If you own a smartphone or a tablet with a built-in camera, chances are that you are increasingly using it to take pictures and videos -- at parties, weddings, graduations, social events, on vacation, etc. People are taking more pictures and videos on their mobile devices and these devices are supplanting traditional digital cameras and camcorders in large part due to their at-hand convenience.
It's great to have your pictures and videos at your fingertips, but as the number of pictures and videos on mobile devices grows, this does beg the major question, where best to permanently store your mobile content? The question is particularly critical for several reasons:
• Mobile devices are especially prone to becoming lost, stolen or broken. As they increasingly replace digital cameras and camcorders in our daily lives, people do not want to risk losing their memories.
• Most people don't want to hassle with plugging in mobile devices into a computer, due to inconvenience, lack of cables, not knowing how to do it or having easy access to a PC, etc. If the PC you are using as your permanent repository of your media also happens to be a laptop, you are still not protected if the laptop breaks, the hard disk crashes or it gets stolen.
• If you are storing your pictures and videos on a removable memory card in your phone or tablet, it is possible to take it out and transfer its contents to a PC. This, however, requires effort and knowledge, and frankly, most people simply don't want to bother with this -- how many people do you know say that their memory card is full and they need to delete some things before they can take more pictures or videos?
• If you consider online options for storing pictures and videos, many people think of Facebook, but given their constantly shifting privacy policies, do you really trust putting all of your photos and videos permanently in Facebook? The same issues apply to Google+. Social media sites primarily make money from advertising, which means they mine your data, pictures and videos, so called user-generated content, directly or indirectly, for company-generated profit. For this reason, they are going to encourage you to share more of your content with more people, and will adjust their privacy policies over time to facilitate this. It's great and fine to share some of your photos and videos some of the time with some people, but do you want to share everything all the time? The recent trend of employers asking prospective employees for passwords to their Facebook accounts has another potential set of unwanted eyes looking at your personal content. That's stepping way over the privacy line for most people.
• Other online media sites require manually uploading photos and videos, from mobile devices or a PC, which as noted is tedious and cumbersome, and as a result, most people don't do it, at least on a regular basis. This means people are prone to losing their mobile content from the last time they did this, which for most people means months or even years of potential lost memories.
There is a new generation of personal clouds that can store your mobile photos and videos for safekeeping. iCloud is becoming the best known. The issue with iCloud is that it mainly works with Apple devices, i.e., iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and Macs. Furthermore, you are committing yourself to staying in the Apple family of products for a long time, because if you ever want to switch, it will be difficult to get your photos and other content out of iCloud.
If you happen to be one of the 99%+ that doesn't exclusively use Apple products, or if you are part of a family or work group that doesn't exclusively use Apple products, you are looking at a scenario where your Apple device media is stored in iCloud, but your non-Apple device photos and videos are elsewhere. Who wants to have their photos and videos spread out in multiple locations when there are other good options?
An alternative is to pick a service that automatically syncs your photos and videos from all of your devices and computers into your own private and personal cloud that is not mined for advertising purposes. Then, you can selectively share pictures and videos, via email or Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, YouTube, etc., either from your mobile devices or your computer. Cloud services such as this are much better suited to be the ultimate repository for your digital life as they work nicely with all of your devices, social networks and online media sites.
It's best to choose a service that does not lock you in to any particular device. It is likely that you might want to check out a new phone or tablet from a different manufacturer in the future. With a service that provides flexibility and freedom, you can move to a different brand of device, or get an additional brand of device, without worrying about accessing any of your pictures, videos or other mobile content, or having yet another thing (i.e. a legacy isolated cloud) to think about.
In sum, a cross-device, cross-brand personal cloud is the best option to permanently store your mobile content, especially as people increasingly use their smartphones and tablets as an alternative to digital cameras and camcorders, and as people want the flexibility to use different brands of devices in the future, without being locked in to a particular cloud.
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