Even if you don’t have Amazon Prime, if you have parents, children, friends, or family members who do pay for the service, you can ask them to invite you to be a member of their Family Vault and you will receive the benefits listed below, without either party having to let anyone see the photos they store at Amazon Photos. Keep reading for details.



If you use your phone as your primary camera these days, Amazon has a great deal for Amazon Prime members which allows them to backup unlimited photos for free. There’s a 5 GB limit for video but you can purchase extra video storage space if you need more.

Amazon Photos is a great tool for travelers who take tons of photos and videos. We backpacked for two weeks and were able to free up space on our devices each day by syncing our phones with Amazon Photos, uploading the day’s pictures and videos, and then deleting them off our devices. Here are some of the details.



What is Amazon Prime?

Amazon.com is an online retailer where you can purchase almost anything from the comfort of your own home and have it delivered to your doorstep. Amazon Prime is a membership option at Amazon.com that costs $119/year or $12.99/month and gives you benefits including:

  • free two-day shipping on many items in eligible areas (this cost savings alone makes it worth it for most people)
  • free same-day delivery in some areas
  • Amazon Photos – free unlimited photo storage that syncs from your computer or phone (both Android and iOS devices), allowing you to free up space on either device for more photos, etc
  • Prime Video-unlimited streaming of free and fee videos and TV shows (any show with a “Prime” banner in the upper right-hand corner is free)
  • Prime Music – unlimited ad-free access to more than 2 million songs for members in the US and Puerto Rico
  • Prime Wardrobe – try before you buy clothing
  • Prime Pantry – in some regions you can shop for groceries online
  • Prime Reading – free books, magazines, and more for your Fire tablet, Kindle e-reader, or apps on Android and iOS devices
  • Membership sharing – two adults in a household can pay for one account and share the benefits (it’s a household benefit, not a per person benefit)
  • and so much more



What If I don’t pay for Amazon Prime?

Even if you don’t pay for Amazon Prime membership, you probably have close family who pay for the service. We’ve invited a family member who doesn’t pay for the service to join our Family Vault which gives them a free Amazon Photos account. They don’t get all the other benefits of Amazon Prime (free shipping, streaming videos, etc) but they can backup their photos from their phone to a free Amazon Photos account. We only see their photos if they add them to the Family Vault. And they only see our photos if we add them to the joint Family Vault. Amazon Photos allows you to create multiple folders for storing your photos, all private for each member of your Family Vault.

From Amazon Photos:

Can I share my unlimited storage benefit? Yes. Prime members can share their unlimited photo storage benefit with up to five people. You can create a Family Vault and invite family and friends, including non-Prime members [emphasis added], to view your photos that you’ve added to the Family Vault, as well as add their own. Then each member of the Family Vault also gets a free Amazon Photos account, which includes unlimited photo storage and up to 5 GB for videos and other files. Each person’s photos stay private unless he or she adds them to the Family Vault.



Amazon Prime Photos

Amazon Prime Photos is one benefit of Amazon Prime and these are the options it offers:

  • free, unlimited photo storage for Amazon Prime members
  • 5 GB video storage free, with options to pay for more video storage
  • the original file structure of your photos is maintained – photos are stored in their full resolution
  • auto-sync from your phone (using wifi or cellular data from your phone)
  • auto-sync from your computer (any changes you make to the photos/folders on your computer are updated/reflected in Amazon Prime Photos)
  • share photos or video to social media, email, or text messages directly from Amazon Prime
  • share your Amazon Prime Photos benefit with family and friends (up to five people total per Amazon Prime account) These invited family/friends don’t have to be Amazon Prime members. Each member of your Family Vault (you + four others) will receive their own free Amazon Photos account with unlimited photo storage and up to 5 GB for videos/other files.
  • photo search including facial recognition, keywords, etc
  • your photos are kept private, as are those of your invited family/friends, unless you add them to “Family Vault” for others to see.

I paid $59.99 for an extra 1 TB of storage because I’m taking a LOT of video and used up the free 5 GB of video storage the first day. Here’s an image of the photo and video storage page where you can always see how much space you have available.



Why would I want Amazon Photos?

I’m leery of giving any third-party access to my information, including my personal photos and videos, but, I also have limited storage for photos and videos on my phone and need an option to free up space on my phone while I’m away from home & my usual backup system. Enter Amazon Photos.

Amazon Photos is a free way for Amazon Prime members (and any family or friends they invite to join their Family Vault) to upload photos from their phones (or computers) to a cloud-based service that will store them at their original size/quality, allowing you to delete the photos from your phone, freeing up space to take more photos and videos.

I’ll write a more detailed How To Use Amazon Photos App soon, but basically, you download the free app to your phone (Android or iOS), tell it to auto-save your photos, and then when you’re photos are saved to Amazon Photos, delete them off your phone (if you need more phone space).

You can also use Amazon Photos facial recognition to label people in your photos (it’s very good at automatically recognizing people once you give one face a name).

I find Amazon Photos easier to use than my photo storage on my Mac computer so it could be an alternate method for organizing your photos and adding keywords, names, and more to photos.

You’re also able to upload photos to emails, text messages, and social media sites directly from Amazon Photos.



How To Access Your Photos in Amazon Photos

On your phone, open the Amazon Photos app and have access to your photos and videos.

On your phone, if you’ve downloaded the Amazon Drive app (also free), open the Amazon Drive app and you’ll have access to your photos, videos, and documents

On your home computer/desktop, you have two options:

  • login to Amazon.com and then under your name and “Your Account” on the home page, scroll down to “Your Amazon Photos” to see all your photos, videos, and documents
  • login to Amazon Drive (just login with your Amazon Prime account) and you’ll have access to your photos and videos and documents (I prefer to go through the Amazon.com site)

From Amazon.com

For system and file requirements, go to About Uploading Files and Folders Using the Amazon Drive Website.

For information about uploading files and folders, go to Upload a File or Folder Using the Cloud Drive Website.

Photos and videos you upload through your computer’s web browser must be less than 2 GB in size. You can use the Amazon Drive desktop application to upload files larger than 2 GB. For more information, go to Upload Files Using Amazon Drive Desktop.



Peace of Mind

Amazon Photos gave me peace of mind while traveling because I knew if I lost my phone, I wouldn’t lose all the photos and videos I’d taken. I can login to my Amazon Photos account from any computer and always have access to all the photos and videos stored there.

On vacation I would tell the phone to sync up at night by leaving the app open, being logged into WiFi if possible, and with the phone plugged in and charging all night I could usually get all the photos and videos uploaded then I could delete them off my phone and free up the space for more pics. I paid for 1 TB storage so I could store tons of video (5 GB free). 

If you’re wondering if Amazon Photos is for you, here is a link to their service and you may want to read their File Retention Policy, Photo and Video File Requirements, Terms and Conditions or other topics in the left-sidebar menu.

Best with your family history work!



Here’s a pinnable image to save and help spread the word about this great resource! Please follow the OnGenealogy Pinterest boards for more tips from other genealogy and family history bloggers!



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