Back up all those photos for free — for now

Geoff Meeker
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The matter of computer backups has been raised numerous times in this column, the last time being June of 2013, when a software update caused what could have been a disastrous loss of data.

A screen capture of the Trunx application, with the photo archive presented in chronological order.
— Submitted photo

I have written about storing data in the cloud — on remote, password-protected servers — and on external hard drives. The cost of the cloud-based solution was reasonable, but it would have required me to review and cull a lot of outdated files. In other words, I had collected too much raw information on my computer and didn’t have time to go back, review and remove obsolete files.

Most services at the time charged by the gigabyte (GB) of data. And I had more than 1,000 GB — or one terabyte (TB) — on the hard drive, so I settled for a 2-TB external hard drive, which backs up my work in real time, all day long.

I was happy with this until last week, when I learned about the Trunx app through a blogger and Facebook friend in California.

Trunx is a cloud-based storage service available now for the iPhone (an Android version is in development), as well as PC and Mac computers. The apps are free: search for Trunx in iTunes and download the desktop app at trunx.me.

Trunx backs up photographs (plus any videos taken within the app) and, to launch with a splash, the service is free. Upload and back up all your photos now — no matter how many or how large — before the end of February and they will be saved for you forever. At no charge.

There has to be a catch, right? I emailed their PR person to ask what it was. Here is his reply:

“Any photo, video or EchoPix you take with Trunx or any photo you import to your account from now until Feb. 28 will always be free. For example, if you have 15 GB in your account by that date, you’ll never have to pay a dime for that storage. After February, you will not be charged for the storage you have accumulated — you will only need to specify an account type. There will be two account types: free and unlimited. To upgrade to the unlimited account, you could either pay on a monthly or yearly basis — the pricing will be competitive.”

The venture is so new that a pricing structure hasn’t been established yet, but that’s a secondary concern: the key point is all data uploaded before the end of the month will be stored free forever.

EchoPix is a Trunx feature.

It allows you to take photos with an audio overlay, useful for celebrations where you want to capture voices and mood or add additional context to the image.

There is other free storage out there. For instance, flickr.com offers up to 1 TB of free space. However, these images are meant for public display (though there is a private option) and the uploading process is manual — you have to do it yourself.

With Trunx, the default is private — they are big on privacy — and images are uploaded all at once in batches and then automatically, as you take them.

The other key differentiator is you can back up all photos posted in Facebook and Instagram.

I downloaded the Trunx app for my iPhone. First, it asked if I wanted to back up the photo library on my device, which I did — a process that took about three hours (I never delete photos so there are several thousand). You can set the app to upload only when Wi-Fi is available, an option I strongly recommend to avoid maxing out your data plan.

Next, I uploaded from Facebook — which also took several hours — and then Instagram, which took a minute or two (I don’t use the app much). The Facebook and Instagram options are ideal for those who want to close their accounts but want a private and secure backup of all images they’ve posted.

After that, I downloaded the app to my iMac desktop and dragged my photo folder into the “upload” window. Six hours later, I had backed up 23,967 images to the Trunx cloud.

Now, I can open the app on my iPhone and scroll – in chronological order – through that entire library of images.

A calendar window allows me to go straight to the month I’m looking for. Low-resolution thumbnails are displayed but high-res files are easily downloaded, should I want them.

The same images are backed up on my external drive but now they are accessible when I’m out and about — a great convenience — and there is an additional layer of redundancy, in case the external drive is stolen or damaged.

I can set up Trunx to back up all photos and videos to the cloud as I take them, bypassing the phone completely — which makes sense for those who have limited memory on their phones.

The Trunx service is useful, easy to use and private. I give it two thumbs up. But look into it now while the service is still free.

Geographic location: California

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