Since launching in 2015, Google Photos has solidified its place as the most popular cloud storage solution for photos and videos. More than a billion people have flocked to the service because of its ease of use, great features, and exceptional value - but what if you're looking for the best Google Photos alternative?
Google Photos is soon set to undergo a major change; its free, unlimited storage tier for “high-quality” photos and videos ends for good on June 1, 2021.
Starting in the summer of 2021, Google Photos will only provide 15GB of free cloud storage for your photos and videos. When you max this out, you’ll need to pay for more storage - and that won’t be good news for anyone who uses Google Photo purely because it’s currently completely free.
If you have a large collection of photos and videos or use other Google services under the same email as your Google Photos account, you can go over that 15GB limit pretty easily.
However, there are plenty of Google Photos alternatives out there should you like to try something else and save that 15GB of free storage for your other Google apps. In this article, we rank the top five Google Photos alternatives on the market.
The best Google Photos alternatives of 2021
If you don’t have a massive budget to spend on a photo storage app, you can always sign up for the free version of iDrive. It’ll provide 5GB of storage, which is suitable for those who don’t have a massive amount of photos to store.
But should this not be enough storage, you can upgrade to 5TB for $52.12 a year or 10TB for $74.62 a year. What’s more, as a premium account holder, you’d be able to upload and store photos from all your devices.
What we also love about iDrive is that it offers some useful features for photographers. Namely, you can use the Auto Camera feature to back up all the photos and videos stored on your device to the cloud automatically.
There’s also a facial recognition feature that can order your photos automatically, and you can sync photos on a range of linked devices. And if your data is ever wiped, you can use iDrive Express to access a physical hard drive containing all your backed-up photos and videos.
What sets pCloud apart from other Google Photos alternatives is the fact that it offers lifetime subscriptions, so you can pay one upfront fee and access this platform forever (without paying another penny).
The cheapest lifetime subscription costs $175 and provides 500GB of storage. But if this isn’t enough, you can pay $350 for 2TB of storage. If you’d prefer not to pay a large lump sum, there are annual plans available.
Just like iDrive, it’ll automatically upload your photos and videos to the cloud. And you can use pCloud to sync all your devices automatically. If you store photos on internet services such as DropBox, Facebook, Instagram, OneDrive, and Google Drive, you can also create backups via pCloud.
Another area where pCloud does an excellent job is security, providing 256-bit encryption for every file stored on its platform. You also get a range of comprehensive file management tools, including file versioning, data recovery, remote upload, online document previews, and the ability to rewind your account by 30 days.
If you’re a professional photographer and are looking for a more advanced alternative to Google Photos, you should definitely check out Adobe Creative Cloud Photography.
Costing $9.99 per month, it provides access to some of Adobe’s best-known cloud solutions for photographers. With Lightroom, you can take and edit photos via intuitive mobile, desktop, and web software. And once you’ve finished editing your photos, you can automatically save them to the cloud.
This plan also comes with Adobe Photoshop for desktop and iPad, allowing you to edit your photos using one of the most powerful photo-editing solutions around. And you can then show off your creations by creating a portfolio website and using a range of social media tools, which are included in the plan. On top of these great features, you get 20GB of cloud storage. Adobe says this is enough data to backup 4,000 JPEG files.
NordLocker will enable you to upload all your photos and videos to the cloud, where they’ll be protected by end-to-end encryption. As well as being highly secure, it’s also easy-to-use and allows you to backup your photos using a simple drag-and-drop interface.
When you want to access your photos and videos, you just need to log in to your NordLocker account on a PC or Mac. Thanks to automatic data backups, you can easily retrieve your precious photos and videos if your device is broken or lost. NordLocker also boasts a secure file sharing feature, which allows you to give someone permission to access one of your encrypted folders (i.e. locker) and send it to them securely.
So, you’re probably wondering how much an encrypted cloud storage solution will cost? Well, there’s actually a free version of NordLocker, and it’ll provide 3GB of cloud storage. If that’s not sufficient, you can always go premium. For an annual fee of $47.88 ($3.99 per month), you’ll get 500GB of cloud storage.
Amazon Photos is another great photo storage app, offering Prime members unlimited storage for photos and 5GB of storage for videos. Meanwhile, non-Prime users are provided with 5GB of photo and video storage.
If you download the Amazon Photos app, you can use it to automatically save and back up every photo and video stored on your device. That way, you can save memory on your phone and retrieve content when your device is damaged or lost.
Prime users not only get more storage on Amazon Photos, but can also give unlimited storage to five family members and quickly find specific photos by entering search terms based on words, locations, and names.
Using the Amazon Photos app, you can view your photos and videos on all your devices. And if there’s a photo or video that you want to share with someone, you can send it via text message, email, and supported apps.
Many cloud storage solutions charge obscene amounts for just a tiny amount of storage, but that’s certainly not the case with Flickr.
The American image and video hosting platform will let you store up to 1000 photos and videos at no cost. But you’ll need to deal with in-app advertisements, which obviously allow Flickr to make money while being generous with its free cloud storage.
If you have over 1000 photos and videos you want to store on Flickr, you’ll need to sign up for a premium account. A $6.99 monthly plan provides unlimited storage, no adverts, and more.
The main attraction of Flickr is the fact that photos are organized in a neat and tidy social feed, which you can have as public or private. By setting your Flickr photostream as public, other photographers can follow and comment on your work.
What is Google Photos?
Google Photos is a popular cloud storage solution for backing up photos and videos. It was launched by the American tech giant in 2015, and since then, it’s grown to more than a billion users worldwide.
Over the past five years, Google Photos has made a reputation for itself as the most affordable cloud storage solution. In fact, since launching five years ago, it’s provided unlimited photo and video storage at no charge.
With Google Photos, you can upload all your photos and videos to the cloud. And by accessing the Google Photos app on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can view your photos and videos whenever and wherever you want.
Another great feature of Google Photos the ability to find a specific image or video by using a powerful search function. You can also use the app to send photos, videos, and albums to your loved ones, quickly and easily. Google Photos offers a range of editing tools and smart filters, too.
When is Google Photos ending its free tier?
Google first announced it would end its free, unlimited “high-quality” photo and video storage tier in November 2020. At the time, the US tech giant confirmed that the change would be enforced on June 1, 2021.
When this change takes effect in the summer, all the photos and videos you upload to the Google Photos app will be counted in the 15GB of free storage provided by Google across its different online services. These include Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive, and other Google apps.
But fortunately, you can continue to use Google Photos like normal until the deadline. This means that any “high-quality” photos and videos uploaded to the platform between now and June 1st won’t take up any of your 15GB of free storage.
Why is Google Photos ending its free tier?
Considering that Google has provided free, unlimited photo and video storage for over five years, you might be wondering why it’s decided to change this policy all of a sudden.
In a blog post, Google wrote that the move would allow it to “keep pace with the growing demand for storage”. The firm went on to say that it was making changes to this policy to “welcome even more of your memories and build Google Photos for the future.”
But as suggested by The Verge, the company might have made the controversial decision to end its free tier in order to attract the masses to subscription-based cloud storage platform Google One.
Should you stop using Google Photos?
Understandably, you might be a little disheartened by this news and asking yourself whether you should stop using Google Photos.
Firstly, it’s important to point out that 15GB is still a lot of storage. And it’ll most likely be enough for a lot of people. In fact, Google reassures users that “over 80 percent of you should still be able to store roughly three more years worth of memories with your free 15 GB of storage.”
But if you regularly use other Google services under the same email, you’ll likely reach that 15GB cap quicker than people who just use Google Photos. Should that be the case, you’re probably better off finding an alternative to Google Photos. And, luckily, there are plenty of them out there.
Do I need both Google Gallery and Google Photos?
If you own an Android phone, you’ll see that there’s a gallery app alongside Google Photos. Naturally, you’re probably wondering about the difference between these and whether you need both apps.
First, let’s talk about the key differences between the Android gallery app and Google Photos. Whatever make or model Android phone you own, there’ll be a gallery app that stores all your photos and videos. It isn’t a cloud-based service, like Google Photos, and therefore everything is stored on your device’s physical memory.
But with Google Photos, you can store your photos/videos on the cloud and access them across a range of different devices. If you’ve nearly maxed out the memory on your phone, you can easily save space by uploading the contents of your photo gallery to Google Photos and by deleting the copies saved in the gallery app.
Overall, Google Photos is more advanced, and there are many benefits to keeping it on your phone. Of course, if you decide to sign up for an alternative cloud storage app, you can delete Google Photos from your phone (if it’s already installed).