How I Organize My Photos

I am obsessed with backing up, organizing, and making my photos accessible from anywhere. I lost a history of photos a few years ago then told myself I would never lose a single photo again.

Hardware

At home, I have a Synology DS216+II NAS DiskStation with two 4TB hard-drives on RAID. Essentially that means the same data is copied to both drives automatically. One of the drives will fail eventually so I would like to be prepared for when that happens. While part of the disk space is used for photos, I also use this server much like how people use Dropbox. I control my own data and it syncs to my laptop. In the end, this is cheaper than having to purchase extra storage on Dropbox and I most often use this storage for work.

Backblaze B2

I use Backblaze B2 to backup most of my drive to the cloud if for some reason both physical drives fail or I need a file I deleted a few days ago. The key here is not do bi-directional uploads. It’s cheaper to store data on Backblaze B2 than to download. It’s for that reason that it will only upload but not delete or download any information Backblaze B2. It’s significantly cheaper this way.

Google Photos

My entire library of photos is on Google Photos. I have a directory called /Google Photos on Google Drive. Anything I put into that directory will automatically show up on Google Photos. I use Google Photos because the sharing, machine learning, and assistant capabilities are incredible.

I use Google Photos because the sharing, machine learning, and assistant capabilities are incredible. My family and I had a recent trip to Colombia and all I had to do to share my entire library to my family was to send them a link. They can also add photos to the album and I have the option to add all of their photos to my own library. Need a picture of a dog? All I have to do is type dog into my library search and it will find all pictures I took of dogs. Thanks for the facial recognition, I can also search for people I’ve tagged into my own library. I can access my photos from any device too.

My Phone

I’ve given up using my DSLR. While the quality of a DSLR is still better than the best of phones, it’s bulky and missing valuable metadata that I cannot live without. The metadata that’s most valuable to me is the GPS location of where I took the photo.

I use the Google Photos app on my Android to upload all photos and videos that I take on my phone automatically.

My Directory Structure

I organize all my photos by /year/month. This is where the metadata becomes especially important. I use Beautiful Backup Pro 2 to automatically sort all photos. It’s a straightforward process and easy to use.

Downsides

The biggest downside to this setup is the amount of data that being transferred. You’ll need to watch if your internet provider has any caps on your data. That can be an issue if you have as many photos as I do. I’ve set limits and a schedule to transfer the data to limit the transfer speed depending on the time of day.

Google Drive storage is not cheap. It’s $10 per month for 1TB. It’s well worth it for Google Photos features alone though. Don’t think of it as paying for only storage but as a storage with a ton of features provided by Google. If you’re looking for only storage, I’ve found Backblaze B2 to be very inexpensive.

My process will likely change over time. The important part is that my photos are backed up locally and in the cloud while also providing an easy way to access my photos.

Michael Tieso

Michael Tieso travels around the world writing, photographing, and filming his adventures. He is the Editor-in-chief of Art of Adventuring.
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