Is smugmug a suitable solution for being a sole and complete cloud backup of my family photos?

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I have about 20 thousand JPG images that I have collected over the years, and more being added daily. Furthermore, I will soon be purchasing a dSLR and archiving the full RAW images from it as well. Thus far, I have been using alternative cloud storage mechanisms to backup these images (Dropbox), but am considering using SmugMug instead for the additional photo features (gallery, RAW storage, tagging, etc.)

My concern, however, is whether this is a good, long term solution, and whether my specific needs can currently be met by the system. Please bear with me, as this entails the following detailed questions. I could break them into separate getsat questions, but they seem to me as all falling under this umbrella question and tied to the same context.

Lets say I upload my 20 thousand photos to smug mug:

1. Can i get a "full restore" of my images back out of the system in case of a catastrophic (HDD) failure on my side? I.e. could i get the full image library back out as a "batch" and not have to download each image separately?

1.1 I saw an option that seemed to be the ability of the "owner" to download their data in some way (and implied that it was something to be bought). Where do I find more information?

2. It seems possible that an eye-fi card can be used to automate the upload of .RAW camera data to smugmug (for our yet-to-be purchased dSLR). The holy grail of process would be to never again have to do a manual move of a image again, allowing an automated upload and then subsequent management on the SmugMug site. To what degree is this attainable today? (I understand a SmugVault account would be required)

2.1 Would Eye-Fi uploaded images immediately show up in galleries in smugmug even though they would have been submitted as .raw files? Is SmugMug capable of doing all the heavy lifting of creating .JPGs from the RAWs for gallery display, while keeping the full, original RAW data?

2.2 Are there any limitations to the type of RAW data supported? Would this only work with certain cameras?

2.3 Presumably, with SmugVault+Eye-fi, it would operate as follows:
Action A. Take a picture (0001), and have the .RAW file automatically uploaded
Result A. SmugVault archives 0001.RAW, generates 0001.JPG from it and adds it to a gallery.

Action B. Make a custom "processing" from my .RAW file using the photo editor of my choice and upload the result to SmugMug
Result B. SmugVault uses Amazon S3's archival API and updates the gallery JPGs, but lets me view/download the originals and/or the "processed" version.

Is this accurate and attainable?

3. To archive this many pictures, are there technical constraints that would need to be considered in terms of gallery organization?

3.1. Is there a maximum gallery size or a size at which performance would deteriorate (if, say, all photos were lumped into one gallery)

3.2. Is there a recommended configuration of galleries? (for example, I currently name images based on the date/time they were taken, and then put in folders by year and month)

3.3. Is it plausible to have the full, growing archive in one monolithic gallery, and then use the "collect" feature to organize by event, etc?

3.4 If further organizational structure is needed for performance reasons, will this cause manual steps in the upload process (occasionally having to move pictures into a sub gallery, etc.?)

4. I saw some blog posts about the predictability of smugmug gallery and image URL naming conventions that made it possible for "scraper" applications to grab photos by sequencing algorithms. As this is private, family data, how have you since addressed these concerns? Is it likely that my family photos would accessible using such techniques? Are there settings that mitigate this risk?

Thanks for taking the time to look at my questions. I am excited by the possibilities that smugmug represents. If it can do these things, then I will be a loyal customer indeed.

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Posted 6 years ago

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Sebastian Hosche, SmugMug Support Hero

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Hi Elliot,

Thanks for your great questions!

1. Within a gallery, we offer our 'download all' tool that will allow you to download a whole gallery at once. It triggers a zip file generation and once the files are ready, we'll send you download link(s) via email. The download all tool is not available for multiple galleries at this point.
You can read more on it here:

In addition to the built-in tool, there's also a variety of third party downloading tools you can use. You can find them listed on this page in the downloaders section:
(note that the third party downloaders currently may not be able to download files from SmugVault)

1.1. For all files supported directly by SmugMug:
there are no additional cost for uploading or downloading.

If you use a SmugVault to upload other files, you can find the prices for uploading, keeping and downloading files here:
(below the Amazon logo at the bottom of the page

2. I don't use Eye-Fi myself and can't say whether they allow for uploading of RAW files if you have a SmugVault. It might not be supported by Eye-Fi at this point.

2.1. In general, SmugVault files don't show for visitors. You can enable the option in your SmugVault to have us create preview images if we support the format you upload a file in. Those preview images are at maximum 1600 pixel wide. If we don't support the file format or if you don't have the preview option enabled, a generic SmugVault icon would show in place of the file.

Preview images can be viewed by visitors to the gallery.

2.2. You can upload any kind of file but we may not support creating the preview image for it.

2.3. You can't adjust any settings for preview images created. They are automatically created from supported RAW files if the format is supported and you have the preview option on before uploading the RAW file.

3. Our gallery structure works like this:
category > subcategory > gallery (containing photos)
You can use our default categories or create your own custom ones. You can find more details here:

3.1. I'd recommend that you keep your galleries around 500 photos per gallery. While you can add more photos or files to it, the bulk tools in your browser may slow down.

3.2. That's really up to you and your specific needs. Many users choose to organize their photos in (sub)categories / galleries with descriptive names like:
Weddings > Megan & Toni > Reception etc.

Of course, if you prefer you could go for a date structure instead if that works better for you.

3.3. I'd recommend creating the structure and galleries beforehand instead of trying to do it all with smart galleries (collected photos by rules you set). If you go the route of adding lots of photos to one gallery, read through the smart gallery help page first:
For example the photos in a smart gallery retain certain settings from the source gallery, like the 'largest size' available and whether the buy option is available for the photos. You wouldn't be able to overrule these settings from the smart gallery.

3.4. Our structure as shown in 3. doesn't allow for sub-galleries. You can only have a category and subcategory for structuring and those can't contain photos.

4. That sounds like a really old blog post. Photos and gallery links aren't guessible as in addition to their unique ID, a key is required to be able to view them. So scraping of photos by incrementing the ID itself is not possible.

If you wish to tighten security on unlisted or password protected galleries, you can disable the 'external links' setting in the gallery settings. That'll prevent photos from being available for embedding into forums or blogs. You can find this setting along with the other security settings in the gallery settings > security&privacy section of a gallery:

I hope this has helped. If you have any questions, please let us know. You can also email us directly at our HelpDesk. We Heroes are there for you 365 days a year:

Best Regards,
SmugMug Support Hero
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Great. Thanks Sebastian! I think you answered just about everything. Still remaining would be:

5. What RAW formats does smugmug generate previews for? We are leaning towards the Canon EOS Rebel T2i/T3i, which I would guess would be a supported RAW type. Is there a page that lists the RAW types for which SmugMug can generate a preview?

The Hacks and Apps page was particularly helpful, as I am a software engineer. I love to see APIs and tools for such a wide range. If it doesn't exist, then I can build it myself!
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Sebastian Hosche, SmugMug Support Hero

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Glad to be of help. :)
5. While I'm not aware of a list of supported files, you could just send us a (small) sample to our HelpDesk and we could check whether SmugVault can generate previews for it.

Oh yes, we can't get enough of great tools to enhance the SmugMug experience. I'm sure you already came across our API information page then but just in case here it is: