Feature Friday: Back Up iPhoto To Dropbox

The Gotham Gal moved from an old macbook air to a new one about a year ago. When she moved all of her files, configurations, and settings from the old macbook to the new one, somehow her iPhoto folders didn’t come over correctly. She was missing a bunch of photos on her new laptop and could not seem to find them on the old one.

I tried to help out but quickly got frustrated. Somehow she had messed things up in her moves from mac to mac to mac over the years and she had not backed up her iPhoto properly.

She told me that there were years, maybe a decade or more, of photos of our family and such on that laptop and that she feared they were lost.

So last week I decided to take another shot at it, using a Dropbox feature that scans your iPhoto library and backs up all the photos in it to Dropbox. I installed the Dropbox for Mac client on her old machine and let it do its thing. It eventually prompted me with the option to backup all of her iPhoto library to her Dropbox. I clicked yes and it started scanning and scanning and scanning. It must have been crunching away on her hard drive for an hour or more and eventually it said it had found over 14,000 photos that it wanted to upload.

I thought “14,000!!, that must be all of her lost photos” and went upstairs to tell her the good news. It took over a day to upload all of the photos and it seems that Dropbox found some old buried folders that I could not find myself that contained all that she had thought had been lost.

We haven’t taken a deep dive yet on the 14,000+ photos to see if they include everything she thought was lost. But I have a strong hunch that we have.

It’s a great ending to a frustrating story. If you had a fire in your house and you had to choose the few things you wanted to get out before everything went up in flames, family photos would likely be near the top of the list, after people and pets. So losing them, or thinking you lost them, is a terrible feeling. And finding them is an amazing one.


Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    awesome. I have old videos taken on VHS, and other formats. Wonder how I am even going to watch them. Someone told me that if you store stuff digitally, it also can break down because of changes in technology etc. Not sure if that’s true or not. We store all of our stuff on an external hard drive now. Fun to look back.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Yeah…remember magnetic tape back-up? Those can fail. As can any hard drive. But I think the underlying issue you’re hinting at is that tech moves along. So even if you have the files on a digital format, it may be harder in the future to access them if that device/format isn’t mainstream any more (as in the mag tape example…do current laptops support these drives?)

      1. pointsnfigures

        I am old enough to remember that, and punch cards too. Fortran was taught to us in CS 105. Endless do loops

    2. LE

      I have old videos taken on VHSYou should digitize those. No big deal. You can do that yourself (google it). That way you will stop the tape loss (magnetic tape loses quality over time). Someone told me that if you store stuff digitally, it also can break down because of changes in technology etc. Not sure if that’s true or not. What happens is that the technology to read it changes and if you haven’t copied it to a newer technology and if you don’t have the old device to read it you will not be able to access it. Of course it also depends what you mean by “break down over time”. As a general rule a hard drive with data will last way longer than a magnetic tape with data. And there are fast and easy ways to mitigate as well.Read this if you are interested:http://superuser.com/questi

      1. pointsnfigures


    3. Cam MacRae

      Bitrot is a significant problem that is already causing a good deal of grief for archivists. It may well come to pass that we have a poorer photographic record of the last 15 years than we do of the previous 100 years. Seems counterintuitive, I know.That said, digitize your VHS tapes; they have a shelf life of 15 years if and only if they’re stored correctly.

  2. Shy Person

    Hi Fred, just out of curiosity, have you ever skipped a single day blogging in the last 10 years? What if you had a bad cold, traveling, etc.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m traveling now. i wrote that post at 37,000 feeti find a way. it’s a habit. like drinking coffee

      1. Matt Zagaja

        I’m trying to do it this year. The nice thing about habits is they get easier over time, then it becomes hard to stop.

  3. JamesHRH

    Fred: Please call Tim Cook on every MacHeads behalf. The message is really simple:- buy Dropbox, put Drew in charge of all Apple Services.Show him this post if you have trouble getting him going in the right direction,Thanks.

      1. JamesHRH

        Its Don Corleone time – we buy you, you are the missing piece to the future of Apple & its growth, you are my heir apparent……https://www.youtube.com/wat…

        1. LE

          In case anyone is new to “The Godfather” that’s supposed to be Frank Sinatra that he is talking to.

    1. William Mougayar

      Maybe he could be to Apple what Tony Fadell is to Google.

      1. Twain Twain

        I heard Drew and Tony speak at Web Summit and they’re very different personalities. Tony is a lot more forceful so likelier to “shake things up” at Google.Drew is more muted and diplomatic.

    2. fredwilson

      dropbox is so much better than iCloud

      1. pointsnfigures

        Can I get an “Amen”? Amen.

  4. LIAD

    had same situation recently (ended up using carbonite)my research at the time showed Dropbox wasn’t a good choice (for ongoing photo backup) as it replicated the iphoto library on your hard drive, so each photo ends up living in your iphoto library AND in your dropbox folder, essentially doubling the HD space taken by them.(If you were then to backup your hard drive in the cloud/offline, they would also be doubled up there etc etc)

    1. Twain Twain

      Thanks, that’s a great tip.

    2. JimHirshfield

      Ugh. That sucks. Seems like something they should rectify.

    3. William Mougayar

      Exactly. I never understood that part & that’s why I don’t use Drpobox, and use G Drive instead. Is there a way to configure Dropbox so it doesn’t do that?

      1. LIAD

        Ya. You can hack your Mac into using your Dropbox directory as your iPhoto library location. But I read about a bunch of people getting config-errors which led to their library being obliterated. IMO, stay well clear

  5. Guest

    I may be wrong but I think iPhoto only indexes files that are imported into the machine using iPhoto. Files that she may have saved in any other way would have not made it to the new computer via the iPhoto library transfer. Dropbox on the other hand scans for file extensions in the on-boarding process, so regardless of location or file management software, it will find anything that ends with a supported file extension.

    1. JimHirshfield

      This:”Files that she may have saved in any other way would have not made it to the new computer via the iPhoto library transfer.”…confuses me. Can you elaborate?

      1. Guest

        For example, if she saved photos to the computer by downloading them from her email. Or imported them from a camera directly using a program other than iPhoto. If she did any of these, there is no way for iPhoto to have indexed those automatically. So when the iPhoto transfer was done, it only took with it the files that did in fact were associated with iPhoto’s indexing.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Ah, OK. Thanks.

    2. JamesHRH

      I learned this via a backup discussion. There is a folder that is not iPhoto that holds all the photos.

  6. Sebastian Wain

    I like Dropbox as a service but for photos backups I prefer Google Drive since I trust them much more regarding infrastructure and not losing data.

    1. JimHirshfield

      What’s that trust based on?Edit: I mean, dropbox’s one core purpose is file back-up. Google has their hand in so many different things. Focus, focus, focus, leads me to believe that Dropbox would be the expert in this area.

      1. Sebastian Wain

        I think the Google infrastructure for Google Drive is the same being used for other services (GFS), so it doesn’t matter if they are focused or not.Regarding Dropbox I remember more Dropbox outages than Google ones and threads like this one: Dropbox confirms that a bug within Selective Sync may have caused data loss.

  7. William Mougayar

    Digital photos management is still a big mess. I’ve tried so many Apps. No one has figured it out well. The issue is not just filing/storage, it’s also about organizing them.

    1. Paul Sanwald

      I find iPhoto and iMovie to be unusable. they make no sense to me at all.

    2. panterosa,

      Beyond that William, there’s the Instagram vs Pinterest. I’m trying Bespoke, which is female founded, which is great for two main reasons. 1) you can have clipped url images with links like pins, plus your own pictures like Instagram, on a board. AND 2) you can keep the board private or share with other who can also add to it and comment – totally awesome for teams working on private projects.

      1. awaldstein

        Hi AlexNeither are a storage platform, both marketing to different communities.Huge Instagram fan/user here.

        1. panterosa,

          Not storage at all. But share-ability of lots of images to a team is a pain point, so that is the piece after storage solution – what you actually do with the images.

          1. Matt Zagaja

            Most people I know seem to use Dropbox or Facebook for that.

          2. panterosa,

            I don’t share personal stuff on Facebook. My feed is cluttered with everyone’s vacation and life porn like a year long xmas card.

          3. awaldstein

            Ahh–now I see.I built a system for Luli out of Google Docs and Dropbox that works for really complex stuff simply. Satisfies USDA and HACCP workflow requirements and check offs (not trivial) and is used by a team of five.Perfect as long as you don’t need interoperability with systems like QB or vendor ordering systems. Does do pick and ship and inventory control.And I’m a bit old school for large projects, I use Asana. Can’t beat it for free

        2. Matt Zagaja

          Arnold, did you see this BuzzFeed article? http://www.buzzfeed.com/ash…Came in my Digg e-mail. It seems to touch on a lot of the things you’ve been telling us about Instagram.

          1. awaldstein

            nope but checking it out–thanks!

    3. baba12

      The reason for most digital photo management is a big mess is because we have succumbed to just shooting pictures. The cost of taking a picture is an iota and therefore we just click away. Cost of storage is also very small, we just shove it all under the couch. Most people have lost the ability to have a discerning eye and or capability to edit and cull.In the analog days of film and development etc, people were cautious about what they captured unless you were a professional.Most folks shot pictures taking a moment to frame their shots etc.. That skill is pretty much lost.I doubt any of the digital photo management tools can solve the problem effectively. Quality over Quantity is now unfortunately not a value proposition in many fields..

      1. JimHirshfield

        The Rise of the Selfie Stick

      2. LE

        I agree in part. But here is the good news and what you need to know.As I have told my wife and others who question why I take so many pictures I don’t take pictures solely for the reasons that you mentioned (to frame, compose and create a good picture). I take pictures because I can then look back in future years and remember and see something that I might have forgotten or I want to remember.Under that scenario the composition and quality doesn’t matter anywhere near as much. I get great memories which is especially good when your memory isn’t so great. So the more pictures the better and there really isn’t any such thing as “to much”.

      3. William Mougayar

        True. an abundance of photos creates that challenge.

    4. Matt Zagaja

      Have you tried Adobe Lightroom? A slight learning curve to start but once you get going it seems to be lightyears ahead of anything else I’ve tried.

      1. William Mougayar

        No, but I will try it. Thank you

    5. rfreeborn

      Check out Picasa from Google. I have it organizing well over 15,000 pictures and it’s a champ. Fav feature is facial recognition – it’s amazinghttp://picasa.google.com/

    6. Kirsten Lambertsen

      ugh, so true.

    7. JamesHRH

      I don’t want to manage them – I want not to lose them.That is the fear side of the deal.

      1. William Mougayar

        OK, but it’s a time suck if retrieving them is not easy, especially as the volume grows.

        1. JamesHRH

          The simplest customer demand framework ever follows (its also the best):- i NEED not to lose them- it would be NICE if they were easy to manage

  8. JimHirshfield

    Could be 14,000 icons, logos, and clip art. Better double check. 😉

    1. fredwilson

      there is some of that in there for sure

      1. Laura Yecies

        Iphoto stores multiple sizes/resolutions of each photo…

  9. OurielOhayon

    i did the same + have a double backup on crashplan that saves everything on my mac

    1. Rohan


  10. David Semeria

    You’re lucky the photos were on your wife’s machine and not yours. If I lost our kids’ photos I’d be on the next plane to South America, wearing a false mustache.

    1. JimHirshfield

      You’re welcome…

      1. David Semeria

        Very good Jim!

        1. JimHirshfield

          You look quite distinguished. Just sayin’

  11. JimHirshfield

    This reminds me of the stressful fact that there’s never enough time to do all the digital maintenance in my life. Our lives are improved by tech, but there’s a long list of tweaks, configs, troubleshooting to do on a household full of devices.

    1. panterosa,

      Totally. I feel like I need an extra day a month at least.Don’t get me started on contact management.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Contact management – oh, yeah…that!I’m looking forward to finding the time to try Brewster.

        1. Dr Summer Knight

          Good to know I’m amongst friends – pictures, contacts… how about memory management??

          1. JimHirshfield

            There’s an app for that, I just can’t remember what it’s called.

          2. Dr Summer Knight

            You just made my day – LOL – now, which day is it.

          3. JimHirshfield


        2. panterosa,

          It’s not working well for us so far. Google and iCloud are not friends and the dupes are a drag.

        3. Matt Zagaja

          I have been receiving e-mails from friends trying Brewster about updating my contact info. Not sure if this was individually directed to me or if it was sent out to everyone, but feels spammy. What have the growth hackers wrought unto this world…

          1. JimHirshfield

            Yes. I have have been carpet bombed with these emails as well. Harsh.

          2. LE

            Yeah with all due respect to USV (investors in Brewster) the implementation and execution of that “update” by sending emails for each and every person (and requiring them to re-type things) is a fail and makes no sense.

          3. Jesse Ingram

            I didn’t know I had opted in for this feature in Brewster until my contacts started forwarding the emails back to me asking if they were spam.

          4. fredwilson

            only about 40% of Brewster users check that box. 60% don’t. i think that suggests it is clear enough.

          5. LE

            it could also suggest that the 40% don’t know what they are asking Brewster to do or how people they know that receive will perceive it.

          6. Anne Libby

            This morning I received a FINAL notice. (After thinking I had unsubscribed from the notices.)Maybe a bit of work to do on allowing users to customize/personalize the flow of information to their contacts…

          7. ShanaC

            no one does the work though. That’s the thing – users can be lazy

          8. Anne Libby

            Heh, the work is the point. I meant that the folks at Brewster had some UX work to do.But also that my reaction — beyond why some of my less close Twitter friends would want me in their address books (spoiler alert: they don’t) — was, why should I do this data entry?

    2. fredwilson

      yes, exactly.

      1. JimHirshfield

        New occupation: Personal Digital Housekeeper

        1. panterosa,

          I have a digital janitor.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Do you have many virtual friends?

          2. panterosa,

            Versus real people?

          3. JimHirshfield

            Real people are complicated. I prefer bots. (jk)

      2. Rick

        “Somehow she had messed things up in her moves from mac to mac to mac…”.Blame her for it!?.Fred, if you want, I can get you a job in tech support. 🙂

    3. William Mougayar

      Digital spaghetti. Yup.

    4. JamesHRH

      See Apple Managed Home Service comment below – massive market for someone who can manage expectation and a homogeneous tech stack.

      1. JimHirshfield


    5. rick gregory

      There is, but I’m a bit shocked that GG wasn’t backing her Air up. If she had been, at least the photos would have been available via the backup. With Backblaze, Crashplan and similar it’s surprising to me that people don’t just have a current backup of their machine.

  12. Abs Ghosh

    Thanks for the tip, Fred!

  13. PhilipSugar

    You are right. I had a friend whose house burned to the ground (Christmas Candles). He had a party to celebrate the new house and asked for only one gift: any pictures you had of him or his family.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Oh man. That hurts.

    2. JimHirshfield

      PSA Folks: Make this weekend fire safety weekend. Not joking. Check your smoke detectors.

      1. pointsnfigures

        By smoking?

        1. JimHirshfield

          Batteries…check the batteries. Then step outside if you’re the kinda guy that likes to have a smoke after that kind of thing.

          1. JimHirshfield

            $3500 per night and it’s non-smoking.NOT a smoke filled room anymore.

      2. LE

        I have always thought that a kid in high school could make a nice side living (instead of flipping burgers) by offering simple services to homeowners at a reasonable price.For example what you have mentioned as well as climbing up and replacing out of the way bulbs (in chandeliers or high ceilings a real pain). Total word of mouth business once you either knock on doors or place door hangers or drop flyers in mailboxes etc .Why not do an online business? Because this is a great way to learn about selling, cold calling, pricing and all of that. It’s what I did back in high school (I did car waxing going door to door and photography and other things) and it was tremendously helpful in learning how to sell and negotiate. Figured out the trick of bringing my girlfriend along when I cold called which got me more business because it softened the approach as only one example. Learned that you can get $x to wax a small car (say a Porsche) but only $x * 1.2 to wax a car over twice as large (Lincoln) which took much longer because of the way people viewed spending money. (Arbitrary figures for illustration purposes).

        1. JimHirshfield

          Wax on, wax off.

        2. Rick

          “I have always thought that a kid in high school could make a nice side living…”.My first biz was computer repair. I ran it out of the trunk of my car. It was a blast! Those were the good ol’ days..You can’t find that stuff in tech anymore. In fact it’s hard to find anything good in tech. Too much structure and homogenized thinking!.Where o’ where has the old west of technology gone?! I wish I could find it. The fun has evaporated.

    3. LE

      I had a friend whose house burned to the ground (Christmas Candles).There is always a tradeoff between (bad) luck and time to prevent that outlier event. [1]For example I spend a boatload of time on “doomsday” scenarios such as the above and it’s a never ending battle of trying to protect yourself for the “what if’s”. Very very time consuming. [2] Not that losing pictures is “doomsday” for everyone.Meanwhile the rest of the world takes their chances and every now and then someone gets burned beyond recognition. And then everyone wakes up for a day but then forgets and doesn’t feel threatened.[1] And you know this from the effort you put into restoring your house.[2] At the condo that our office is in I’m pushing to have all the underground pipes inspected because one of them (in another building) just burst and flooded several offices. So I’m worried the same will happen in our building as well. Of course there are all these stupid roadblocks. [3] And of course it probably won’t happen but I feel that if it does happen it will be a major inconvenience to me and I don’t want that to happen. Ditto with security lights and security cameras. What the rest of the people spend time thinking about is how the lawn looks and other really significant problems.[3] The first answer I got was “we asked the plumber who is really good and he said” which told me right off the bat that if it was important I would have to do the heavy lifting on this one. Because the “office person” of the management company isn’t alert enough to gather the proper answers to look into a solution.

      1. JimHirshfield

        It was a plumber that caused the big ass fire in Edgewater, NJ (across the river from NYC) the other day. Just sayin’

    4. Anne Libby

      Oh, how awful. Info from a firefighter in my circle cured me in regular use of lit candles in my home.

      1. PhilipSugar

        Not allowed in my house. My wife had a St. Jude’s candle going after a party. There were several couples in our house. It broke and set the kitchen window on fire. My sister in law heard the glass break, and screamed there was a robbery. My brother was up and putting it out before the fire alarm went off. I don’t know what would have happened otherwise. It was impressive.In this case his wife lit a gift on fire, and tried to take it out to the porch. She set the drapes on fire on the way out. They have a special needs child and he was at the Eagles game. Everybody was ok.But they way he tells it she called him and said she burnt the house down. He thought she was kidding and didn’t want to leave the game with his friends. Because the hydrants had frozen he said he came home to a smoking hole and the only thing that survived was a ceramic pig that he hated. (many more expletives when he tells it).

        1. Anne Libby

          “Everyone was ok,” whew. I am so sorry. The pig!And yes, when a firefighter tells you the civilians should not be allowed to own candles, there’s more than one terrible story there.So no candles in my house, either.

      2. ShanaC

        that’s why shabbos candles were always in public view in my parents home

        1. Anne Libby

          I was thinking about shabbos candles, and also a Mexican born friend who often has a lit candle on her stove…

  14. panterosa,

    Photo management is a huge pain point and massive time suck to actually master. Double that if you are image based in your work.I have 25,000 photos from 11 years and considering the new Dropbox Carousel feature. Have you looked into Carousel? Did you have trouble sorting any Folders out? For groups by theme it supposedly doesn’t work, which is a drag.Are you sure 14,000 is a realistic number? GG may be an excellent editor of her images, or since I’m a visual person I just have more, but your number looks low to me.

    1. fredwilson

      oooooh, that’s a nice idea. now that she has all the photos in dropbox, maybe she can use carousel to manage them. i’m going to work on that when i have a free moment.

      1. Geoff

        Just use local Picasa then Google autobackup, Picasa has an iPhoto importer. I then use Arq to autobackup to my S3 account. Only problem is de-duping especially historic photos.

      2. leeschneider

        Carousel is very slick if you’re interested in a chronological based view of your pics. They recently added some new features, such as albums and better sharing/exporting, but I’m yet to give the albums a shot.Guessing I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this of late, but like you said – people, pets, pictures.

        1. fredwilson


  15. Tracey Jackson

    I finally migrated all my photos to DROPBOX. I had 80,000 that had been going to computer to computer over the years and they were in such a jumble. No longer in events. So nothing was organized. I now have someone working on put them all in folders. I will never leave photos anywhere but DROPBOX again. Tell GG I feel her pain.

    1. JimHirshfield

      80,000 photos! Wow. What’s your dropbox bill….like $5000 per year?

      1. John Pepper

        Dropbox now includes 2TB for same price as what used to be almost nothing. Check it out.

        1. JimHirshfield

          $15/user/month for unlimited storage. Hmm…wonder how they cope with the power users that archive everything on the internet.

          1. Matt Zagaja

            Backblaze does the same for $5/month. However they bake the pricing I’m sure there are plenty of grandmothers backing up 15GB and using little resources to subsidize the power users.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Is it a quality product and service? You recommend it?

          3. Matt Zagaja

            It’s purpose is pure backup so it won’t provide the sharing features that dropbox and others have, but the annual price is cheaper than a new external drive or time capsule and I enjoy that it’s a set it and forget it system. I haven’t done a full recovery but the fact i can grab files from the website (revisions are saved for 30 days the way pro-Dropbox is) and the iOS app has saved my butt a couple times too.

          4. JimHirshfield

            Cool. Thanks. Wondering if there’s a way to have multiple computers on the same account.

          5. Supratim Dasgupta

            VC money? lol

          6. JimHirshfield


      2. Tracey Jackson

        I have a friend who works there he gifted me with some BYTES.

    2. JamesHRH

      We have a Mac guy coming in next week. I am going to line up all of the Apple products we have purchased since 2004…….3 iMacs, 3 Macbook Airs, 1 MacBookPro. 7 iPads, 6 iPhones, couple of iPods, a shuffle or two…..None of the productivity apps works across those boxes….only the media ones & they are flaky.Will take a pic.

      1. JimHirshfield

        An iGuy?

        1. JamesHRH

          Apple is totally missing a market: managed services to consumers. I have convinced one Apple Consultant for Small Business to treat our family like a small business.He is MyGuy if he takes us on.

          1. JimHirshfield

            “… treat our family like a small business.”Not sure what that means, but it sounds at best impersonal. At worst creepy.

          2. JamesHRH

            Treat our family IT stack like it was a small business IT stack – see our Apple inventory above.

          3. LE

            Apple is totally missing a market: managed services to consumers.What are exactly the services that you would like Apple to offer (by Apple employees) to consumers?

          4. JamesHRH

            I pay a monthly fee to have some one set up & keep my household Apple IT stack running they way I want it to run.They focus solely on the experience of interacting w their products…..but ignore the experience of owning their products.It’s a big miss, as any B2B sales person will tell you: buying my product is one thing; owning it is another……

          5. LE

            Managing that type of operation is a total clusterfuck and not something that a highly profitable company like Apple would considering taking on until sales and/or profits drop and they have to leave no stone unturned. It’s a great opportunity just not for a company like Apple. Most importantly there is the human factor and expectations which is very hard to get right and to manage. Plus having people “out in the field” presents a unique set of potential problems that could tarnish their brand. They are focused on what they do well at this point which makes sense for them.Oh one other thing. Selling services to business is one thing because they are spending someone else’s money. But selling to someone in the home, where they are spending their own money (even if they have money) is a completely different thing. You can’t get big dollars from a large quantity of ordinary folks. Some don’t have the money and others simply won’t pay the hourly rate to allow you to pay the right type of employee.Let me give you an example. Back in the 80’s when the 3M repair man used to come to the um “factory” to fix a machine the going rate (back then in 80’s dollars) was about iirc $120 per hour (what we paid). However if someone came to the house to fix a refrigerator or washing machine I think the most that we paid was perhaps, from memory, $35 per hour. And believe me if I tell you that the quality of the people doing the work wasn’t that much different. The fact is business will pay money but consumers will not. It’s a perception, resources ($$) and human nature thing. There are many reasons for why you can’t charge consumers a large dollar I’ve only listed one of them. Selling to business is way different than to consumers. Businesses have budgets and are not spending their money.

          6. Rick

            I used to be an appliance repair assistant when I was a teenager. It’s actually a strange environment because if you charged big dollars people would pay it unless they had other cheaper options..So you couldn’t advertise a high rate or the phone wouldn’t ring. Advertise a cheap rate and you have more work than you can handle. Do a repair on something that cheap labor couldn’t fix and you can charge whatever you want.

          7. LE

            Also the cost of home appliances is cheap relative to some business machinery.So a washing machine at between $400 and $800 you can only get so much before someone says “uncle” and decides to simply replace. So there is that downward pressure on pricing as well. A business machine which could be way more expensive means that in addition the other other reasons that I mentioned people will pay more to fix it.

          8. Rick

            That also happened with computers. When they were $3K for a nice one you could do a $300 repair and people were glad to pay. Now you can buy one for $279. So it’s probably hard to charge more than $50-$100 for a repair before people don’t want to pay. If you have a shop and drop offs get left on the shelf by people you probably can’t get more than $100-$125 out of them when they are forfeited for storage charges..In other words this discussion topic is a complete waste of time. Unless I’m missing something I don’t see fat stacks of cash in the computer repair biz..Let’s talk about something else because as I quoted before… “We don’t give two shits HOW technology works. We just want to get rich!”

          9. JamesHRH

            Now everyone tries to sell you warranties.

          10. Rick

            That’s the position to be in. Counting dollars instead of doing the repair work!

          11. JamesHRH

            Its a strategic hole they should fill.Their Achilles heel.One day Drop box will build HW that optimizes the cloud services that they are world renown for……..and that customer base will be larger and more loyal than any other customer base.I will be in line for the Dropbox IPO.PS – the key to managed services is managing expectations. If you sell it right & have it set up right then it becomes an annuity stream.Just because it does not drive premium HW margins does not mean that it is not a more durable, secure & almost as large business.

    3. fredwilson

      there’s a comment in this thread suggesting if you use dropbox’s carousel program, that might do some of the organizing for you. i’m going to dive it a try on her photos now that they are in the cloud

      1. Tracey Jackson

        Will check it out.

  16. John Pepper

    My Mac has been in process of doing same thing for last 4 days. I included video and I take a lot of video. My only concern is when I back up other computers, iPads, etc will DropBox know when it stumbles across duplicates. Also wondering about long term organization which is still a massive hassle with over 30,000 pix and vids. Thanks for making me feel like I’m doing the right thing and a sober reminder of importance of back up.

  17. Benji Rogers

    I went through every configuration and photo app. Finally I migrated everything to Thislife.com. Before they went to shutterfly.It’s better than iPhoto for sorting and they just reworked the facial recognition system.The hack is that once you are synced to their interface and all photos tagged and sorted, get them to send you the downloader (not available on the site) and you can backup a master version to external drive and or dropbox.It’s. Better viewer than most and the app is pretty good. I wish apple had bought them.Would love it to be integrated.

  18. leeschneider

    Love this topic. Don’t think there is one be all end all solution yet though.Dropbox’s iPhoto backup is a good one time solution. However, in a few different back and forths with them, I figured out that it’s only a 1 time deal. Doesn’t automatically upload new pictures imported to iPhoto to Dropbox. You need to manually trigger that next sync. Would be a much more robust solution if it automatically did that.@fredwilson:disqus , I suggest you run the import utility a second or third time. After my first sync, the subsequent syncs found several hundred more pictures to upload.Their new Carousel app is pretty slick though, and I hope they do more to improve the sync. It’s my new default picture viewing app on the phone and web.I believe your friend Bijan may be an investor in PictureLife (picturelife.com), which is another pretty nice utility for picture storage. Have to draw the line at some point though on how many different services to pay for.

    1. JimHirshfield

      @innonate (CEO & Co-founder of picturelife) should jump in here!

    2. Geoff

      Use local Picasa and backup with Arq to your S3 etc plus turn on Google auto backup in Picasa.

  19. Matt Zagaja

    iPhoto is a strange bird. I use it but do not enjoy the fact that it pulls in screenshots and other utility type photos I snap into the library from my iPhone. I also find it confusing that sometimes I can delete photos from my iPhoto library but then they might still be in photostream and I have to later delete them from there as well.I’ve been consistently impressed with the utility of dropbox. It always seems to just work. Since it is over the filesystem it does not feel sketchy or throw you surprises in regards to how your stuff gets organized.

  20. kevinmurphy

    I found an app awhile back that helps with this (had similar issues). It is called, not surprisingly, iPhoto Library Manager. I have found it very useful in the transitions from old to new backup external drives as well as from old to new computers.

  21. Elia Freedman

    iPhoto (and iTunes) show you whatever is in their databases, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all of the photos (music, etc.) is listed in the database. I’ve found that that database is highly susceptible to corruption, especially when moving systems. You may want to try this, Fred:http://support.apple.com/en

    1. Geoff

      Forget iPhoto and use local Picasa 🙂

  22. LE

    There are actually a zillion ways to solve the problem that you had w/o using dropbox. All dropbox did was know enough to know where to look. The “where to look” is going to be in the iphoto library files (obviously). Those files can be moved anywhere to anyone’s machine and can be accessed. Understanding how things work is the key to figuring out how to get something working.By the way an appointment with the Apple Genius bar would have been the quickest way to get this problem fixed (and is free and really easy to get with little hassle).I tried to help out but quickly got frustrated.Aha! The curse of the highly gifted. Low frustration threshold (for this at least) combined with lack of time and perhaps a bit of an edge against Apple “take your jack and shove it”. [1][1] http://williamhorberg.typep

  23. LE

    She was missing a bunch of photos on her new laptop and could not seem to find them on the old one.Please mention to GG and your daughter Jessica (the photographer) that my mother one day went into my darkroom at home (was after I moved out) and threw out all of my negatives that I had spent years developing (and obviously shooting the pictures). They were all in a binder neatly in plastic sleeves. I’ve only got a few things that were either printed or for some reason the negatives weren’t in that binder on that day. She had no explanation for why she did that. She just didn’t think that “they were important”.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Yeah, I learned that lesson as well. Get your shit outta parent’s house when you move out. Trashed a bunch of my stuff that I had archived in their attic.

      1. LE

        Bummer. And you could have gotten big dollars for those old Playboy’s.[ ] 1 star[ ] 5 stars[ ] 10 stars(Mark appropriate box…)

        1. JimHirshfield

          I can’t edit your comment to check a box. Feature or bug?

          1. LE

            Good answer. Just like a politician would do. You avoided the two questions by making a statement. [1] Well played! (Even w/o the stuff in your attic that you lost.)[1] Exactly the way it’s done..

          2. JimHirshfield

            ;-)And, BTW, you didn’t ask any questions. Reread your comment. There are no questions in it.

          3. LE

            Of course but the point is not to ask a question but to fish by throwing out some bait and see how someone reacts to the bait. It’s an implied question. Lack of an answer can be an answer. Subtle like when the White House floats an idea by releasing it through “not authorized to speak” staff members as opposed to saying “hey what would people think if we tried to nominate DeBlasio for secretary of the Treasury”.Question: In addition to Playboy was there also Rolling Stone?

          4. JimHirshfield

            You make an interesting point; a solid contribution.

  24. Chris O'Donnell

    I would argue that any service that syncs data is not suitable for backup. I use Dropbox and various other services to share photos. I back up to Amazon S3. Well over 50GB there is costing me about $1.50 a month.

    1. JimHirshfield

      But do they make a simple UI that a lay person can figure out?

      1. Chris O'Donnell

        I’m a Linux guy so I’m not real familiar with what is out there for Mac and Windows. Jungle Disk is one that I’ve heard of, assuming it’s still around.

      2. Geoff

        Use Arq – dead simple to auto back up to S3 etc

        1. JimHirshfield


        2. LE

          That looks interesting. The only issue appears to be you need 1 for each computer license wise.

  25. Laura Yecies

    I agree with the several posts that suggest a few types of backup. Multiple locations (e.g. one local and one cloud) and multiple software types (e.g. time machine and crash plan). So for instance one sync solution Sugarsync (my personal favorite), DropBox, Google, Amazon etc, one local hardware such as my new favorite LyveHome or time machine on a NAS or local USB device.

  26. TQabcd

    Couldn’t agree more on both how amazing Dropbox is and what a wonderful feeling it is to have recovered all your photos.The next step is we need a better way to organize these photos instead of just by chronology. Location-aware is helpful but we need a better way to group and search for them too.

  27. Tim Bucher

    Digital life memory management is a real pain. It became so much of a pain in my household that I decided to build a company to solve the problems everyone was having in my family with managing their photos and videos they captured on their smartphones. I decided the “collection” part of digital life memory plus the fact that we capture and view 99% of our photos and videos on mobile these days should be the priority. Lyve Minds, Inc., was started and created free apps for all platforms. Consumers have a choice of their own devices or can add their clouds if they wish. I have two Lyve Homes in my life: one at work and one at home which mirror each other. Now I never run out of space on my 16GB phone and get to enjoy viewing my entire life on my phone, tablets, PC’s, and even TV’s. Try the Lyve app out and let me know if it helps your “digital maintenance” efforts. If it doesn’t tell me what features you’d like to see added!

  28. Eric Snyder

    I’ve gone through a similar experience recently. My Macbook seems about to die, and I have a bunch of photos in iPhoto that weren’t backed up anywhere. For now, I went with the $1.99/month package (for 100GB) of Google Drive space, and have just been uploading everything there. I lose all of the folders/sorting/etc for now, but at least I have a backup.As an aside, when visiting my parents for the holidays, I asked if they wanted me to backup the family photos on their desktop to Google Drive and they agreed. I was amazed at the difference in their upload speed vs. the wifi service in my apartment and it got me thinking about some kind of ‘Upload Bar’ business– bring a laptop, grab a coffee and a sandwich, and by the time you’re done, a tech savvy employee will have:a) purchased cloud storage on your behalfb) uploaded all your photos on their super fast internetc) a whole array of other add ons (external harddrive, photos printed for grandma, home visits for desktops, etc)Cater to the suburban baby boomers who have moved to digital photography in the last ~5 years, but still have all their photos in a local folder called ‘My Photos’, waiting to be erased at the next hard drive crash.Thoughts?

    1. ShanaC

      where would the upload bar get the bandwidth?

  29. Robert Heiblim

    A happy ending technology story brings a smile to my face, thank you Fred

  30. ShanaC

    Any pictures you missed seeing?

  31. Supratim Dasgupta

    Talking of house on fire, me and wifey went to see the spot in Edgewater, NJ where 240 homes were raged to the ground yesterday making 500 people homeless in matter of few hours as 250+ firefighters haplessly tried to contain the fire. I am still trying to shake off the horrific images of what is left. Many from Manhattan reported seeing the fire and the smell the smoke.http://www.nj.com/bergen/in….In this world of technology we still see planes going missing for a year with no trace, hundreds of houses burning down in hours…

  32. Supratim Dasgupta

    Question: Is dropbox profitable?

  33. John Revay

    Fred – I have always been wanting to send you a note about photos… Portrait vs Landscape…..It is strange on how the phone has changed how most pictures are now shot….Think about when we were growing up – kodak based type cameras were always set to default to Portrait ( by set…I mean just the way you held it /fit in your hand) …same true on SLRs…DSLR…amd just plain digital point & shoot cameras….Come along now w/ phones and the default is generally Portriat…it seems odd or unnatural to now take a landscape shot.

  34. LiuAir

    yes, exactly.

  35. Mark Essel

    This is an awesome save your history story.I manually ran a ruby script with some personal tweaks, to copy my iphoto history to dropbox. Now dropbox’s auto-upload solves my headaches for worrying about future backups.

  36. JimHirshfield

    Please edit and fix URL with “)” accidentally appended. k.thx.bai

  37. JimHirshfield

    Do you recommend solid state over traditional hard drive? I mean, is solid state less likely to fail?And can this easily be used by 4 different Macs – as in, plug n play for 4 family members?

  38. LE

    I’m not sure that I agree that for photos you need that type of solution. And in fact in addition to cost it adds a level of hardware failure that stands between you and your photos.If you want encryption by the way you can also create encrypted volumes on the mac. Further another threat that this doesn’t take care of is fire or theft. For the fire you something like iosafe. For theft you need an offsite copy which is what you should do even if you use online backup (if what you have is important and not replaceable).

  39. LE

    I don’t recommend ssd drives they aren’t as mature in development as non ssd’s (even though they are better than a few years ago). Also if you are using the drive for cold storage then the speed to access does not matter.Oh one other really important point. If your hard drive fails under certain scenarios you can get a drive recovery company to get the data back (in a clean room as long as the platters are ok and as long as there is no other catastrophic reason – very expensive but possible). With an SSD there is no way to do that. If it fails you are SOL.And can this easily be used by 4 different Macs – as in, plug n play for 4 family members?As mentioned needs to be something like an iosafe fireproof drive. Or store it offsite. (Drive costs are cheap $65 for 1tb drive ..)If you want to be able to backup for 4 different computers you can do that on one drive any number of ways (you can partition the drive into separate volumes if you want to clone with super duper or you can just have one volume (the way it ships) if you are using time machine.I absolutely recommend cloning with a product like super duper. Time Machine can and is funky. With cloning you can actually boot from the clone and make sure that “it works”.

  40. JimHirshfield

    Very helpful. Thanks.