A photo is worth a thousand words, but what if you have a thousand photos on your phone and no space to store them all? You could move it your laptop or hard drive, but what if you wanted to share one of those pictures with friends or family? Your best option is to keep them in the cloud, which is why we have ranked the five best online storage services for photos.
By using any of the below providers, you can create a single photo library and upload pictures from your smartphone, digital camera or tablet and access them anytime from any device as long as you have Internet access.
We have reviewed and researched a large number of our best cloud storage services and in the end came up with the five best cloud storage for photos. Sync.com tops the list for offering 5GB free storage, zero-knowledge encryption and secure sharing, making it both easy to use as well as safe.
To know about the other contenders and why they made it into the top five, continue reading.
Top 3 Cloud Storage for Photos in 2017
$ 4.08 per month 500 GBStorage All Plans
|Visit Sync.comSync.com Review|
$ 4.99 per month 500 GBStorage All Plans
|Visit pCloudpCloud Review|
$ 4.34 per month 2000 GBStorage All Plans
|Visit IDriveIDrive Review|
What Makes an Online Storage Service Best for Photos?
Free storage space is an important criterion for people who don’t want to invest too much in an online photo storage solution just yet, which we figure is most of our readership. To find out if you can store photos for free, try and figure out exactly how much space your current collection takes up; if it’s less than 15GB, you’re in business.
On top of that, a cloud storage provider should allow users to easily share photos with other users and on social media. It should also have seamless file syncing across multiple devices so that you can sync files from your laptop, mobile or any other device.
If you want to sync only a portion of the uploaded photos with local devices, then it would be preferable to pick a provider like IDrive or SugarSync that provides separate folders for syncing and backup.
Also, if you are planning to upload thousands of photos on the cloud which aren’t properly tagged or placed in the right folder, then it’s best to opt for a cloud storage provider like Google Drive that can identify different elements in a photo and makes them easily searchable.
Privacy is another essential criterion, especially for users who are hoping to store their personal family photographs on the cloud. In that case, it’s best to pick a cloud storage provider with a zero-knowledge policy (like Sync.com) or private encryption (like IDrive).
Top Five Best Cloud Storage For Photos
Without further ado, here are the top best online storage providers for photos; note that all of the below offer some option of free cloud storage for photos.
With 5GB free storage space and zero-knowledge encryption, Sync.com is not just the best cloud photo storage, it’s also the most secure.
Featuring end-to-end encryption, Sync.com is one of our favorite secure Dropbox alternatives (for more detail, we have also compared Sync.com vs Dropbox). You can upload images from desktop, mobile or tablet. Though the upload and download process takes a lot longer than other cloud storage providers because of the encryption, that is simply the price you pay for privacy.
Image previews and slideshows are possible, but it takes a few seconds (depending on your internet speed) for the pictures to display since the pictures need to be decrypted first.
Sharing is just as secure as storing pictures with zero-knowledge share links that can be password protected. Setting an expiry date on file links is also possible, but only for Pro users.
Sync.com is at the top of our list because of easy syncing, seamless interface and high security. If you want to make use of the service’s 5GB of free storage, go to Sync.com and sign up now.
Other Reasons We Like Sync.com
Apart from file syncing, Sync.com also has a “vault” option for backups. Essentially, all the files uploaded to vault do not sync with the local device.
There is also a separate “links” tab on Sync.com’s web interface which quickly lists out all the active public links making it easy for users to deactivate a number of links in a single go. Check out our complete Sync.com review to know more about its sharing capabilities.
One of the best features on Sync.com, which we have yet to see in any other cloud storage tool, is the ability to deactivate the “reset account password” option. It provides an excellent way to safeguard your files even if your email address gets compromised.
- 5GB free storage
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Password protected file sharing
- No file size limits
- Up- and downloading takes time
- Slow slideshows
SugarSync is another one of the best online photo storage solutions we found, but there are two main reasons why it’s in the second spot and not first:
- It does not provide zero-knowledge encryption
- The web interface doesn’t allow image previews
However, since SugarSync does not encrypt files locally, images pull up much faster as compared to Sync.com. SugarSync only encrypts data when it’s in transit and on the cloud server.
It does provide 5GB free storage, but only for 90 days and to have access to that free space you have to download SugarSync’s desktop app, which is mildly annoying.
You can also automatically upload photos from your phone’s camera roll after downloading SugarSync’s mobile app. Sharing on SugarSync is possible through public links; the private link option is only available for paid users.
Overall, if you are willing to pay for online storage and your primary goal is to store and share photos, then we recommend giving the SugarSync trial a spin to see if it’s right for you.
Other Reasons We Like SugarSync
File syncing is one of SugarSync’s strongest suites allowing users to sync files across multiple devices (for more info on this, check out our SugarSync vs Dropbox article). That is probably the reason why its desktop app is rich in features while the web interface is limited.
With the desktop app, users can view shared files, public links and current upload or downloads. It also supports file versioning and provides third-party integrations with a number of applications like Xendo and WritePDF. For more on this, check out our in-depth SugarSync review.
A great feature in SugarSync, which isn’t present in any of the online cloud storage providers listed here, is the ability to upload files directly via email. Each user gets a custom email address and any file sent as an attachment to this email gets automatically uploaded.
- Automatic uploads from camera
- File syncing and versioning
- Option to save email addresses
- File upload via custom email
- No file preview on web interface
- No free storage space after trial
- Less secure
- Can’t search on mobile app
IDrive is actually one of our best online backup services, but also provides file syncing and storage as an extra feature. However, thanks to private encryption and free 5GB of syncing space, it is a useful and affordable online storage provider for photos.
IDrive has private encryption where you can set a custom encryption key which even the IDrive employees won’t know. Though if you do activate private encryption, file previews won’t be possible. You would first have to download the file, enter the encryption key and then the file will be available.
Without private encryption enabled, IDrive shows a gallery view of photos in chronological order.
IDrive also has an option where users can send a hard drive with over 3TB of data to the provider and the data on the hard drive automatically gets uploaded to the user’s account. It is perfect for users who have a lot of photos to store but do not have the patience to upload that much data.
Other Reasons We Like IDrive
IDrive actually provides 10GB of free storage space — 5GB backup space and 5GB sync space. So, for photos that you don’t want to sync with other devices, you can move them to the backup space. For more IDrive’s backup features, check out our IDrive review.
Deleted files are also saved on IDrive forever. So, even if you delete a file by mistake, you can always go back and restore it.
IDrive is also the only cloud storage tool on the list which allows users to backup their Facebook and Instagram account, ensuring that all the photos you shared are backed up safely even if they get deleted from your phone or social media. If you’re interested in trying it out, visit the IDrive website to sign up.
- Up to 10GB of storage
- Option of physical 3TB backup
- Facebook and Instagram backup
- Private encryption
- No previews with encryption
- No monthly payment plans
- The interface is rather outdated
Google transformed its editing tool Picasa into Google Photos and shifted the entire focus from photo editing to picture storage.
With Google Photos, users get unlimited photo storage, free of charge. But, there are a few catches:
- Photos can only be up to 16 megapixel in resolution. If you want to save higher quality photos with RAW data, then it will count towards your total Google Drive storage
- There is a limit of 2000 photos per folder. So, if you want to store more than 2000 pictures, then you will have to break them up into multiple folders
Moving on from those few catches, Google Photos has an incredibly powerful search engine, which can identify elements in pictures. So, if you search for “beach,” then it will automatically scan through all the uploaded photos and pull the images which have a beach in it. (Yes, its one of the most advanced image search tools, but not perfect. That’s the reason it also pulled Henri Rousseu’s The Dream into the search results.)
It can also read the text in images making it easier to search documents in image format. Google Drive’s mobile app provides the option to automatically backup mobile photos.
Of course, you should remember that Google is known for tracking user data and you are essentially offering the company your private pictures to snoop through. To avoid this, you could combine Google Drive and Sync.com.
If you don’t have any sensitive data with you and you just want to share photos with your friends, then Google Drive can be a convenient option.
Other Reasons We Like Google Drive
Google Docs is one of the strongest features of Google Drive making it possible for users to edit and collaborate on documents online. While there are other cloud storage providers that have online editing tools, none of them even come close to the massive range of features that Google Docs provides.
Apart from unlimited photo storage, Google Drive also provides unlimited storage for Google Docs files. The storage limit only counts towards the uploaded documents.
- Free unlimited photo storage
- 15GB free storage space
- Automatic camera roll backup
- Robust search algorithm
- Hi-res pics meet storage limit
- 2000 photos per album limit
- No encryption options available
- Google has privacy issues
Yes, OneDrive is definitely a surprise entry on this list, but we certainly think it deserves to be in the top five of cloud photo storage providers. For starters, it provides all users with 15GB of free storage space.
OneDrive also automatically adds tags to uploaded photos making it easy for users to search through the pictures, though the search algorithm isn’t as powerful as Google Drive’s. To find out more about the differences between these services, check out our OneDrive vs Google Drive comparison article.
OneDrive’s tagging feature automatically adds three tags to a picture of a lake overlooking the mountains — waterfront, outdoor and mountains.
OneDrive is the only cloud storage provider on our top five list which displays image information like camera type, aperture and aperture. It also has an “embed” option allowing users to add their OneDrive images to any website page.
There used to be editing tools on OneDrive as well up until early last year. But now there is only an “office lens” option which quickly pulls texts from uploaded documents in image format.
Other Reasons We Like OneDrive
OneDrive provides 1TB storage space free of charge for Office 365 users, which proves to be extremely affordable. Being a Microsoft cloud storage provider, OneDrive has a fantastic integration with Windows 10. When you save Microsoft Office files, there is a direct option to upload them to OneDrive. Check out our OneDrive review to know more about that.
Not to mention that you can also directly edit OneDrive files through Microsoft Office Online. During early days of OneDrive, there was an embedded Microsoft Messenger on the web app, which now it has been replaced by Skype, which is also a Microsoft tool.
- 15GB free storage for all users
- 1TB free for Office 365 users
- Detailed camera information
- Automatic tags for each image
- Slow uploads and downloads
- No local encryption
- 20,000 file limit per account
Though the above five are the very best for storing photos online, let’s take a look at one more service that may meet your needs…
1TB free storage space and yet Flickr only makes it to honorable mentions list? Well, that is because technically Flickr is not a cloud storage provider. It is more of a home for professional photographers (and amateurs) to showcase their work.
It also does not have a desktop app, so you have to upload all the files through the web interface manually. There is a mobile app which lets users edit pictures and add Instagram-inspired filters, but still, the mobile UI isn’t as great as you would want it to be. Not to mention, there are no advanced sharing options available.
Apart from the vast free storage space, the only other great thing about Flickr is that it shows metadata of each picture and it can detect duplicate photos.
If you are a professional photographer, then this may be a great platform for you, but if you are just trying to share your vacation pictures with your family then our top five may be more to your taste.
Storing pictures on the cloud has become crucial not only to maintain a central place for all your pictures, but also to keep them safe in case one of your devices corrupts or gets stolen. After all, our pictures hold a lot of memories and losing them can be a tremendous loss.
As we mentioned above, start by calculating the total storage space you need to for your pictures, list out your requirements and then see which of the cloud storage providers listed above fulfill those requirements. Chances are, Sync.com will meet most of your needs, but we can vouch for any of the four other providers.
Do you store your photos on the cloud? Let us know your experiences in the comments below, thank you for reading.