Best File and Photo Storage Options

Hi All,

I'm in the process of organizing my family documents and photos of the last 10 years. Unfortunately we have not had any systematic protocols in place and it's all a pretty big mess of various hard drives, flash memory, some more recent I-phone cloud storage etc. We never used an online service for backing up photos so most of it is in various folders on hard drives. I'd love to hear from you organized families out there what you use for A) Photos and B) Document back up. My plan is to store everything on some new hard drives and back it all with an online storage. For our documents I've been thinking of opening a google account for document storage ONLY and pay a one time annual fee for say 200GB and fill it up to full capacity and then stop paying. I don't want to have to continue transferring files to free up space or keep paying year after year. I may consider an upgrade to the storage if need be but the big question is what happens when you fill up your storage space and stop paying? Can the files just permanently live there? It seems from the google description that you can still access your files just not add anything or send and receive any e-mails but that should be fine since the account would be for storage purposes only. Any thoughts?

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Hi, I'm a computer tech and I just want to warn you that your understanding about cloud storage, whether Google, Dropbox, iCloud or other service, is incorrect. If you stop paying, your stuff is going to disappear. In addition, you should NEVER rely on cloud storage as primary storage. ALWAYS have at least two physical copies as well. Preferably in different locations for irreplaceable things like family photos.

Hard drives are dirt cheap these days. What I recommend is that you copy ALL the various bits and pieces onto a big drive (don't bother organizing yet). Then make a duplicate of that drive and store it in a safe place. Then start organizing on the first big drive. Once you've organized, you can upload to a cloud service if you want to share with others or simply have a cloud backup. But you will need to pay EVERY YEAR to continue that privilege. (It's unlikely that all your photos are going to fit in the small amount of space they give you for free.)

As a first step I would sign up for a online backup service like Backblaze. Backblaze will make a copy of all the files on your hard drives and keep them in the cloud. In the event of a HD failure you can restore the files from their copy. It will back up multiple hard drives. But you do have to keep the files on your local hard drives as well, as Backblaze is meant to be a mirror copy and not the only copy. It costs about $60/yr for unlimited space. Even if you don't want to keep it long term you can use it to back up the existing files while you organize or work on a long term solution. 

I don't know how the google storage will work if you stop paying the fee. Depending on how much you have to store, you may not need 200GB. If it is for document storage only it shouldn't take up that much space, but photos can easily add up to that size. Dropbox is another good option for document storage. It comes with some free space.

I've found the best solution to be Microsoft's OneDrive.  They offer 5 Gb of storage for free.  Works with PCs, Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android.  I've been using it for over 10 years.  If you have Microsoft Office you get 1 TB of storage.

Google is not secure.  Google and partner uses this information so they can target-marketing targeting you.
If you stop paying they delete your files.  

You are doing the "right thing" by storing all of you files on a local hard drive.  (Would be even better if you stored al of your files on two local hard drives.)  You should be using the cloud.  Just in case something happens to the local hard drives, (theft, fire) all of your docs are in the cloud. (I trust the cloud over my local computer or hard drives.)

One thing that's nice about OneDrive is that it automatically synchs your files.  Just as soon as I take a picture on my iPhone/iPad it's automagicly in the cloud.  Then as soon as I power-on my Mac or PC on the are synched there as well.  I can't tell you how many times OneDrive has saved me from lost or deleted photos and documents. 

As soon as you stop paying for storage you have 60 days make copies of your data  before it will be deleted.