post hundreds of pictures every other day, sites like Instagram and Facebook compress your photos to save on storage and loading times. You want your photo back-ups to have the best possible resolution, even if you can’t tell the difference your phone screen.
It wouldn’t be Google if they stopped at just backing up your stuff. Google’s machine learning artificial intelligence identifies pictures that belong together (taken at the same time and location) and arranges them in albums. What you end up is an album with a title like ‘Trip to Bikita 25/06/2015’ or something like that. You can edit the description if it’s not to your liking.
Photos also makes it easy to share your photos. Having gone through the experience of sending hundreds of pictures over Whatsapp one at a time, I find it a much better experience to just share a link to the pictures (only people with the link can see the pictures and you get a notification for every person who views them). Not to mention again Whatsapp’s aggressive image compression.
The party trick for me is Google’s specialty, search. I can type in ‘dog’ and get all pictures of dogs I may have taken. I can also specify an object and a location. All very neat, but I rarely take pictures of dogs, or cats, or houses. Most of the time when I need to find a photo, it’s of a human. Google solves that elegantly, by giving me a list of faces. Once I click on a specific face, they locate all the pictures with that face. It’s magic.