YC-Funded Snapjoy Will Organize Your Photos For You (And Make Sure You Don’t Lose Them)

As an intelligent TechCrunch reader with the gift of foresight, you’ve probably backed up your hard drive — and all of the precious photos locked inside — to at least one cloud service, just in case the unthinkable happens and you lose both your computer and your local backup.

But you’re unusual. Many of your friends probably haven’t backed up their photos at all, which means they’re one crashed drive away from losing those memories forever. And even if that drive doesn’t crash, their photos are likely buried in several layers of folders where they’re gathering a thick coat of digital dust.

Snapjoy, a Y Combinator-funded startup that’s launching today, wants to fix that: they’re offering to keep your photos backed up and organized automatically. And they’re taking on the likes of Flickr, iPhoto, and Picasa as they hope to become your go-to app for photo management.

The web-based service, which launches today to the public, looks nice — you can try a live demo right here. After uploading some photos (a process which Snapjoy says is significantly faster than some competitors) the app categorizes your photos for you, using metadata to try to intelligently place the correct photos in each album.

Unfortunately the service doesn’t pay attention to any albums you’ve already created using apps like iPhoto, which could frustrate some users. But Cofounder Michael Dwan says that most users typically sort their photos into albums that are similar to the ones Snapjoy creates (arranged primarily by date) — or they haven’t created albums at all, in which case Snapjoy is a big improvement. Another nifty feature: if you upload the same photo multiple times (which is easy to do if your photos aren’t very organized), Snapjoy will ignore the duplicates.

If you’re on a Mac you can download Shoebox, a native client that makes it easy to drag and drop photos to automatically upload them to the service (it will also detect when you’ve inserted an SD card, so you can quickly upload new photos).  Dwan says that the company has more native applications in the works, including an uploader for Windows and an iPad app.

By default, everything uploaded to Snapjoy is private — the site is looking to become the repository for all of your photos, after all. But you can still share photos with select groups of friends, and if you grant permission, a friend can actually copy one of your photos into their own Snapjoy album (a feature that will come in handy when you’ve, say, gone on a trip with some friends). Down the line Dwan says that the site will add more social network functionality for those who want it (like Facebook integration), but it will still keep the default private.

Of course, Snapjoy is still a nascent two-person startup, and there’s no way of knowing whether it’ll be around in a few years — which is key if you’re using it for backup purposes. Dwan says that the company knows it still has to prove itself, and that users will also be able to download full archives of their photos (at the resolution they were originally uploaded them) whenever they’d like.

The service is initially free of charge for everyone. In the near future it will begin charging for users that upload a lot of photos (more than a few gigs), though it will be inexpensive, on the order of a few dollars per month.