Looking for Google Photos alternatives? You probably shouldn’t
In November last year, Google announced that it would no longer offer unlimited free storage for “high quality” photos on Google Photos starting June 1, 2021. A lot of you may be on the lookout for a Google Photos alternative. But is there any service out there that offers a similar (or better) cloud storage plan for your precious memories, or should you just pay for Google Photos? That’s exactly what we’re going to find out.
Google Photos is much more than just a cloud storage service for your photos and videos. It packs a ton of useful features that let you easily search through your images, automatically create memories, edit photos and videos, and so much more. That makes finding a good Google Photos alternative almost impossible. But if you don’t care for these features and want a service that lets you backup your media online, there are a few options.
Google Photos alternatives for cloud storage
1. Amazon Photos
Amazon Photos is the best Google Photos alternative for you if you’re an existing Amazon Prime member. It offers unlimited full-resolution photo storage for Prime members and 5GB storage for videos, while non-Prime users get a total of 5GB of free storage. Along with that, Amazon Photos lets you share your unlimited storage with up to five family members, offers a powerful search feature to help you quickly look up photos, and it also packs some editing features. Since Amazon Photos comes bundled with an Amazon Prime membership, it offers incredible value as a lot of people pick up Prime for the shopping benefits anyway. But if you don’t have a Prime membership, it’ll cost you $20/year for 100GB of storage. Given that a Google One subscription for 100GB of storage also costs $20 annually, it makes little sense to move away from Google Photos if you’re not already a Prime member.
For those who really can’t do without unlimited storage, though, getting an Amazon Prime membership isn’t a bad deal. It costs $119 (plus taxes) annually and comes with a boatload of other services like shipping benefits, Amazon Drive, Amazon Music, Prime Gaming, Prime Video, Prime Reading, etc. In comparison, $100/year on Google One will get you 2TB of storage that you can share with up to six family members, 24/7 priority customer support, a 10% cashback in the Google Store, and a VPN for your Android phone.
2. Microsoft OneDrive
Just like Amazon Prime is a decent Google Photos alternative for existing Prime members, Microsoft’s OneDrive is a good cloud storage solution for your photos and videos if you’re an existing Microsoft 365 subscriber. Much like Google Photos, OneDrive is available across most platforms, and it can automatically sync photos from your phone to the cloud. While it isn’t as feature-rich as Google Photos, it does offer a gallery view to help you easily search for photos, and it can automatically tag pictures based on their content.
As far as OneDrive’s storage limit is concerned, it offers 1TB of storage to existing Microsoft 365 members. If you don’t have a membership, though, OneDrive’s pricing is at par with Google Photos. Although free accounts get only 5GB of storage, you can purchase an additional 100GB for just $2/month or $24/year. However, that will not get you any of the perks included in the Microsoft 365 plan. For the Microsoft 365 Personal plan, you’ll need to shell out $69.99 annually for 1TB of storage, access to Microsoft’s Office apps, Skype, advanced security features, and other productivity tools. If you already use these Microsoft services, this plan offers better value than Google’s $100/year 2TB plan. Otherwise, you’d be better off paying for a Google One subscription.
3. Apple Photos
Apple Photos is undoubtedly the best Google Photos alternative for iOS and macOS users. The service offers 5GB of free storage for all users, and its paid plans are priced at par with Google’s offerings. You can get 50GB of iCloud storage for 0.99$ a month, 200GB for $2.99 a month, and 2TB for $9.99 a month. Much like Google Photos and Amazon Photos, it syncs all your media across Apple devices in an instant and keeps them secure.
On the downside, Apple Photos doesn’t offer a client for Windows or Android devices. So, if you don’t have a good iPhone or Mac, you’re straight out of luck. As far as features are concerned, Apple Photos offers pretty much all the features you’d find on Google Photos. It offers an AI-powered search feature, powerful editing tools, a feature called Memories that automatically creates galleries based on your activities, and more.
Dropbox is another useful cloud storage solution that you can use as a Google Photos alternative to backup your media. While it isn’t specifically meant for photo storage, it offers a few useful features that will help you keep your backups organized. The service offers automatic backups for photos, videos, and screenshots, a document scanner, a dedicated section in the mobile app to browse through media, and comprehensive access controls for any media you share with others. On top of that, a paid plan will get you access to Dropbox Transfers to share large files, Dropbox Passwords to securely store your passwords, and a Vault feature to store sensitive files.
Sadly, Dropbox’s free plan only offers 2GB of storage. So it isn’t a good deal if you’re not willing to pay for storage space. Even if you are willing to pay, Dropbox’s plans are a bit more expensive than Google’s. Its 2TB Individual Plus plan is priced at $120, which gives you single-user access to all of the services mentioned above. If you want to share your cloud storage with family members, you’ll have to shell out slightly over $200 for 2TB of storage. The Family plan will let you add up to 6 users and give you access to all of the features mentioned above. In comparison, Google One’s 2TB plan is $20 cheaper, and it lets you share your storage space with five others from the get-go.
If none of the services mentioned above fit the bill, you can also use Flickr as a Google Photos alternative. The image and video hosting platform will let you store up to 1000 images and videos at no cost, but its free tier is supported by ads. While you can get rid of the ads and get unlimited storage space by subscribing to Flickr PRO, it’ll set you back $6.99/month or $59.99/year. For that amount, you’ll get unlimited full-resolution storage for your photos and videos, advanced stats to see which of your photos are trending, ad-free browsing and sharing, a desktop uploader for automatic backups, and more.
The service automatically arranges all photos you upload in a social feed, making it easy for you to find your images on the platform. However, it lacks all the AI-based features you get with Google Photos. Another downside of using Flickr as a cloud storage solution is that it isn’t designed to help you store your entire image library. It’s meant to be a social media platform for photographers. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend uploading private images or videos to the platform, even though it gives you an option to hide them from other users.
Should you just pay for Google Photos?
As you might have realized while reading about the services mentioned above, there’s no such thing as a perfect Google Photos alternative. While some of these services come close to offering what you get with Google Photos, all of them lack one or more crucial features. On top of that, you won’t save much if you choose to switch to a different service unless you have an existing Amazon Prime, Microsoft 365, or Dropbox subscription. So it would make little sense for you to download all of your photos and videos from Google Photos and then upload them to the new service. That exercise, in itself, might cost you more than a Google One subscription if you don’t have an unlimited internet plan.
If you rely on other Google services like Gmail or Google Drive, purchasing a Google One plan is more beneficial. That’s because any additional storage you purchase will be used for these services as well. If you’re still not convinced and you really don’t want to give Google any more of your hard-earned money, you can go with Amazon Photos or Apple Photos, depending on the devices you have. For those who have an Apple device, Apple Photos is an absolute no-brainer. But for those who don’t, an Amazon Prime membership will offer the most value for your money.
Lastly, if you don’t want to depend on a third-party service for your media backup, you can look into a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution. Taking this route will involve a significant upfront cost and require some technical know-how, but it’ll turn out to be much cheaper in the long run.