Thanks to smartphones, we now collectively take over 1 trillion digital photos each year, and the number is only growing larger. Unsurprisingly, most smartphone users have at one point or another wondered what’s the best way how to store photos taken on smartphones.
These days, the answer is usually the cloud. Online photo storage services are convenient because they are accessible from anywhere and typically come with a companion app that automatically uploads photos for you, so you never have to worry about losing your precious memories.
But with so many online photo storage services available, how do you know which one to pick? We’ve done the research for you, and here’s our list of top 5 best free online photo storage services in 2018.
Previously called SkyDrive, this online photo and file storage service is operated by Microsoft and offered as part of the company’s suite of Office Online services. OneDrive offers 5 GB of free storage space, and you can purchase additional storage space for as little as $3 per month for the OneDrive 50 GB plan, which, as its name suggests, includes 50 GB of storage space.
OneDrive makes most sense for Windows and Office users. Windows 10 ships with a OneDrive client application pre-installed, so setting everything up could hardly be any easier. All Office 365 Personal, Home, and Business subscribers receive at least 1 TB of OneDrive storage space for free, and the latest versions of both Word and Excel support automatic saving to OneDrive. Besides Microsoft’s own ecosystem, OneDrive also works great on Android, iOS, and macOS.
OneDrive takes advantage of geo-location data for photos uploaded to the service, automatically generating a map with all tagged locations. Photos can be grouped as albums and easily shared with others, either directly or via email.
Dropbox skyrocketed in popularity after the photo and file storage service launched its referral program, which allowed free users to expand their storage space by recommending the service to other people. All free users start with only 2 GB of storage space, but they receive additional 500 megabytes for each person they refer. The referral program is limited to 16 GB, so those who want more space must purchase one of the two premium plans that Dropbox offers.
The Plus plan costs €8.25 per month and includes 1 TB of storage space, mobile offline folders, automatic photo and video synchronization, and document scanning. The Professional plan costs €16.58 per month and includes 2 TB of storage space, full text search, shared link controls, the option to access your Dropbox files right from your desktop without taking up all your hard drive space, and several other useful features.
Dropbox is available across all popular platforms, and it’s also integrated into third-party applications through an application programming interface.
Google’s online photo and file storage service shares storage space with Gmail and other services from the company, making it great for those who rely heavily on Google’s suite of intelligent apps, collectively called G Suite.
All new Google Drive users receive 15 GB of storage space for free, and users can purchase additional space through either a monthly or yearly payment. 100 GB of additional space is available for just $1.99 per month, 1 TB costs $9.99 per month, and 30 TB costs $299.99 per month.
Google is planning to soon upgrade Google Drive users to Google One, which is a simple plan for expanded storage that starts at 100 GB for $1.99, 200 GB for $2.99, and 2 TB for $9.99 per month, while pricing for plans larger than 2TB will remain the same.
Google Drive works best when used in conjunction with Google Photos, a photo sharing and storage service that automatically analyzes photos, identifying various visual features and subjects using different forms of machine learning.
Amazon is one of the largest providers of on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies, and governments, and its secure cloud storage service, formerly known as Amazon Cloud Drive, makes sense not only for Amazon Prime subscribers but also those who want to reliably store their photos online and pay as little as possible.
Amazon offers different Amazon Drive plans in different regions around the world, but the two most common plans are Prime Photos and Free 5 GB, with the latter plan being largely self-explanatory.
Prime Photos offers unlimited storage for photos and 5 GB for videos and other files. Prime Photos subscribers can upload photos to Amazon Drive with iOS or Android apps, Kindle device, or the Cloud Drive website, provided the photos are intended for non-commercial purposes.
pCloud may be the least known photo and file storage service on this list, but that just means that it has to offer an extra-sweet deal to convince you to try it. Indeed, pCloud has an ace up its sleeve: lifetime plans.
For either €175 or €350, you can purchase 500 or 2 TB of storage space respectively and use it to store your photos, videos, and other files for the rest of your life without ever paying again. But if you prefer annual payments, pCloud gives you that option as well.
Like other photo and file storage services on this list, pCloud uses state-of-the-art encryption to protect your files during upload, and it allows you to easily share files and folders with others and view detailed statistics for your links.
pCloud is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, and also as a Chrome and Lightroom add-on. The service has been around since September 2013, so you can trust it with your data.