Should I rent more space from Picturelife?

I’ve reached my capacity on Picturelife.* I want to rent more space but I’m hesitant because every other company that has attempted what Picturelife is doing has failed or been acquired and scuttled.

Some of the other options I’ve looked at is Dropbox, Box, Amazon, and Flickr. 

Both Dropbox and Box have options for unlimited space (or, effectively so) and are fairly affordable when compared to Picturelife. The pro is that Dropbox and Box can be used for more than just photos. In a way, I’m getting more for my money. However, neither service is optimized to be a solution for storing, discovering, and sharing personal photographs.

Amazon offers free unlimited photo storage for Prime members. Prime continues to improve and, honestly, I can’t believe Eliza and I have held out as long as we have without it. However, the upload process is incredibly slow and the mobile application is about 10 versions behind what Picturelife offers. Also, and this isn’t a small issue, photo storage isn’t Amazon’s primary business model. The fact that Picturelife team members wake up every day to help make this better, easier, more fun, faster, etc. is a really big deal.

Flickr gives a free terabyte of space to every user. For my use, this might as well be unlimited. Flickr provides a few features that no other photo storage solution currently offers in the way that Flickr can. These include excellent geolocation, incredibly rich tagging, albums, groups, sharing, and more. The issue is that they simply do not have an easy way to get my entire photo archive onto their platform. Their web-based photo uploader is horrendous. And managing my photos after they got there would be a nightmare. They simply aren’t built for this type of photo storage. The rotten cherry on top of this cupcake is that Flickr is owned by Yahoo! and it seems the company’s days are numbered. It’ll likely be acquired at some point and who knows what will happen to Flickr, the team, the photos, everything at that point.

So, I’m back to Picturelife. Currently it appears to be the best option. The mobile application is incredibly well done to help me find photos I’ve taken in the past, to grab them and use them as I need, etc. There is still a lot of work to do, but so far, so good.

In addition to the failure rate of companies in this space I have the following inhibitions regarding renting more space from Picturelife; the application hasn’t seen an update since November 2014 and that was a point.point release, the company raised “just” $4M in 2012 (more on this in a moment), and the site doesn’t seem like it has been updated in a little while.

I say “just” $4M because that isn’t a lot of money for a startup in New York City taking on photo storage. Photo storage is still a fairly expensive problem. It is far less expensive today than it was a few years ago — when many of the companies failed — but it still isn’t cheap. The prices that Picturelife charges seem fair… but so did the prices Everpix was charging.

But you might say… “what is the worst thing that could happen? Why care? If they go under just switch to something else.” As anyone that has backed up their photo library knows, this process is a big pain. Especially if each service stores metadata differently. I remember when I had just 20Gb of photos and I was switching between Aperture and iPhoto. Two products from the same company. It took me months. I tagged and described and put every single photo into an album. I’ve since completely given up on trying to do this. I now rely solely on the information that is stored by the cameras I use — location, date, time, and a bit of facial recognition. I wish I didn’t have to give up on this. But I simply cannot sink hundreds of hours into this process again and be left with nothing when I have to move from one thing to another.

Another concern is that I buy Macs. And Macs don’t come with an enormous amount of space out of the gate. In 2015 we’re still left with less space than we really need in favor of using cloud-based services to make up the difference. In the very near future I will not be able to fit my audio, video, and photo libraries on any computer that I own. And storing them on large hard drives at home can be a big problem and that gives you a single point of failure. House fire? Everything is gone. So I have to use the web.

All of this is to say; I honestly do not know what I should do. I’ll likely rent more space from Picturelife but I won’t do so with the full confidence that I’ll be able to use this service longterm. But I really, really hope that I can and I hope that they continue to improve the service and thrive for years to come.

* I’ve uploaded over 75Gb and have about 50Gb left to upload or so.