Online storage & photo hosting reviews for Travelers & Photographers

If you're traveling, then you'll need to make sure all your photos, documents, and files are secure and safe.

If you're running a blog or website, you might also just need a photo host to reduce your costs, and improve your website! (Reviews updated Aug 2012)

(Click a heading below to scroll down to that section)

» Why host things online, and what's the difference?

» Online storage, backup & hosting reviews

» Top Picks for storage / back up providers

» Zenfolio v SmugMug v Flickr which photo host is better?

» Why do I need photo hosting for my blog?

» My bad experience with a backup storage company

» What to do if your storage company loses your data?

» How to prevent your images from being stolen

» Dealing with low bandwidth

» Alternatives to online backups

» Comments

Online Storage lets you backup everything from documents, zip files to photos. Photograph Hosting is for photo backups and / or hosting only.

Online Storage Reviews Photograph Hosting Reviews






Elephant Drive


Safe Copy


Jungle Disk


Amazon S3

Live Drive


Sugar Sync








Why host things online, and what's the difference?

Online storage: What's worse than someone stealing your camera, money or passport? Stealing your time and memories. You can always get a new camera at some stage, but you'll never get those exact photos back. If you've backed them up online, then you have just saved yourself a lot of heartache.

Likewise with your documents. If you are traveling to China for some TEFL teaching or Cambodia for volunteer and you luggage gets lost. Where are all those documents with your qualifications? Have you scanned them in, and put them online in the safety of online backup? If yes then in a few minutes you can download all your certificates.

Likewise with your passport. If it gets lost or stolen, along with your photocopies, then downloading your scanned in copy can save you a lot of trouble in explaining who you are!

Dedicated Photo Hosting: Have a blog, or website that uses a lot of images? Photo hosting can help you by both backing up your photographs, and letting them display on your website/blog with a lot of great options.

It also reduces the bandwidth to your site, thus saving you money from expensive web hosting plans.

You can also sell your images on line with relative ease.

This is a review of both dedicated photo hosts, and online storage hosts

I've used online storage for over a decade. I've personally tested and / or used all the services listed here. With travelers in mind, here are my reviews of the companies that provide online backup storage for your files and photographs.

Online Storage Reviews


In 2019 Mozy became part of Carbonite and uses their offers.

Review: Mozy is popular. Unfortunately it failed to live up to my expectations. The primary reason for this is that it wants desperately to backup your entire hard drive. You can stop this, and relatively easily force it to only backup what you want though.
Pro's: Popular, easy interface, quite fast, easy to get going quickly. Not so expensive. External drives are supported on the 2.0 application.
Con's: Customer support are keen on giving yes and no answers. I don't trust the fact they delete files after 30 days and have a little confusion on that very subject. The Mozy task bar cannot be removed, very annoying. Web interface does not allow uploading individual files, which is bad for those on the road without a laptop and Mozy installed.. No Paypal payments only credit card.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).



A relatively new company that's rising fast. Free trial, & pay for unlimited.

Review: Backblaze has a desktop application that allows you to deselect the folders you do not want to backup, it will then backup all else. They will also ship you a DVD or Flash disk of your files (extra cost) should you not want to download them in the event of losing the originals.
Pro's: Clean web interface, options and very open. The best customer care service I've come across during these reviews.
Con's: I found the desktop application difficult and confusing. Deselecting files rather than selecting them was very time consuming. The application does not work well on low bandwidth.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).



Another big popular backup company. Unlimited backups & a free trial.

Review: I was hoping for big things from Carbonite but got another Mozy maybe that's why the merged. It likes to backup your whole drive, and does not have a dedicated external drive back up solution.
Pro's: Clean web interface, easy to understand options. Quite fast. Pricing is good.
Con's: Customer care sent me a blunt one liner stating they did not support external drives. I lost interest after that email.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


A popular professional company with great offers and options but they no longer support personal accounts only business.

Review: CrashPlan has improved greatly over the past few years. Now with web and desktop interfaces backing up is very intuitive. They have great extended plans and good customer service.
Pro's: Clean web interface, easy to understand options. Desktop application is one of the best available. Quite fast uploading and downloading. Pricing is good with extended plans.
Con's: PayPal is accepted but not mentioned on the website. Upload speeds to seem to get slower after a while of using the service. They only accept business accounts.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Another big popular company, that actually seems to work very well. 5GB Free or several pay options, no PayPal.

Review: What sets IDrive apart from several other storage solutions is that they offer a desktop and web interface. Meaning you can actually download from the website by logging in, or from the desktop application. What's more, both are very fast at loading.
Pro's: Clean web interface, that's very easy to use. You can see your files online and download from there, or from the desktop application. Fast uploading.
Con's: Customer care was a little slow to respond and not so friendly. The pricing structure is at first a little off putting. 500GB works out about a little more than unlimited accounts. The desktop application uses a lot of memory and a little unresponsive.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

Elephant Drive
Outline: 1tb with a free trial. Desktop application with web access.

Review:Elephant Drive was for me a leader in this field. The desktop application worked very well. It's clear, understandable, and works flawlessly. The web access likewise, bar the fact I could not seem to download my files. And, here is where Elephant Drive let me down.

They seem to run off an old school customer service platform of waiting days for an email reply. What's more, it's tiered. Pay more, and get better customer service. On an otherwise very good platform, it's a shame they can't do the same with their customer care.
Pros: Excellent application that works, and is easy to use. Web access is clear and very easy to use.
Cons: Bad customer support policy. Days of waiting for replies. No PayPal support. And there was an issue in retrieving uploaded files.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


50GB given for free. Good additional storage for pay. Desktop and mobile applications.

Review: Mega comes from Kim Dotcom the man behind MegaUpload which was seiced by the FBI. Since then he's moved to New Zealand, founght the FBI and opened up Mega. 
Pro's: Quick download, simple instructions, easy to understand. Support were fast to respond. Mobile and desktop applications work well together with frequent updates.
Con's: The only real con is if Mega will ever be seized too. According to Mega it won't as it is based ourtside USA juristiction and it has been around for years.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

Safe Copy

5GB for free. Limited storage for pay. Desktop application.

Review: Everything looks great with Safe Copy, the site is clear however the application is confusing. PayPal is accepted. A great service let down my several errors and a poor app.
Pro's: Nice clear site, easily understood options. Customer service is quick and gets the job done. External drives are supported. Not had any problems at all.
Con's: The web interface drills down through directories in a slow manner, which is time consuming and annoying. I also experienced some errors on trying to get the confusing app to work.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


FBuy 100GB segments. Desktop application. Corporate style clients only.

Review: A dark horse of a winner? Strange bland website, with good intro videos. A premier application and multi OS support.
Pro's: Use this on your PC, MAC or Linux computer, nearly all mobile phones supported too. Clear video instructions.
Con's: Tiered platform now geared towards corporations means you must buy space every 100GB. Website is a bit, sterile looking.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

Sugar Sync

With a wealth of options Sugar Sync leaves many providers standing, but is it enough to make it a top top in online storage?

Review: Sugar Sync allows you full control over your backups. Select which folders, where and how often to back up. Mobile applications sync with cloud and desktop versions. Sugar Sync's options are clear, easy, and very useful. What's not so useful is its pricing, which is one of the highest.
Pro's: Very clean web interface, with plenty of tutorials and options. Getting full control of your backups is a huge plus to many people.
Con's: Sugar Sync seems to focused on business level clients rather than home users. This is reflected in their pricing which starts at $7.49 for a paltry 100GB per monthr. 250 GB will cost you $9.99 per month, credit cards only.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Jungle Disk

$4 for the application, plus storage fees from Amazon S3

Review: I did not use Jungle Disk for uploading due to the cost of having to sign up. They do however make a clear list of S3 pricing.
Pro's:The security of Amazon's S3 servers to store your data.
Con's:Jungle Disk's website was overloaded when I tried to access it. Amazon S3 might not be too cheap if you have a lot to backup and share

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


2GB free (+ incentives to increase all the way to 16GB), desktop and web access.

Review: Share & store your files with relative ease. The biggest stumbling block here is the price. 2TB at near $9.99 per month makes this company one of the more interesting. This is more for personal files than large scale photo storage.
Pro's: I always like to have web access. It's important to travel. The ability to share files is also useful. They have this feature. Great for small cross computer/phone sharing of files. The best thing about Dropbox is that it works ... period. There's rarely any flaws.
Con's: The pricing seems fairly steep compared to all the others. 2GB free, 2TB = $9.99 per month  Makes little sense to me. That's said you are paying for a backup system that works.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

Amazon S3

Unlimited storage from secure worldwide server locations, no PayPal.

Review: Perhaps one of the largest online storage providers offers up cheap storage via many options. Understanding how it all works though, may leave average users out in the blue.
Pro's: S3 hosting costs are amongst the cheapest and most secure. You also can't get much more reliable than S3.
Con's:The pricing can get confusing if you are doing more than just backing up. e.g., hot linking to images. It's got the feeling that it's more for tech people. The pricing system being a prime example.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

Free and unlimited enterprise storage with many options

Review: Free accounts get 10GB while a pro account is a flat $11.50  per month for 100GB. However does offer a wealth of options many other services do not. So if you are looking for specialized hosting, this might be it.
Pro's: Options, sharing, file replacement, tracking, mobile app, you name it, will have it.
Con's: Expensive compared to rivals.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Accounts available with PayPal payments. Web interface or desktop client

Review: A-Drive removed free accounts several years ago which basiclaly left people in the lurch. The interface is a little dated but is still quite good. Upload times are fast. Pricing goes a little crazy when you have to pay high fees. Quite a lot of sharing options.
Pro's: A-Drive is fast.
Con's:There are 2 big faults with Adrive. 1) I've never heard from their customer service again. This is a big problem. 2) The paid pricing is confusing and is not clear. They shut down free users previously.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Trial account to unlimited personal and business

Review: LiveDrive offers a corporate looking package that constantly backs up your files for you.
Pro's: Unlimited storage for a great price. The website is clear as is the interface they use.
Con's:Customer service was abrupt. No external drive support. You cannot upload to the web interface. Their desktop application leaves a lot of junk behind when you uninstall it.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


File encryption, 5GB free, good pricing

Review: Sync offers secure encryption to protect your data.
Pro's: Web interface is clear but you'll need to get your head around their terminology of Vaults and syncs. If you want to just upload, then valut away - otherwise Sync works on your destop and mobile. Customer service is on of the best of all the online storage companies.
Con's: The web interface is easy to use but not so practical for large files. It's difficult to drill down or copy over entire folders as Sync handles everything in a pop up. The desktop app is far easier to use though

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

Dedicated Photograph Hosting


Basic, unlimited and premium accounts allowing photo hosting and storage with a lot of options.

Review: I use Zenfolio. Their system works very well with more options than many people will need at a very competitive prices. Customer service is excellent via email, and very friendly.
Pro's: Reliability, is very high here with very little downtime, and plenty of notification if work is being done. Customer service is very helpful and quick. The cost of hosting here is very low, and the options are plentiful. Ability to sell your photographs at your own prices, with worldwide shipping providers. Social Networking included, facebook, and twitter your photos! Videos can now be hosted on Zenfolio.
Con's: Setting up themes takes time and have a moderate learning curve. Online forums are lacking in support. Inability to upload RAW files.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).You can use my code to avail of a 10% discount with them, it also gives me $5 off my next subscription too! Code: BDV-TGN-A7X


Standard, Power and Pro accounts offering unlimited photo storage

Review: I came close to signing with SmugMug and for good reason. The options open here are plentiful, with great customer service and a crew constantly pushing for new things to offer.
Pro's: Eye candy, the interface is very good looking. Lots of options, and easy to get into. Customer support is fast and good. Limited Video storage options. They have accounts linked to Amazon S3 to upload any file type.
Con's: Eye Candy interface & site can be distracting. There have been reports from ex users that downtime was a problem at times. They do not except PayPal and are the ones who took over Flickr with a lot of bad feeling.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Free limited to 1000 photos and Pro accounts on the worlds most popular image host

Review: Powered by SmugMug, Flickr is probably a household name. Free accounts are very limited in options and capacity while pro accounts are amongst the cheapest out there.
Pro's: Reliability, its SMugmug so they know photos. The cost of an unlimited Pro account is one of cheapest out there. It is also possible to sell your work via Getty images.
Con's: Flickr's reputation took a nose dive after it was sold to SmugMug and free storage was limited to 1000 photos. It also gives the feeling of not knowing what's next for Flickr?  

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Standard and Pro accounts from a long term photo host

Review: Photobucket seems to be stuck in having options that are quite dated. It should also be noted that Photobucket clearly state they lifetime storage.
Pro's: Unlimited account pricing is good with PayPal support. Users report few problems. They have a 250 image free account to get you started.
Con's: Website support seems a little dated as does the product itself.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Free Photo hosting with limited options

Review: ImageHousing is one of several online services offering to host unlimited photographs for free, with limited options.
Pro's: Completely free. Usable for small uploads and demos.
Con's: Uploading 10MB or 800 pixel width photos makes its usage for casual users only.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Free and Pay accounts from a long term photo host

Review: ImageShack could be so much more. But again seems to be stuck in the past. Great for temporary uploads but long term usage it's hampered by restrictions and high prices.
Pro's: Upload immediately and easily. PayPal available.
Con's: Limited amount of options available. Limited storage capacity. Expensive.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Pay accounts from a long term pro photo host

Review: I found the interface clunky and awkward. Upload was very slow too. That said they seem to focus a lot on SEO along with a lot of nice themes to choose from.
Pro's: Many different custom options that allow you to build a photo website quite easily. Different pricing plans based on your needs. There seems to be a lot of effort but into SEO but to see the results of this would take time.
Con's: One of the more expensive services, with caps on storage & bandwidth that seem extreme considering the price. I found the interface clunky, and it seems to take some time compared to others for setting things up.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

Top 3 List of online storage providers

Sync: If it's secure online storage you are looking for then Sync get's the job done well. Paypal payments or credit card make it easy with year long plans Use Sync to back up or their vault to back up when on the road.

Mega: 50GB for free is a great offer if you just want to store the essentials. The web and mobile interfaces work flawlessly. Their pricing is quite reasonable.

SafeCopy: With a desktop and web interface SafeCopy offers up what many online storage providers do not. Including good customer care, PayPal support and external drives support and this is my personal top pick. Unfortunately it's slipping due to the clunky desktop application and a multitude of errors.

Why do I need photo hosting for my blog or website?

Website hosts state they provide unlimited bandwidth. The simple fact is they don't. And, photographs use up more bandwidth than just about anything else.

By hosting your photos on a professional photo hosting platform you can then display them on your own website or blog.

Thus saving your website a lot of bandwidth, and saving you a lot of time and money.

With dedicated photo hosting you have many options. Including:

  • Save web hosting bandwidth & costs
  • Display larger images on your website without worry
  • Another source for people to see your work
  • Sell your photographs
  • Forums to help you improve your photography
  • Photographs are backed up securely
  • Protect the original photograph from being stolen or copied
  • Add watermarks easily
  • Only show certain sizes of your photograph publicly

I wrote up a fairly detailed account of this based on my own practical experiences, it also includes more on dedicated photo hosting "Online Photo hosting"

Zenfolio v SmugMug v Flickr

These online dedicated photo storage providers are my personal top choices.

Zenfolio: I personally use Zenfolio for this website and have never had an issue with them. They offer a mass of options and at very competitive prices with great customer service.

They lack the immediate eye candy of SmugMug but make up for it in many other ways. Including PayPal usage, excellent themes, embedded sideshows, watermarking, scaled down images and free licensed soundtracks for your slide show galleries.

Zenfolio is the only service at this price point that allows no limitations on photo organization hierarchy (group within group within group within group etc.)

The ability to fully customize your site with point-and-click tools with never any need for coding. Meaning you can redirect your domain name to them and have it show up as your site. Or you can simply link your photos to your own independant site/blog with unlimited storage.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

You can use my code to avail of a 10% discount with Zenfolio - if you do this it also gives me 10% off my next subscription too! Code: BDV-TGN-A7X


SmugMug: SmugMug is very popular and for a good reason. Good customer service and a huge online following make it a serious contender.

However with all the above comes a few concerns. Occasional outages have come up in forums. Integration of PayPal would put it on a level field with Zenfolio. Its integration of Amazon storage as a payable extra is a nice feature.

An active photo help forum is on hand to interact with other photographers.

They also allow for domain redirection so it can look like your site is also hosted with them.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).


Flickr: The behemoth of online photo storage and hosting should not be overlooked. However, users should really take note that it's now owned by SmugMug and previous users photos were limited to 1000.

Likewise the lack of options with what you can do with your photos. And, the amount of image theft that occurs with flickr is huge.

That said they've recently signed with Getty images, a big time player. However, it's well known that image thieves stalk flickr with a passion. That said, it's also very cheap to get a pro account with unlimited storage.

Click here to open their website (new tab/window).

My problem with an online storage provider

One of the reasons I wrote this article is due to a horrific experience I had a few years ago. Since then I take using an online storage provider very seriously.

I once used a company called Streamload that allowed data storage. It worked very well. I was traveling already when I became aware that they had change names to MediaMax.

Again, the service was fine, though a lot of users reported problems. At this stage I needed to get more storage, so I bought their paid plan. Then they changed names again, to The LinkUp.

The LinkUp became a case in point for terrible online storage. Users began to get other user files showing up in their accounts. Files went missing. And all during this customer support went from bad to offensive.

I saw the writing on the wall and moved away. Within a few months The LinkUp announced a database crash and all files lost. They filed for bankruptcy and everyone lost both their money and data.

This is one of the reasons I spend so much time researching the best host for my needs.

What to do if your storage company loses your data?

It's happened to me as you've read above, and I dare say it's happened to many others too.

The first thing I would say is, always have a back up of your back ups.

You really can't have too many.

Don't go for the cheapest here. We are all tempted by cheap offers. $5.99 for 100GB vs $5.99 for unlimited. I know most would jump for unlimited, but check around first. See what others are saying.

That 100GB may include dual back ups held off site. Or hard copy backups ready to send out.

Read the the small print of your contract. Yes, it's a contract you are signing when you hire a company to look after your data. Unfortunately internet companies are still not policed that well.

Moreover, you will find most terms & conditions usually state they will not be held responsible for data loss.

If you data is lost, I would suggest the following:

  • Courteously contact the company without losing your cool
  • Confirm what has happened, and wait for a response
  • Confirm that your data is really gone, and not recoverable
  • If so, ask for a reason why, in writing (email)
  • Ask "if" there is going to be compensation
  • Ask if it's a one off, or it's happened before
  • Search out blogs, and forums for other users who have had the same problem, at the same time
  • There may well be an off site blog where users with the same problem with the same company are getting together, get together an discuss
  • Inform the company that you are not satisfied with the loss of data. See the response before moving to a next step.
  • Find out who's running the company, directors etc,.
  • Find out their concrete physical address


Tell the company you will be informing the better business Bureau in their town about this.

Mention that you happen to be aware that there are others who've also had a similar problem.

Do contact the Better Business Bureau about them.


In all likely hood if your data is gone, it's gone. Immediately find another company and start backing up again.

Sadly there are no guarantees in this area. In ten years it has happened to me once. And, thankfully, I had a secondary back up company and off site backups too.

In my view, it's worth the risk, so long as you don't put all your eggs in one basket.

How to prevent your images from being stolen

Photograph or image theft is a huge online problem these days. If your photographs are on your blog, the chances are anyone can come along and use them without your permission.

There are several things you can do to prevent, or hamper theft of your images.

Low resolution photos: Don't publish your original image, use a scaled down low resolutions version.

No right click: Try a don't right click plugin or javascript to prevent the novice from copying and saving your photo. A simple online search will come up with options.

The above is not perfect though, simply view source and the url's are available. It also prevents copying of text, and may not feel good for your users to see. But it does make it more difficult or annoying for image theft.

Turn hot linking off: Hot linking is when you allow others to link to your files or images. It uses your bandwidth too. Many hosting providers will do this for you, or if you know how to, edit you htaccess file (caution advised).

Embed your images: This is a technique whereby you show your images as a background. It's a little technical technical, and time consuming, but it works to a degree.

Watermarks: This is perhaps the most common way to prevent image theft. Add a watermark with your website or name to it.

The problem here is that obviously the original image no longer looks that good.

The second problem with watermarks is that a new feature in Photoshop called content aware now makes it very easy to remove watermarks.

Protect the original: With photo host providers like Zenfolio it's possible to never share the original photograph. You can show many many different sizes of your image, including thumbnails and have the original kept safe.

Along with that, you can also add a watermark to your scaled down image, all with a couple of simple online clicks.

Use Flash: Yes, the dreaded flash word. It's got a bad wrap as a web design platform, but you can't save photographs that are displayed in flash. Not unless you use a screen capture, and the quality is never very good. This works best for slide shows of your best work.

Copyright statement: Sounds simple, but few people actually bother to right one out and make it seen clearly. You'd be surprised how many people will email you and ask permission this way!

Don't get paranoid: This is perhaps the best thing to do. If someone wants an image, they are going to get it. If this bothers you, don't publish your photos online.

Otherwise, show off your work for the world to see!

I won't cover what to do if you find your photograph was stolen. If you'd like an article on that - leave a comment below.

Dealing with low bandwidth and online storage

Low bandwidth (bad WiFi) is something many people do not take into consideration when traveling and uploading photos or files.

If you are uploading small 1-2 MB photos or files you should have little problems. However is you are uploading a lot of 5-10 MB files, you'll soon find yourself spending more time uploading, than traveling.

Some tips:

  • Delete the bad photos - blurred or duplicate photos are of little value
  • Sort your photos out into smaller grouped folders. Then upload in smaller batches
  • Take advantage of accommodation with WIFI, keep your laptop on overnight uploading your data.
  • Avoid incremental backup desktop software. Just upload what you need backed up.

Alternatives to online storage

The only real alternative to online storage is to carry hardware around.

There are three main options:

Laptop: A laptop has the added benefit of allowing you to edit your data. However it has the disadvantage of being more susceptible to data loss due to viruses, operating system faults, damage and theft.

External Drives: From heavy 1-2 Terabyte drives to slim portable drives, external drives are a good option for data storage. Portable drives are increasing in size with the latest ones storing up to 1TB of data.

Keep in mind that some portable drives require external power adapters.

Flash drives: the capacity of flash drives is increasing. While they won't store anything near an external drive capacities, they can store a surprising amount. Couple that with extreme ruggedness, and low cost, they might be a good option for some.

For travel I use & recommend 4 TB External drives. I also recommend getting a small hardcover case with the portable drive!

Final note:

These reviews are done with travelers in mind. So always on 24 hour internet connections are not taken into account as being a priority.

2019 update: I've revisited and tried all the above services again, plus added some new ones. The biggest difference is increasing price, dropping of PayPal support and lack of feedback.

It's a shame that as hardware gets cheaper and more things move to the cloud the online storage industry is still several years behind.

However, there are still a few gems listed here which I really recommend.

Imagine if you lost your laptop and hard drives today? If you feel devastated at that thought then you need to get online storage & backup now!

Please keep in mind all the above is based on my own personal experience with data & photo storage. If the information here can help you on your own travels then that's a good thing!