Google Photos will backup an ‘unlimited’ amount of images for free, provided you don’t mind them being downsized to 16 megapixels. If you do, you can pay for storage starting at $10 per month for 1TB and it will store uncompressed and RAW files.
Its standout feature is a powerful search feature that makes finding photos easy. Enter “pizza” or “blue” and it reliably shows related images.
My favorite feature, ‘assistant,’ digs up your shots at random and turns them into GIFs, adds filters or creates stories about trips you took. It’s a great way of surfacing photos you haven’t seen in a long time to make you browse your library occasionally.
Google Photos has Windows/Mac apps for uploading your photos and iOS/Android apps for both backing up and browsing photos.
I do have concerns about what Google’s ultimate goal is with taking my photos for free, and if a service that I’m not paying for is eventually going to be monetized via advertising, however the features it offers are a cut above the competition.
For the low price of free, with unlimited photo backup, well designed apps and interesting ways of re-discovering your photo library, Google Photos is a great option for most people.
Released in late 2014, iCloud Photo Library is Apple’s way of keeping your photos in sync across devices, provided you own its hardware.
The free version only gives you a measly 5GB of storage, shared across iCloud. After that you’ll need to pay for extra, starting at $0.99 per month for 20GB.
iCloud Photo Library’s best feature is that it’s aware of how much space it’s taking on your iPhone, iPad or Mac and automatically tidies up older photos to save space, while still making them accessible if you want to view them. It keeps everything in sync in full resolution, with very little hassle.
There’s also a desktop app for you Mac called ‘Photos.’ It allows you to browse your library, organize shots and back everything up.
It’s the best cloud-connected option I’ve found for organizing photos as it’s fast, easy to use and keeps all the changes in sync with your phone.
I love the ability to cram my huge amounts of photos from my other cameras into iCloud Photo Library and get them synced with my phone without them actually taking up space on the device. Being able to scroll through years of shots right on the go is incredibly useful.
If you’re using mostly Apple devices, iCloud Photo Library is likely your best option. It doesn’t match any of Google Photos’ nifty discovery features, but it’s a solid way to keep your image library backed up.
The newest app on the block, Facebook Moments is the social network’s attempt to get you to share your photos there instead, but it’s a very different spin on storing your shots.
Facebook Moments is a way to “get all the photos of yourself trapped on your friends’ phones” and uses facial recognition to automatically recognize the people in your camera rolls.
The app automatically recognizes photos of your friends. It then syncs them to the friends it detects, with your permission
From there, it automatically builds a collection of photo albums of you and your tagged friends. It’s a little creepy, but the idea of being able to get all the photos that everyone else took of you onto your own phone is cool.
You can use Moments to back up your photos — it doesn’t keep track of how many images are stored in your account — but they also aren’t saved at full quality, nor is that the primary reason the app exists.
I didn’t spend long testing Moments, as few of my friends were using it, but if you’ve got a number of people you know onboard it could be a powerful option.
Free, unlimited storage
Interesting feature for gathering photos of you from your friends
If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you might not have know that you also get free, unlimited photo storage.
Amazon Photos has been around for a while but removed its storage limits late last year for Prime members. It doesn’t impose any file limits or downsizing on your photos, so you can guarantee they won’t be compressed in any way.
You can view photos in a timeline style format, share them to social media or simply use it for backups. There are apps available for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac, along with a Web interface for browsing your library.
It’s fairly simple, but a solid choice if you’re already a Prime subscriber and don’t want to pay for extra storage somewhere else.
Eye-Fi tries to improve the workflow of serious photographers and synchronizes your images across devices.
It’s very different to the other services: You need to buy one of the company’s wireless SD cards to get the most from it. They synchronize your photos to your phone or computer whenever you’re within Wi-Fi range.
Its cloud service, which costs $99 per year (free for the first year with a card), synchronizes all your photos in full resolution (including RAW images) without any limitations on storage space. You’re also able to synchronize shots from your iPhone or Android device’s camera roll.
There’s no desktop app for browsing your library, but Eye-Fi’s Web interface presents photos in an attractive way with some interesting features for discovering photos. You can browse your library by device or drill down into the most common settings, like what ISO or f-stop you usually use.
There are also iOS and Android apps for browsing your library on the go. They also act as a staging synchonizing point for your card if it’s nearby, backing up your photos as you shoot them, so even if you lose your camera, you have a copy.
I like Eye-Fi’s service because it’s an easy way to back up both my DSLR and iPhone photos in one place, but needing additional hardware is an annoying barrier to entry.
Synchronizes both your DSLR and iPhone photos
Ensures photos are backed up continuously
Full resolution photos stored, along with RAW files