Digital photo organizing is a monster, a nagging problem, or a disaster waiting to happen depending on your point of view. What we really want is for someone to make it simple…for all of our photos to magically be transferred from wherever we shoot them to someplace they will be easily accessed and permanently safeguarded. Is that too much to ask?
NOTE: Lyve was discontinued in 2017. Please click here for more information on organizing digital photos.
A new product called Lyve has excellent potential to solve many, if not most, and maybe even all of your photo storage concerns. I was given a LyveHome Photo and Video Manager to review and- I can’t even believe this!– one to give away to one of my readers!!! This is so appropriate given that this Saturday is Save Your Photos Day, during National Preparedness Month.
It’s hard to believe that digital photography has only been in most of our lives for the last 10 years or so. The first iPhone was only introduced in June of 2007, just 7 years ago! Think how far we’ve come from the days when we had to mail off our rolls to see what magic we might have captured on film. I mean, how on earth did we used to show our daughters how cute their French braid was before we could snap a picture from behind and prove it instantaneously?
Finally…a Real Photo Organizing Solution?
Lyve is a solution to help you collect, protect, and rediscover your most important moments. You plug in the physical device at home, and it collects your photos and videos from your other devices using your in-home wi-fi network.
LyveHome is essentially a very sleek, beautifully designed external hard drive that is specially designed to back up photos and videos from your phone, computer, tablet, digital media and digital camera.
It works with nearly all modern digital devices. It works whether you are Apple or Android. It works whether you are a Mac or a PC. Finally! You don’t have to choose!!!
The display screen is the size of an iPhone, and the entire unit is about the size of a napkin dispenser like those found in classic diners.
Lyve is deceptively simple. If you are comfortable downloading apps on your smartphone, you can use Lyve and have it protecting your photo stash without thinking about it too much. However, grandma probably isn’t going to be able to set this up on her own. You do need to know just a few techie details, like your wi-fi password. If you don’t have a wireless network, Lyve might just be the reason you finally install your own wi-fi.
Getting started was two steps: just open the box and plug the unit into a power outlet. It does not plug into a computer. You can plug this unit in anywhere in your home where you receive a good wi-fi signal.
One little thing tripped me up. Usually when I enter my wi-fi password into a device, it is not caps sensitive. However, capitals mattered on the network password field on Lyve. Be sure to enter your password correctly.
Out of the box, it automatically updates it’s own software, which took less than 5 minutes. Don’t be alarmed. Lyve just wants to make sure you have the latest and greatest.
What Can You Connect to Lyve?
Once plugged in and connected to your wi-fi network, then you just download the free app onto your phone, table, or computer, and the device will download photos into Lyve. You can select folders that you want to include or exclude from your computer so you don’t have to download your entire photo collection if you don’t want to. Here are the ways that you can download your entire photo library into Lyve:
- Smartphone via the LYVE app,
- Wireless (wi-fi) and corded ethernet.
- PC and mac, and even Kindles!
- SD cards from digital cameras
- eye-fi cards, which are specialized SD cards, are addressed here: https://support.mylyve.com/hc/en-us/articles/202518538. You just use the card reader in the USB slot, and it loads up super quick.
- USB drives (aka thumb drives or jump drives) and external hard drives
- Have old CD’s with photos on them? You would need to load those onto a computer and then select those files to download to Lyve, but then they’d be backed up, too.
It can take a while to initially download your entire library. Lyve states that 15,000 photos may take 6-8 hours to update for the first time. If you have a slow network, it can take even longer. In reality, it can take days or weeks, because the device that you are transferring from must be in range, on, and not sleeping. Read the directions from Lyve on how to set your device to ensure transfer happens continuously. As I was testing the device, I was constantly leaving the house with my iPad, or taking it offline, so it honestly took a little over a week to bring my whole library over. I could have sped up the process, but I wanted to see what the “average” user might experience. And really, isn’t a backup that takes a few days so much better than one that never happens at all?
Once your photo libraries from all of your sources are backed up, your Lyve unit sits quietly in your home, just like any other external hard drive, but way cooler. You can open the apps on your devices anytime when you are in range to backup recent photos. (You can backup photos over cellular, but this eats up your data plan, so use sparingly, if at all.)
When you want to see your photos, you can use the apps to view your photos, which are displayed in a beautiful visual display by date. This is great if you are viewing recent photos, but it’s a bit more cumbersome if you are looking at historical pictures. To locate a particular picture, you are looking at a photo display, not a file structure, which could (and I’m confident will) be improved upon.
Lyve was only launched spring of 2014, so there are a few important features that are still maturing. For instance, once the photos are in Lyve, it’s not as easy to access them as it might be from your traditional computer file structure. But that is changing. During the time that I was reviewing my Lyve unit, the PC interface was upgraded significantly, and now it only takes 2 clicks to bring the full-resolution picture back down to your PC.
Once your photo collection is backed up, all of your photos can be viewed from any of your devices. Put another way, your photo collection isn’t limited by the size of your phone. Apple is making big changes this fall in that direction, too, but those changes still only help folks who are mostly or completely users of all Apple products. Lyve works regardless of what platforms you are using.
Photo Organizing: Size Does Matter
Did I mention that this sleek little napkin-dispenser imposter holds 2 TB of space? That is a L-O-T of space for your memories! Flickr gives you 1TB for free, but that’s got it’s own problems, and you don’t own the service. Dropbox makes you start paying $120 annual fees after just 2 GB. The iCloud, uhg, don’t get me started! Most mere mortals don’t really have any idea how much space they need. Just to give you an idea, I downloaded 4,722 pictures and 130 videos to start, and I still have 99% of my space available!
At this point, you are probably thinking, I’m in!
This will be a great Christmas present (purchase LyveHome Photo and Video Manager here) for a lot of families this year. At nearly $300, this unit affordably solves a lot of problems for busy families who are decently comfortable with gadgets and using wireless services… and who love to take photos and videos. Does that sound like your family?
If you think $300 is expensive for LyveHome, weigh that against the cost of recovering your data from a computer crash or the cost of those cloud services you are using now!
I have more to tell you about this unit, but why don’t you pin this article for your gift board, and I’ll be back tomorrow with some more details. Enter the giveaway that I’m having for one LyveHome Photo and Video Manager right now! Good luck.
BTW, want to see this in action, get your own hands on one? There are still a couple of more seats available for my All Things Digital Photo Organizing class 9/23. Register here. (If you missed the class, please email me to be added to the list for next time.
Want more details on how Lyve works? See part 2 of my LyveHome review.
Congrats to Jeanine Marie of PA for winning her own LyveHome!