Your photos are probably the most important piece of personal data that you have, especially if you're a) a Millennial, b) a new parent or c) a photographer. More often then not when I receive a request to develop a backup solution for individual clients, as opposed to businesses, it is primarily to ensure the safety of the client's photos and videos.
For a long time the best way to back up your photos was using an off site backup solution that uploaded your data to the cloud. The one I recommended and continue to recommend is Backblaze as it offers unlimited backups for 5 dollars a month for all of your data.
However, when it comes to photo backups backblaze is not ideal for a couple of reasons. One of the main motivations for backing up your photos and videos in the cloud is that doing so allows you to free up space on your devices by deleting the local copies of your files. For this to be a pleasant thing to do a backup service should offer a functional and attractive way to browse and find your photos, which Backblaze does not have.
Also, due to the social nature of photography people love to share their photos, so the ability to share photos with your friends and family and restrict access to specific people is important. Backblaze does not offer file sharing, as it is solely a backup service and sharing is outside of its scope.
Enter Google Photos
Previously Google Photos was part of their fantastic, albeit underused, social network Google+ (Follow Tromley Computer Services on Google+) which was not the worst place for it. It offered tight integration with Google+'s sharing controls, allowing you to define "circles" of friends and colleagues and then share your content with specific circles. Unfortunately users tended to lose track of who they had placed in each circle, and failed to update their circles as people moved in and out of their lives. This complexity caused people to shy away from Google+ and as a result fail to adopt the photos service built into it.
With the departure of Vic Gundotra, the Google Senior Vice President, Social and man responsible for leading the team that developed Google+, Google decided to spin off the photos team into a separate entity and began developing what was to become the new standalone Google Photos service. It offers unlimited photo and video backup for photos at or smaller than 16mp and videos at or smaller than 1080p, with the option to backup your photos and videos at original size and consume your Google storage space. It has a beautiful material design interface, both online and in its mobile apps, simplified sharing controls, and powerful image recognition features that make finding specific photos creepily easy.
When you hit search in the Google Photos service you are presented with places, things and people that google has recognized in your photo. For instance, using the location data that your phone embeds in the exif profile for every photo and video you take, Google can figure out and allow you to view all of the photos you've taken at a specific place. This is pretty straightforward given that the GPS data is included in those files, but what is truly innovative is that it also recognizes and allows you to search or browse by the things in your photos. For instance, you can search for "Dogs" and it will show you all of your photos that contain dogs. You can refine your search to only see "brown dogs" or "dogs in Peterborough"
According to everything I've read about the service if you hit search, alongside places and things you are supposed to be presented with a list of faces google has detected in your photos. You are then supposed to be able to choose one of those faces and see every photo in which that person appears. Allegedly they are even able to discern specific faces over time, meaning every photo you have of your child would appear from the present all the way back to when they were a baby. Pretty impressive.
Unfortunately it seems this functionality is not available to Canadians. The app offers no indication that this is the case, or that there is a function missing, which lead me to dig through the settings and try and turn the feature on to no avail. Going into the help documentation I found a single line that said "this feature not available in all countries"
Google has placed region specific limits on functionality in their apps before, notably the fantastic Google Play Music subscription service, which is now available here and is absolutely amazing for music fans. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to enable the facial recognition technology for those of us in Canada.
If you are a photographer, parent, business owner or anyone else who may have important files you don't want to lose, you need a backup solution today. Contact Tromley Computer Services and we will gladly help you with setting one up, as well as any other technology issue you may have.