What's The Easiest Way to Manage Photos Across Devices?
August 14, 2022 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I take a lot of photos. I like to edit those photos on various different devices. I am looking for an easy/streamlined way to store my photos in a way that I can access them from whatever device I want to use, in a way that doesn't lose file quality. More details about devices, current cloud storage situation, etc, inside!

The devices I want to edit on:

Lenovo Desktop (windows)
Lenovo Laptop (windows)
iPad Air 4th Gen (iOS)
Samsung Galaxy s10 Phone (android)

The photos are currently stored on an external hard drive permanently attached to the desktop, and backed up with Backblaze. However, it doesn't seem super easy to download photos from my Backblaze account on all the devices (seems like it might be doable, but clunky). I tried a flash drive, but the ipad and android phone aren't super friendly/intuitive with accessing files on it.

I don't need to store ALL my photos at once, just whatever batch I'm working on currently. I imagine loading all my photos onto my desktop as usual, then uploading the batch onto {magical solution} and then the photos are easily available to access on all devices, edit, and then re-upload the edited photo to save back to my desktop, all while maintaining full resolution/quality.

Do I just need a different/additional cloud storage service? I'd rather not pay for one, but the free options on dropbox, google, etc, all seem to involve some compression or reduction in image quality, or very limited space, or problematic privacy situations, so if I have to pay, I might just bite the bullet and do it (in which case, recommendations for specific services are welcome). Appreciate any advice!
posted by carlypennylane to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Compression does not always mean reduction in image quality - for example, if you put all of the photos into a .zip file, they'll be compressed but returned to their original state if you unzip that file on a new device. I don't know whether iOS or Android deal with .zip files though
posted by TimHare at 8:51 PM on August 14, 2022

If you use Lightroom to edit your pics, you could try using the cloud version of Lightroom. It costs $10/month, gives you 1TB of storage, and most importantly for you, pretty seamless integration across different platforms.
posted by alidarbac at 9:06 PM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Darn, no I don't use Lightroom, precisely because I don't want to pay a monthly subscription. Hence why I'm trying to find an easy (or hopefully inexpensive) solution!

(and TimHare, thanks for the clarification of compression vs reduction - I don't think the iPad or phone does handle zip files well, though, so I'm on the lookout for more user-friendly solutions.)
posted by carlypennylane at 9:57 PM on August 14, 2022

Using something like a NAS (network attached storage), such as one from Synology might be a solution. This in essence lets you plug your storage into your router so all your devices can access it at once. Android and iOS both offer mostly robust support for connecting to servers in this way. If you need remote access, you can use VPN's (Tailscale is fast and comically simple to configure) or various proprietary technologies from Synology (such as Quick Connect). In most scenarios when you use a NAS you will have some data redundancy where if a drive fails there will be at least one other fail-over drive. Synology devices can also backup to Backblaze automatically, which is best for archival type occasional recovery anyways.

I use a Mac but have an Android phone. I simply copy the photos I want to edit from my phone and place them on a folder on the NAS which I can easily open from the Mac, or any other device (Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, whatever). The NAS can also handle your backup duties, run a media server, provide always online access to any external disks you plug in or internal disks you install, in addition to a host of other useful things. The solutions from Synology take what the fairly messy and knowledge intensive act of running a server and making it quite simple and easy to manage, as long as you have at least some tech-acumen. They are also much lower power usage than using something like an old desktop as a server.

Of course, you can use other things too like commercial products from QNAP, or you could run something like FreeNAS that has you do more of the configuration yourself but runs on whatever hardware you'd like. There's other solutions that use Raspberry Pi's as well if you're okay with DIY.
posted by boredoms at 10:08 PM on August 14, 2022

I agree you probably need some sort of a "private cloud" solution where you are sort of emulating Google Photo's functionality.

If you don't mind a subscription, one possibility is to shell out $10 a month for Google One, where you get 2 TB of online storage for everything Google, not just Google Photos. Or if you want to pay $100 for the whole year, even better. And you can access your Google Photos in the browser on almost any PC or Mac. There are smaller plans, of course.

If you are an Amazon prime member, Amazon Photos has free UNLIMITED online photo storage for you.
posted by kschang at 5:27 AM on August 15, 2022

As annoying as Adobe and software subscriptions are, if you find yourself in a situation where you would be paying for storage anyway, maybe try the free trial of Lightroom. I can’t imagine managing and editing photos without it. It also has functionality for editing smaller versions of photos on other devices and then being able to apply those edits to the original photos. I don’t use it, but I imagine it could be ideal for someone who wants to edit on multiple devices while retaining maximum image quality.
posted by snofoam at 6:03 AM on August 15, 2022

I'm trying out Amazon photo for this. I have a couple of paid sites that I have been using - one, very popular - but when I go on my desktop to access the files it takes forever. So annoying! When I go to my desktop for Amazon photos the files come right up.
I have Amazon backing up my iPhone photos and that is going smoothly.
They say that they don't compress - I haven't really looked into that.
If you are ethically opposed to Amazon, I understand that. I try to work around that by thinking about how Bezo's ex wife is giving all her money away - she bought a YMCA for my little town. And I just got an email that Amazon has given 600,000 to my chosen charity - ASPCA.
posted by cda at 4:07 PM on August 15, 2022

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