Image Database Software - How to Choose the Right One

Jen Neary
Written by: Jen Neary
Posted on: January 2022
Image Database Software - How to Choose the Right One

UPDATED for 2020

Businesses and organizations of all sizes often have lots of images they need to keep organized. It could be photography from various lifestyle and product photoshoots or it could be a ton of creative for digital ads. In our current world where “Content is King,” it’s a safe bet that your organization is one that has a lot of images (and other files) that need to be organized and accessible. One common name for solutions that help you achieve this goal is Image Database Software. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing more companies and organizations into remote work environments, the importance of having your images accessible from anywhere is increasingly important. 

What is Image Database Software?

As the name suggests Image Database Software provides a database of images that let you store, organize, and retrieve large amounts of image files.

The storage, organization, and retrieval aspects are the most important benefits of image database software and with those main features as a starting point, the solution can take many different forms. Three of the most common include general file management software, online photo storage software, and digital asset management software. We’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of each type and share who we think can benefit the most from a particular type of solution.

General File Management Software

Options include Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and many others. The main benefit of these solutions is that you can store a lot of content in the cloud. The storage costs are low and the systems are designed for being easy to upload and organize. Most are folder-based so it is easy to move images into appropriate folders to keep an account organized.

These systems were designed primarily to store all kinds of files, not with an emphasis on rich media like images, videos, audio files, or other rich media like animations. They have improved in recent years but the legacy of the original design is still evident in the user interface.

One big limitation of these systems compared to other options is the limited metadata tools. Metadata is the information about your information; the contextual data associated with your files that can help your users find the content and understand how to use it. It includes descriptions, tags, and other pieces of information that can be indexed in a system and allow users to find the right images by searching for useful tags or natural language descriptions. File management software helps you get everything in one place but often they do not provide tools that make the right files easy to find and use.

Best for:

  • Small teams with a small number of outside users
  • Teams with a small amount of images
  • Teams using mainly document content
  • Individuals wanting an easy and secure way to access files and store backups

Online Photo Storage Software

Other tools that are focused on managing images include options like Flickr and SmugMug. These are online photo storage software options that are well-used by photographers and hobbyist users to store a large amount of images.

Unlike general file management tools, these solutions were designed for images and that is what they are good at. They allow for sharing, building collections and galleries, and often have great UI that lets the images shine through. Using these solutions for other types of content is not recommended because they weren’t built for them.

Similar to general file management solutions, online photo storage software options have limited metadata tools, although some offer description, caption, and some tagging options. Check out one of our recent posts for a more in-depth discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of online photo storage software.

Best for:

  • Amateur photographers with lots of images and limited access and distribution needs
  • Individuals and families to use as a repository for images
  • Organizations needing to manage images and no other types of content
  • Photographers selling their images (if the software connects to ecommerce tools)

Digital Asset Management

Solutions like Image Relay provide digital asset management, which allows companies and organizations to store, organize, access, and distribute digital content, including documents, images, videos, audio files, and other rich media. As an image database software solution, digital asset management (DAM) provides the most options for managing a large number of images (and other files), providing access to large teams, and giving the tools needed to make finding and sharing content as efficient as possible.

The key differences between digital asset management and general file management software is that DAM systems are built with a focus on presenting rich media, like images and videos. Systems like Image Relay present files in a visual-forward way, not burying them in list views. DAM systems also offer the most metadata options to make associating information with files as expansive as possible, which separates DAM from both general file management options and online photo storage solutions. These metadata tools make the right content easier to find by users and easier to use.

Best for:

  • Companies and organizations with lots of images and other content
  • Companies and organizations needing to provide access to more than a small group
  • Teams that need to connect information to their content
  • Those needing to serve images to web properties

There is obviously a lot more to say about digital asset management and how it can benefit your organization. Click here to learn more about DAM and the value it can bring to your team.

Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash

Jen Neary
Written by: Jen Neary
Posted on: January 2022