Smartphones are great for taking and instantly sharing photos and videos. Increasingly improving camera technology, better sensors, lenses and software have elevated the phones in our pockets into valid cameras.

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you all the time and this could be the reason why smartphones have become the de facto choice of most people for photos and videos. In case we need more proof of this, just consider that one trillion photos were taken in 2015.

Taking photos is one thing, but ensuring that you have them easily accessible as a regular backup is a big challenge. Thankfully, there are various cloud, software and hardware solutions worth considering.

Backing up to a cloud service

Depending on the platform of your smartphone, there are various cloud services that can be used to regularly store your photos online.

This usually happens when you plug-in to charge your device at the end of the day and are connected to your home or office Wi-Fi network, which makes it possible for your device to back-up in the background.

There are freemium cloud backup applications that work on most platforms.

Freemium means the service is free but limited to a preset amout of storage. Consumers can opt ot pay more money to subscribe to more space.

The one I would consider is Google Photos, which saves full-resolution backups of photos on your device and makes them accessible via a website. Google even makes it possible to edit, crop and share these photos online and even has a great search feature where you can search your photos by topic, face, location and even subject.

There’s an Assistan feature in Google Photos that makes it easy to quickly help you decide what you want to do with your photos as soon as they are backed up.

You can create an Album (which is a smart way to organzine and also share photos pertaining to specific events). You can make collages, animations and even movies from stills right from the app or website.

Those who don’t want to use Google’s approach and who have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription can consider Microsoft’s OneDrive, which similarly backs up and saves your photos in full resolution.

OneDrive doesn’t have as many online editing and search features as Google Photos but it does make your pictures easily accessible on a variety of devices.

Depending on what device you own and how much storage you’re alloted, both Google Photos and OneDrive offer free and paid tiers based on the amount of storage you need. From my experience, the basic tiers from both of these services are more than enough for most users.

Apple’s iCloud is a similar service but is only available to iOS or Mac users. iCloud backs up and makes copies of recent phtoos available on various devices as well as on iCloud.com.

Backing up to a PC

Getting these cloud backup services working on your mobile device is the first part of the solution. Once your photos are on the cloud, they are simply on two places at once (your phone being the other place, unless you erase them). The endgame is to back-up your photos and have them sorted and organized for future use and possibly for printing.

I’ve been a longtime Adobe Lightroom user on PC and Mac and this can do a great job of organizing your photos as well as editing them for various types of output including large format printing.

I have a three and a half year old son and my wife and I have taken a lot of photos which were all over the place. My ongoing project is getting all of these organized and backed up into one or two searcheable locations. Since we didn’t start with this in mind, the best we can do is try and get all our photos into one drive on a PC and organize them in Lightroom or using the Mac Photos app on a MacBook, both these applications can organize photos by date, by location, by faces and even by event.

It’s a daunting task, but one that pays dividends in the long run. Since this is an ongoing collection, it has to be easy to add to as more photos are made.

This process usually involves saving photos to your PC and organizing them manually into folders for backup on your PC or an external drive or USB thumbdrive. Taking the time to tag photos and organize them into specific searcheable folders helps in the retrieval process. I’ve also made it a goal to start printing some of these photos so that they can be enjoyed on a more permanent basis. Its surprising how much better these photos look printed on paper and framed for posterity,