Home > Uncategorized > SmugVault – Store everything for next to nothing.

SmugVault – Store everything for next to nothing.

June 23, 2008

SmugMug has always allowed everyone to upload an unlimited number of web-displayable files – JPEG, GIF, PNG, and MP4 – but to date we haven’t been able to accept the RAW files generated by modern digital cameras. For years our customers have been asking, begging, and pleading for us to let them upload their priceless archives.  I’m happy to announce that day has come!

SmugVault is a new SmugMug product that lets you upload all the RAW, PSD, BMP, and TIFF files you’d like.  And not just those – we’ll accept XMP sidecars, PDF files, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, video archives, and anything else you might want to store with your photos.  What’s more, we’ll bundle your files together for easy, intuitive browsing and safe retrieval.

Thanks to an innovative new product from Amazon Web Services, DevPay, you only pay pennies per GB for the storage you actually use each month.  There’s no huge fee with a maximum storage amount – it’s truly unlimited and pay-by-the-drink.  Store one megabyte or one billion megabytes – we don’t care.  Whatever works best for your workflow and archival needs, SmugVault can handle it.


photo by: Andy Williams

Compose a beautiful panorama out of 20 RAW files?  No problem – upload your final JPEG and bundle all 20 RAW files with it, along with your Photoshop PSD containing all your layers and edits and the XMP sidecar detailing the Adobe Lightroom changes you made during the editing process.  You’ll see just the single perfect photo on your SmugMug site, but with a single click, you have access to every component you’ve associated with it.


Don’t want to upload final corrected JPEGs for all the RAWs you shot at that huge event, but still want them stored somewhere safe and sound?  No problem.  Just upload the RAWs straight off your camera and we’ll store them for safe retrieval.  Want us to generate JPEG previews of those uncorrected RAW files so you can browse your SmugVault visually to find that perfect shot?  We’ll do that too.

Loving SmugMug’s new HD video features, but wishing you had somewhere safe to archive the original footage rather than the web-friendly lower bitrate copies?  Not a problem.  Just add them to your SmugVault.

Unfortunately, we hear about people losing their priceless memories to hurricanes, fire, and computer failure almost every day.  We’ve always been glad we can simply help them get the JPEGs back – remember, your photos are yours, not ours – and I’m even more excited that we can now help everyone recover their priceless archives too!

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 23, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    This is brilliant news. I’ve been waiting for a service exactly like this. I had a feeling SmugMug would be guys to do it.

  2. Tim Goldenburg
    June 23, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    As Chris said, this is brilliant. I’ve been debating for months on whether or not to backup my RAW’s to Amazon S3. Granted this is a little more expensive, but instead of backing up all my RAW’s I’ve decided to just back up my picks which is all I really need, and the fact that it’s all associated in a nice interface with each and every jpg upload is icing on the cake and worth the extra pennies per GB.

  3. June 23, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Just when I was wondering what to do with all my raw video files, this service comes along as the perfect solution!

  4. Brad
    June 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    My knock on S3 to this day is that two years ago they came out at .15/GB/month for storage. Today it is still .15/GB/month when storage is half the price. Sure, manpower costs are the same or higher, but the datacenter space and power used per GB has dropped in line with the storage costs and the same manpower can now manage a much larger storage pool. Why hasn’t Amazon passed any of these savings on?

  5. June 23, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    @Brad: I don’t have any insider knowledge, but I’m positive a price drop will be coming “soon”. It has to. And we’ll pass along those savings.

    $0.15/GB/month was crazy cheap two years ago. It’s no longer as cheap, and they’re approaching an inflection point where it’s easily more expensive – so they have to act.

  6. June 23, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    This will drive ISP services to create new products such as ’25mbps uploads’ guaranteed!

  7. June 23, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Jungle Disk 2.0 vs Vault….now we all have choices.

  8. June 24, 2008 at 1:18 am

    This sounds great! Congrats guys – look forward to trying it out 🙂

  9. Sam
    June 24, 2008 at 11:43 am

    This seems very expensive to me, with the monthly fee, the cost for uploading and downloading, etc. For instance, storing just 10GB would cost about $46/yr, assuming one upload and one download average per file. (Clearly there are big cost hits from the transfer fees for using Amazon for anything other than a permanent repository).

    Why not just get a hosting account with any of the providers out there and get 100GB for the same cost, and without the additional upload/download fees?

    Granted though, the way Smugmug tied in files to the photos is *very nice*, and yes, we can all agree that smugmug is the most elegant photosharing site around. But still….What is this newbie missing that everyone else is so excited about?

    Cost for 10GB during one year:
    10GB * $0.30 initial upload = $3
    $1 fee x 12 months = $12
    10GB*$.22/month * 12 months = $26.40
    Download 10GB per year = $5.50
    Grand total for minimal usage: = $46.90/year, for only 10GB!

    Well, at least now I can justify buying a larger 80GB iPod ($250) to my wife — even if just to use as a portable drive!

    Anyways….Where’d I go wrong with these assumptions, if I did?

    Disclaimer: I just recently discovered smugmug….

  10. June 24, 2008 at 11:57 am


    It all depends on your point of view. 🙂

    If you’re a Pro who generates $10K for a weekend wedding, $50/year to store the 10GB from that wedding is nothing, for example. If the photos are valuable, this becomes very cheap. If they’re not valuable, for whatever reason, then it’s not.

    This is a really robust storage offering. Your SmugVault files are stored in multiple geographically disperse locations and always available from anywhere in the world. The storage is provided, hosted, and supported by Amazon – a multi-billion-dollar corporation – rather than an Internet startup with an unknown future. Likewise, SmugMug has been in business for nearly 6 years and has been profitable since our first. It’s integrated into our UI so searching, browsing, and finding your files is considerably easier than a typical storage solution. The list goes on…

    It’s definitely more expensive than storing it yourself at home. But it’s also infinitely more resilient to fire, flooding, computer viruses, hardware failure, and a long laundry list of other problems. It’s also more expensive than lots of new “Internet storage” startups which are hemorrhaging money in an effort to grow fast. The problems there include going out of business, an unknown technical team, unknown # of copies, unknown geographical redundancy, etc etc.

    Many of our customers told use they’d pay $1/GB/month, so this is massively cheaper than what plenty of our customers have told us they’d pay.

    Finally, we expect many people to use a “store the best” methodology where by they don’t store their entire 10GB library, but instead store the 1GB of files that are their very most important / precious. Others have reported they’ll use this as a storage mechanism for a few months on their important projects / photo shoots / events, but once those projects are over, they’ll clear the items out of the Vault. There are other use cases, too, where this makes an awful lot of sense.

    But it’s not for everyone just like SmugMug itself isn’t for everyone – lots of people think paying for a photo sharing site is insane. We feel otherwise. 🙂

  11. Mark
    June 24, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Sounds interesting, but basically sound the same as JungleDisk which just puts everything at Amazon S3 for you, but charge less (only the $.15 that Amazon charges).

    I just use ElephantDrive. The service works pretty well and does the automated backup work for you. It also uses S3 but charge users a fixed rate. Expensive if you only use a gig or two, but cheap if you use a lot. And just easier to manage – pay up front for a year and forget about it.

    Pictures at SmugMug. It rocks for that. Everything else at ElephantDrive. It rocks for that.

  12. June 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Your product offerings are truly progressive and at the head of the class for variety. With the additions of HD video and RAW uploads a stronger marketing push at professionals could really be effective.

  13. June 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    @Mark: Seeing this post reminded me of Jungle Disk which I tested out sometime last year. One difference is that they charge you $1 per month for web access to your files (along with a few other features). It also looks like SmugMug has a similar feature. So if you want that feature in Jungle Disk, it will cost you more than just what amazon charges.

    Looks like a pretty cool feature SmugMug!

  14. Jacob
    June 25, 2008 at 6:38 am

    @Kevin SmugMug is charging you $1 per month (required) more per GB than JungleDisk (the $1 per month is optional). Jungle Disk also offers incremental updates, encryption, network drive functionality…no comparison in my opinion.

  15. June 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

    To all those discussion SmugVault vs. JungleDisk…IMO you’re trying to compare apples to oranges. There are different use cases for each. Obviously SmugVault is very photo and video-centric. Yes, you can back up your documents to SmugVault, but I’d bet that the *vast* majority of SmugVault customers will use it primarily for photos and video, and that they’ll be either Pros or non-techie amateur photogs that want to be able to back up their raw files within the same workflow as they’re using to upload their media to their Smugmug galleries. For photog enthusiasts, the ability to have SmugVault automatically associate jpg and raw copies of the same photo (and have one-click access to them through their Smugmug galleries) is quite compelling, especially if they’re of the non-technical bent.

    Jungle Disk, on the other hand, is a much more flexible, general-purpose backup tool. You can pretty much throw any file at it (up to S3’s file size limits), and it’ll gladly back it up. Sure, you can pay extra if you want web access to your files, but the UI and tight integration will be nowhere close to what you get with SmugVault. For most Jungle Disk users, that doesn’t matter – they just want to be able to restore files if needed.

    So – like I said initially, I believe the use cases (and intended audience) for SmugVault and Jungle Disk (or the latest online backup tool of the week) are quite different. They’re both amazing tools, and are both very good at what they do.

  16. Mik
    June 25, 2008 at 10:54 am

    It’s a nice offering to the smugmug line but why have you marked up Amazon’s underlying fees by almost 50% or more?

  17. June 25, 2008 at 11:20 am


    The transfer fees have us at break-even. (We have to pay our bandwidth providers for the bytes you upload to us, then we have to pay our bandwidth providers to send the bytes to Amazon, then we have to pay Amazon’s upload fee. 3X as much as Amazon would charge). Only the storage fee is marked up so we (hopefully) make some profit.

    Given that we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into making the product already, and that there’ll be significant engineering, operations, development, and customer service costs going forward, I think it’s only fair we mark things up a little – otherwise we lose money (as we will do for many months at least, if not years, already). Pennies take a long time to add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 🙂

    If the extra features of being integrated with SmugMug and our UI aren’t enough for you, you’re free to use S3 yourself. No-one’s stopping you. Choice is good. 🙂

  18. June 27, 2008 at 9:19 pm


    SmugMug isn’t charging $1/GB/month. We’re charging $1/month (flat, no matter how many GBs you have) and then $0.22/GB/month. Big huge difference there.

  19. Paul
    July 5, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    While this may be great for some users, I’m hoping to see 1TB optical discs someday soon that I can store in a bank safety deposit box 🙂

  20. July 5, 2008 at 8:48 pm


    Optical disks, like CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray, have very short shelf lives. The plastic runs and distorts over time, and various inks and dyes have a limited shelf life, too. I know *lots* of people who’ve lost all their photos because their CDs now fail to read.

    ~10 years is sorta the expected norm, but I’ve seen people have problems in far less time than that.

    I’d be careful relying on optical media…

  21. May 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Are the jpg previews automatic? I am checking during my first upload right now and seeing only a 'smugmug archive' icon

  22. November 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Love it! You got me so excited to get one and start shooting video!

  1. June 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm
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  6. June 23, 2008 at 8:02 pm
  7. June 24, 2008 at 12:43 am
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