Google Photos vs Apple Photos vs OneDrive vs Amazon
DISCLAIMER: Since I posted this I now have a new review for 2022, check it out: https://www.petematheson.com/best-cloud-photo-storage/
Ever wondered where the best place to store all your cat photos is? This post reviews all of the best cloud photo storage offerings from Google, Apple, Amazon, OneDrive, and Plex. If you hang about, I’ll tell you which I’ll award as the best cloud photo storage.
We've already reviewed the top Cloud Storage, but I wanted to make a separate post that focused purely on storage for photos and videos.
If you want to sign up with a particular one, I'll link to any discounts I can find, and some of them give you a further discount of 20% off your first year! You can find them at the bottom of the post.
iCloud is Apple's ultimate strength and quality. If you are an Apple user, it’s a no-brainer to switch this on since your photos will follow you seamlessly across your devices.
You can share photos easily with your family if they are all set up for family sharing, and this doesn’t take up any additional space than it does if you were to send via text or iMessage.
You can also search for photos using words to describe each image, image recognition, or even their location.
As far as sensitive photos go, you can hide any photos from your public collection to have any images or videos moved to this hidden section, away from prying eyes.
Apple has pretty much won when it comes to ‘it just works’, like many things built inside the Apple ecosystem. Simply switch on Apple Photos, and within moments, your library will be available on all your other Apple devices, as well as through the web browser.
Security and privacy are always at the forefront of Apple products, so it’ll come as no surprise that all of the same protection comes as standard - features like 2FA to protect your Apple account are great to ensure you only see your photos.
Pricing-wise, Apple can get quite expensive, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most convenient.
Google photos pretty much mirror what Apple offers in terms of features. Simply install the Google Photos app on any device or access it via a web browser to get access to all of your photo libraries. You can search for photos with descriptive text, and you can also view pictures based on a map view, though I'd argue that the Apple implementation is much easier to use on this.
Google has image recognition which identifies who's in them, and can even categorise images for parks, bars, skyscrapers, posters, and cars, quite a clever feature!
A unique feature that I quite like here is that Google Photos can prompt you to archive unwanted images. Screenshots, random takeaway menus, or anything deemed by Google as ‘not a normal photo’. Archiving these images removes them from your general view and does not delete them unless you physically delete them.
You can install Google Photos on any Apple device, and it works perfectly to back up your images, as well as share them via the Google Photos App. Still, the integration to send photos to contacts via iMessage is awkward.
For pricing, You get 15GB for free, which is a great starting offer, but if you are happy for those photos to be resized to 16MP and video to be stored as 1080p.... then you can store UNLIMITED amounts of photos and videos for FREE!
[Note - As of 2021, Google no longer offers unlimited photo and video storage. Check out the updated 2022 review for more details ]
Amazon photos are one for you to consider if you have an Amazon Prime membership, which, let's be honest, after lockdown - everyone has Amazon prime by now, right?
Alexa, buy me all of the whisky!
Not a massive amount of features in this one, to be honest! You can organise your photos in albums, and view them by people or places, but you can't display locations on a map that's easy to browse like Google or Apple photos.
I found the photo upload on Amazon Photos wasn't as reliable as others, and I had to open the app to trigger the upload and sometimes even keep the app open for the photos to upload.
A night mode says it would upload overnight, but even this would only upload if I kept the app open and phone awake. I set it off and left it overnight - and it still didn’t finish uploading, even though I have over 100Mbps upload speeds.
Whilst taking photos throughout the day, I found that the Amazon app would lag behind other apps that would near instantly upload, and I'd have to open the app again to find that photos still needed to upload. That sucks.
Also, a quick note here that Amazon doesn’t support burst photos or motion photos across pretty much any manufacturer - it’ll just upload the first - so there’s that too.
Amazon Photos wins on pricing but not on functionality. If you subscribe to Prime, then you have unlimited free photos. But be warned that you only get 5Gb included for videos while you have unlimited PHOTO storage.
Purchasing additional storage gets very expensive, so there are better options if you're looking for both video and photo storage.
No actual photo features exist here. OneDrive is aimed at file storage instead of photos, and to be honest, photo storage seems just like an afterthought.
Yes, it backs up your photos but gives you none of the options you have from the others. You can organise them in folders and do some limited searching - but that's about it.
When I first switched on OneDrive Photo Upload, to be honest, I gave up. It sat there for a very, very long time trying to upload my photos. But it took so long to go through and process all of the photos I had on my phone that it never got around to uploading any photos.
You get 5GB for free and then up to 100GB for £1.99 per month. Outside of this, you'll need to upgrade to a full Office 365 Plan which gives you up to 1TB of space.
Dropbox is another contender that doesn't have a specific product for uploading photos - they're known for providing online storage. Still, they also have a feature that uploads your camera roll to your Dropbox.
No actual features, just like OneDrive. You can create folders, and that's about it—nothing fancy here.
You get 2GB of Free storage, £7.99 for 2TB, and £16.58 for 3TB.
Again, this is for pure storage so that you can use it for more than just photos - but again, this means it's pretty limited on features for photos.
Plex is unique here, and it's worth a mention.
With Plex, you can use your own storage as a whole backup and a media solution.
Plex is stuffed with features for organising and managing your media, but you are pretty limited if you are talking specifically about photos.
You can create albums or folders and view them on a timeline, but it has none of the features like Apple or Google - which seem to be the dominant winners here.
Plex is a fantastic option if you want a way that will allow you to store your photos on your hard drives - and not rely on any cloud provider to keep your data for you.
For me, Plex fell over pretty quickly. I had to keep the app open to upload, and even when I did, it didn't upload and just hung on 'Uploading will take place automatically', but it never did.
To get access to Plex Photos, you will need to subscribe to Plex at £3.99 per month, or you can even buy a lifetime subscription for £94.99. But the key here is that you pay one price and store as much as you can physically hold, providing you buy enough hard drives for storage space.
Plex is an excellent option if you just don't trust the likes of Google or Apple with your photos.
For me, there is a clear winner for once! And that winner is Google Photos. [Pre-Google removing unlimited storage.
Unlimited storage, for £9.20 per month - with a service that uploads automatically, in the background, really reliable, a tonne of features and it also comes with all the other components of GSuite - email, video chat, their web apps like sheets, docs, and a whole host of other tools. They also have one of the best apps and experiences across the board.
Thanks for reading, see you in the next one!
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