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Photo storage and backup


I'm interested to hear what everyone's process is for storing and backing up the photos they take.

I take some cave photos on my phone, and some on a cave camera, and then I manually stick them all on an external drive from time to time, which I clone as a backup. This makes it quite hard to look back through photos though, which means I just don't do it, whereas I really enjoy flicking through the old photos on my phone. It also makes it much harder to share photos after a trip.

I've considered a cloud provider like Google or iCloud for keeping my photos stored and easily accessible, but this has an associated cost, and to be honest I don't really understand all the edge cases. How does it handle having more photos than the device I'm syncing it with has room for? Is it possible for me to keep a (ideally semi-automated) back up of it myself?

So what is everyone else doing for managing, storing, and backing up their photos?


Well-known member
Google drive works well and has 15GB for free which backs up to the cloud. You can always make an account and a Gmail specifically for storing photos. And external hard drives make mass storage and back ups easy to access from a laptops.


Well-known member
I've an external SSD and two external spinning rust hard drives with copies on each of them. If I want to use any I'll copy them to my computer to play with. So the originals are never accidentally tampered with, and have redundancy in case a drive goes south.


My system's a bit like yours I suppose, ZombieCake, but I don't actually sit at my desk much if I can help it (I work from home so don't want to sit there unless I'm paid to!), so being tethered to my drives is a shame. I guess I could set them up as NAS, that might be a sensible plan.

I do use Google Drive when I need to share things, but I would massively exceed their free tier if I was to use it for all my photos!


Well-known member
My system's a bit like yours I suppose, ZombieCake, but I don't actually sit at my desk much if I can help it (I work from home so don't want to sit there unless I'm paid to!), so being tethered to my drives is a shame. I guess I could set them up as NAS, that might be a sensible plan.

I do use Google Drive when I need to share things, but I would massively exceed their free tier if I was to use it for all my photos!
I did a photoshoot at the weekend - about 30GB or so of stuff for just one event, which isn't unusual, so must admit wondering about other options too. Cloud costs seem to rapidly stack up if you wanted to go down that route!


I have a Synology nas which has a mobile app for backing up photos. It syncs with my computer so any photos I store are backed up. Its useful when I'm on holiday as I can download the photos onto my phone and they get backed up straight away.

I do use Google photos for general photo browsing, they have a setting where if you don't store the photo at full quality it doesn't count to your data limit. It makes it useful for the flicking through photos.


Staff member
I've often wondered what others do too. We use a combo of phones, laptops, hard drives but not in any hugely organised way. I must admit to buying a phone with a big storage so I didn't have to think about other storage for now.

One thing we do do is after each big holiday, event, is to make a Mixbook album of the trip with all the best photos. That way we still have those memories to look at (unless the house burns down). That is an actual, physical, paper photo book if anyone was wondering. It is a great way to remind yourself of a trip, big photos, easy to show others and beats the hell out of squinting at a phone screen. We had a laptop crash once and it was the only source for all the photos we had taken on a big trip to Australia.

Today we just take so many photos its almost counter productive in the end. Mind you I still have a big cardboard box of slides from numerous trips in the 1980/90s. It's in the attic and one day I'll get around to doing something with them - honest.

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
All on a seperate hard drive but you have to have them in folders or some way searchable. Many still exist on slides then copied to disc as digital files. Thousands on paid for Flickr and Photobucket. Many in hard back Photobox books which to my mind are easier to pass around and ultimately safer long term. The mine shaft project now runs to nine books totalling over 1,000 photos. Ultimately they will go to the local Heritage Centre. Countless images are splodged here and on Facebook. Two points. One dont forget that the brave new digital world is not necessarily the best as an archive. ( what happens when you die ? ). Second its no good bothering to take caving photos if they are not shared in some way.


I have Amazon Prime and that comes with unlimited photo storage. Add it to multiple devices and any photos taken or added get uploaded. I suppose I may have to consider what to do if I ever get rid of Prime but I'll worry about that when that time comes.


Well-known member
I use Dropbox for work and have oodles of storage. On there i have a big folder system of all caves, split by country, region, etc. Very manual but built up over many years. I like being able to access these whenever/wherever, on any device.

However in the last few years my folder sorting has massively slipped. This is probably down to nowadays mostly using a phone camera. Now I "star" each photo i want to keep and manually upload those images (not everything!) to dropbox, but it is only sorted into general yearly folders. I then occasionally go through and put good shots into the right folders (cave/family/work/etc), but not religiously enough anymore.

Kind of hoping that one day i'll be able to search dropbox by photo location and then sort accordingly, that would be a nice feature.

Umberto Nobile

New member
My solution is an array of ssd , laptop, desktop etc
The home Tv has a HDSC drive which is occasionally set to slideshow for an evening of sofa/beer/ crisps


Active member
I have a couple of computers and also rent a cheap dedicated server in France. All my data is backed up between them using Linux "rsync"

For managing the photos I use digiKam, also available for Windows and macOS.

At a previous place of work we backed up to Backblaze. $7 per month for personal backup.

Steve Clark

Well-known member
For backup purposes :

I put my photos folder within Dropbox but don’t use the photos functionality. I also have my whole pc backed up on backblaze. I take a periodic backup of everything, annually and leave it on a old hardrive I’ve pulled out of something.

For organisational purposes :

I have a folder for each year :


Then a folder for each trip/event

2023/2023-01-15 - Alum Pot/

I collate together everything from that trip into the folder. RAWs go in their own folder within it. I delete anything that’s completely useless or out of focus. I also export anything from my phone or other folks WhatsApp’s and put it in the same place. Pass it through Lightroom and create a folder of exports. Sort these and pick 4-6 decent ones that I’ll publish to Facebook and Flickr.

My Flickr catalogue is on the link in my signature below. I sort it in albums by pothole, inspired by Mark B. I use the Flickr app if I want to just flick through the best or show it to people.

I end up with about 30-60 folders per year on the PC of caving, climbing, weddings, holidays etc. That’s reasonably manageable and I can easily search the titles if I need something specific in the future.

Full GoPro unedited footage is too large for Dropbox. That goes on a NAS. I put the edited/completed version in the usual folders.
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Bob Mehew

Well-known member
A mix like others, the major thing I have yet to do is get GPS data recorded in EXIF. (Though I accept that not much use underground but one shot by the entrance would suffice as an indicator.) If you were a true professional, then you would also add word labels to EXIF.


For the MCRA i use Carbonite which backs up in realtime. We do have over 750gb and the archive grows all the time so the expense of using Carbonite will hopefully be the best cost effective option to protect the images for the future.
The separate HDD or mother drive the archive lives on is replaced every 3 years at my expense.

Please contact me if you have caving related images and videos you would like to add to the archive.


Im a bit of a photographer, doing a lot of wildlife, above ground explores as well as underground stuff, as some others I have 2 x 2TB external hard drives & duplicate copy everything to both.
do NOT rely on one drive, I had one go down & spent £400 trying to save the contents to no avail.

The above should do most people but Im 85% full on mine now with over 200k pics.
my next 2 will deff be solid state drives too

I do have flickr account etc but dont trust cloud based systems, I like to be able to access & see what pics I have where.
these are not grunted, what happens if they go down or the company folds? or maybe you come into a financial position where u cannot pay subscription any longer do you just loose everything?
this happened to photobucket or some such thing a while back & everyone lost everything
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Roger W

Well-known member
200,000+ pictures! I lift my hat to you, BG.

One question: can you remember what they are all pictures of?

I ask because I have been going through some of my (our) photos recently and - so often - thinking "Who on earth is that?" or "Why did I take that one?" Up to last year I could have asked my wife, but not now.