Whether you’re a professional or you just take an occasional selfie, everybody takes photos and records videos. It’s very easy to do so, it’s not expensive as it used to be and it just keeps getting better. The files are pretty big, however, so it pays to store them online, which is why we’ve put together a list of the best cloud storage for photos and videos.
After all, if you store photos and videos on your computer, you can’t be sure in your hard drive’s life expectancy (read our how long will your hard drive last article). Mobile devices aren’t much better: they are just a slip of the hand away from going to mobile heaven, besides having limited storage space and being easy to steal (for that extra bit of security, make sure to check out our best online backup guide).
Using cloud storage services means your precious photos from that trip to Hawaii and little Sarah’s birthday photos will not use up space on your device and will be safe from hardware malfunctions and accidents. You will also be able to access those files wherever you are, from a variety of devices and share them easily with friends and family.
Before taking a look at the best cloud storage services for all this, let’s define what’s important when it comes to storing photos and videos.
Best Online Storage for Photos and Videos 2018
What Makes Cloud Storage Best For Photos and Videos
You need to be able to view photos and play videos that you’ve uploaded, meaning a good built-in photo viewer and video player are essential. Photo editors — when you realize your photo needs a color adjustment — and video converters are some of the apps that are available using cloud storage services. Some apps are offered natively while others are third-party integrations.
We’ll take value into consideration because we all want to store as much as we can for less money. Not all services have the same number of pricing plans and they also differ on what they offer for the price. However, all will offer a free plan or at least a trial. If value is your top concern, check out our best deals in cloud storage article.
Getting your files online without hassle is essential. That’s where user experience comes into play: all the services selected will run smoothly and without the annoyance some tech products come packaged with. That holds true for both desktop and web clients. Also, we’ll note which operating systems are supported.
All of this would be for nothing if you can’t share your precious moments. We’ll see how easy it is to share to social media, with groups and by email. Another option we’d like to see is being able to invite others to share their content with you in a mutual folder. An easy way to see what you’ve shared is also a good addition.
Since we know our criteria, let’s see which services are best for storing photos and videos.
Best Cloud Storage for Photos and Videos: pCloud
pCloud is based in Switzerland and has been in business since 2013. Since then it has benefited from the ups and downs of the competition and thus been able to secure some big client names like BMW, Coca-Cola and Twitter. The service numbers 8 million users today.
Using pCloud’s web client you get access to an image viewer which lets you, well, view your images. There’s also a slideshow option which is a nice touch. Playing videos requires them to be converted to a web format; after that, you can use the integrated video player, which performs without a stutter.
There’s a free pricing plan which gives you a generous 10GB of free storage. In addition, you get 1GB for every friend that you refer, to a maximum of 10GB. Personal users have two plans available for them: Premium (500GB for $4.99 per month) and Premium plus (2TB for $9.99 per month). There’s a discount if you pay per year and also if you choose a lifetime plan, which saves a lot of moolah in the long run.
For $4.99 a month you can use the Crypto addon and add a zero-knowledge folder. That way you could store some private photos or videos that have been “acquired” under the Jolly Roger. If security is your priority, read our article on the best zero-knowledge cloud storage services (pCloud scores well).
The pCloud desktop client acts similarly to other cloud storage services; it adds a virtual drive which is used to sync and upload your files and also a system tray icon which you can also use to access the drive. pCloud supports Windows, Mac and is the best cloud storage for Linux.
The whole user experience is pretty enjoyable, but you’ll be using the web client much of the time since it’s easier to navigate through, more pleasant and has more features. It’s also very fast. Using it, you also have access to all of pCloud’s tools in one place. However, if you transfer large files, the web client might struggle with those so it’s best to use the desktop client.
The mobile app also performs well; like the web client, you can also view images and play videos using it. There’s also an option to use automatic uploads for photos and videos on your phone. It’s available on Android and iOS.
Sharing is simple and easy. You can invite people to your folder which they can view and modify as if it was their own. For file sharing, you can generate a link, send it via email and share directly to social media.
Other Reasons Why We Like pCloud
pCloud’s speed is favorable compared to other services like Dropbox. It doesn’t provide a rock-solid connection, but it reaches higher peak speeds more often than the average service. On top of that, its sync performed flawlessly in our testing.
Good value, apps to view photos and stream videos, easy sharing and automatic uploads help make pCloud our top pick for storing photos and videos. If you want to learn more about it, read our in-depth pCloud review.
- Affordable plans
- Easy to use
- Free 10GB storage
- File encryption is a paid add-on service
Google Drive is the most popular cloud storage service out there, claiming 800 million users. It’s aimed at home users, offers good collaboration features and has lots of native and third-party apps, including Google Photos.
It has an eye-catching interface that’s similar to other Google apps. You can use your uploaded photos to create albums, movies, collages, and animations. There’s also a nifty option to edit individual photos which lets you set filters, light and color.
If you upload your photos in full resolution, they will count towards your Google Drive quota, but if you choose to upload in high quality, you get free unlimited storage. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but you can also upload videos to Google Photos. Once you open your file you’ll be greeted by the familiar video player that’s also used on YouTube.
Google is very good when it comes to plan variety. With the free plan, you get 15GB of free space, ranking Drive among the best free cloud storage offers. After that, there are six plans to choose from, starting with 100GB all the way to 30TB. The 100GB plan is especially tempting considering it only costs $2 per month.
You can share your photos and videos by going to the “sharing” page, which shows you what content you’ve previously shared. From there you can “start a new share,” choose what you want to share and add participants by email. Otherwise, you can just select photos you want to share in an album, add to an existing one, generate a link or share directly to Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
Other Reasons Why We Like Google Drive
While there’s a desktop version, considering that Google Photos provides a streamlined experience for uploading photos and videos, you’ll probably be using that much of the time, instead. Google Drive and Photos come pre-installed on Android so it’s a convenient way to upload your media on the go. For more information read our Google Drive review.
Google Drive’s upload speed is comparable to other services. The service has a great user experience and offers unlimited storage for high-quality photos, but it doesn’t offer as good value as pCloud does and there’s no option for encrypting files unless you use Boxcryptor (read our Boxcryptor review for more on that).
- 15GB free storage
- Many third-party apps
- In-app collaborations
- Weak file-sharing security
- Cheaper options
Amazon Drive was among the worse cloud services until recently; however, the Amazon team has ironed out the kinks without too much fanfare (also, the name changed, it used to be Amazon Cloud Drive). Thanks to that, it made our list of best Dropbox alternatives.
You can view photos on your drive, using a slick and attractive photo viewer. However, there’s also the Prime Photos app, which is similar to Google Photos. With Prime Photos you can easily create albums, share photos with groups of people, edit photos and even order prints. If you’re an Amazon Prime user you’ll get unlimited storage, otherwise uploaded photos count toward your Amazon Drive storage limit.
Another interesting option is the “family vault.” It allows you to set up a collection and invite other users to contribute with their photos and videos in one place. Video streaming is restricted to videos shorter than 20 minutes and smaller than 2GB.
Amazon Drive gives you 5GB of free storage which is a decent amount, but nothing like pCloud. If you need more than 5GB, there are 13 plans to choose from. That amount of plans even beats Google Drive in plan flexibility. One plan of note is the 1TB plan which you can get for just $5 a month. There are no annual discounts, but the plans offer great value regardless.
The web interface is pleasant and easy to use. The desktop client creates a sync folder and uploading is done by storing files or folders in it. The mobile app is also pretty straightforward and doesn’t disappoint. It’s available on Android and iOS, while Amazon Drive for Desktop is available on Windows and Mac.
Using the web interface you’ll be able to generate a link, email or share directly to Facebook or Twitter. You can even create a custom group and share to it. However, you can’t set passwords for links or set expiry dates. There’s also a “shared” tab which lets you view what content you’ve shared.
Other Reasons Why We Like Amazon Drive
Amazon’s upload speeds are average compared to other services, while download speed is a bit faster. Amazon Drive offers a good experience overall, but it limits videos and offers unlimited storage only to Prime users. With that in mind, we place it third. If you’d like to read more check out our Amazon Drive review.
- Great subscription options
- Unlimited photo storage for Prime users
- Good user experience
- No at-rest encryption
- Support not knowledgeable
Dropbox is one of the oldest cloud storage services and second only to Google Drive in the number of users. Dropbox is where the common model of sync and block sync level algorithm were invented.
The service has a bare-bones image viewer. You can zoom, view fullscreen and comment on specific areas, which is an interesting feature if you want to get feedback. The video player has all the standard options necessary for playback, and an option to increase play speed.
With the free plan, called Dropbox Basic, you get a puny 2GB of free storage. If you want more storage you can choose between a couple of personal plans: Plus and Professional. Plus offers a decent value with 1TB of storage for $10 a month. Professional will give you more features for $20 dollars a month, but not more storage space.
Dropbox has offered a polished user experience since its creation in 2007. The desktop experience is pretty straightforward, you use a sync folder to upload files and a system icon for quick access to the sync folder, notifications or settings. The web client is very attractive and intuitive so you won’t be confused what to do next. You can even sync your phone using the app so any photo or video that you take will be uploaded automatically.
Clients run on Windows, Mac and Linux , while the mobile app works on both Android and iOS. When it comes to sharing there’s an option to generate a link and not much else. If you want to share a folder you can set permissions to edit or just view content.
Other Reasons Why We Like Dropbox
Dropbox performs well in the speed department and it’s consistent with other services. The service is expensive, offers a small amount of free storage and it has only basic options for viewing photos and videos. That makes it fit for the tail end of our list. If you want to read more, see our Dropbox review.
- Good user experience
- Good sync speed
- Only up to 1TB
OneDrive comes from Microsoft’s corner and its desktop app is already built-in with Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It does a good job, but it caters mostly to businesses and some features may be tricky to access.
The image viewer offers lots of options including options to rotate, embed, apply office lens effect and order prints. A striking video player with basic features will help you play your videos once you upload them.
As a free user you will get access to a meager 5GB of storage, but also to Office Online. The cheapest subscription plan offers 50GB for $2 a month. The next plan, however, offers a good deal with 1TB for $6.99 a month. The 5TB plan will, of course, give you 5TB for 5 different users for $10 a month. There’s a discount for all these plans if you pay per year.
You can use OneDrive on Windows, Mac, Xbox, Linux (not officially), Android and iOS. The desktop client works only on NTFS file systems. Using it is easy — just copy the file you need to sync into it. Unlike it, the web experience can be a frustrating experience. There’s no way to resume if the upload fails, canceling is slow and you can occasionally get a message saying “sorry, you don’t have permission to add files to this folder.”
If you want to share your media you can generate a link, send via email or send directly to social media. Paying customers get the options to password protect links and set expiry dates.
Other Reasons Why We Like OneDrive
Microsoft has servers spread across the globe so it’s no wonder that speeds are good and consistent. We’ve taken only uploading using sync into consideration, as manual uploading was prone to glitches.
User experience that’s hardly comparable to other services and faulty manual uploading makes this service the least desired in our list. However, if you want to read more check out our OneDrive review.
- Low-cost pricing
- Photo viewer has nice options
- Manual uploads can stall
- Only NTFS supported
Choosing the right online storage for photos and videos is important considering that what you’re storing are precious moments captured on film or photo. We’ve taken viewing photos and videos into account, while also looking for best value, ease of use, sharing capabilities and speed. With this in mind, we feel confident in recommending pCloud as the pick of the litter.
Do you think we’ve missed something important? Is there another service that you like from among our cloud storage reviews? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.