Photo Backup / Cloud Storage vs Minimalism

I’ve got a dilemma that I would like to solve for years to come…

I am using Google Photos for Cloud Storage. That’s because it used to be unlimited, and it’s also nice for sharing with family, because everyone has a Google account. However, recently, the storage has been reaching its 15 GB limit.

I see the following options:

  • Keep reviewing my photos/videos and delete “worst ones”. I hate this approach, as it wastes time and I constantly have to battle with the idea that when I delete something, it’s gone forever.
  • Switch to an offline backup. This also won’t work for me, because I would hate to manage something myself, buy some extra hardware. Then of course accessibility is another issue. If you can’t access it from anywhere, would you ever access it at all?
  • Purchase extended Google storage for 2 CHF/month. This option I also don’t like because you commit to becoming Google’s slave for the rest of your life. It doesn’t cost a lot, but over the years, it adds up.
  • Purchase storage from Apple iCloud for 3 CHF/month. I am actually using an iPhone and I am ingrained into the Apple ecosystem. So it would make more sense to use iCloud. But I dread having to migrate, plus sharing with my family would become an issue. And you’re still slave to Apple.

Some additional thoughts:

  • I do not really come back to my old photos. It somehow feels like a baggage. When I do look back, it brings back memories of forgotten times, which is nice. But it’s also comforting to not have your entire life documented like that forever.
  • This documenting and backing up habit goes against my minimalist mindset.
  • But at the same time I like taking photos of nice places I’ve been to. It’s just that in the end I have tons of repetitive photos, all looking stunning, and maybe 10% of them are truly original.
  • My girlfriend is different, she keeps looking at old photos. And most photos of her are in my storage, because I take those photos…

I am curious if any of you has the similar mindset like me (kind of love and hate sentiment towards backing up photos) and whether you’ve found a satisfying solution?

I noticed once that I was only looking at photos when I was running out of space and needed to delete them

So I started printing 50-60 photos per year as a physical photo book. Brings back a bit of nostalgia of old times but also keeps things to key memories I wanted to remember.

I don’t care about the rest. And delete as time progresses.

  • Buy subscription for another cloud service.

I never pay for subscriptions (no netflix etc.) but in the end, I figured that $2 a month was cheap enough to cave in to Google and not have to deal with it.


Exactly the same here :v:.

Totally, resonate. I have the same problem. I didn’t really solve but delegate.
Bought a shit phone with a really bad camera so no important pictures are captured with it :stuck_out_tongue:
So I can delete all of them as the good ones my wife has it.


I didn’t try this myself, but heard about it several times:

I personally create folders on my phone from time to time. This will force me to delete duplicates or bad photos. I don’t take much photos though, I prefer to live the events rather than photograph them.

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I personnally use Kdrive from Infomaniak for approx 54Chf/year.
It’s a bit more expensive but I like it because it automatically orders photos in folder per month and per year.
I take a lot of photos for work with my phone when I visit construction site, and it helps that I can sort them out of my other photos faster.
There’s also no problem with sharing between android and iphone if needed, as far as I know.

I take also way too many photos and I never take the time to delete some, it’s mostly my wife’s hobby.

And I also use this drive to store other documents, like old school course or ebooks, PDF, Invoices…

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I wish Google and/or Apple would implement an automatic way of finding very similar images, automatically ranking them from best to worst according to some generic rule (e.g., most people look into the camera, or the subject is in focus, etc) and then inviting you regularly to delete some of the similar pictures. Unfortunately they charge per storage, so it goes against their interests


IMO, if you are already integrated into the Apple ecosystem, you should bite the bullet and integrate your photos into iCloud. Not only is it easier to have your pictures automatically saved, but all the Photos app features are also a nice bonus on iOS. I love that I can quickly check old pictures by looking up a specific person or text, and the automated “memories” function is a great way to revisit old photos without putting in any effort.

Here is an overview of the features of Apple’s Photos app.

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Don’t they do that already? Google started integrating AI into their search a while back so you can do searches like “photo of Amy on a train”.

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I’m using it myself for a few years now. But that’s definitely not a minimalist solution. You need a small server or a NAS to run it at your home and you can easily pay many years of google drive or icloud with the money you spend on this (+ your time to set it up and maintain it).

Personally I just don’t want my pictures and other private stuff on a cloud somewhere, that’s why I opted for this self hosted solution. But I have a mini server and NAS anyway and it’s kind of a hobby of mine to tinker around with this stuff. I’d totally not recommend it for the average joe xD


With electricity costs, it would be cheaper to use google than run your own server 24/7. But I might soon get to the stage where I want to do this because there are many services that I could consolidate into the server: router, file storage, AI server.

If you spin it up only when you need, it isn’t as convenient, but that would also save costs.

Also, finally they can be end2end encrypted

But do they propose similar pictures for you to delete some? The tech exists but I don’t think the motivation is there

I wouldn’t be too sure about that one, the Pi 4 draws only about 6-7 watt, so you’d end up somewhere between 20-30 bucks per year. And you could do many other things with the server.

A bit off-topic, but I use my server for a lot of things like my own cloud, ad blocker, movie streaming around the house and outside, firewall, remote software development, smart home server, VPN server, e-book server and some more. All that running on a small Intel NUC for years without any issues.


You can rent a cheap server for 5$/m or so.

Yes of course but iCloud and Google Drive would both be cheaper and work out of the box. With nextcloud there are updates and you need to maintain everything yourself and need quite some knowledge to set it up in a secure way to access it from all your devices easily remotely and at home.

Yes, I guess you could use a Pi, but that’s rather limited. I was thinking of more powerful options. Plus you add a drive and consider networking power and you’re already more than the $30 / year of google drive.

Yes, I thought about that, too. Sadly, the existing methods of deleting garbage are cumbersome.

Exactly. A nice company would care about user experience and design products as if they themselves were everyday users. But instead we have constant Enshittification of the services we learned to love over the years.