With cloud storage becoming increasingly popular for storing heavy media files, especially photographs, users are spoilt for choice with a plethora of options at their disposal.
Google launched its much-talked about Google Photos on May 28 at its I/O conference, which brings in services for free.
With Google Photos looking to throw the gauntlet at rivals, we take a look at which cloud storage service among Google Photos, iCloud Photos, Amazon Photos and Microsoft OneDrive is the best option for keeping pics tucked away in the cloud.
1. Google Photos
Google Photos will offer users cloud storage for free—a factor that might work in its favor as other services charge a fee.
Google offers users unlimited storage of both videos and photos without any cost. If you're wondering if there's a catch, yes, there is. The photos can only be 16MP and the resolution of the videos should be below 1080p.
If the videos and images are bigger, Google will compress them automatically. For those worried about the visual quality being compromised, Google says it won't be. Moreover, the service will also provide automatic backup for its Android and iOS app users.
Google Photos automatically organizes your memories by people, places, and things that matter. You don't have to tag or label any of them, and you don't need to laboriously create albums. When you want to find a particular shot, with a simple search you can instantly find any photo.
—Easy keyword search
—Easy sharing to other sites/services such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. You don't need to log in to Google Photos to constantly download the media but simply create a link to share the images.
—App helps enhance images, create collages, animations, soundtracks and movies.
—Assistant view feature
While Google Photos is a good option for those keeping a copy of their photos shot with point and shoot cameras, those with DSLRs who need the original size may not find this option suitable.
However, Google also has its original Google Drive storage plan where Google Account users can continue to store up to15GB for free. Users have the option of upgrading to 100GB ($1.99 per month), 1TB ($9.99 per month), 10TB ($99.99 per month), 20TB ($199.99 per month) or 30TB ($299.99 per month).
Verdict: Google Photos is great for those who don't mind their image/video resolutions being downsized. The editing tools are also effective and easy to navigate. Plus, unlimited videos and photos can be stored for free and that earns brownie points over rivals.
2. Amazon Photos
Amazon's Cloud Drive Photos lets users access their saved photos and videos that are backed up in the cloud with ease.
The Amazon Photo "Unlimited Photos" plan enables users to store unlimited images, but only gives 5GB for video and file storage, which can be restrictive. For this plan, users need to shell out $11.99 each year so it's a reasonable deal money-wise. There is a three-month free trial period as well to test out the tool.
Amazon also offers its Prime users 5GB of free storage for videos and files, but to avail of the offer, one needs to purchase its Prime subscription, which means you shell out $99 a year.
—Auto save feature enables automatic photo backup
—Easy sharing via apps, email or Facebook
—Easy access to media even when on-the-go
Verdict: Amazon's Cloud Drive is an inexpensive option for those simply looking to sync their files across different devices. However, for those in need of more tools such as editing software for files, then Amazon's Cloud Drive Photos may not be your thing.
3. iCloud Photo
Apple touts its iCloud Photo storage as a universal photo library that automatically syncs with all your devices. However, iCloud Photo is not entirely free and can dig a hole in your wallet due to steep pricing.
Apple offers 5GB of free storage for iCloud users to back up photos for iOS and the iCloud Library, but if you want more, be prepared to shell out a hefty sum.
For 20GB, you need to pay $0.99 per month ($11.88 a year); 200GB costs $3.99 per month ($47.88 a year); 500GB costs $9.99 per month ($119.88 a year); and 1TB costs $19.99 ($239.88 a year).
The good thing about the service is that it does not tamper with the resolution, and your videos and photos will not be altered. An option for device-optimized resolution for the iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone exists to save storage space.
Moreover, iCloud supports several file formats such as PNG, GIF, TIFF, RAW, JPG and more.
Verdict: iCloud Photos is expensive when compared to rival cloud storage tools. However, the fact that it supports several formats and does not dilute the resolution may find favor with many users.
4. Microsoft OneDrive
If you're a fan of Microsoft's Office Suite, then you will love OneDrive as it has integrated office apps. The tool has an easy user interface and looks and feels similar to Windows 8, making OneDrive easy to navigate.
—Auto video and photo upload to a user's personal OneDrive account via the Camera backup
—Easy file sharing
—Easy deletion, renaming, moving of files
—Easy creation of new folders
—Easy search for photos
OneDrive offers 15GB storage for free. Additional 100GB will cost $1.99 per month. However, the best option is undoubtedly the 1TB offer of $6.99 per month, where you get the Office 365 for free.
A downer for some people may be that it does not display images as well as competitors. Since it is not just designed for photography storage, it may be a bummer.
Download OneDrive for tablets/smartphones for iOS and Android. It is also available for Xbox One and Xbox 360, as well as desktops. It is in-built for Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 and can be downloaded for Windows 7 or Vista via the app for Windows.
Verdict: The fact that Microsoft throws in Office 365 for the 1TB option and that you pay $83.88 a year for the same is a fantastic deal, making it way better than iCloud Photos and Amazon Photos, as well as the original Google Drive storage option.