Note: this is not a paid advertisement. BitCasa doesn’t have any clue who I am.
As a semi-pro-(but-not-really) photographer and a totally-not-pro graphic designer, I go through a ton of storage space. I currently have four external hard drives: two 1TB drives, one 2TB drive and one 500GB drive (that one is portable, and goes with my laptop on adventures since I have a Macbook Air with just a little bit of internal storage). In addition to needing a ton of space for large files, I know that a hard drive failure is inevitable, so I keep redundant copies of my files. Just recently, I had friends lose all of their family photos – everything – in a hard drive crash. Thinking about that gives me chest pains.
In addition to local storage, I’ve had a cloud-based backup service for the past couple of years. It’s been about $12 a month for unlimited storage and computers, which was a good deal at the time. There is definitely peace of mind knowing that the backup is running in the background, keeping copies of everything secure and offsite, just in case. But the problem I have with the service (and similar services) is that downloading my backed up files is a total pain. Because of that, it’s unlikely I will go back and restore anything unless it’s absolutely critical I have it.
On top of the external hard drives and cloud storage, I’ve always uploaded processed versions of my images to Flickr and put them into organized albums. It’s been a great solution for sharing albums with friends and families and also having access to images from anywhere. But Yahoo! has destroyed Flickr, which is a sad realization. I’ve been a Flickr Pro user since 2004 and I was a dedicated, unwavering user. I met so many great people through the groups on Flickr and even reconnected with old friends. It was the best. But Yahoo! has taken something wonderful and made it a disaster. They’ve made the site ugly, hard to navigate and they’ve taken away much of the capability to customize it. And recently, they put the nail in the coffin for me, by adding the ugly, poorly designed and integrated Yahoo! bar across the top. Up until now, I’ve been able to ignore the fact that Yahoo! ran Flickr but I can’t turn a blind eye anymore when every. single. page. reminds me of who has taken apart the service I love and mangled it.
..end rant. And enter BitCasa.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying to find a solution that would 1) give me a better way to backup and restore files 2) solve for the fact that I hate Flickr and want to move away from it and 3) be cost effective.
This is a big one for me, because my collection of photos, music, video, Photoshop files and other goodies isn’t getting smaller. I don’t want to have to worry about storage space anymore, or navigate tiered plans, where the cost changes based on how much storage you use or transmit.
BitCasa calls automatic backups “mirroring”, meaning that the service will mirror the contents of any folder or drive onto your cloud space. If you add or delete a folder on the local drive, the same happens in BitCasa (although you have the ability to back in time to find deleted items, should you need them later).
External Hard Drive…in the Cloud
Your BitCasa cloud space functions just like an external hard drive! It mounts in your OS (Windows or OS X) and you can drag and drop files back and forth all. day. long. If you need to access a file that was automatically backed up via mirroring, just click in, find the file and drop it to your desktop.
That’s a solution I can love, and is user-friendly.
How I Use It
iMac - My iMac is the “central hub” of my computing; it’s where I process photos, store photos, work in Photoshop, Illustrator, store web design files and whatnot. On the iMac, I have it set to mirror all of my important folders, so that they are automatically sent to the cloud without me ever having to think about it. I also have the BitCasa drive mounted to my desktop, so I can browse backed up files, and items I drop from other machines.
Macbook Air – I have a couple folder set up to mirror – my Pictures folder and my Documents folder – as I don’t keep much on the hard drive (it’s too small), but I do occasionally work on documents or process photos on the MBA when traveling. I know that I don’t have to remember to upload anything – the files just appear in BitCasa. And, of course, I have the drive mounted to my desktop to manually drag and drop items.
Work PC – I have a Dell laptop for work (waaah-waaah) that I do a fair amount of Excel work on, that I need access to later. I have the BitCasa drive mounted, and I just drop the files into my “Excel” folder so they’re available at home or on-the-go. It’s also nice to be able to grab an image from my iMac if I want to change my desktop wallpaper to a pic of Sprout at soccer practice.
iPhone, iPad – The iOS app is great. It automatically syncs my camera roll to the BitCasa drive as well, so I don’t have to think about backing up pictures on my phone. As any photographer will tell you, the best camera is the one you have on you. Many of my favorite pics are snapped with my iPhone, because it’s always in my pocket.
In addition to backing up pics, the app also gives me access to all of my content from anywhere, which means I can watch movies or show pics when I’m traveling. I can open docs if needed as well.
I signed up with BitCasa at $99 for a year of unlimited storage, which breaks down to about $8.25 a month. Like I said, I was paying $12 a month for cloud storage previously. That’s a savings of about $45 a year.
Also, since using BitCasa, I don’t find myself using my external hard drives hardly at all. BitCasa functions exactly like an external hard drive, without the storage limitations. Plus, if I put something on the BitCasa drive, I know I can access it anywhere. Using my local drives seems like going back to rotary phone in many ways; it feels antiquated. So, there’s a cost savings there as well, since I was having to add or replace a hard drive annually (for between $60-$150 a pop).
Overall, I am crazy happy with BitCasa and wanted to share my experience. In the digital age, so much of our lives are wrapped in JPGs, MOVs, MP3 and other digital files. Technology is fallible and your hard drive will crash – it’s just a matter of time. BitCasa first and foremost gives me peace of mind that the important stuff is backed up, safe, secure. Beyond that, the convenience factor of having constant access to my files has changed my daily routines and become a huge time saver.
Check it out. Go forth, be merry.