Backing Up Photos with Skydrive

Microsoft Skydrive thumbnails at

Backing up photos with Skydrive for free is a good deal if you only need 25GB of storage space and your photos are less than 100 MB.

After looking at a number of services for backing up photos both free and paid I came to a clear conclusion.

Backing up photos in the cloud is still not a first choice option.

This is because many services:

  • seem unreliable, go out of business fast and so on.
  • impose unrealistic limits on file sizes and types¬†
  • have very small storage limits even if you pay.


  • Internet upload speeds still make uploading thousands of RAW images a daunting task.
  • External hard drive prices are falling all the time.

That said, there do seem to be a few high quality services for backing up photos out there.

I’m going to start by seeing which you can get for free. Yes, free.

So, here are my thoughts on Microsoft Skydrive.

(For an official version, check the Microsoft Skydrive Help Center.)

  • Microsoft is a major company.
  • It might fail, but at the moment it seems to be one of the longest established companies with an online presence.
  • SkyDrive offers 25GB of free storage.

This is not enough to backup all my files.

As I have said before, I shoot all my pictures in RAW and currently use a Canon 5D Mark 11 camera with a 21 megapixel sensor.

The trend is to bigger sensors – Nikon have a 36 megapixel with medium format and even phone sensors getting bigger.

This means I can’t backup many RAW photos online.

Tiffs are also a problem:

That leaves jpegs

Why are jpegs important?

My jpegs are produced as the final files to send off to editors or agencies.

They are the latest version and may include composite images, panoramas, HDR outputs and so on.

Not only are they smaller in size than RAW and Tiff but they are much smaller in number.

Not every RAW makes a Tiff, not every Tiff makes a jpeg.

From this perspective, I can backup a lot of jpegs in 25GB of space.

So how does Microsoft SkyDrive fare?

It’s pretty good.

To start off you have to log into your SkyDrive account using your Live ID – easy to get if you don’t have one.

Microsoft don’t demand too many details but read the conditions carefully.

  • The interface is clean and happily has no advertisements.
  • There’s no software to download.
  • You can upload your photos directly on the web.

Here you need to be careful as Microsoft might backup your photos in a small size.

Click the checkbox to get full size uploads.

Be careful to design an appropriate folder structure before you begin. You’re going to upload files not folders.

Uploading can be pretty quick but depends on your internet connection.

When your photos are loaded there are some nice touches.

  • Thumbnails show full photos preserving their aspect ratio.
  • Microsoft supports the latest browser technology so you can see the slideshows smoothly and quickly.
  • There are quite a few options for tagging, downloading and sharing pictures.
  • You can embed pictures on your website or blog.

There are some downsides:

There some limitations on storage capacity, file size, folder structure and synchronization but as a basic storage service backing up photos with Skydrive seems an elegant and reliable option.

My picture this week is of St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall,England.

My picture of St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall is here.

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Stock photography by John Rocha at Alamy

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