Best Online Storage for Photos in 2021: Storing Snaps Securely

Backing up your photos to the cloud means you don't have to worry about losing the memories that are important to you. To help you choose the right place to store your images, we've rounded up the best online photo storage providers on the market.

Dan Ginn
By Dan Ginn (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-09-24T14:45:52+00:00 Facts checked by Elisabeth Ivey

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a keen hobbyist, having the best online photo storage for your images is a must. Beyond backing up your photos, cloud storage is an effective method for easily sharing images with others. Today, many cloud services offer excellent features for storing images, from lightning-fast sync speeds to easy file management. 

Key Takeaways:

  • pCloud is the best storage option for professional photographers.
  • MEGA comes with fantastic features for security and privacy, plus 20GB free storage.
  • Google Photos is great for the everyday smartphone user, with 15GB free space.

We’ve reviewed many cloud storage services over the years. Plenty of them offer remarkable features and performance, while others, well, we’d all rather forget. In our reviews, we’ve put each cloud storage service to the test to see how well it handles photos, which means we can whittle down the options and provide you with the very best services to store photos. 

From mainstream tech giants to the underdog that deserves your attention, below are five of the best online photo storage services you can use in 2021.

  • 09/20/2021 Facts checked

    Updated the list with new entries, changed the format and added new images. 

Best Online Photo Storage Comparison

  • Most cloud storage providers offer a certain amount of free storage space when you open an account. MEGA leads the pack of mainstream providers, offering 20GB of free storage. Beyond that, photographers can turn to Shutterfly where they can enjoy free unlimited storage space.

  • Out of the five providers we list here, the safest online photo storage options include pCloud, IDrive, Backblaze and MEGA, which all offer excellent security and privacy.

  • Yes. Shutterfly offers unlimited photo storage space to its customers. There are some drawbacks, however, as there’s no option to upload RAW files or videos, which is why it didn’t make this list.

What Makes the Best Online Photo Storage?

Security has to be at the forefront of any cloud-based product. Consumers need to know their files are safe, and any provider worth its salt will prioritize this. Companies also need to take their users’ privacy seriously. For example, those offering zero-knowledge encryption have an advantage over those that don’t.

When it comes to photos, which tend to be large files, we want to see providers offering large amounts of storage space. It’s also essential that they allow users to upload files of unlimited size, especially those who handle raw files.

  1. pCloud — Fast sync speeds and solid privacy with 10GB free storage
  2. IDrive — Great mobile app dedicated to photos with 5GB free
  3. MEGA — A strong emphasis on privacy and security with 20GB free plan
  4. Google Photos — Fantastic automated file management with 15GB free plan
  5. Backblaze — Super affordable unlimited storage plans 

Price is, of course, an important factor. When we assess affordability, we consider which provider offers the best value for the money, rather than which one has the cheapest plans. Feature-stacked plans also catch our eye, especially when they include fast sync speeds, sharing tools and effective file management.

The 5 Best Online Photo Storage Options

We have tested and reviewed all the services in this article. We’re confident in recommending all of them; however, the best option for you will mainly come down to your needs. Some services will appeal to casual photo makers, while others are better suited to those with more specific requirements.

1. pCloud

pcloud home page
Although pCloud’s cloud storage is relatively cheap, you have to pay extra for client-side encryption.

More details about pCloud:

  • Pricing: 10GB free; $350 for 2TB of lifetime storage
  • Provider website: pcloud.com

Pros:

  • Fast sync speeds
  • Integrated media player
  • No file size limits
  • Backs up social media photos
  • Light photo editing

Cons:

  • Added privacy features make it expensive
  • Limited customer support

pCloud is a superb option for uploading images to the cloud. First, it offers super quick upload speeds. We uploaded a 5GB folder full of files in just over eight minutes on a 100 Mbps connection. The service also implements block-level sync, meaning any edited files will quickly update and sync across your devices (learn more about block-level sync).

On a productivity front, pCloud allows you to do some light photo editing. Such features can improve a photographer’s workflow, allowing them to get work done while on the move. The photo editor won’t compete with the best photo editors on the market, but it’s useful for basic tasks such as cropping.

pCloud also offers zero-knowledge encryption for your files. This means only you can access the photos stored on pCloud’s servers. The only downside is that you have to pay extra for this level of privacy. To show a commitment to consumer privacy, we would like to see pCloud include this feature in all of its paid plans.

Store Photos Directly From Social Media With pCloud

Most people create images with their smartphones, and they tend to do so from within their favorite social media app. A cool feature pCloud offers is the ability to backup images that you previously uploaded to your socials. This is perfect for anyone who doesn’t keep images on their mobile device, but wants more control of how they access and share them.

pcloud-price
pCloud offers a lifetime plan for a one-time payment.

pCloud offers relatively affordable plans, and having the ability to pay a one-off fee for lifetime storage access is useful. The 10GB of free storage is generous when compared to many other providers.

As you can see, we’re big fans of pCloud. It provides a reliable, secure space to upload images and has some productivity features that make it appealing to photographers and enthusiasts. It also offers an enjoyable user experience, making managing files and folders simple to do. To learn more, check out our full pCloud review.

2. IDrive

idrive first year discount
IDrive has some features perfect for backing up photos, including a dedicated app.

More details about IDrive:

  • Pricing: 5GB free; $74.62 per year for 10TB of storage. 
  • Provider website: idrive.com

Pros:

  • Fantastic app for photos
  • Super affordable

Cons:

  • Slow speeds
  • 4GB upload file size limit

IDrive is somewhat of a mixed bag when it comes to offering cloud storage for photos. In some areas, it totally excels and rivals the competition, while in others, it completely drops the ball. For example, there’s no option for unlimited file size upload — it maxes out at 4GB, which is low. However, it is extremely affordable, even for larger storage plans.

IDrive comes into its own with its mobile app, IDrive Photos. It’s separate from its traditional backup platform, and allows you to backup and view photos (and videos) at their highest image quality. It also comes with unlimited storage space. The app itself has a user interface that is easy to navigate, and there’s also an option to share photos with others. 

Enjoy Total Privacy With IDrive

IDrive doesn’t store your encryption key on its servers. This means you can fully protect your files and ensure that you — and only you — can access them.

Download idrive
You can download IDrive to your desktop, as well as to your mobile devices.

As we said, IDrive offers some of the best value for the money, across all its plans. The 5GB of free storage is acceptable, and it’s a decent amount to start with.

When it comes to cloud storage space for photos, there’s plenty to love with IDrive. Having a dedicated photos app is a wise move, and should appeal to those who do anything photography-related only on mobile. If IDrive improved its file upload sizes and sync speeds, it would certainly help in its quest to be the best photo cloud storage option in the space. To learn more, check out our full iDrive review.

3. MEGA

mega cloud storage
Mega has some fantastic features including unlimited file size uploads.

More details about MEGA:

  • Pricing: 20GB free; $11.84 per month for 2TB of storage
  • Website: mega.io

Pros:

  • No file size limits
  • Largest free storage option
  • Strong privacy features

Cons:

  • No block-level sync

If you handle sensitive photos, it’s important to know they’re stored safely behind the best protection. MEGA is a cloud storage solution that excels at privacy and security. The platform offers user-controlled end-to-end encryption. You can manage your encryption key with your account password, and even MEGA is unable to access your information.

Users can expect 128-bit AES encryption for their files, both in transit and at rest. MEGA also implements two-factor authentication when users sign up, making it more secure and harder for intruders to access your account.

Get Plenty of Free Storage With MEGA

What helps MEGA pull away from the pack is the generous amount of free storage given to you when you create an account. You can enjoy 20GB of free storage when you sign up, which is considerably more than other services offer. While 20GB may not be enough for those with lots of photos, it will be enough to keep the light user going for a good amount of time.

Mega create free account
MEGA users can enjoy 20GB of storage with a free account.

The 20GB of storage space makes it the clear leader for free users. The paid plans are costly, and only offer more storage space, rather than attractive features.

We highly recommend MEGA for those looking for a secure space to upload photos. Its free 20GB of storage is unrivaled by the competition. Also, when you consider the company’s positive emphasis on user privacy, you begin to see why it’s one of the best cloud storage services available. 

MEGA could improve its user experience. Sharing and collaboration features aren’t as good as the others (that’s partly due to the enhanced privacy), and the design of the platform is lacking. Overall, there are plenty of reasons that this is the best option for most users. (Read our full MEGA review for more information.)

4.  Google Photos

Google photos for storage
Google is the household name for online photo storage.

More details about Google Photos:

  • Pricing: 15GB free; $2.99 per month for 200GB of storage
  • Provider website: google.com/photos

Pros:

  • Great for automated backup
  • 15GB of free storage
  • Simple sharing tools

Cons:

  • Poor privacy
  • No option for unlimited storage space

Google Photos (not to be confused with Google Drive) is a solid option for those taking images on smartphone devices, as you can program your photos app to automatically sync images to your Google Photos account. So if you lose or damage your phone, you can install the app on your new device and access all your images.

The service also has some cool automated features. It automatically sorts your photos by location (if you authorize geo-tagging), and it can divide your photos of people into different categories through facial recognition. 

Privacy is where Google Photos is lacking. Google is known for giving your data to third parties, and a lack of zero-knowledge encryption means they can hand over your files to others, should they deem it to be justified.

Easily Share Images With Google Photos

Because Google targets the mainstream audience, it makes its features as streamlined and understandable as possible. You can set up a partner account with someone else, which allows you both to access your favorite images. It’s also super easy to generate a shared link and give access to files and folders to anyone with the link.

Get google photos
Google photos has a range of affordable plans, including 15GB of free storage.

Google Photos offers 15GB of free storage when you join, which puts it at the higher end of this short list. The paid plans are attractive too, more so at the budget end.

While we wouldn’t recommend Google Photos for those with a dedicated camera, smartphone shooters (especially Android) should certainly consider this option. As far as being a photo storage service goes, Google Photos is the go-to app for automated synchronization and file management for your smartphone images. Its free service will appeal to many users, while its paid options certainly won’t break the bank.

5. Backblaze

Backblaze lead
Backblaze is great for those who need unlimited storage.

More details about Backblaze:

  • Pricing: 15-day free trial; $7.00 per month for unlimited storage space
  • Website: backblaze.com

Pros:

  • Inexpensive unlimited storage plans
  • Clean user interface
  • Sharing features

Cons:

  • Lacking in features
  • Security is a gray area

Backblaze targets a specific user: those with a large number of images who need unlimited photo storage. If you want to store raw files and heavily edited images, Backblaze is the solution for you. While it’s not the only provider to offer unlimited storage, it’s the one that does it at the best value.

For what’s predominantly an online backup provider, it does have some features traditionally reserved for cloud storage. (Read about the difference between online backup and cloud storage.) You can share photos with users outside the platform, which is a welcome feature for a service of this kind. 

There aren’t any collaboration tools, and because users have to hand over encryption keys to restore files, we can’t call Backblaze a true zero-knowledge provider. Again, the core selling point here is the unlimited storage space.

Receive Courier Recovery Service

If you decide to use Backblaze for an online backup solution, and your system is damaged or stolen, the online backup provider will send you a hard drive containing your files and data. This feature will not only help you recover your files, it will also allow you to seamlessly get set up on your new system.

backblaze for free
Backblaze offers unlimited storage space for only $7 per month.

Backblaze keeps its storage plan simple: one plan for everyone. There are no tiers, only one unlimited storage plan that costs $7 per month, $70 per year or $130 for the two-year plan.

Backblaze is far from the best cloud storage option for photos. Those needing a feature-stacked user experience best look elsewhere. However, those who need a good place to store a ridiculously large number of photographs should seriously consider Backblaze. (Read our full Backblaze review for more information.)

Final Thoughts: Best Photo Storage Online

People in the world take more photos than ever before. Because of this, the significance of the photos has increased, making them more valuable and meaningful. That’s why everyone should consider backing up their photos to one of the storage options above.

Our personal favorite is pCloud, when we take into account its overall features. Professional photographers should certainly consider this option, as the platform keeps your work safe while also allowing you to have a more fluid workflow when managing files. Although it’s a little expensive, pCloud is a front-runner when it comes to security and privacy, a crucial element for anyone wanting to protect their photographs.

There really is something for everyone with the five options above. Whichever service you pick, we’re confident that you won’t be disappointed. 

Which is your favorite cloud storage service for saving photos online? Are there photo storage sites you feel we should have mentioned? We would love to hear from you about your favorite photo storage site or where you save all your photos online. Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.