The best camera is probably the one in your pocket. Smartphones rule the day, with ever-increasing features and megapixel ratings capable of shooting high-resolution, 4K videos and photos. The better the quality, the bigger the files, which means finding the right place to store your amateur photo collection.
There’s a simple solution: cloud storage. Uploading your latest images and videos to cloud providers frees up space on your portable devices, allowing them to be easily accessed wherever you are and on all platforms. It’s also the perfect way to free up your hard drive from a lifetime of photos, as well as protect them from being lost due to hardware failure.
We’ve got no less than 13 different contenders to consider as some of the best cloud storage for photos, each with different features, storage limits and pricing plans to consider.
What Is the Best Online Storage for Photos?
- Amazon Photos
- Google Photos
In our opinion, the best cloud storage for photos is Amazon Photos. It offers unlimited photo storage, and you can share your account with up to five other people. You also get all the other perks of Prime membership, including free Amazon delivery and Amazon Prime Video.
Each provider offers photo storage, although only some providers allow you to upload video content, too. Most offer a good amount of storage for free to trial a service, but the paid plans are pretty affordable. Let’s take a closer look at each provider.
Amazon customers can store their photos in one of two ways. The first is to use Amazon Photos, an easy-to-use service dedicated to photo and video storage. You can also store your media content with Amazon Drive, but it lacks many of the features that make Amazon Photos such an appealing option.
We’ll be focusing on Amazon Photos here, but if you’re looking to store more than just photos or videos, then take a look at our Amazon Drive review.
Anyone with an Amazon account gets 5GB of storage for free, for videos and photos on Amazon Prime Photos. With an Amazon Prime membership at $12.99 per month, you get unlimited online photo storage.
Your video storage is still limited to 5GB, so you’ll need to pay for additional storage if this restriction is a problem. Extra storage costs between $19.99 per year for 100GB and $59.99 per year for 1TB. Extra storage costs an additional $59.99 per year for each additional 1TB of storage.
Uploading your images to Amazon Photos is fairly simple and straightforward. On a desktop PC or laptop, you can sign in to the Amazon Prime Photos webpage and just drag and drop your files or install the dedicated desktop app, which allows you to copy your photos into a sync folder on your computer.
Uploading photos from your phone is even easier: just install the iOS or Android app, and then you can set it to automatically upload any photos you take.
Amazon Photos Benefits
Amazon Photos also offers a feature called “family vault,” which allows you to invite up to five people to share your unlimited storage. You can view everyone’s photos together or sort them individually. For additional privacy, you can limit certain images from other users, even if you’re sharing the same storage.
As we mentioned previously, Prime membership offers more than just photo storage, with free delivery and access to Amazon Prime Video and Prime Music included. Amazon Prime members don’t need to think about another subscription for your photo collection because you’ll gain unlimited photo storage at no extra cost.
Amazon does state that you can’t use Amazon Prime Photos for non-commercial storage, so if you’re looking to store photos for your small business, you’ll need to consider the best cloud storage for business instead.
- Unlimited photo storage
- Sharing for up to five people
- Other Prime benefits
- 5GB storage limit for videos
- Expensive to buy additional storage
- Not suitable for commercial use
Like Amazon, there are a few ways to store your photos with Google. Google Photos is designed for archiving photos and videos, while Google Drive can store most other file types, too. We’ll be focusing on the Google Photos storage service here, but check out our Google Drive review if you’re curious to learn more.
Google Photos offers unlimited photo storage for free — completely free, no payment required. Unlike Amazon Photos, you can also store an unlimited number of videos, too.
The only trade-off is that for free unlimited storage, your photos have to be downscaled to resolution of 16 megapixels, with video quality no higher than 1080p HD. If they exceed these limits, then they are automatically compressed.
In fact, all images in Google Photos’ free “high quality” tier are compressed to save space, even if they’re smaller than 16MP. Although the compression is excellent, this does reduce the quality of your photos, which can be resized to make them “fit” the requirements.
If you want to store your videos and photos without compression, you’ll need to choose the “original quality” tier. You’ll get only 15GB of storage for free here, but if you want more, you can purchase up to 30TB of Google Drive storage, with the basic 2TB plan costing $9.99 per month.
Google Photos Features
The Google Backup and Sync app for desktop PCs allows you to automatically upload files from any folder on your hard drive or attached storage. For mobile, the Google Photos app on iOS or Android will automatically backup any shots you take on your phone, as well as remove any images that have been previously uploaded to save space.
Using a simple AI-powered tagging system, you can type phrases like “dog” or “wedding” into the Google Photos search to find matching photos. Amazon Photos has a similar feature, but the results are less accurate.
One problem with Google Photos is the company’s poor track record when it comes to privacy. To use the tagging system, you need to allow Google to analyze your photo collection, surrendering your privacy in the process.
As with many Google products, you’re getting a free service at the cost of having Google use your data for marketing, which is a big reason why it isn’t at the top of our best free cloud storage shortlist.
- Free unlimited photo storage
- Great AI search
- Unlimited video storage
- Files are compressed & resized
- No unlimited storage options for “original quality”
- Privacy concerns
This is the first service on our list that’s not a dedicated photo storage service. We’re big fans of pCloud as an all-round storage provider, and it’s a service we often recommend for typical cloud storage usage. We’ll be focusing on using pCloud for online photo storage here, but you can learn more about the other great features in our pCloud review.
Pricing plans on pCloud are reasonable, with storage between 10GB and 2TB costing between $5.99 and $9.99 per month. There are also lifetime storage options, with 500GB “for life” costing $175 or 2TB for $350. If you think you’re going to stick to pCloud for more than three years, then this could save you a significant amount of money.
There are pCloud clients for Windows, macOS and Linux, allowing you to use a virtual drive to backup your files. Mobile apps for iOS and Android take care of your photos, allowing you automatically backup any you take.
Using pCloud for Photos
If you’re struggling to collate your photo collection but don’t want to keep things on a local hard drive, pCloud will help. Not only does it offer mobile and desktop apps, but it also allows you to backup files from social media services like Facebook and Instagram. It will do this every three days, so your latest social snaps will always stay safe.
This is an all-round provider, and although it does offer a few features for serious photo users, it doesn’t have it strictly in mind. That’s why it isn’t our top provider for photo editing or photo storage. However, with good storage options for video content, it is a top recommendation on our best cloud storage for video shortlist.
- Can store photos & videos
- Lifetime plans available
- Social media backups available
- Limited storage on free version
- Minimal photo editing features
- No photo recognition for search
Sync.com is our number-one choice if you’re looking for a cloud storage service that can do it all. Not only does it offer good storage limits and have a free version, but it also scores very highly for security and privacy, thanks to its use of zero-knowledge encryption. You can read about this in more depth in our Sync.com review.
This privacy focus is why Sync.com is one of our recommendations for online photo storage, as it is one of the most secure cloud storage providers available. It extends zero-knowledge encryption to your photo collection, even when you share photos with other users, something most other providers can’t match.
It offers desktop apps for Windows and macOS, backing up your local photos and video (as well as other files). Like other providers, such as pCloud, Sync.com also offers automatic photo uploading through its Android and iOS apps. You can also view your files online, although you can’t preview images through your browser.
Sync.com’s free plan offers 5GB of storage, but you can add to that by inviting other users to the service, gaining 1GB for each signup. There are no monthly plans, so you’ll need to pay upfront for a year for additional storage.
The prices do work out to be very competitive, however. You can get 2TB of storage space for the equivalent of $8 per month, which makes it one of the cheaper offerings on our list if you need a reasonable amount of storage space.
- Competitive pricing
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Good security, even on shared files
- Minimal storage on the free version
- No online previews of photos
- No Linux support
If you want to share your photos with the world, then Flickr is probably a service you’ve heard of and considered. It’s one of the oldest photo cloud storage services out there, but it has changed hands a few times, with some poor alterations creeping in along the way.
Flickr used to offer 1TB of free online storage. However, as part of its recent takeover by SmugMug in 2018, this 1TB of storage was replaced with a maximum of 1,000 photos and videos for the users of the free version, with images limited to 200MB and videos up to 1GB. Video content streaming is also limited to three minutes.
Flickr Pro costs $5.99 per month, giving you unlimited storage for videos and photos at full resolution. Videos can be up to 10 minutes in length, and there are no ads played over your video content. If you opt for an annual subscription, you also get discounts on other subscription services, such as Adobe Creative Cloud.
Sharing Content With Flickr
If you’re proud of your photos and videos, it’s natural to want to show them off. Other providers allow you to share photos with individuals or groups, but Flickr is designed to make your content visible to the world. If you’d prefer to keep your images private, you can change this, but the default setting makes your content public.
Flickr has had more than 15 years to build up a community of like-minded people. It’s a great place to meet other photographers, share tips and gain advice, but a lack of a generous free version has crippled one of the biggest reasons for joining the site.
- Free storage (up to a point)
- Strong community
- Original files are not compressed
- Limits on file sizes for free version
- Videos limited to three minutes
Like Flickr, 500px is another photo sharing site with the public in mind, although this site focuses more on serious photographers, rather than amateurs. The quality of the photos you will find on 500px is mostly excellent, but you can only upload images.
Part of the strategy to maintain quality on 500px is limiting uploads. On the free plan, you can only upload seven images per month, in an effort to encourage users to “share their very best and focus on quality over quantity.”
This is probably more of a gimmick to distinguish itself from other photo sharing sites than for any genuine reason, truth be told, as it’ll only cost you $2.99 per month to upload an unlimited number of images.
Earning With 500px
As a site for serious photographers, 500px allows you to license your photos for others to buy and use. These have to be approved by the site first, but, if approved, you can gain up to 60 percent royalties on any sales you make.
Like Flickr, 500px has a strong community feel, allowing you to vote and comment on other user’s photos, as well as follow your favorite photographers.
- Designed for photographers
- Strong community
- Possibility to get paid for your photos
- Restricted uploads on free tier
- No video storage
- Limited sharing options
MEGA is the brainchild of Kim Dotcom, the notorious businessman who also created the since-closed Megaupload. With Kim Dotcom no longer playing any part in MEGA’s operations, it offers a good option for your photo storage, with 50GB of storage for free. You can find out more in our MEGA review.
There are some caveats to that free storage, though. Of the free 50GB, 35GB of that is an account registration bonus that expires after 30 days.
You may earn some of it back through “achievements,” such as installing the mobile app or inviting a friend, but even these rewards are limited to a maximum of 365 days. Pricing is varied, starting at around $11 per month for 2TB of storage.
There’s a desktop app for Windows, macOS and Linux, or you can upload your photos manually using the web interface. As we’ve seen with other providers, MEGA’s Android and iOS apps automatically backup your photos. These apps also offer real-time chat with other MEGA users, which is unusual and not a feature we’d normally see.
As you’d expect, given its rocky birth, MEGA is all about security. It not only keeps your files safe with zero-knowledge encryption, but it keeps your files safe, even if you share them with others.
No one can open your links, other than the intended recipient. If storing photos privately is one of your key concerns, then you should consider MEGA, given it’s one of the best zero-knowledge cloud storage services available.
No encryption key means no control, so if you lose your password to MEGA, you lose your files. Zero-knowledge encryption is exactly that, so MEGA won’t be able to reset your access if that happens. You can save an offline recovery key, but we’d recommend keeping your password safe using one of the best password managers available, like 1Password, to limit the risks.
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Generous free storage for the first month
- Linux support
- Free storage rapidly reduces after a month
- More expensive than other options
When you mention cloud storage, most people think of Dropbox. It was one of the first cloud storage providers, with plenty of useful features that make it great for collaboration. It’s a simple and solid — if unspectacular — choice for photo storage, as our Dropbox review explains.
At $9.99 per month (billed yearly) for 2TB of storage, it’s also more expensive than some of the other options. If you’re looking for the best free cloud storage for your photos, well, you can try Dropbox for free with 2GB of storage, but you’ll probably need to upgrade for larger photo collections.
Dropbox does work better than some of its rivals when it comes to RAW files. Dropbox doesn’t compress your files, so any RAW images or high resolution photos will be uploaded at their original size and quality, with no limit on file sizes. The Dropbox desktop and mobile apps also allow you to preview RAW files alongside other image file types.
Thanks to Dropbox for Business, you can also upload photos for business use, unlike Amazon Photos.
Dropbox doesn’t offer zero-knowledge encryption, so it’s not as secure as some of the other providers on this list. It does integrate with Boxcryptor, though, which is a third-party app that allows you to encrypt your files before they’re uploaded. You can read more about how this works in our Boxcryptor review.
Dropbox has also had issues in the past with security breaches, with millions of accounts affected. It’s been a few years since this happened, but it’s worth keeping it in mind, especially as Dropbox doesn’t offer zero-knowledge encryption.
If you are concerned about keeping your images and videos private, then consider other options instead, like Sync.com.
- Easy to use
- 2GB of free storage
- Support for RAW files
- No zero-knowledge encryption
- Previous data breaches
Microsoft OneDrive isn’t just a storage provider, it’s also a powerful collaboration tool that offers complete integration with other Microsoft Office apps, making our best cloud storage for collaboration shortlist in the process.
You can learn more about Microsoft Office integration in our OneDrive review, but we’ll be focusing on how Microsoft OneDrive handles photos here.
OneDrive starts off with a free version that includes 5GB of storage, so you’ll probably want to consider upgrading for larger photo collections. Having 1TB of storage costs $9.99 per month, although you can save if you pay annually. Meanwhile, 2TB will cost you $19.99 per month, which we admit is considerably higher than some of the other providers in this list.
One major selling point of Microsoft OneDrive is that you also get Office for PC or Mac included with this plan, but it isn’t priced competitively if you’re only interested in storing photos.
Microsoft OneDrive is easy to use, automatically saving videos and photos from any device that you attach to a laptop or desktop computer with it installed. This will work with cameras and phones, as well as a hard drive or portable flash memory, like SD cards and USB drives. You can also have OneDrive automatically backup any screenshots you take on your devices.
Android and iOS apps also allow automatic backup of your phone photos, with OneDrive making it on our list of the best cloud storage for Android. This is true for iPhone users, too, although Microsoft OneDrive cannot upload photos that have been optimized for iCloud.
OneDrive doesn’t compress your photos or videos at all. If you’re looking to store RAW images or 4K video, then OneDrive is a good choice, although there is a maximum file size of 100GB.
- Good automatic backup options
- Microsoft Office apps included with some tiers
- Good for RAW image storage
- Minimal storage on free tier
- More expensive than some options
- Can’t upload iCloud optimized images
Careful readers will note that we’ve already mentioned SmugMug — it’s the service that has owned Flickr since 2018. Although Flickr is a little broader in appeal, SmugMug is aimed more toward professional photographers, competing with services like 500px. However, it’s still useful for amateurs who just want somewhere to store and display their photos.
To help you move vast photo collections, SmugMug allows you to sync folders and subfolders intact. That means any photos you’ve organized into different folders on your PC or Mac will retain this structure.
Professional photographers are able to set up public portfolios to show off their work, with built-in ecommerce features to allow you to sell your images to others online. You can also add custom watermarks to your images to ensure no one steals them.
There are no free plans with SmugMug, but you can trial the service for 14 days. Once that expires, you’ll need to sign up to one of its paid plans. The basic tier is $5.99 per month, or $48 per year annually.
There’s no difference in storage limits between plans, however. Unlimited photo and video storage is applied through the SmugMug range, although videos have a maximum file size of 3GB and a limit of 20 minutes per video.
The downside is the support for different file types, as you can only upload JPEG, GIF, PNG or HEIC files with a file size of just over 500MB. If your images are larger than that, they’ll be compressed. If you’re looking to backup your RAW files, you can’t, so look elsewhere.
- Unlimited photo & video storage
- Great tools for professional photographers
- Low prices
- No free tier
- Limited file sizes & formats
- No RAW support
Mac users rarely need to look further than the services that Apple offers, and with iCloud offering a solid option for photo and video storage, it’s no wonder. As we mentioned in our iCloud Drive review, iCloud is integrated into your macOS and iOS devices, offering quick and simple cloud storage for your files and photos.
This means that Windows and Android users aren’t the focus of iCloud’s attention, although you can access the service using the website and a basic desktop client. Both are pretty poor to use, but it’s a different story for Apple users.
iCloud comes with 5GB of storage space for free. An extra 50GB costs less than $1 per month, or you can upgrade to 2TB for $9.99 per month. This makes it a little more expensive than some of the other options on our list if you’ve got a lot of photos or videos to store.
It does handle RAW files, keeping the original file in the cloud and showing an embedded JPEG for you to preview on your devices to save space.
iCloud Privacy Concerns
Apple isn’t immune to privacy issues, with several celebrities having their intimate images stolen from iCloud in 2014. Thankfully, Apple wasn’t really at fault here, as phishing attacks on the celebrities were the cause. Apple has since beefed up its account security with two-factor authentication now applied to accounts by default.
iCloud does use zero-knowledge encryption for some data, such as your stored passwords and payment information. This does not extend to videos and photos, however. It uses a minimum of 128-bit AES encryption for data at rest and the TLS 1.2 protocol when you’re accessing iCloud.com.
Your data is pretty secure, but other providers can probably offer better protection for your photo collection.
- Integrates well with Apple products
- Can handle RAW images
- Windows app available
- Minimal free storage
- No zero-knowledge encryption
- iCloud pricing is more expensive than some options
Digital photos are great, but they have one big flaw — the vast majority of them are never seen. Some may be published on social media, but only photo books, prints and cards allow you to take your images off your screen and into the real world. That’s where Shutterfly comes in.
Shutterfly has a huge range of products that you can create using your photos, including photo books, cards, stationery, calendars, wall art and more. To entice you to purchase its products, Shutterfly also offers unlimited cloud storage for photos, although there’s no way to store videos.
There’s no fee to store your photos — you only pay when you purchase products through the site.
Uploading Photos to Shutterfly
Although Shutterfly offers unlimited storage, it will only accept files in JPEG format. If your photos are in any other format, you’ll need to convert them first. There’s no limit on file size, but if you’re looking for a way to store your RAW images, Shutterfly isn’t it.
There are three ways you can upload photos to your account. You can drag and drop them from your computer into the site, use the Shutterfly app to add shots from your phone, or automatically import images from Facebook, Instagram and SmugMug. There’s no option to set up automatic uploading, so you’ll have to add photos manually.
If you’re an amateur snapper who saves all their photos in JPEG format, then this is a clever way to store unlimited photos completely free and bring them into the “real” world. It does require a bit more effort to upload them than most other providers in this list, though.
- Unlimited photo storage
- Completely free
- Good range of photo products available
- You can only store JPEG files
- No video storage
- No automatic uploads
13. IDrive (For Free Storage)
Although IDrive is a backup solution, you can set up sync folders that don’t count against your backup storage limit, effectively giving you backup and typical cloud storage in one.
If you’ve only got a fairly small collection of photos saved in standard formats, then the 5GB of free storage offered by IDrive might be enough to meet your needs. It’s a pretty well-rounded product, as you can discover in our earlier IDrive review.
If you’re looking for extra IDrive storage, then you’ll need to pay out up front because IDrive doesn’t offer any monthly plans. It does compare well to other providers in terms of price, however, with 2TB of storage offered for just $69.50 per year, although there are usually discounts on offer. For 5TB of storage, you’ll pay $99.50 per year.
IDrive offers a desktop client for Windows and macOS, using the standard sync folder method we see from other providers like Dropbox. There are also apps for Android and iOS that will automatically backup your photos and save them as a timeline in the app.
IDrive uses lossless compression and encryption meaning you can save all of your RAW files without fear of resolution loss. You can also upload video files, although there’s a maximum limit of 2GB per file.
Although IDrives paid plans are great, 5GB of free storage is a good option for smaller photo collections, putting it in competition with other solutions like iCloud.
- Free 5GB storage
- No compression
- Discounted pricing plans
- No monthly pricing plans
How We Picked Our Providers
From our other cloud storage reviews, you’ll know that we take a cold, hard look at each provider to find out its pros and cons. If a provider does a great job, we’ll say so. If it’s a poor option, we won’t be afraid to tell you.
That’s why we look at features, pricing and security in our roundups and, for this review, we’ve looked at how well each cloud storage service handles photo storage. That’s why pCloud and Sync.com, two of our favorite all-rounders, only make the middle of the pack here.
If you’re just looking to store the thousands of JPEGs you have clogging up your phone and hard drive, then any of the providers on this list will probably do a great job. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll find that Amazon Photos is one of the best options for most users, with unlimited storage that you can share, as well as access to other Amazon services.
Google Photos is a close second, with it unlimited free storage, as long as you don’t mind your files being compressed. SmugMug is a good choice if you’re a professional photographer, Sync.com offers excellent security and even Shutterfly can do a great job for free if your photos are all in the right format.
This list proves that, whether you’re an amateur or professional, there are plenty of image hosting sites and cloud storage providers that will let you store or show off your photo collection, from Amazon to IDrive (and everything else in-between).
If you have experience using any of the services above, or you think we’ve missed a major player, then please let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.