Travel news and advice

Best photo manager apps and websites, from Google Cloud to Dropbox to social media, to store, edit and organise travel photos

If you regularly return from a trip overwhelmed with photos, these online storage platforms can help you save your holiday snaps and streamline your smartphone

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 7:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 7:05am

What do you do with all the photos you take on your travels? Are they all edited, neatly arranged in folders, and backed up in two separate places? Probably not. It's likely that you're currently drowning in gigabytes of photos and videos you’ve taken over the past years on your smartphone.

Fortunately, some innovative – and often free – online photo backup apps and websites are trying to make dealing with photos not just easy, but automated. Here are some of the best ways of keeping track of your travel photos.

1. Basic cloud storage

Best for: photographers needing to store large files

All cloud services are pretty similar: you sign-up for a certain amount of storage, and transfer files and folders onto the cloud from a smartphone, PC or Mac, complete with bank level encryption security.

The best known is Dropbox, which gives new users 2GB of space for free. The similar Microsoft OneDrive, Box and Google Drive increase that to 5GB, 10GB and 15GB, respectively. That is not much room, so paid upgrades are the only way to go, with Google Drive the best value at US$2 per month for 100GB. Keep in mind, if you want to make cloud storage work for you, you still have to manually delete images from your devices that you don't want to keep.

2. Cloud photo storage platforms

Best for: well-organised photographers

Although they're technically not very different from cloud storage services, photo backup platforms such as Flickr and SmugMug are dedicated to giving photographers somewhere safe to store their priceless photos.

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Flickr allows a massive 1TB of free storage – that includes any resolution of photo up to 200 MB in size, but videos only in Full HD 1080p resolution up to 1GB. Its user interface is rather retro, and uploading and sorting is a manual affair unless you pay for its auto upload software. It does have a free smartphone app that uploads all of your photos automatically to Flickr, though. The once Yahoo!-owned Flickr is now the property of SmugMug, a similar cloud storage platform for photos, so its future is uncertain. SmugMug itself is more focused on sharing images and getting them printed, but it doesn’t have a free option like Flickr. So for now, Flickr remains the best for those after a free online backup.

3. Automated backup and organisation

Best for: backing up computers and devices stuffed with photos

Wouldn't it be great if storing and backing up travel photos was completely automated? That is exactly what Google Photos is trying to do by using image recognition algorithms.

The idea is simple; all the photos you take on your smartphone are automatically uploaded when you are on Wi-fi. If you have lots of photos stored on a computer, the Google Uploader software can find them and automatically upload them, too. If you just want to know all of your photos are backed up somewhere, Google Photos is perfect.

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It goes further by automatically sorting photos and videos using the metadata embedded within them, such as where and when they were taken. It produces maps of where you took the pictures, it recognises your face within photos, and its Assistant section even creates gifs and makes video compilations.

Google Photos offers free unlimited photo and video storage up to a maximum 16 megapixels resolution for photos (higher than what most smartphones produce), and Full HD 1080p HD for videos. It is possible to upload in full resolution, but if you do, only the first 15GB of cloud storage is free. Apple’s iCloud Photo Library does a similar job for iOS users only, but since it gives you only 5GB of cloud storage for free, it comes a poor second to Google Photos.

4. Social media

Best for: sharers and smartphone snappers

Though most people regard Facebook and the Facebook-owned Instagram as social networks and messaging platforms, they're the biggest photography platforms in the world.

While many people tend to post a picture to Facebook when they check in, and never look at that photo again, it's possible to organise all of your uploads into albums, and even make them private (go to the album, choose “edit”, find the privacy drop-down, and choose either “contributors only”, “friends of contributors”, or “remove all contributors”).

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Meanwhile, Instagram is a fine place not only to share your travel photographs, but also to curate them into collections. Editing options are available and extensive, too. The downside is that neither Facebook nor Instagram store your photos in high resolution, so they will only ever be able to be displayed on small devices. If that doesn't bother you, they're a hassle-free cloud storage solution.

5. Portfolio platforms

Best for: digital minimalists

If resolution is important to you, consider using a portfolio platform like 500px. A community of over 13 million photographers, 500px allows users to upload photos in original resolution – but only seven uploads within a seven day period are allowed. So it’s about quality over quantity. If you only want to keep your very best travel photos, and are happy to delete the rest, this minimalist approach could be for you.