What Is Going On With Cloud Storage for Photos?

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In recent years, I’ve had some very bad experiences with Google Photos and Amazon Photos. What the hell are these companies doing?

Table of Contents

Google Photos

For some time, Google allowed folks to store photos for free. This was during an era of the internet where a lot of digital companies were offering free services in exchange for your data—whether that be Facebook, Google, or Twitter.

At the time, we all knew the cost of these services to a certain extent. There’s a reason people wouldn’t put their birthdays on their profiles or were otherwise very reserved in their posting. In fact, I remember a lot of women would post using their middle name as their last name, so they couldn’t be searched through Google.

So, I suspect it was perhaps unsurprising that Google eventually ditched the free model of Google Photos back in 2021. Of course, that didn’t really change how annoying that reality was for someone like me who was using it for photo backup.

Though, that wasn’t even why I was most mad. Thanks to using my photos, Google was able to put together these lovely facial recognition features, which you could use to group your photos by people. As soon as those features were mature, Google threw a price tag on it. Now, if you wanted to store photos with their service, you had to pay a monthly subscription fee.

Amazon Photos

Naturally, when I heard about the cost associated with Google Photos, I decided to jump ship. In 2021, I was just a graduate student, and I absolutely could not afford to pay to store my photos.

While looking for alternatives, I found that Amazon could store photos for free, as long as you had an active Amazon Prime subscription (which I did). Therefore, the choice seemed easy. Surely, since I was already paying for the service, I wouldn’t have to worry about a rug pull again.

After taking the time to learn the Amazon Photos software, I started to enjoy it. It’s quite fun going through photos and tagging folks. It’s also fun to build albums from those tags.

Unfortunately, at some point, the tagging feature just completely stopped working for me:

An amazon photos bug which displays all albums without thumbnails and only the phrase,

As you can see, all of the people here have no face or name. As you can probably imagine, those first two sets of photos are me and my wife. Yet, when I attempt to answer the “Who’s this?” question, I’m greeted with this wonderful error:

An amazon photos error which reads:

Funnily enough, the feature recently started working again but only for some of my photos. For example, here’s me again:

A correct tagging of me in Amazon Photos.

Hilariously, Amazon Photos has this feature that lets you combine groups if the AI mislabels the images. As you can imagine, I get another error when I try:

An amazon photos error which reads:

So, I can’t make use of the facial recognition features almost at all. Which is fine, since I’m just using Amazon Photos for backup, but it’s definitely a huge annoyance. In fact, it’s annoying enough that I actually reached out to support on more than one occasion. Here’s what they told me:

  • “You don’t have Amazon Prime” (Incorrect)
  • “Facial Recognition is not available in all locations” (Correct, but my location is not one of those places)
  • “Update your location” (Tried this, but it didn’t work)
  • “Sign out and sign back in” (Tried this, but it didn’t work)

I even tried a variety of things that they didn’t recommend like turning off facial recognition—which it wouldn’t let me do. I also tried manually labeling the images one at a time, but that doesn’t work either. Instead, I get my favorite error of all:

An amazon photos error which reads:

Hell, I thought maybe it was because I was over my video upload limit because Amazon Drive and Amazon Photos merged at some point. As a result, I deleted everything in the folders to free up space. Still no such luck.

So, what the hell do you do in this scenario? I tried looking through forums, which I probably should have done from the start. After all, it seems like this is an alarmingly common issue. Take a peekOpens in a new tab.. Amazon has done nothing to address this issue since 2019. How is that possible?

Seeking Alternatives

While we’re on the topic of ranting, I have to say that the Amazon Photos app is complete trash. You have to have it actively open, or it will not upload your photos from your phone. This is not how the Google Photos app works at all.

So naturally, I considered jumping back to Google Photos. After all, it’s not very expensive. For 100 GB, it’s about $2/month. Obviously, I don’t love the idea of paying a subscription fee for storage, but it seems like there are some perks. And if paying a subscription means I don’t have to worry about trash software, I might just do it.

That said, I’m still scoping out alternatives. Does anyone have any photo storage they would recommend? Let me know!

Jeremy Grifski

Jeremy grew up in a small town where he enjoyed playing soccer and video games, practicing taekwondo, and trading Pokémon cards. Once out of the nest, he pursued a Bachelors in Computer Engineering with a minor in Game Design. After college, he spent about two years writing software for a major engineering company. Then, he earned a master's in Computer Science and Engineering. Today, he pursues a PhD in Engineering Education in order to ultimately land a teaching gig. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife, playing Overwatch and Phantasy Star Online 2, practicing trombone, watching Penguins hockey, and traveling the world.

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