Google Photos Lacks Privacy, Permanence, and It Is Not Free!
During the keynote address at its annual I/O conference in May, Google announced the release of its new photo service, Google Photos. Walt Mossberg, Co-Executive Editor of Re/code, pointed out that the service leverages the company’s strong data-mining proficiency and history to create improved tools for organizing and backing-up digital photos and videos online. According to Mossberg, that means “using [Google Photos] requires you to trust a company whose business model is tracking your actions and selling ads.” Google is competing for attention in a crowded market with a growing number of companies offering personal cloud storage services. So, in order to entice users away from its competitors (such as Apple, Amazon, Dropbox and Forever), Google also announced that Google Photos users will have access to “unlimited” storage for “free.” That caught the attention of attendees, who reportedly applauded the free storage announcement loudly. Thanks largely to mobile devices with high quality cameras, people are now taking billions of photos every day. We treasure these photos because they capture our life stories and help preserve our memories. People fear losing these photos, and are attracted to storage solutions that ensure content is preserved over the long term.
In a follow up session to the keynote address, Anil Sabharwal, lead product manager of Google Photos, clarified Google’s unlimited free storage claim. Users can only store unlimited photos at up to 16 MP resolution and videos up to 1080P for free. That means larger photo and video files are compressed, and the original images and formats are discarded, and no longer available to the user. Users who wish to keep all of their original files uncompressed and in their original formats are limited to just 15 gigabytes of storage or must resort to a paid plan, where monthly fees are used to maintain the content. If you stop paying your monthly fees, you lose the opportunity to back up new material. And while Google claims to respect your privacy, their business model includes data mining their customers’ content and selling information about these customers to advertisers.
Regardless of whether you decide to use Google’s free or paid services, neither include a long-term preservation commitment from Google. Your photos, videos and memories are vulnerable once you stop paying or cease to be valuable to advertisers. The bottom line is that Google Photos does not preserve important memories in a way that ensures the content is private, secure and accessible for generations.
There is only one online media storage and sharing solution that is PERMANENT, and that is Forever. Forever is driven by the belief that family stories and memories should never be lost. Through Forever, for the first time in human history all families are able to collect, curate, celebrate, and PERMANENTLY save their memories, stories, insights, and information for generations.
Permanence and trust are critical to Forever’s business model. So at Forever, our team built the Forever Guarantee Fund, a carefully managed fund designed to generate income and grow over time like an endowment. The vast majority of money members pay for Forever permanent storage is placed into this restricted perpetual investment fund, assuring Forever permanent members that their memories are preserved for generations. Members pay one-time or over a ten-year subscription period, and as a result, own their permanent storage accounts. The Forever Guarantee Fund is the world’s first and largest permanent investment fund dedicated exclusively to digital content preservation. Forever guarantees that your photographs, videos, and documents will be available to you and those whom you choose to share them with for your lifetime plus 100 years. And, while we cannot guarantee more than your lifetime plus 100 years, our goal is to save your material for many, many generations beyond the guarantee.
With traditional commodity storage services like Dropbox, Google, and Amazon, the issue regarding who owns your content is at best left unclear. But Forever provides clear legal protection and digital rights for your content, enabling Forever users to determine who will manage their legacy and how their information will be shared in the future.
While Google Photos capitalizes on Google’s data-mining strengths in order to improve photo organization, it also highlight’s the weakness that traditional commodity storage, internet and software services share. They lack business models that are based on trust and ensure permanence.
Only with Forever, and its unique business model and guarantee, is your content preserved over the long term.