Sunday 17 December 2017

Ask Adrian: Our tech expert helps with your trickiest technology problems

 

Stock image
Stock image
Garmin Vivosmart 3 (€150)
Canon Powershot SX730 (€470)
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q: My phone keeps telling me it has run out of storage space. I think it's because of the photos, of which there are over 4,000. But I really don't want to delete them as they contain lots of family pictures. What's the easiest way of freeing up my phone's ­memory without having to ditch the ­photos?

A: The short answer is that you're going to have shift those photos. Whether your phone is Android or an ­iPhone is an important detail: most Android phones (Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei) have memory card slots. This means that even if your phone only has 16GB of built-in storage memory, the memory card you put into it can take much more - certainly enough to take all of your existing photos with room to spare.

In this context, a 32GB microSD card costs €20 in PC World or Currys. Copying the photos from the phone to the memory card is a fairly routine process on most Android phones. In 'settings', look for the phone memory option: it will let you copy the photos over to your memory card.

By contrast, if it's an iPhone, you'll have to do without the help of a memory card as iPhones don't have them. So you'll have to rely on a cloud service such as Dropbox, Flickr or iCloud.

Dropbox and iCloud are both useful, but you have to pay at a fairly low storage threshold. By comparison, Flickr or Google Photos are both free and give virtually limitless online storage. You can download the phone apps from the App Store and also use them on any tablet or PC through their web addresses (flickr.com or photos.google.com).

You can also set them to automatically upload whatever photos you've taken whenever your phone is in range of your home Wi-Fi. This is very handy because you don't have to remember to manually do it (and it's worry free as you have virtually unlimited online storage). Both systems also allow you to download photos on to any other device later if you want to print any.

However, cloud systems may not go on forever, particularly Flickr (which is owned by the troubled Yahoo). So I strongly recommend that you have a backup plan for what to do with the photos in the long run.

Many people invest in an external hard drive, which costs around €75 for a one terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) model, more than enough to hold many years' worth of photos from an average household.

To get them on to a basic hard drive such as this, you're going to have to first put them on to a PC. In my view, it's easier to do this by uploading them and downloading them through the apps mentioned above than to start messing about with cables, allocated folders and file extension queries.

This is also a good a time as any to pick out a few photos you really like and print them off. As great as all of our digital options for photographs are, most people like to have a few, at least, in physical form. Each December, I pick out between 40 and 50 of the photos I like best from the year that has passed. I pick an online photobook option (Apple's iPhoto offers an excellent service for between €30 and €80) and upload them. A week later, they come back in a hardback book. So if all the gadgets fail, I'll still have some valued photos.

Email your questions to caomahony@independent.ie

Two to Try

Garmin Vivosmart 3  (€150)

It seems that fitness gadgets are now a two-horse race between Fitbit and Garmin. The latter has updated its mid-range fitness band to something that is waterproof, tracks your heartbeat and syncs up to Garmin's Connect app. It does this without GPS but still shows you your messages by being connected to your phone. As well as step-counting and pulse-tracking, it can also count reps in a gym. And its waterproof status means that you've no worries wearing it in the rain or doing laps of the swimming pool.

Canon Powershot SX730 (€470)

Point-and-shoot compact cameras look a little doomed without some special features. Canon hopes that a 40x zoom might do it for the SX730, as well as a viewing screen that flips all the way up so that you can take selfie photos and videos. The quality of the photos promises to be reasonable, though probably not great in low light: its camera sensor isn't much bigger than your phone's. Surprisingly, it doesn't do 4K video, which many phones now offer. But it is very pocketable and that zoom would probably come in handy.

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