Apple’s iCloud Photo Backup Solution Needs Improvement

There is a great article from Chambers Daily (via Daring Fireball) that says what everyone (okay, maybe not everyone) has been thinking. Apple’s current solution for backing up photos is less than great, mostly because of the limited space afforded customers on iCloud. Many customers have a false sense of security that all of their data is backed to iCloud, when in fact it’s limited to 1,000 images. If they come close to their cap, there is a nag dialog which warns them of impending doom, a warning that an average customer could easily dismiss as an ‘error’. There is a perception that iCloud has got your back. It does, but only up to 5GB and that’s something Apple should change.

iPhone iCloud photo backup

For many, the iPhone is their go to camera. Even if they own a point and shoot, it’s the iPhone they use to take pictures and videos. Apple clearly understand this and have been hard at working creating excellent new camera features in iOS 7. iCloud presented itself as an easy way for customers to backup their most cherished moments. This was a good move by Apple to ensure timely backups. Let’s face it, a good number of iPhone users rarely if ever backup their phones to iTunes. iCloud saves users from themselves (and their kids). A good friend of mine had thousands of photos are her iPhone. Her 2-year old deleted any photo that included his brothers. Her new streamlined camera roll makes it easy to find her one son, since the others have been deleted. She had never synced her iPhone to her PC, due to confusion over how to manage more than one iPhone with a single computer. iCloud might have helped, but it was never setup.

There are third-party options like Dropbox, Google+ and Everpix. Great for geeks, not so good for soccer moms. Bradley Chambers recommends a solution to the problem would be to offer customers iCloud storage that matches the storage of the iOS device they purchase. You pick up a shiny new 64GB iPhone 5s this fall, you receive 64GB of iCloud storage, with the promise that all of your data will be backed up. This sounds like a big number, when you consider that Apple charges $100 per year for 50GB of storage. Flickr now offers 1 terabyte of storage for free, so it is doable for a company the size of Apple. As for Photo Stream, the limit of showing 1,000 images seems sufficient.

During the iPhone setup process, customers are given the choice to enable iCloud and yet another screen gives them the choice to backup. More choices leads to confusion. The setup process should require you sign in once with your Apple ID and boom, iCloud backup is enabled. If customers want to disable it later, visit Settings and have at it. This move would help provide an increased number of mainstream customers with a suitable backup.

Apple is moving in the right direction with iCloud, but they can do more and do it for free. I’d bet that the same customers that desperately need an automated backup solution are the same customers who are less likely to sign up for additional iCloud storage. Some customers breeze through the setup process and don’t think twice about iCloud until it’s too late. Increasing the allotment of storage and opting these customers into iCloud backups would go a long way to saving photos. Phones get lost, damaged or simply mismanaged. Seems to me there is an easy answer in the way of a complete backup solution that starts the moment you enter your Apple ID.

Source: Bradley Chambers via: Daring Fireball

  • http://gravatar.com/edchick Ed

    Sigh.

    I had the same idea, suggestions and opinion with Bradley Chambers long ago. And for longer then two years i dont see this being discussed much further. Which is rather sad.

    When i made the suggestion people would start giving me BS, saying it is not economically feasible, etc. Then everyone changes their mind when they saw Flickr giving away 1TB free.

    It is one good way to distance Apple with Andriod. Apple could provide free backup from the profits made of iPhone. Could Google do the same for Android? Properly. But given a MUCH larger audience, the burden is pretty great. Could Samsung copy again? Yes, But not within months or a year due to the shear volume of data, you would need to pre built a few DataCenter. And Samsung are making lot of lower cost phones, they will have to figure out which phones to give free backup.

    With ZFS data deduplication, many of the same photos wont get stored. The idea of 32GB devices getting 32GB backup, doesn’t take into account of Apps and OS data itself which means Apple only need average 28GB or less.

    I hope Apple are well aware of these problems. If not i hope the blogshpere will continue to spread the news.