The way we store and share vacation photos has changed radically over the years with the evolution from slides to printed to digital photos. And, the quantity of photos (and video) we are saving has increased exponentially now that printed pictures and photo albums don’t cost money and take up physical space. As we are amassing large numbers of digital images, questions arise about which are the best storage sites, both free and fee-based? We’ve listed some well-known choices below and also noted their pros, cons, and costs.
Free Cloud Storage Options
For many, free cloud options are sufficient for our photo storage needs. This is good news, however, what happens when the storage limit is suddenly lowered or capped and you already exceed that new cap? Will your free option convert to paid? Does the site offer a ‘grandfathered’ option for long-time users?
Microsoft One Drive
- Account users get 5 GB free
- Office365 subscribers, up to 1 TB free
- Pro $1.99 to $9.99 /mo
iCloud Photo Library
- 5 GB Free
- 50 GB $ .99 /mo
- 200 GB $2.99/month
- Up to 2 GB free
- 1 TB $9.99 per month
Flickr (recently acquired by SmugMug: fee-based)
- 1000 images free
- Flickr Pro $5.99 US/month or $49.99/year for unlimited storage
- Up to 2 GB free
- $59.99 to $399.99 per year, up to 500 GB of storage
- Images up to 16 megapixels and videos up to 1080p
- Free up to 15 GB for original resolution or Unlimited for high resolution
- Additional storage options range from $1.99/mo up to $299/month
Paid Cloud Storage
Amazon Prime Photos
- Included with Amazon Prime membership $79 for Canada/ $119 for U.S. (also includes access to streamed entertainment and free shipping on Amazon purchases)
- $49/year until Nov 30, 2019, 30% off a first-year membership
Portable, Physical Storage Options
Cloud-based options are convenient and inexpensive. However, if you’re worried about the security and hacker-accessibility of photos, the cloud might not be the best place for you to save vacation photos. If that’s you, then the most dependable storage method is a physical ‘drive’. These options require that you buy and copy images onto a portable format. A few options include:
Micro SD Cards
USB Thumb Drive, External Drives
I’ve used Dropbox for business file sharing and find it good – easy to use. I also like being able to upload any file type to Dropbox, however, DB’s options for photo storage are basic. The specialty photo sites, like Google Photos, continue to introduce new and more interesting photo features. That makes them hard to resist.
From a security perspective, nothing in the cloud is 100% secure. The better a site’s security becomes, the better hackers become at finding ways in. When storing in the cloud, the most secure option is to ensure you have a very good password, but still…for security, physical media is the safest way to save vacation photos.
The best storage site for you depends on your needs. Is it important for you to have seamless sharing or excellent editing tools, unbeatable security or unlimited storage? As of this writing, these are the most frequently used sites. I hope this overview has offered a good starting point for evaluating the best places to save vacation photos.