We regularly get questions from our audience about Photosticks and we always seem to be discussing them on our radio shows. These are heavily advertised on Facebook and Instagram (among other places on the web) as a simple solution to find all your photos and back them up to a USB thumb drive. They also claim to be able to find all the photos on your computer and even identify duplicates.
While researching this product, I couldn’t find what I’d call a single legitimate, positive review of the product – they all seemed fake. Even searching for where to buy it on Google showed a number of places that looked like the actual store but simply redirected to spammy and glowing reviews in the form of a blog post about the product rather than a legitimate store to buy it. Try looking for one at your favourite electronics retailer – you won’t find them there either – I looked.
I did find lots of negative reviews that seem like actual bad experiences with the product. One of the most common complaints I saw was that it isn’t compatible with older computers. It’s also fairly expensive for what you get – basically a USB thumbdrive and some software.
We recently did a whole segment on our radio show about them which you can view here:
Our simple recommendation is to not buy a Photostick. For the same money you’d spend on that product, you could easily get a much larger back up device – such as an external hard drive to back up all of your photos and even your entire computer. Photosticks seem to come in 8, 64 & 128 gb sizes. A one terabyte external hard drive (which can cost between $50-90 Cdn) can be had for about the same price (or less) than the 64gb Photostick and be able to hold the equivalent of 15 Photosticks worth of photos and videos…plus all your other files and documents.
A backup hard drive doesn’t behave like a Photostick although many harddrives do come loaded with backup software tools that can get you part of the way.
I looked for some free software options that behaved just like the Photostick and couldn’t really find anything similar (leave a comment if you’ve found one!).
One problem that the Photostick says it addresses is that it will scour your computer and find all your photos and pull them onto the Photostick. The reality is that most people only have the bulk of their photos in a handful of places such as their download, photos (or pictures) and the desktop folders. It’s easy enough to accidently drag a file somewhere you don’t know where though so let’s assume you need to find photos anywhere.
One of the better options I found that works on just about every computer operating system (Windows, OSX & Linux) is called XnView MP. This free application is like an advanced Windows Explorer/Finder for your computer. It can easily show you which folders have images in them and allow you to manage, copy and move them anywhere you want, like to an external backup. It will show you the computer’s folder structure and if a folder has images inside it making it pretty easy to see where they are. This tool will identify and is compatible with over 500 different image file formats. You can grab entire folders of images and move or copy them to your external hard drive.
There is also a powerful built in image editor so you can make edits to your photos without having to load something else. It even has a slideshow function built in to show of your photos.
While the above is not automatic, which is definitely the selling point of a Photostick, you’re basically over paying for a crappy thumbdrive at the end of the day.