Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems
Q In light of the last few weeks' attention on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, can you recommend a secure, GDPR-compliant, online service which consumers can use for storing (and preferably also for sharing) photos and videos from holidays? On the basis that 'if it's free, you're the product', I expect that nothing recommended could be free, but I'd also be delighted if that expectation proved false.
- Charles H
A In the 'free' category, I'd recommend one of three services that I use myself: Dropbox, Google Drive and Flickr. They all do slightly different things, but can be used in exactly the way you say you want. In terms of security, all three are long-established reputable businesses which claim to be GDPR-compliant (it's true that Flickr's erstwhile parent company, Yahoo, has had significant data breach issues, but the company has now been purchased by privacy-conscious SmugMug).
All three can also be accessed from pretty much any computer, phone or tablet you have, with each one allowing you to share photos and videos either individually or in folders, privately or publicly.
The one you might want to check first is Google Photos, simply because you probably already have an account. If you have a Gmail address, that's also your Google Photos login. Just download the Google Photos app for your phone or tablet and you can save (or back up) your photos there. You get unlimited storage, with pretty huge individual photo and video limits (75MB for photos and 10GB for videos - far more than 99.9pc of holiday snaps and videos are going to measure). (Even aside from the sharing, having a Google Photos account is a decent general utility to use to back up photos and videos.)
A similar service to Google Photos is Flickr, which is one of the original photo storage and sharing services on the web. You don't get quite as much storage as on Google Photos, but it's still very generous, with 1,000GB of free space, videos up to 1GB (three minutes) and unlimited photo file sizes. Again, it's quite easy to share with others over the usual messaging, email or social media channels.
Finally, there's Dropbox, available through its free app or at dropbox.com. You don't get anything like the amount of storage (2GB for free, with a few more thrown in once you start using it) on this service that you do on the others, but it's arguably more narrowly suited to the purpose you say you're looking for - an online storage facility that's designed to accommodate secure sharing.
Dropbox has arguably the cleanest, clearest process when it comes to sharing photos and videos stored there. You can share individual photos or videos, or albums. You can also let whoever you're sharing with share them on if that's appropriate.
And while it works absolutely fine for photos and videos, you can actually upload almost any kind of file there.
The only cautionary note is that if you start to use Dropbox regularly, you will eventually run into the limit of what's free (this is what happened to me and now I pay €10 per month to keep using it).
RECOMMENDATION: Dropbox (first 2GB free)
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Two to Try
Acer Chromebook Tab 10 (€300)
Since Google started letting Chromebooks use Android apps, it has opened up the possibilities of merging the Chromebook (which up to now has been a laptop) and tablet form factors. The first result is Acer's Chromebook Tab 10, a 9.7-inch hybrid machine with 32GB of storage that looks like a tablet but acts like laptop when you attach a keyboard to it. As a low-cost alternative to an iPad or a laptop, it could be perfect.
Nokia 3310 3G (€50)
RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy recently gave up his smartphone for one of these devices. Should you do the same? The 3310 is smarter than the old Nokias, with a small (2.4-inch) colour screen, a 2-megapixel camera and a longer-than-average battery life. It also has a 'torch' feature and an FM radio (with headphone jack). You won't get things like Facebook or Snapchat on it, but isn't that the point?