Lyve Home Review

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.

Photo Organizing with Lyve

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.


LyveHome hard drive

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: 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.

Amazing Alert:

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.

Lyve photo organizing on PC


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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. Steph

    If you could believe it, I don’t really have an organization system so I DEFINITELY NEED THIS!

    1. Darla

      I totally believe that. Most people don’t, even those who take lots of pictures.

  2. Stacey

    This would help me have all my photos in one easy to find location!

    1. Darla

      Yes, one location! (And the angels sang!)

  3. Paul Reitman

    I really need it with photos over decades and 4 kids amd their spouses and 9 grandkids and their significant others and all kinds of events and doings to organize. It would help me share now and leave a legacy. I’m crossing my fingers. Thanks for the opportunity.


  4. Colleen (Souffle Bombay)

    Oh, I SO need this in my life – I have more photos of food than I do of my family! Lol

    1. Darla

      So true for many of us.

  5. tomika bryant

    I welcome anything that can help me organize and back up all my pics. I have tons between the computers and the family phones. This product seems great! Thanks for sharing

    1. Darla

      Yes, this will allow you to get them all in one place, even the ones on those flash drives and old SD cards.

  6. Julia

    I need something like this my pictures are a hot mess.

  7. Sally R

    Sounds like a great tool. Our family photos are scattered about on my husband’s computer, my laptop, his phone, my phone, and an exxternal harddrive — and probably some on an external site somewhere. This would be great.

  8. Amy

    I love the automatic feature to take photos off your devices! I was using DropBox for this, I can’t even tell you the last time I plugged my iPhone into the computer to upload photos, but recently ran out of space. Sounds like an exciting new tool to check out!

    1. Darla

      Space. That’s the problem. Who wants to pay monthly for it? BTW, stay tuned for Thursday’s article on photo organizing specifically for bloggers. And thanks for reading!

  9. Lynda

    Sooooo want one of these !!

  10. Karen Emerson

    This sounds AMAZING! We have too many devices that we are taking pictures on and can never keep them all straight!

  11. Natalie

    Like you Darla, I”m always on the lookout for innovations in the photo organizing and storage world. THis device has been on my radar and I’d love the chance to take it for a test drive. People need “automatic” solutions that can remove the human error component from the backup equation as much as possible

    1. Darla

      Natalie, you would LOVE this! It is so much easier to use than…well, anything. It’s not completely automatic, but because it is so specialized for photos, it is easy and FAST! Watch for the details I’m spilling in today’s post.

  12. Irene Lund

    This would be amazing. I still have photos on my “old” phone that wouldn’t transfer to the new phone that I need to download somewhere…this sounds like the perfect place to start!

    1. Darla

      Irene, do you have a cable that allows you to plug your old phone into your computer? If so, you might be able to pull them off just like you would off a flash drive. If all else fails, take the old phone into a phone store and ask them to remove the SIM card and transfer the photos onto something you can use, like a disk or flash drive. Worst case, you might have to email those old photos to yourself from your old phone. Good luck!

  13. Sylvia

    I’ve been following this product so I appreciate your thorough review. Thanks!

    1. Darla

      I was following for a while myself. I’m glad to have this unit provided for review, but now that I have it, I totally think it is worth the price tag.

  14. Vikki

    This would really help me with my clients in photo organizing. Great to find out about it!

    1. Darla

      It’s a great tool to get photos all in one place. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Marilyn Nawara

    It would put all of my photos in the same location. Right now I have them on 2 different laptops, thumb drives, cameras and phones.

    1. Darla

      Yep, this would do it for you.

  16. Dottie

    This sounds like a perfect tool for backing up all my family photos. replacing all the external hard drives that i currently have them stored on.

  17. Christina S

    I have no organization for my photos at all. They’re everywhere in no order. I have some on old phones I’d love to connect too.

    1. Darla

      Yes, those old phones are a real problem for some folks. If you can connect the smartphone to your wi-fi, this makes it super easy to get the pictures off in no time.

    1. Darla

      Isn’t it? Slumber party…Haven 2015!

  18. Karen at Little Red House Designs

    Woah – I need this!

  19. Janeane Davis

    I have thousands of photos I need to categorize and index for future use. This device seems like it would be helpful.

    1. Darla

      Technically, this isn’t going to index them for you…yet. It’s a little clunky on that point, I’ll be honest. But it does get them all in one place and back them up effortlessly, and then let you access them all from anywhere. Still pretty awesome.

  20. Jeanine @MommyEntourage

    Considering my current photo organization system is non-existent, I could so use this! It seems so helpful and efficient!

  21. Lindsey

    Ahh! I am SO all over the place with my photos… i just snap away and they are somewhere in a cloud somewhere. I need this!

  22. Caitlin

    I organized my photos until my daughter was 5 months, she’s almost 3.

  23. ken ohl

    Would help me organize my photos all in one location. thankyou, ken

    1. Darla

      Thanks for visiting, Ken. Good luck to you and everyone.

  24. Rachel

    We have so many photos and each week there’s more and more – we NEED something like this!

  25. Leo

    Lyve is going to be out of business by the end of this year. Will this device become brick? How much value we can retrieve from the Lyve Home?

    1. Darla

      Hi, Leo. Lyve and it’s site is probably the best source of info on their exit strategy right now. I’m working through the same questions you are. Remember that the Lyve device was always intended to be an in-house physical backup, so your photos and videos should be physically safe, and you should expect to transition them onto your computer or a hard drive that you can easily maintain, as well as an off-site backup (which can be cloud based). These are best practices for photo management in the digital age. 3-2-1 is the method we photo organizers use: at least 3 copies of your data in at least 2 different media types and at least 1 of those is stored offsite.

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