Which On-line Photo Storage Site Should I Choose?

Online storage, or cloud storage, can be tricky for the consumer. Each site has it’s own way of storing your photos and it takes a bit of work to figure out the ones that work best for us. Ideally we want to:

  • store our photos at their full size
  • keep the metadata attached
  • be able to organize them
  • be able to edit them
  • be able to search for them
  • the storage should not be too expensive
  • we would like to store our videos with our photos
  • we want our accounts to be private
  • but be able to share photos with family and friends when we want to
  • we want our photos to upload to this site automatically
  • and to upload from different locations – my phone, my spouse’s phone, the computer
  • and finally, we want it to be easy to get our photos off the site – at full-resolution, with all the metadata attached and any editing or organizing work preserved.

We don’t have the perfect photo storage site yet, but these options do a very good job!

Which On-line Photo Storage Site Should I Choose?

Amazon Photos

As an Amazon Prime member, you are already paying for unlimited photo storage and 5 GB of storage for videos, documents, etc. If you want to keep your videos with your photos you may need to pay to upgrade from the free 5 GB to 100 GB. If you are not an Amazon Prime member you can purchase reasonable priced storage on this site and take advantage of all they offer.

Amazon Photos offers UNLIMITED photo storage, keeps your photos in full-resolution and keeps your metadata attached. It’s easy to set up, use and recover your photos. It has a great photo viewing experience, allowing you to set up albums and use their search functionality. The phone app allows you to set up an automatic back up of your camera roll and protect your photos on your phone.


OneDrive is a Microsoft product available for both PC and MAC users. It comes as a standalone product with 5GB of storage for free or 100 GB for $2 CDN/month. It is included in the Microsoft suite of office products – if you use Outlook, Word, Excel or PowerPoint you probably already have access to 1TB of storage with OneDrive.

OneDrive is designed to allow users to share and collaborate on files as they work. It also offers photo storage with the ability to automatically upload photos from your camera roll. I use OneDrive to work on files between computers, back up the photos on my phone and to house a copy of my entire personal photo collection. OneDrive keeps your photos in full-resolution and keeps your metadata attached. It’s easy to set up, use and recover your photos. I can make albums and use the search functionality provided, even allowing me to search based on tags I’ve attached to my photos prior to uploading them.


Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by the American company Dropbox, Inc. It is designed to store and share files so work teams can easily collaborate. You can purchase 2 TB of personal storage for $12.99/month.

I like to think of Dropbox as a big filing cabinet – you can upload any type of file, of any size, and organize the storage any way you like. I store a back up copy of my personal photo collection in Dropbox in folders organized by year. It’s easy for me to update and maintain this collection. Dropbox also has an app you can download to your phone which allows automatic back up of your camera roll. It stores your photos in full-resolution, with all the metadata attached. It’s also easy to set up, use and recover your photos. Dropbox offers some very slick syncing abilities to allow you to easily move large amounts of data from your computer to your cloud storage. Just be careful that you set it up to back up your photos, not sync with those folders, if you want to keep your photo collection safe.


SmugMug is an image hosting and sharing platform designed for photographers. SmugMug offers unlimited, full-resolution photo storage for $55/year. It is designed for photographers to showcase and sell their work, so it has a beautiful photo interface. It is easy to set up, use and recover your images.

I use SmugMug to share our photo collection with family around the world. They can see the metadata I’ve attached to each image, and I’ve set it up so they can download any images they want to keep in their own personal collections. SmugMug now have both computer and phone apps allowing automatic uploads so it’s even easier to store your photos. Note there is a limit to the size of the videos you can upload – most of the videos we take with our phones will fit withing the limit but if you have hours long video converted from sources like VHS tapes you may need to edit it into smaller pieces to upload it all. You can set up your account to make it completely private, allowing people to view your folders through a link you set up and send to them. Make use of their tutorials to ensure you get your privacy settings set up correctly.


Flickr is an image hosting service founded in Canada and headquartered in the US. They were purchased by SmugMug a few years ago. It is designed as a site for amateur and professional photographers to showcase their work. Flickr offers a free plan of up to 1000 photos or videos and is then $49.99/year for unlimited storage. Photos are limited to 200 MB and only jpeg, png and gif. Videos are limited to 1 GB.

I use Flickr to share smaller collections of photos rather than my entire photo collection. For instance, I will upload the photos from our family backpacking trip, create an album, and send the link to family and friends who would like to see them. Note that Flickr defaults to an open sharing environment so be careful with your settings as the site leans towards public sharing rather than privacy.

So which site should you choose?

Amazon, OneDrive, Dropbox, SmugMug and Flickr are all excellent for photo storage. They all allow for easy (often automatic) uploading of your photos, use of the site, privacy, sharing, and recovery of your photos. They are all dependable companies. The main difference is in the pricing and display of your photos. Most of these sites offer a free trial – I suggest you pick one, upload a few photos, and see how you like using the site.

I like to use these sites for different purposes, but if you’re looking for one place to house your photo collection, and if you really can’t decide, go with Amazon, especially if you’re a Prime member and already paying for it!

Just remember, as with any cloud service we are using, we are bound by their terms and conditions, and these can change at any time – note Google Photos sudden move from free, unlimited storage to paid storage. Be sure to keep another copy (or two) of your photos and videos in a different location.