When it comes to storing your precious photo archive, traditional hard drives are so passe. Local storage is fine, but the best cloud storage for photos provides convenience, security, flexibility and most importantly, access anywhere in the world. There’s also the fact that you never have to worry about multiple local backups ever again. That side of things is completely taken care of.
Cloud storage is simply data stored online, which range from free to paid services and storage from a few gigabytes to terabytes of space. Some of these services provide just simple storage, while others offer facilities to share images or even display them gallery-style for other users to view and comment upon.
Therefore, the best cloud storage for photos isn’t just about how much disc space you get for the money, but the added facilities, which can also include security and copyright features. These things are especially important for photographers. Here are our top six picks of the best cloud storage services for photos:
1. IDrive (Overall Winner)
IDrive isn’t just about simple cloud storage for photos, as it also provides included services which go beyond what I would traditionally look for as a photographer. The company provides an initial 5GB of storage in its free plan, with the current options to upgrade to 5TB for $52.12 or 10TB for $72.62 per year. (This is a limited time offer only.)
Multiple devices can access the same account, with an ‘Auto camera option’ which automatically uploads video and images without any compression. Handy features such as facial recognition can be used to organize data along with syncing with your chosen devices.
A simple dashboard keeps track of all your data in your account and comes with constant backups and protection against ransomware and other computer-related nasties. The only real downside to the service is that if you go over your data limit you will have to pay for the extra. But this is a common theme with most paid storage services.
As an added bonus, at the time of writing IDrive is offering 90 percent off its 5TB service, which works out to be $6.95 for the year. For this type of deal and for the levels of security, IDrive should also be our budget winner.
The pCloud people have adopted a different way to pay for storage facilities, preferring a lifetime subscription. The company’s current pricing plans include 500GB for $175 and 2TB for $350. Also, each plan has the download limit throttled to the same amount as the storage space to limit abuse.
One of the features which will most benefit photographers is the ability to see previews and thumbnails of RAW files on mobile devices, along with a handy plug-in for Lightroom for easy uploading of images. A browser extension is also available to directly save images and videos, along with the facilities to invite users, share downloads, and for branding download links and sharing stats.
Although the lifetime subscription may seem initially expensive to some, its still extremely cheap on a monthly basis, even if you only use the service for a few years.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of images, video, and graphics are produced with some sort of Adobe product. Therefore, it makes sense for Adobe to offer some sort of cloud-based storage for all the creative work produced with its software.
Adobe has a clear idea of what us photography types want to see in cloud storage, which means there are facilities such as image galleries, group libraries for colleagues to add images, and security for both folders and individual files.
As this is an Adobe service, Creative Cloud links seamlessly with the photo editing software of Lightroom, allowing editing and changing of files, with support for both RAW and JPEG images. The service may also seem initially expensive, but it includes unlimited use of Lightroom CC and/or Photoshop. This means you can look at this type of storage in one of two ways: buying a subscription to Photoshop or Lightroom with included Cloud storage or buying online storage facilities with free versions of software.
A Cloud storage list wouldn’t be complete without the mention of Dropbox in some way. Dropbox is a simple way to store any type of digital file, with a simple to use folder system that’s accessible from both iPhone and Android apps, along with desktop computers.
If you want to test out the waters of this service, there is a free 2GB plan. Or you can move up to Plus, which offers 2TB for $11.99 a month, or the Professional plan for $21 a month for 3TB of storage. Dropbox also has business accounts which apply more for if you are working within a team.
Facilities such as a remote desktop wipe, email uploads, folder restore, and revision history come as standard. But the most useful feature is the folder organization and the very simple way to email clients, so they can easily download their images.
I used Dropbox for years to send clients their images in a very simple manner. All you have to do is input their email address, then they receive a link and can download their images straight away. No logins or signups on their end, which makes this service a very streamlined workflow.
Another very popular cloud storage solution is Microsoft’s OneDrive. This service is usually bundled with the Microsoft Office suite, with options to upgrade to larger storage capacities. While the service isn’t specific to photographers, it has an easy to navigate folder system and a straightforward way to upload images and any other type of data.
The first 5GB comes free, while an additional 100GB costs $1.99 per month. If you need to move up to larger storage capacities, then the pricing becomes ever better value at 1TB for $6.99 per month or $69.99 paid yearly, with Office 365 included. For additional services, an extra six licences will cost $3 per month (now unlimited), which will also bump up the storage capacity, with all the goodies such as free Skype time.
6. Flickr (Budget Winner)
Flickr used to be the one stop shop for uploading unlimited amounts of images, but the company got wise to our greedy little habits and now has a free limit of 1,000 images. The costs of the free plan are covered by advertising, but if you need unlimited storage which is ad free, the monthly plans start at $7, up to $60 for a Flickr Pro+ account.
The pro account is definitely worth the money, not just for the unlimited storage of images, but also for other features such as advanced stats, photo backup, and annual pro subscription perks to the likes of Adobe and PHLEARN.
However, what really makes Flickr stand out is the intuitive gallery type way of organizing images and labeling, where users can view photos in high-definition, with commenting available, making for a social experience. The only real downside is the ability to only store JPEG, GIF, and PNG images. But, if an online gallery/storage facility is more your cup of tea, then Flickr is a wonderful solution.
Best Cloud Storage for Photos
If there is one thing you should never skimp on in your photography workflow, it’s secure image storage. Cloud storage for photos used to be quite expensive, but like most technology, costs come down over time and now it is perfectly feasible to keep all your precious images stored in the cloud.
Luckily, most of the services listed provide a free version to test out their wares, which still provide plenty of space for occasional use or a small amount of files. If you only need simple and efficient cloud storage, then the first two listings will serve you very well. If you need added extras such as online galleries and ways to preview images, then the likes of Flickr can provide excellent value for money.