Organizing my electronic life - photos, files, music - in one place?
October 13, 2016 11:53 AM   Subscribe

I really can't deal right now with the (lack of) organization of my electronic photos, music, and files.

I used to rely on dropbox for everything and would really prefer to use just ONE service for EVERYTHING, but I don't know how to choose one and it seems that one is better for photos vs. another is better for music, etc.

It mainly started when I wanted to get all my music (13k songs, not giant but not small), in a cloud, and I put it on Amazon which I regret immensely. I mainly like to access all of these things (files, photos, music) through my laptop, NOT a mobile device, but apparently Amazon music SUCKS on a desktop/laptop and my music is basically "trapped" in amazon cloud land.At this point I'm ready to dig out my old hard drives to figure out which music is one them, and then download the amazon music I've bought since onto the hard drive, then buy an mp3 player to put it all on so I can actually have access to it all when I want it. Is this probably best for my music? I'm really not into paying a subscription for music access - I stream free services when I have steady wifi/internet, but I mainly play music in the car.

My photos... argh. I just accidentally deleted photos I had because Amazon photo led me to believe I was just erasing them from my device, NOT the cloud... turns out it was totally wrong!! :( So I don't want to use Amazon photo. I still am using Picasa to edit/organize which I know is kaput. One of our cell phones uploads to Drop box, the other to Microsoft One drive. I am currently paying for each of these and don't want to pay for two different cloud storage services but I like them both just fine for photo storage/organization.

I use gmail for personal and work. I have an android phone and have no interest in ever getting an iPhone. We have a kindle fire that we got for free with 5MB storage so that is really only used for streaming movies/watching amazon prime and netflix. I do most of my technological stuff on a Lenovo laptop and my work desktop. I'm not interested in starting to use a tablet.

I'm not scared/paranoid about privacy stuff. I really don't have a lot of time in my life to deal with this stuff but if I make a plan I can start chipping away at it here and there. Can someone give me a plan?
posted by wannabecounselor to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You can get unlimited storage for photos (below a certain size) on Google Photos. The Google Photos app syncs them automatically from your phone over wifi and it's pretty hard to delete them forever.

You can upload up to 50,000 tracks to Google Play Music and their web UI is fine. You don't need to subscribe. It's probably pretty similar to Amazon.

You can store up to 15GB across Drive & Gmail which is a fair amount. You can buy more if you want. It integrates well with Gmail. Drive has a desktop sync app like Dropbox and while it's not quite as good as Dropbox's it's fine.

The major thing you need is a backup strategy as people do sometimes get locked out of their google accounts. This is a risk for any cloud provider - you get hit with a ToS violation and you're fucked. So sync all docs to a PC and download all your photos from time to time.
posted by GuyZero at 12:06 PM on October 13, 2016

Why don't you just use Dropbox? Am I missing some sort of functionality it doesn't have that you wanted? It seems to have all the functionality you want and you are already familiar with it. Also, if you accidentally delete a bunch of stuff, you can get it back within 30 days. Personally I use Dropbox on all my computers (both PCs and Macs) and my Android phone and I'm really happy with it. You also don't need to sync every folder on every device. On my desktop that is running out of space, I do a selective sync to avoid keeping local copies of stuff I don't need. I personally like Dropbox because it acts like my computer already acts -- I don't need to do anything special with it. And while Box has a similar features, in the past I have had issues with things not syncing and stuff accidentally getting deleted without me doing anything (albeit I was able to recover the deleted stuff, but I had to notice it).

If you only listen to music in your car, do you have a USB port in your car? You could probably keep all your MP3 files in one folder and buy a large flash drive to hold them all and use that in your car. I believe there are services that will automatically back-up or sync folders to a hard drive when you plug it into your computer. Or you can just manually do it by dragging new music onto it. If you listen to music beyond just your car, then you could just get an MP3 player. But 13k songs is a lot. I had a USB stick with a large collection car songs and a small iPod Shuffle for just my pump-up workout songs. (But now I don't have a car anymore and I have an elliptical in my house so I use neither, haha.)
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:09 PM on October 13, 2016

I use a lot of different cloud services and I don't pay anything for any of them except Amazon Drive as part of my Prime membership. I also never keep my only copy of a file on any cloud service unless I can freely download it again from the company who sold it to me (iTunes and Amazon for example). I also still use Picasa for my local pictures!

Your photos are so much more important than movies or music because you can almost always redownload or rebuy things someone else made but you cannot get back a picture you took and then deleted. So, your pictures and other creations need to live in at least two other places. For me, that is Google Photos and Flickr for pics and Google Drive and Dropbox for other files. This is all in addition to my own PC/home backups.

If you are paying for two different services and neither one stands out to you as the obvious winner, maybe you should pay for neither. I am all in favor of paying for services that are well run and useful, but in this case they are not giving you much value.

Is there a "Recycling Bin" or similar in Amazon where you may be able to recover the photos?
posted by soelo at 2:01 PM on October 13, 2016

I don't understand your aversion to Amazon for music. Long ago I uploaded my ripped music to Amazon, and buy most of my MP3s there now. I don't stream from Amazon, but use it as one form of music storage. I also have my music on my laptop hard drive (though managed by iTunes), an external hard drive, a flash drive for my car, and both my Android Phone and iPad. If I need music from my Amazon library, I download it to my PC or phone.

None of this really takes any time. I spent a couple of hours getting my music copied to external storage, iTunes slurped up my music library automatically and syncs to my iPad when I plug it, and now and then I plug my phone in and refresh the music there. Copying is a start and forget can do all sorts of other things while files are copying.
posted by lhauser at 3:53 PM on October 13, 2016

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