There are two problems with storing all your photos on your phone: They take up a lot of space, and if you ever lose your phone, your photos are gone, too. That's why you should back up your photosmore
There are two problems with storing all your photos on your phone: They take up a lot of space, and if you ever lose your phone, your photos are gone, too. That's why you should back up your photos to the cloud. Cloud storage gives you a lot of space and convenience for free (or cheap).
For this guide, we evaluated about a dozen online photo services. While none of them offers the perfect mix of storage space, convenience, and price, we narrowed the field to our top four, which excel in different ways. Find out which one matches your needs.
First, let assume we're storing regular images -- not HDR or Live Photos -- which for us average 3MB per image. At that size, Apple's free 5GB of iCloud storage will keep about 1,667 images. Jump to 16,000 images for its paid 50GB tier. Google Photos's free 15GB of storage will hold 5,000 photos. The paid 100GB tier will hold approximately 33,000 photos. Flickr offers 1TB, which stored 333,000 or so 3MB photos.
Not by default. Google offers you to option to compress your images in the cloud. Its free cloud plan gives you 15GB for photos stored at original size and unlimited storage for photos using Google's high-quality compression setting. With Google's high-quality setting, Google leaves images smaller than 16 megapixels untouched, and compresses photos larger than 16 megapixels.
Be aware, that 15GB covers everything you store across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.
We evaluated 500px, a website and marketplace for showing off your best work; Backblaze, a desktop backup service popular among photographers; Dropbox, which after cancelling its Carousel photo product, returned to being a solid backup and sharing service; iCloud Photo Library, a good choice for an Apple-only setup; Snapshots, which is directed at professionals with a focus on image management and commerce; SmugMug, a handy paid service that scales to professional needs; and Zenfolio, a paid service with marketing and retail tools.
We checked the top online photo services to find out which ones best match your specific needs.
With Google Photos, you don't have to worry about uploading your images: Both the mobile and desktop apps automatically sync your photos to the cloud.
You get unlimited photo storage if you use Google's high-quality compression setting for images (photos under 16 megapixels are untouched; larger photos are resized). If you want to store your images uncompressed, the first 15GB of online storage is free; if you need more space, extra storage starts at $19.99 per year for 100GB of space. Note: Your Google Drive contents and Gmail also count toward the storage limits.
Google Photos automatically assigns categories to images, sorting by people, places, and things. But you can't assign your own tags to make organization and searches easier. And it offers a useful collection of editing tools and filters to polish your shots.
Flickr gets a lot of things right, starting with 1TB of free cloud storage. While that's not as nice as unlimited space, it's room enough for more than 300,000 average-sized (3MB) photos. Flickr's photostream pages do a nice job of showing off images. And Flickr's photo tags make it easy to search across the community-oriented service for images.
Flickr's free Uploadr mobile app automatically uploads photos in bulk. But the desktop version will charge you $5.99 per month for group uploads.
Flickr can handle large photos, up to 200MB, but it doesn't accept RAW files, which could be a deal-breaker for pros and hardcore amateurs looking for photo backup.
Yahoo, which purchased Flickr in 2005, seemed to run hot and cold on supporting its photo site, which of course frustrated Flickr's strong community. Flickr's new owner, SmugMug, bought Flickr in 2018 with the promise to reinvigorate the photo service.
Microsoft's OneDrive perhaps offers the most platform options, from Xbox to MacOS.
Via the simple OneDrive app, you can automatically sync full-resolution photos and then organize your images.
The app is stark, and while you can sort images by app-generated tags, you can only add or changes tags through the web interface. The app lacks editing tools but does offer ways to share your images. You can edit your photos on the OneCloud servers.
You get 5GB of cloud storage space for free. Move to 50GB for $1.99 per month. If you subscribe to Office 365 ($6.99 per month), you get 1TB of space plus Microsoft's Office apps.
Amazon's Cloud Drive offers unlimited space and lets you automatically sync photos via the Amazon Prime Photos mobile app or the Amazon Cloud Drive desktop app.
However, if you try to upload an image larger than 13 megapixels, the service will automatically downsize it. Most phone cameras capture images less than 13 megapixels (the rear-facing camera on the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X capture 12 megapixels, as does the Samsung Galaxy S8s camera), so you most likely will run into this limit if you shoot with a DSLR. And the interface for Amazon's Web and app is a bit flat, though it offers helpful organization, sharing, and editing tools.
For free, you can store 5GB of photos, videos, and files with the Amazon Digital Storage plan.
If you subscribe to Amazon Prime ($12.99 per month or $119 per year), Prime Photos comes for free, giving you unlimited photo storage plus 5GB for all your other files. You can jump to 100GB of storage for $11.99 year.