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Friday, April 12, 2024

Google Photos Storage Is Changing. Here Are Your Best Options

Google Photos has long offered one of the best deals in cloud storage, allowing you to upload unlimited photos for free—as long as you were willing to sacrifice a little image quality. But Google recently announced that it's removing its free tier, meaning you'll have to pay to keep using Google Photos beyond that initial 15 GB. If you've stuck with it for the past five years for its low cost, you may be wondering what the next best service is.

Let's be clear, though: Google Photos was a pretty insane deal, and there's no true replacement in terms of free unlimited storage. If you're looking to upload unlimited photos without paying a dime, lower your expectations. But if you're going to pay for something, you might as well pay for the service that fits your needs best—and you might already be paying for a service that does what you want, which is about as close to free as you can get.

Google Photos

It may feel weird to start with Google Photos as an alternative to Google Photos, but hear me out: It is, in my opinion, still the best cloud photo service around.

Free storage: 15 GB (shared across all Google services)

Upgrade price: $1.99/month for 100 GB, $2.99/month for 200 GB, $9.99/month for 2 TB

Platform: Android, iOS, web (plus uploaders for Windows and Mac)

Features: If you're reading this, you probably already know why Google Photos is awesome. Its interface is easy to use, and it comes with a host of AI-boosted editing and organization features (like facial recognition, automatic collages and slideshows, and sharing). You can order same-day photo prints right from your albums and auto-upload photos directly from your phone or your computer, ensuring that you never lose those irreplaceable moments. (Though I'd upload them to a dedicated backup service like Backblaze for extra safety.)


If you have an iPhone, there's a good chance you're already using iCloud for something. Like Google, iCloud encompasses all your shared cloud storage for Apple services—including photos.

Free storage: 5 GB (shared across all Apple services)

Upgrade price: $0.99/month for 50 GB, $2.99/month for 200 GB, $9.99/month for 2 TB (or get a bundle deal with Apple One)

Platform: iOS, Mac, web (plus an uploader for Windows)

Features: If you're an Apple user, iCloud hooks in with everything you already use: the camera roll on your iPhone, the Photos app on your Mac, and the web, and it'll seamlessly sync photos between all those devices as you snap new pics. It also has great sharing features, though it lacks a way to share your entire library with your family, which is a bit annoying. And while it integrates with third-party services well, the web interface doesn't do much, so it relies on you having your Mac, iPhone, and iPad handy for any photo work. But if you're an all-Apple household, iCloud is definitely worth looking into.


Flickr has been around for ages, and it's still kicking—with some pretty compelling options for those who don't want to pay a lot for storage.

Free storage: 1,000 uncompressed photos

Upgrade price: $6/month for unlimited storage

Platform: Android, iOS, web (plus uploaders for Windows and Mac)

Features: While Flickr may not have some of the AI-based tools that Google does, it still offers decent cloud storage and online editing, plus the ability to get your photography shared with the world through Flickr's public database. Auto-upload requires a Flickr Pro subscription, though at $6 a month—for unlimited storage—it might be a better deal than other photo services on this list, depending on how many photos you have. If you have under 1,000 photos or more than a few hundred gigs, Flickr is a pretty compelling option.

Amazon Photos

If you don't want to pay another cent, but you're already an Amazon Prime user, look no further than Amazon Photos. Amazon may not be the most popular photo service around, but you get unlimited storage for full-resolution photos as part of your Prime account, which is killer—though video storage is more limited.

Free storage: 5 GB

Upgrade price: $12.99/month as part of Amazon Prime for unlimited photo storage and 5 GB of video storage. Additional video storage costs $1.99/month for 100 GB, $6.99/month for 1 TB, and $11.99/month for 2 TB

Platform: Android, iOS, web (plus uploaders for Windows and Mac)

Features: While it isn't quite as fluid and easy to use as Google Photos, Amazon's web-based album is better than you'd expect—it comes with a few basic editing features, the ability to share your photos with friends and family, plenty of options to order prints, and some AI scanning of faces and objects (like "trees" and "roads"). More importantly, it's included with Prime, which means it could be the closest thing to free if you're already a Prime member. If you take a lot of videos, though, you'll still have to pony up some extra cash, since you only get 5 GB to start—though Fire tablet owners do get an extra 5 GB on top of that.


Dropbox isn't really a photo service per se, but it does include some photo-specific features in its cloud storage suite.

Free storage: 2 GB

Upgrade price: $9.99/month for 2 TB

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac

Features: Dropbox is a bit more of a jack-of-all-trades than the other tools on this list. Designed to sync files of all types between your devices, Dropbox includes automatic photo uploads from your phone and PC, allowing you to organize them in a more traditional file structure. You don't get any editing tools, though it does integrate with lots of third-party web services, including editors like Pixlr—and syncing to your PC's hard drive means you can use desktop tools like Photoshop or Lightroom without skipping a beat. Frankly, I wouldn't lean on Dropbox as a replacement for Google Photos, but for the sake of completeness, I've included it here—after all, if you already pay for Dropbox storage, the lack of extra cost may be worth the lack of features.


Like Dropbox, OneDrive isn't really designed as a photo storage and editing tool—it's more of a general cloud storage tool that happens to support photos.

Free storage: 5 GB

Upgrade price: $1.99/month for 100 GB, $6.99/month for 1 TB and Microsoft 365 Office apps

Platform: Android, iOS, web (plus uploaders for Windows and Mac)

Features: Again, OneDrive is not my go-to recommendation for photos, but if you're already paying for it, it's worth a shot. While the OneDrive app on Android has some basic photo-editing tools, you won't get anything beyond basic organization and album sorting on the web, though OneDrive's automatic syncing on Windows means you can use your desktop photo editor of choice pretty easily. It's a bit better than Dropbox, but not by much, and I'd try one of the other services above before OneDrive if you're on the hunt for a Google Photos alternative.

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