Best Google Photos Alternatives
The day has finally arrived. Google switched Google Photos from “free” to “paid”. Soon, you will have to subscribe to a Google data plan to use the service if or when you fill up its free storage space with too many photos and videos.
Although Google announced the change yesterday, it gives all Google Photos users until June 1, 2021 to continue using Google Photos without any restrictions. Anything you upload up to this point – high quality photos and videos, not original quality photos and videos – will not count towards your existing 15GB free storage quota on Google. Anything you download after that eats away at the storage space you share with all other Google services , including your expansive Gmail account.
You can read the full description of Google’s changes here through clenched teeth. While I always thought Google Photos would go this route, it’s a little annoying that we’re finally here. One of the best free photo storage services is closing a store — at least the “free” portion of it. Given how many photos and videos we all take, it’s almost guaranteed that most people using Google Photos will have to start paying for storage at some point.
If this frustrates you, or if you want to get the most out of your money when you actually pay for online photo storage, let’s take a look at both Google’s suggestions and some noteworthy alternatives.
To be honest, Google One is not a bad deal. We found it to offer decent storage at low prices for most price tiers. The caveat is that you share your storage space across all Google services, not just photos. You will need to carefully monitor the cleanliness of your Drive and Gmail.
- 100 GB: $ 2 per month or $ 20 per year (billed annually)
- 200 GB: $ 3 per month or $ 30 per year
- 2 TB: $ 10 per month or $ 100 per year
How much do you need? Well, it totally depends on how many photos and videos you usually shoot. I suspect you will be happy with the 100GB barebones plan for now. I have been using Google Photos since time immemorial, and now I only use 0.57 GB of space – you can check it yourself if you are interested in this link .
Keep in mind that if you use one of the Google Pixels to capture and upload photos or videos, they will not count towards your storage quota as long as you only upload the “high quality” versions, not the “original” versions. This is one of the perks of using Google Android at the moment (which always annoys me as an Apple user who pays for iCloud, but I’m distracted). However, this does not apply to future releases of Google Pixels:
Dropbox is definitely more expensive than Google One in the sense that you can only buy one “basic” tier – 2TB for $ 10 a month. While you won’t get fancy features like Google Photos face recognition for search, Dropbox offers a lot : automatic backups of photos, videos, and screenshots; scanning documents; a special section of the mobile application for viewing your photos; and comprehensive access control (including password and timers) to any content you share with others. You will also get access to Dropbox Transfer (for sharing huge files), Dropbox Passwords (for safely storing and using all your passwords), and Vault (PIN-based authentication for important files you already store in Dropbox).
Plus, moving to a service like Dropbox might seem like a moral step too: some people just don’t like the idea of paying Google to store data that Google ultimately uses to improve its own technology. For example, you can “help” Google improve object recognition by using your own photographs . Shouldn’t Google help you ?
Google One? Usually cheaper for the same (or more) storage compared to iCloud. However, if you’re an iPhone owner, switching to iCloud for storing photos and videos will be the easiest step you can take. There is even a $ 1 50GB / mo tier if you want to try cloud storage.
Like Google, the iCloud storage you purchased can be used for more than just photos. You can store your documents, your backups, your messages, your … well, actually pretty much everything you do on an iPhone. And that data can then be synced across all your Apple devices, ensuring your precious photos are just a few taps or clicks away no matter what you’re using.
While Apple is (obviously) a giant corporation, like Google, I’m also a little more inclined to share the company’s position on privacy than that of the search giant. Apple, after all, wants to sell you hardware and services, not advertisements, and it always seems to insist that more AI- powered features be implemented exclusively on your device , where they are relatively secure, rather than in the cloud.
Of course, Apple also has a monopoly over their own app stores, so it does not appear that you are spared all the moral difficulty going to the iCloud.
Should you pay for Amazon Photos? You can not. There is no dedicated photography service to buy on Amazon. Chances are, free unlimited storage for all your full-resolution photos is part of a regular Amazon Prime membership. So, if you’ve already bought Amazon, then it’s not difficult to move your photos to a service you already pay for – with one huge caveat.
As you probably guessed, the free storage offer only lasts as long as you are an Amazon Prime member. If you ever give up a membership for any reason, you will either have to pay separately for Amazon Drive storage – starting at $ 2 per month or $ 20 per year for 100GB – or feverishly download everything to re-upload to another place.
Amazon’s pricing is comparable to Google and Apple’s for cloud storage, so I would probably pick one of the latter if I paid. This huge chunk of storage that you buy will benefit more services in the Apple and Google ecosystem, whereas with Amazon, you are actually just buying a chunk of cloud storage. This does not mean that you have an Amazon email account or that you are not uploading backups of your phone to Amazon.
Post your own solution
Assuming you want to build a server at home, or have a ready-made NAS, you can always just save your photos yourself. Software like Piwigo , PhotoStructure, or Lychee takes a little more work than a click of a button and a cloud subscription, but you don’t have to pay a penny to access them beyond the initial hardware setup costs. Nobody can access your photos and videos if you don’t let them.
While you probably won’t be able to access your photos remotely unless you’re connected to your home network, setting up a simple archiving process isn’t all that hard. For example: regularly upload everything to local storage, but keep copies of your photos on your phone. When your phone starts filling up from the local photo storage, just delete the photos from the oldest year. Repeat as necessary. Light.
Before Google Photos, this is how I stored all of my media, albeit using a much simpler approach. I downloaded all the photos from my phone to my computer and used the app to automatically create folders based on the month each photo was taken (from the EXIF data of the photos). Then I transferred those folders to my NAS box and repeated this process every month. I would still save my photos to the cloud – usually the free version of iCloud – as extra insurance, but I also randomly deleted old photos from my phone that I didn’t give a damn about as long as I knew they were safely stored at home. …
I suppose nowadays I could just use an application like PhotoSync to manage it all for me. And I might very well, now that the free version of Google Photos is disappearing. I am still sad about this.