Dropbox Gets Automatic Photo Uploads, Offers 3 GB Incentive

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

We might just have a cloud storage feature war on our hands, folks.

Following this week’s launch of Google Drive and an overhauled Microsoft Skydrive, Dropbox is adding automatic photo uploads to its online storage service. Just insert any storage device with photos on it–such as an SD card, a USB stick or the digital camera itself–into your computer, and if you’ve got Dropbox’s desktop app installed, it can upload those photos to a private online folder called “Camera Uploads.”

Dropbox photo uploads also work on Android phones. With the latest version of the Dropbox Android app installed, you can set your phone’s photos to automatically upload to Dropbox whenever you’re on a Wi-Fi network, or using your data plan if you like.

Here’s the kicker: Dropbox is giving users 500 MB of extra space for automatically uploading their first photo. If you upload more photos this way, you can get up to 3 GB of extra storage space. Once your storage allotment expands, the extra space is yours to keep even if you delete your photos from Dropbox. (A beta version of this feature was available in February, with up to 5 GB of extra space, but now Dropbox has dropped the incentive down to 3 GB.)

Unfortunately, there’s no way to get the free space by uploading existing photos from your computer, but you can get around this by putting your pictures on a USB stick or SD card, then reinserting the device into your computer and letting Dropbox upload them.

If you’re just getting started with cloud storage services and need some suggestions, check out my primer on Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and SugarSync.