Saturday, May 20, 2023

Why You Actually Want to Buy Digital Photo Storage (with a Pro Tip)

I'm all for saving a buck.  Aren't you?  Who doesn't love finding the cheapest price or getting a freebie?

I learned early on, though, that a cheap-o photo book is made of cheap-o materials.  

In the end, you really do get what you pay for. 

So what about cloud digital photo storage?  Why not take advantage of a few free GB here and a few free GB there?  Well, I'll tell you.

I realized last year (and I'll explain why) that I actually want to buy digital photo storage.  I want to own my storage space in the cloud.  There are two main reasons for this:  photo privacy and permanence.


First, "cloud" space isn't free.  Ever.  If you have a website, you pay for it.  Things like Facebook and Instagram are free because they make their money in other ways such as advertising.  There's a cost of some kind for anything we put in the cloud.

So how can free photo storage be free?

Fine print.

Many cloud storage companies reserve rights to your photos to mine (sell) your data and/or your photos.  (This seems so absurd that I actually didn't think this was true until I read the article I refer to here where a family discovered their photo on a political flyer; their photo was purchased from a cloud storage company.)

Think of it this way.  You go away for the summer and want to make sure your big box of photos is safe.  You don't want the expense of one of those climate-controlled storage units, so you ask your friend if you can store them at her house for free. 

She says, "Sure!  Under one condition."

"I want to go through all your pictures.  If I think some of them would be worth something to someone else, I'll sell them.  Or, I might throw them away if I don't want to keep them any more."

You would never agree to that, would you?

Yet that is exactly what we agree to with some of the big names (and some small names) in digital photo storage.

Shockingly, most cloud storage companies don't make you any promises when you give them your photos.

Your photos!  Your precious, heirloom, irreplaceable photos.

NOTE:  I am a Forever affiliate (a decision I made because I love it so much), so you will find affiliate links in this post, from which I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.


Costco announced in January that they would be shutting down their photo services.  They partnered with Shutterfly to allow customers to "opt in" and have their photos transferred to Shutterfly within 12 months (or Costco will delete their photos).  In addition to having a policy that clients must print something every 18 months or their photos will be deleted, Shutterfly has an additional policy.

Did you catch that?  Shutterfly can discontinue their services at any time (they call it "terminate your access"), with or without notice.  And, in fact, it happened just this year in what I call The Great Shutterfly Debacle of 2023, which you can read about there.

Temporary photo storage can be such a bummer.

I've never used Costco, but a similar thing happened to me last year.  I had stored 16 years' worth of my own photos plus a bunch of ancestor photos with a wonderful memory-keeping company I loved.  I stored my photos there for free, with a privacy guarantee, because I had printed my memory-keeping pages with them.  

It was a pretty slick deal.

I made my digital scrap pages and family memoir books and my parents' life story books and all sorts of amazing, meaningful projects, all the while having my photos stored privately for free.

I never really thought about the longevity/permanence aspect.  I just assumed nothing would change because they were so focused on heritage.

About halfway through my time with them, the company was purchased by another company, then had some Adobe-induced software problems, and by 2021 ended up having to change their website entirely.  The original mission became watered-down under new ownership, and over the course of several years, due to some long-lasting technical difficulties, they decided that the new platform they would use for photobooks would not include digital photo storage.  (And they didn't really even say that in a very straightforward manner--they just offered to give instructions on how to download large quantities of your photos from their site.)  

Sixteen years' worth of family pictures, and a whole family tree worth of pictures back to the 1800s.  


Since experts recommend storing your photos two ways digitally and one way in print, I needed a solution.  Yes, my photos were on my computer, and yes I had them printed in pages, but I needed to "fireproof" my photos, too!  

A dear friend recommended Forever.  There, my photos would be guaranteed accessible and safe for my lifetime plus 100 years.  And that's not all. 

My photos in Forever Storage are triple-backed-up and overseen by a team of professionals (I sure don't have a team of professionals keeping them safe on my computer!) using bank-encrypted security.

And did you notice that Forever will automatically update my file formats for me if they become obsolete?  Today, we use JPEG or JPG or PNG formats.  What if, in 10 years, they are the equivalent of a floppy disk?  Forever has my back.

That's how I learned that, yes, I want to buy digital photo storage.  I do not want free photo storage.  I also don't want to "rent" photo storage by paying a monthly fee because even those companies have fine print that doesn't match my vision of photo privacy or of keeping my photos safe forever.

Since then, I learned that Forever's mission of private, permanent photo storage (that you own!) is legally binding!  They are a public-benefit corporation with responsibility to the public.  To me!


And in case you didn't know, Forever Storage isn't just for photos--you can store video files, audio files (like a saved voicemail), and PDFs including the PDFs of the photo-storybooks (digital scrapbooks) you create and publish there.

You won't be surprised, then, that I became a Forever Ambassador so I can help people solve their photo problems with my new favorite company.


And here's a Pro Tip for the best price:

Forever Storage is almost always on sale, so be sure you look at the
sale price instead of the regular price since you don't have to pay it.

And I've started doing all my memory-keeping with Forever, too.  I have used their media digitizing service to get old home movies digitized.

And I love preserving my memories with the photos in pages (highest quality in the industry).

I know the idea of a one-stop shop for preserving all your memories is really convenient.  

The thing is, it's much more than that.  

You really do want heirloom-quality photo and memory books.  You really do want to buy your cloud photo/video/audio/PDF storage!  You want to own it, not rent it, forever.  

Contact me and I'll help you fireproof your memories by moving them to their Forever home, or just get started here

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