Best cloud storage for your photos in 2019
Think about the best picture you’ve ever taken. It doesn’t matter if it was with your phone or that shiny camera you have. Would you be upset if you something happened and you lost the photo? Chances are, you would.
But fear not, gone are the days of having to explain to your spouse how you lost all the pictures of your newborn or why your honeymoon only exists in your collective memories — hypothetically, of course, not speaking from any kind of previous experience here. Now there are countless cloud-based services for storing your pictures safely. We’ll go over three top cloud storage options for photos and compare their free and paid plans.
The best online photo storage sites we know
So what are your best photo storage options? Well, there are a couple of things to consider before jumping to that answer. The top three photo storage sites that we're going to look into are:
- Apple iCloud
- Google Photos
- Amazon Photos
We’ll see what each of these cloud-based services offers in their free and paid plans. And since we’re on a quest for the best place to store your photos, we’ll get into the major differences between the three, so you can weigh out the pros and cons before making your choice.
Before you upload photos to the cloud
One of the main differentiators between these cloud photo storage sites are their storage limits. When gigabytes cost you, you might want to get frugal about the content you’re uploading. Specifically, to unclutter your photo collections before you sync them to the cloud:
- remove duplicate photos, like those you saved to your Mac twice
- find and sort out similar shots, like five identical selfies of you in The Grand Canyon
- clear out old screenshots, pics out of focus, and other junk
To get rid of similar photos and photo clutter on iPhone, download an app like Gemini Photos. If you also use a Mac and intend to upload pics from macOS Photos, get Gemini 2 for Mac. Both apps will scan your devices for duplicate and even similar pics. Download them for free and check them out.
iCloud Photo Library: Apple’s native photo storage
Apple’s iCloud Photo Library (iCloud Photos in the latest OS versions) is the cloud storage most Mac and iPhone users are familiar with. iCloud is the native cloud storage on both iOS and macOS devices, so there’s an immediate benefit for people who are already on these systems.
iCloud Photo Library, as mentioned earlier, works with iOS, macOS and will also sync with Windows devices using the iCloud for Windows app.
iCloud’s free photo storage is available to anyone with an Apple ID and offers 5 GB of storage. There are no functionality differences between the free and paid tiers, only storage capacity varies:
- 50 GB for $0.99/month
- 200 GB for $2.99/month
- 2 TB for $9.99/month
Google Photos: Free photo storage with a catch
The next option, Google Photos, offers an immediate benefit right of unlimited photo storage. And best of all, it’s free. But let’s step back and go over the actual photo storage app before jumping into the differences in their free and paid tiers.
Google does require using a separate app on your iOS device. The app itself should feel somewhat familiar with pictures, albums, and sharing features. But you’ll also notice a handful of features unique to Google Photos. On your Mac, you can use an uploader app and access your photos via a browser at google.photos.com.
As we said earlier, Google Photos does offer unlimited storage, but with a caveat: Google compresses your photos and videos when you upload them. If you want to make sure you always retain the original quality, then you’ll be limited by the storage capacity of your Google Drive.
Thankfully, the free plan Google offers comes with 15 GB, but if that is still not enough, you can always upgrade it:
- 100 GB for $1.99/month
- 200 GB for $2.99/month
- 2 TB for $9.99/month
Amazon Photos: The best photo storage for Prime members
The third pick, Amazon Photos, has free and paid plans comparable to the other two photo storage sites, but its biggest benefit — unlimited storage — requires an Amazon Prime membership.
The Amazon Photos app is required on both iOS and macOS, but your library is also accessible from any browser. A lot of the functionality present in Google Photos and iCloud is there, so you won’t be missing much using the Amazon Photos app.
Like iCloud, Amazon offers 5 GB of free online photo storage. But more like Google, they offer unlimited storage for all Amazon Prime members — and without the compression. So if you’re already a Prime member, this might be worth your while.
If you’re not a Prime member and find yourself still needing more storage space, Amazon’s plans are:
- 100 GB for $11.99/year
- 1 TB for $59.99/year
Honorable mention: Dropbox
Any conversation about cloud storage isn’t complete without at least mentioning Dropbox. While not explicitly known as a place to store photos, Dropbox is highly versatile and can easily compete with top online photo storage sites.
The free Dopbox plan comes with 2 GB of storage. However, unlike the other options on this list, Dropbox offers a few more bells and whistles with its paid plan — like offline file access and remote device wipe. The two paid tiers are:
- Plus - 1 TB for $9.99/month
- Professional - 2 TB for $19.99/month
Because Dropbox is not solely for online picture storage, their app is more similar to Finder on Mac and lacks some of the photo features offered by the other three.
So as you can see, the top three cloud storage options all offer similar features and comparable storage at competitive prices. What your best photo storage option is really depends on what added benefits you get out of it. Let’s recap:
- Apple iCloud is an excellent solution if you’re an iOS/macOS users and want to keep photos within the Apple ecosystem.
- Google Photos offers unlimited free photo storage, if you’re okay with slightly compressing your photos.
- Amazon Photos is your best bet if you’re already an Amazon Prime member.
- Dropbox is worth considering if you’re looking to store other files, not just your photos.
If you’re still unsure which photo cloud to choose, why not try them all out? They all offer free plans to varying degrees. Set aside a small portion of your photo library and back it up using the options that seem interesting to you. Once you get hands-on experience, you’ll see which photo storage app is right up your alley.