I am so excited to share a photo ‘cleaning’ series with you this week – Clean Up Your Photos with Miss Freddy. Casey (Miss Freddy) helped me sort through my photo mess earlier this year. Having our photos backed up and sorted properly was such a gift – organizing photos is not my specialty and it was such a relief to know that everything was backed up properly. I asked her to share her tips with you guys – I am thrilled for her to help you too!  

The cloud isn’t a new concept and by now, it’s likely you have some portion of your photos saved there.  But perhaps you’re not confident in your settings, unaware of how you can automate things, or not taking advantage of all the features that are offered!  You’ve landed in the right place.

Today I want to share my favorite cloud backup service, how to properly set it up (with screen shots for you to follow) so that you can feel confident in your backup system.  And I’ll show you some of the fun features at your fingertips after you have everything backed up.

Before we jump in, I want to share my basic rule of thumb for backup.  At a minimum, you should have one onsite copy and one offsite copy of your photo library. 

      • An onsite/local copy (computer or external hard drive) is your primary source.  It’s accessible without internet.  You own it and it’s onsite.
      • An offsite/cloud copy is a backup.  It requires internet access, but makes your entire photo library accessible to you anywhere!  And it gives you peace of mind that if your onsite copy is compromised, you can easily restore those files from the cloud.

Amazon Photos (aka Amazon Drive) is my favorite cloud backup service.  If you’re a Prime Member, unlimited photo storage is already included in your membership (video storage costs $12/year)!  But you don’t have to be a prime member to use Amazon Photos.  The 1TB plan costs $60/year (in comparison other cloud backups are $100+).  Beyond the reasonable price, I prefer Amazon for backup because of the automation features it offers and the seamless sync between Amazon Drive and Amazon Photos (more on that in a minute).

BONUS!  If you’re new to Amazon Photos, they’re currently offering a $15 Amazon credit when you give it a try!


How to Setup Your Phone

The first step to get started with Amazon/cloud backup is to install the Amazon Photos app on your phone (available for iPhone and android).  Log in with your amazon account and authorize it to access your photos.  Verify your settings match these screen shots:

After auto-save is enabled, Amazon will thoroughly back up your photos + videos.  It can take quite some time, depending on the size of your Camera Roll.  A few things to be aware of:

  1. The upload runs faster when Amazon is the active app.  Try opening the app after you plug your phone in to charge at night. It’ll make a lot of progress while you’re asleep!
  1. The upload is halted when low battery mode is in use.  Consider leaving this feature off during this initial upload to save time.
  1. If you’re using iCloud, this process will take triple the time. When iCloud is enabled, your photos are all visible on your phone, but they aren’t actually all saved there in full resolution.  Amazon will trigger a full-size download from iCloud, THEN it will upload to amazon.  Amazon is thorough and it will get everything backed up in time.
  1. Amazon converts live photos + burst photos into a single, still photo.  This is really helpful and ensures they don’t count toward your video storage.
  1. Last, but not least (my favorite feature!!), Amazon automatically renames your photos and videos to include the timestamp in the filename!  This is so helpful for organizing your photos!

How to Setup Your Computer

First, you’ll need to visit amazon.com/drive and download the desktop application (available for Mac and PC).  Before you enable any backup options, take a minute to review the screen shot below for proper settings.

The desktop program is for transferring files and NOT for viewing pictures (that can be done via the app or website, more info is in the next section).  In the desktop application, there are three options:

    1. Backup:  Designate a folder for Amazon to watch on your computer (or an external hard drive).  If you add new content to this folder, Amazon will automatically add that content in the cloud as well.  As of right now, Backup only syncs additions and not deletions.
    1. Restore:  A one-time download from the cloud to your computer.  You can select a single folder from Amazon to download to your computer (or an external hard drive).
    1. Sync:  An ongoing up/down sync between your computer and amazon.  Both additions and deletions are synced between amazon and your computer.  Downside- cannot be enabled on an external hard drive and requires a lot of storage space from your computer.

I personally recommend using the Backup feature to upload your content to the cloud.

      • Instead of using the default folders that Amazon has preselected, choose a single folder to Backup to Amazon (mine is called Photo Library- you can learn all about how I created/organized that folder in the Backup Bootcamp online course… save $10 with code CLEANMAMA).
      • Change the default Backup Destination so the folder is placed right in the main Amazon space and is more easily accessible (the default will place the Backup within a backup folder with subfolders for your computer name).   
      • Once the initial Backup finishes running (may take a few days depending on the size of your photo collection), Amazon will continue to watch this folder.  If it’s on an external hard drive, you can eject that hard drive at any time… the next time you plug it in, Amazon will do a full sweep again and make sure all content has been backed up.

How to View Your Photos

One amazing feature of Amazon is that you have TWO different options for viewing your folders: Amazon Drive and Amazon Photos.  Both contain the same content, but presented in different ways.  You can decide which you prefer for the project you are working on.

        • Amazon Drive:  displays everything in folders (similar to dropbox).  You can select folders to share with friends, sync folders to your computer.  (My Backup Bootcamp course teaches how to get ALL of your photos organized into a simple folder structure on your computer, which you can then access via Amazon Drive).
        • Amazon Photos: displays in a visual format with keyword search functionality and facial recognition (similar to google photos).

Again, BOTH formats have the same content.  There are two separate apps for your phone (Amazon Drive + Amazon Photos) and two separate websites (amazon.com/drive + amazon.com/photos).

How to Find What You Need

Amazon Photos includes so many helpful search features!  My favorite is Facial Recognition– it’s so cool!  In the People tab you can spend a few minutes naming the faces that have automatically been identified.  The People section comes in handy for an occasion like a birthday- you can click on the face of the birthday person and quickly pick photos to put together a collage from the years.  I also used this section to help put together the ‘all about me’ poster for my son’s kindergarten homework- click his face and BOOM, a whole bunch of his photos appear!  So easy!

The Location tab is helpful if you’d like to reflect on or create a photo book for a particular vacation.  As long as your geotagging is enabled on your phone, you’ll find lots of helpful location information populates in this tab.

You can also search by keyword to find what you need.  It’s so fun to play with this feature and see the results.  Type in ‘beach’ for example and it’ll return the photos that resemble sand, water, sunsets, etc.  It’ll even offer you additional keywords for getting more specific (like ‘bikini’ to filter for photos that feature swimsuits at the beach)!

Other Fun Features

Ok, I know I’ve shared a LOT of information, but I want to make sure you know about these additional fun things you can do after uploading all your photos to Amazon!

Memories:  On both the Amazon Photos website and app, you can quickly see the memories from today’s date, back in time.  It’s like Timehop only it pulls from ALL of your photos instead of just what is shared on social media.

Stories:  This is a really new feature!  Amazon will automatically create stories for you using photos taken at a similar time or location.  For example, if you went on vacation to Hawaii, amazon would take the photos and turn them into an automatic slideshow set to music (it’s surprisingly good)!  PLUS you can automatically turn it into a photo book too!  So cool!

Prints + Photo Books:  You can order prints, photo gifts, and photo books right through Amazon Photos.  They fulfill via Snapfish and the prices are very competitive.

Ready for the next step?  The Backup Bootcamp online course walks you through my four steps of organizing your digital photos:

  1. Centralizing Your Photos
  2. Removing Duplicates
  3. Sorting Chronologically (this is automatic too!)
  4. Backing it Up to the Cloud

Save $10 with code CLEANMAMA! 

Casey, aka Miss Freddy, is a certified Professional Photo Organizer (yes, that’s a thing!) who helps people worldwide make sense of their photo mess.  She lives in Colorado with her husband, two kids, and micro-mini golden doodle (that’s a dog).  Follow her on Instagram for free tips on how to take better photos and use them in meaningful ways.

There are affiliate links in this post. See my full disclosure policy here.