Having access to the best cloud storage for photos is important if you take a lot of pictures. With the best camera phones now featuring up to and beyond 100-megapixel sensors, and with the widespread availability of full-frame digital sensors in cameras, large image files are becoming the norm. Having the added space that cloud storage provides is therefore extremely useful for photographers, reducing their reliance on physical storage.
The best photo storage and sharing sites also give photographers peace of mind. Whether you’re a casual family photographer, or taking pictures is your livelihood, it’s important that your images aren’t lost if, for example, your hard drive dies. Saving images to the cloud means you won’t lose your photos should the worst happen.
When choosing the best cloud storage for photos, you should consider a few things. Obviously, there’s the price. Some sites offer free access, usually with limited storage, so you’ll need to pay if you want lots. You’ll also want to consider the features that come with your chosen storage site, such as categorization and mobile applications.
To help you make the right decision for you, we’ve tested the best cloud storage sites for photos on these metrics. All you need to do is read on.
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The top 3 best cloud storage for photos right now
Dropbox: file storage with unique photo features Dropbox ranks among the top file storage platforms. Its appeal lies in its user-friendly features, many of which cater to photo and image storage. Uploading photos is a breeze with Dropbox. Users can automatically transfer new images from their camera roll to their account via the mobile app, or instruct the desktop program to scan for images on connected devices.
The best cloud storage for photos of 2023 in full
IDrive ranked top of our rundown of the best cloud storage services for general use, so it’s not surprising that it’s also a fantastic option for storing photos. You can connect your account to multiple devices, which is perfect for any photographer who shoots on more than one camera.
Also making IDrive one of the best cloud storage services for convenience is an Auto Camera setting. If you activate this, IDrive will automatically upload any new photos or videos that appear on the device, so you never have to worry about losing a shot.
Another cool feature is automatic facial recognition. If you have a large family or take a lot of portrait shots, this tool will automatically sort photos by the people in them, and facial detection information can be shared across any devices added to your IDrive account.
Read our IDrive cloud storage review.
Best for features
Google Drive is more than just another storage app. This is a well-rounded cloud platform that connects to the comprehensive Google Workspace productivity suite, which supports file sharing and collaborative document editing.
You can store your photos and sync live changes and edits from your desktop computer using Windows and macOS applications. However, Drive does lack some of the photography-oriented features found with other services on this list.
That’s why the best way to use Google Drive to store your photos online is to use the connected Google Photos storage service. Until mid-2019, photos would sync automatically between Google Drive and Google Photos, but Google decided this was too confusing for users and discontinued the practice.
And up until 2021, Google Photos allowed you to upload an unlimited number of photos as long as they were under 16MP in size. Now, after you hit your 15GB limit on Google Drive, including images, videos, and documents, you'll need a subscription.
A 200GB subscription costs $1.99 a month receive 200GB, and there are plans up to $9.99 a month for 2TB a month.
Read our full Google Drive review.
Best for flexibility
With around 400m users storing approximately 600bn pieces of content, Dropbox is one of the largest file storage platforms around. When you look at its features, many of which are great for photos and images, it’s easy to see why.
For starters, Dropbox simplifies the process of uploading photos. If you install the app on a phone or tablet, you can activate the automatic transfer of new images from your camera roll to your account. You can also do this on a desktop by telling the Dropbox Windows or macOS program to scan connected camera cards or mobile devices for images.
Once photos are uploaded, a helpful folder system organizes them. Even better, if you want to edit photos after uploading, the desktop app can sync folders so that they appear in Windows Explorer or macOS Finder. Any modifications you make with photo editing software will be automatically detected and synced.
Besides this, Dropbox has unique features that you won’t find with many other cloud photo storage services, including a 30-day file version history viewer and a restore feature to protect you from accidental deletions.
You can get 2GB free, which is a good starting point if you don’t have too many photos. For a more reasonable capacity, it’s worth upgrading to Dropbox Plus which, for $9.99 a month, will net you 2TB. Free and paying Dropbox users can upgrade storage capacity by referring the platform to a friend.
Read our Dropbox cloud storage review.
Best for simplicity
If you’re looking for a straightforward personal cloud storage platform where you can store your photos without having to figure your way around new and unfamiliar interfaces, Microsoft OneDrive is worth a look. OneDrive is available as part of Microsoft 365.
Microsoft has intentionally made OneDrive’s appearance similar to that of Windows 10, which means there’s basically no learning curve for any Windows users moving to the platform.
OneDrive is a general-purpose cloud storage platform, and its chief selling point is seamless integration with popular Microsoft 365 applications like Word and Excel. But that’s not to say that OneDrive doesn’t have some excellent photo management features. In fact, it supports tagging, photo search, and album creation.
Pricing is pretty affordable too. It matches Google Drive’s budget plan, with 100GB costing $1.99 a month. For $6.99 a month, you get 1TB and desktop versions of Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
Read our Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage review.
Best free storage
If you’re looking for high-quality cloud photo storage on a budget, Flickr could be the right option. You can think of it as part-cloud photo storage, part-photo-sharing social network. It’s one of the original photography sites to make it big on the web and has an estimated 87m registered members.
Flickr lets you upload up to 1,000 photos and videos free of charge. To remove that limit, you can go for a Flickr Pro+ account. This costs $5.54 a month if you pay two years at a time. Pro+ users aren’t just freed from storage limits; they can also see advanced statistics and learn which shots are generating the best response in the community.
The greatest thing about Flickr is that you can show off your photos in a classy photostream. Because this is a photo network, other users will be able to respond to your shots unless you make them private. Overall, Flickr is a good way to display and store photos, but the one downside is that it can only handle compressed images, so this isn’t the right place to keep your RAW files.
Read our Flickr review.
Best for photo editing
As a photographer, you’re probably already familiar with Adobe's suite of photo manipulation tools, but did you know it now also offers cloud photo storage?
Adobe Creative Cloud has a few plans that include cloud storage. The Lightroom plan ($9.99 per month) gets you 1TB of storage and the popular Lightroom photo management app. The Photography plan ($19.99 per month) gets you 1TB of storage and adds Photoshop, the leading photo editor to the mix. Or, you could choose a plan like the Creative Cloud All Apps plan ($54.99 per month), which includes over 20 Adobe apps and 100GB of cloud storage.
Remember that there's a seven-day free trial available with Creative Cloud, allowing you to try out the many apps for free before you decide which paid plan to go for.
Managing photos in Creative Cloud is a pleasant experience too, thanks to classy image galleries where you can explore your work or share shots with others. With Group Libraries, collaborators can add photos to shared folders, though you can always make individual folders private. Adobe's created macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android Creative Cloud apps, so uploading is a breeze no matter what device you’re using.
At the same time, direct integration with Lightroom, Photoshop, and Elements means you can always dive into an image to make adjustments. Unsurprisingly, given Adobe’s rich photo-editing pedigree, Creative Cloud is fully compatible with RAW images. As such, this is a suitable platform for professional photographers who don’t want to lose quality when storing images.
Read our Adobe Creative Cloud review focusing on its cloud storage.
Creative Cloud has seamless integration with Adobe apps
Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plan comes with 20GB as standard (as well as Photoshop and Lightroom). You can upgrade to 2TB, 5TB, or 10TB starting at $9.99 per TB, and there's also a seven-day free trial available, so you can test it out before you sign up.
Best for easy-to-use tools
Some cloud storage platforms are limited when it comes to modifying photos once you’ve uploaded them, but that’s not the case with pCloud. This service enables you to resize photos within your browser and archive older photos, so you can better focus on your favorite shots.
Advanced photographers will appreciate that pCloud automatically provides previews and thumbnail icons of uncompressed RAW format photos (which are better for editing). Also, pCloud can connect directly to Lightroom on Windows and macOS devices, so you can upload shots as soon as you’re finished modifying them.
Another element that distinguishes it is pricing. While almost all competitors charge a monthly subscription, you can pay pCloud a one-time fee for a lifetime of 500GB or 2TB. Although the upfront cost is higher, many photographers prefer it, as you can pay once and forget about it. There’s no need to worry about rates being increased over time, or photos being deleted if you stop paying.
So that its unique payment system isn’t abused, pCloud does limit the amount of data you can download or stream from your account each month. If you have a 2TB account, for example, you’ll only be able to download 2TB in any given month.
In an image backup use case, there’s not normally a need to constantly download data from the cloud anyway, so this won’t cause an issue for most photographers.
Read our pCloud review.
pCloud offers top security and a great lifetime deal
pCloud is one of the few cloud storage providers that offer a lifetime subscription. You pay once and get to keep the software and storage forever. pCloud also offers top-notch security and features 'file-versioning', and is a great all-around choice for photographers.
|Cloud storage||Free plan?||Starting price||Storage|
|IDrive||✔||$2.95 per year||From 100GB|
|Google Photos||✔||$1.99 per month||From 100GB|
|Dropbox||✔||$9.99 per month||From 2TB|
|Microsoft OneDrive||✔||$1.99 per month||From 100GB|
|Flickr||✔||$5.54 per month||Unlimited|
|Adobe Creative Cloud||✔||$9.99 per month||From 100GB|
|pCloud||✖||$49.99 per year||From 500GB|
Cloud storage for photos FAQ
What is cloud storage for photos and pictures?
Cloud storage utilizes physical servers to save files on the internet, via internet-connected data centers. These servers are owned, maintained, and run by cloud storage providers, and offer storage for all manner of files.
When it comes to cloud storage for photos, many of the best cloud storage services are also providers of the best cloud storage for photos. You can upload, save, download, and securely backup important image files, and can access them wherever you are, as long as you're connected to the internet.
How to choose the best cloud storage for photos
There are plenty of great photo storage services out there, but how do you work out which is right for you? Take into account key factors such as ease of access from mobile and desktop, gallery sharing features to promote your work, the size of your photo library and the number of images you'd like to store online, and much more.
The majority are “freemium”: although they offer some free storage, extra capacity can only be unlocked by signing up for monthly or annual subscriptions. Price per GB can differ dramatically, so it’s worth shopping around and keeping an eye on the capacity you'll require.
When it comes to storage capacity, the average 16MP JPEG requires 4.8MB, so if you have 500 to upload, you’ll need a plan with at least 2.5GB. Fortunately, most services won’t charge for that amount of space,
If you want to preserve original image information via RAW files, almost any service will allow uploads of compressed JPEGs, PNGs, or GIFs: the same can’t be said for uncompressed RAWs or TIFFs. Check if they’re supported, and how many you'll need to save: 500 RAW 16MP photos will take up approximately 2.5TB, so you’ll need a monthly subscription.
Remember that upload and download times will depend on the speed of your own connection. You’ll be better off investing in a physical storage medium if you don’t have a swift ISP.
Look for services that offer Android and iOS apps if this is something you want to take advantage of. Some go above and beyond by letting you create stunning sites and profiles, like Flickr. Finally, a major benefit is that you can access, edit, and share photos even when you’re away from your workstation.
How we review the best cloud storage for photos
When we come to review cloud storage services, first of all, we test the upload and download times for file transfers, because these are integral to the performance of platforms and usage. In turn, we examine how a given service's security tools and features work and how comprehensive they are, to ensure your files are kept safe from hacking or accidental loss.
Next, we test the responsiveness and knowledge of customer service and support teams, as when there's an issue you want to be sure your provider will quickly get back to you and will know how to fix the problem. In a market vertical with varying levels of free and paid plans, we explore and explain pricing in-depth, while we also test out and discuss any additional tools or features offered by the service.
Across our comprehensive reviews of each cloud storage platform, we also compare each service to its competitors, specifically in terms of pricing and key features. We undertake all of this during testing so that you, the consumer, can benefit from as much information about each service as possible before you choose.
Read more on our testing methodology.
Next steps with cloud storage
If you're looking for storage beyond just photos, or have a tighter budget, take a look at our other buying guides that evaluate the best free cloud storage, the best personal cloud storage, and the best cloud storage for business.