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Best cloud storage 2020 for photos and pictures: free and paid

Best cloud storage
(Image credit: Image Credit: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock)

Our photo albums are some of our most treasured possessions, connecting us to our past and sparking our memories. There’s a reason they say a picture paints a thousand words. But the days of hard copy albums are largely a thing of the past. 

Today the easiest and most secure way to store photos is not in a physical album or on a USB drive, it’s in the cloud. Cloud storage enables users to store all their photos and pictures online, and access them from any browser-enabled device. 

In this buying guide, we explore the best cloud storage for photos, both free and paid. You’ll discover that not all cloud storage platforms are alike, with some much more suited to storing multimedia than others.

Best cloud storage

Adobe is the premier solution for storing and editing photos (Image credit: Adobe)

1. Adobe Creative Cloud

The best-in-class platform for storing and managing digital media

Max storage capacity: 1TB | Encryption: at-rest | RAW file support: yes

Only 1TB max storage capacity 
Full Adobe suite integration
 Expensive

If you want the best platform for storing and managing photos and pictures, Adobe Creative Cloud is the way to go. Widely used by professionals and with a vast array of advanced features, this platform integrates seamlessly with the entire Adobe Suite, including Lightroom, Elements, and Photoshop. Native applications for macOS, iOS, Windows 10, and Android make it the one-stop-shop for managing, storing, and editing photos and pictures. 

Perhaps the only downside of the platform is its price tag. 1TB of storage will set you back $9.99 per month, with Adobe Lightroom included.  

Best cloud storage

iDrive offers high-capacity storage plans at incredible prices (Image credit: IDrive)

2. IDrive

The best provider if you need maximum storage space

Max storage capacity: 10TB | Encryption: in-transit and at-rest | RAW file support: yes

Affordable high-capacity plans
AES 256-bit encryption
Facial recognition for easy searching

If you have an extensive digital library and need to store several terabytes of data, then iDrive is likely the best platform for you. For only $52.12 per year, users can purchase 5TB of data, while 10TB costs $74.60 per year. On top of these amazingly affordable prices, users gain access to impressively designed native applications and a powerful web client. iDrive also performs strongly on security, with AES 256-bit encryption for all media stored on the platform. Undoubtedly, iDrive is the best platform if you prioritize high-capacity and secure storage.

Best cloud storage

Microsoft OneDrive is a great choice for users of all operating systems (Image credit: Microsoft)

3. Microsoft OneDrive

An excellent choice for storing photos if you already use the Microsoft 365 suite

Max storage capacity: 6 TB (shared family) | Encryption: in-transit and at-rest | RAW file support: yes

Cross-platform functionality
Native integration with Microsoft 365
Not purpose-designed for photo and video storage

Microsoft OneDrive is a robust, reliable, and highly secure cloud storage platform, and we think it’s one of the best for storing multimedia content. Key features include AI searching capabilities, document scanning, and a personal vault utilizing end-to-end encryption protocols. OneDrive can also be set up to sync automatically with desktops on most operating systems, including macOS, Windows 10, and Linux.  Android users can also set up automatic syncing with their photo gallery. 

Microsoft OneDrive is bought in a bundle with Microsoft 365 ($69.99 per year and 1TB storage), or as a standalone product (100GB for $1.99 per month). 

Best cloud storage

Dropbox is a trusted brand and provides fantastic plans for photo and video storage (Image credit: Dropbox)

4. Dropbox

A feature-rich platform benefitting from extensive third-party integrations and top-quality security

Max storage capacity: 3.32TB | Encryption: in-transit and at-rest | RAW file support: yes

 Extensive integration options
256-bit AES encryption
Expensive

Dropbox offers high-capacity storage plans with advanced features that are ideal for storing your multimedia library. Features such as desktop syncing, file sharing, file recovery, and remote-access wiping make it one of the best platforms for professional and amateur photographers alike. Dropbox also provides 256-bit AES encryption for data, both in-transit and at-rest, making it highly secure. 

Dropbox Plus comes with 2TB of storage and costs $9.99 per month when billed annually. If you want more professional features and 3TB of storage, Dropbox Professional costs $16.58 per month.

Best cloud storage

pCloud is one of the best cloud storage platforms available, but it comes with a hefty price tag (Image credit: pCloud)

5. pCloud

A premium storage solution for professional and amateur photographers

Max storage capacity: 2TB | Encryption: paid extra | RAW File support: yes

Support for most file types
RAW image thumbnails
Lifetime plans available
Expensive

Although not custom-designed for photo storage, pCloud is a great platform for those needing a secure and easily accessible multimedia library in the cloud. It differs from many providers in that users can purchase a lifetime subscription or a recurring annual subscription.

One of our favorite pCloud features, however, is its support for almost file types, as well as RAW format thumbnails. This makes the platform ideal for photographers who prefer to shoot and store their photos in RAW format and return later for editing. To make the editing process even more straightforward, pCloud includes a plugin for Adobe Lightroom. 

Best cloud storage

Flickr is not only a storage platform but a social community for photographers (Image credit: Flickr)

6. Flickr Pro

Flickr is a cloud storage platform that feels like a social network for photographers, but it doesn’t support RAW file storage

Max storage capacity: unlimited | Encryption: no | RAW file support: no

Close to best-in-class interface
Unlimited storage
No support for RAW file format

Flickr provides one of the best interfaces, which looks and feels like a social network for photos. It also offers tremendous value compared to its rivals. However, Flickr’s biggest downside is that it doesn’t support RAW file storage. If you’re a professional photographer, or even an amateur wanting to edit your photos to the highest quality possible, this might be a dealbreaker. However, if you’re only planning on storing JPEG photos, Flickr is a great choice.

Flickr Pro includes unlimited storage, account analytics, and an ad-free experience. It costs $7.99 per month, or $5.99 per month when billed annually. 

Best cloud storage

iCloud Photos is a great choice for families that want to share photos and videos (Image credit: Apple)

7. Apple iCloud

One of the best cloud storage platforms for photos if you use Apple hardware

Max storage capacity: 2TB | Encryption: in-transit and at-rest | RAW file support: limited

Native integration with all Apple software
Family data sharing is ideal for family photo albums
Only suitable for Apple users

Apple Photos (a part of iCloud) is one of the best cloud storage platforms for photos and pictures—if you only use Apple hardware. Native integration with all of Apple’s apps and services makes using the platform a delight and ensures all your photos and videos are always available when you need them. The ability to sort photos by media type (Selfies/Live Photos/Panoramas) is another excellent addition. 

Paid iCloud storage begins at $0.99 per month for 50GB. The 200GB plan ($2.99 per month) and the 2TB plan ($9.99 per month) can be shared with family members.

Best cloud storage

Google Photos doesn’t disappoint, but it doesn’t inspire either (Image credit: Google)

8. Google Photos

A reliable platform, but unlikely to inspire

Max storage capacity: 30TB | Encryption: no | RAW file support: limited

High-capacity plans
Integration with Google Suite
Poor integration with third-party photo or video editing platforms
Inadequate security protocols

Google Photos is a reliable and easy-to-use platform for multimedia storage, but we don’t think it’s up there with its main competitors, Apple Photos or Microsoft OneDrive. Integration with the Google suite is appreciated, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of innovative features or advanced security protocols. 

Paid plans begin at $11.99 per year for 100GB. Google Photos’ greatest strength, however, is its high-capacity plans, with users able to purchase 20TB for $199.99 per month, or a truly massive 30TB for $299.99 per month.

Best cloud storage

SmugMug: mixes web hosting and photo storage (Image credit: Smugmug)

9. Smugmug

A solid choice for those who want to share their images with the world

Max storage capacity: unlimited | Encryption: no | RAW file support: no

Built-in website builder and hosting
E-commerce features included
No support for TIFF or RAW image formats

Smugmug is half website hosting platform and half cloud storage platform. So it’s ideal for those who want to display their image library publicly. Premium plans include unlimited storage for photos up to 150MB in size, and the built-in website designer will enable you to create an impressive online image portfolio. 

The downside, however, is that there is no support for TIFF or RAW image formats.

Best cloud storage

500px is an online image portfolio for professionals (Image credit: 500px)

10. 500px

Great for showcasing your best images, but not for much more

Max storage capacity: unlimited | Encryption: no | RAW file support: yes

Account analytics included
Photo licensing possible
Not suitable for managing extensive libraries

If you simply want to showcase your best photos online, 500px might be right for you. It's not the right platform for storing your library, but it can be fantastic for creating a professional-looking portfolio. For this reason alone, 500px warrants a mention on our list of the best cloud storage platforms for photos, but only in 10th place.

Full disclosure, however—the platform has suffered from high-profile data leaks in recent years.

Free

Best cloud storage

iDrive offers a substantial 5GB of free storage, plus access to a feature-rich platform for managing photos and videos (Image credit: IDrive)

1. IDrive

The perfect combination of affordability, security, and performance, iDrive is the best free cloud storage platform for photos and videos

Max storage capacity: 5GB | Encryption: in-transit and at-rest | Raw file support: yes

AES 256-bit encryption
Online file syncing
Advanced backup features

iDrive offers 5GB of free storage for all users, which is far superior to almost all other platforms. 256-bit AES encryption is included, and the easy-to-use interface makes it a breeze to sync files and manage all your photos from the web-based console. Performance is another area where the platform excels, with close to best-in-class transfer speeds.

For all these reasons, we think iDrive is the best free cloud platform for storing photos and pictures. 

Best cloud storage

Dropbox is one of the most trusted names in cloud storage and offers a great free package (Image credit: Dropbox)

2. Dropbox Basic

Dropbox Basic is one of the best free cloud storage platforms for photos

Max storage capacity: 2GB | Encryption: in-transit and at-rest | RAW file support: yes

Extensive third-party integrations
Established and trusted brand
Supports most file types
Only 2GB free storage

Dropbox is one of the most well-established brands in cloud storage and benefits from extensive third-party integrations. This makes it easy to access and manage your cloud library from almost any device. Dropbox can also be set up to sync automatically with your desktop, ensuring all your photos and videos are automatically uploaded to the cloud. 

Dropbox Basic comes with 2GB of free storage. Almost all other features are the same as a paid account.

Best cloud storage

Flickr is perfect for showing off your best photos to a wider community (Image credit: Flickr)

3. Flickr

A Free Flickr account is great for sharing photos from a recent trip, but you won’t be able to store your entire library

Max storage capacity: 1000 photos or videos | Encryption: no | RAW file support: no

Best-in-class social features
Only 1000 photos and videos
No support for RAW file format

Flickr enables photographers to store high-resolution JPEG images to their personal accounts, where they can be viewed by friends, family, and if you want, the wider community. The platform is not just for storage; it is a social network for photographers and lovers of beautiful images. 

Free accounts are limited to 1000 photos and videos, so you’ll need to upgrade to Flickr Pro if you want to store more than that. Flicker also has only minimal security protocols and no encryption. 

Best cloud storage

Photos is a great platform, but it’s limited by a lack of cross-platform functionality (Image credit: Apple)

4. Apple iCloud

5GB of free storage is a plus, but it’s only suitable for Apple users

Max storage capacity: 5GB | Encryption: in-transit and at-rest | RAW file support: limited

Native integration with Apple apps and services
Intuitive and feature-rich interface
Only suitable for Apple device users

If you already use Apple devices, then Photos is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to store multimedia in the cloud. On macOS, iOS, and iPadOS, Photos is simply a breeze to use. Photographs are automatically uploaded from the camera, and intelligent search features make it easy to keep track of pictures and find important memories easily. 

However, the lack of cross-platform functionality with non-Apple services means it can’t compete with the other free platforms listed above.

Best cloud storage

Google Photos provides unlimited free storage, but your images won’t be encrypted (Image credit: Google)

10. Google Photos

Unlimited free storage is a plus, but security is a major concern

Max storage capacity: unlimited | Encryption: no | Raw file support: limited

Native integration with Google software suite
No support for high-resolution multimedia
Inadequate security protocols

With unlimited free storage for all users, Google Photos is a great place to store your photos and videos. The platform benefits from integration with Google’s other apps and services and operates almost seamlessly on third-party operating systems such as Windows 10 or iOS.

However, images are limited to 16 megapixels each, and videos 1080p, so it isn’t suitable for storing high-resolution multimedia. There are also legitimate concerns about the security of the platform, with no encryption and an ambiguous privacy policy.