Who can you trust with your memories? iPhone photo storage options compared!

Best storage options for your photos

Comparing the best online photo storage options from Flickr, Google+, 500px, Dropbox, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, and more!

We've talked on numerous occasions about how great of camera you have included with your iPhone and have taken a look at some great photography apps to accompany it, but once you take all those photos and edit them to perfection, where are you going to store them? You can store them locally on various devices and hard drives, but what about in the cloud? Other than Photo Stream, what are other cloud storage options for all those memories you're accumulating?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitpic, and other non-options

Before we jump into the various great options out there, let's first discuss the fact that posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twipic, and any other little photo sharing service is not good enough. It may be easy to think "oh, I posted that to Facebook, so if anything happens, I know I can always retrieve my photo from there." Well, yes, as long as you don't cancel your account or do something that gets you banned, your photos are there, but even though Facebook has a "high resolution" option, it's not actually full resolution. The max size Facebook will save your photos is 2048px along the longest side. A photo taken with an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 is larger than this.

The quality of your images saved on services such as Instagram, Twitpic, and other "little" sharing services is even worse. You should not consider these as good options for storing photos.

So if Facebook and Instagram aren't good choices, then what are? Between Flickr, 500px, Dropbox, Google+, and Amazon Cloud Drive, you're sure to find a great option to meet your needs.

Flickr

Flickr just updated with an enticing new overhaul that includes 1TB of free storage. Yes, 1 terabyte. For free. Flickr also features a gorgeous new interface and an established community of users. In addition to just storing your photos, you can also publicly share them and join groups and discussions. If you're serious about photography or simply just looking for a place to save your images, Flickr is an excellent option and completely free (with upgrade options).

500px

500px is a unique choice in that, in addition to being a place to store photos, you also have the option to sell your photos in the 500px market. It's also a social network where you can follow specific users and like and comment on their work. 500px does have more of a "professional" vibe that markets towards quality photography, so if you identify yourself as a photographer, 500px will likely be a great fit.

A free account allows 20 uploads per week, and accounts with unlimited uploading begin at $25/year.

Google+

Although Google+ is primarily a social network, it also offers a solid option for photo storage. With the Google+ app, you can even choose to automatically upload your photos from your iPhone to Google+ so that you don't even have to remember to do it yourself. However, when uploading from your iPhone, Google+ will store them at "Standard size" which is a max of 2048 pixels on the longest side. If you want to store full size images, you must upload from your desktop.

Full size uploads count against your Google Drive storage quota which starts at 15 GB with a free account. Paid accounts begin at $2.49/mo for 25 GB, but may be changing in the coming weeks.

Dropbox

If you're not into the social integration associated with Flickr, 500px, and Google+, Dropbox is another excellent choice for storing your photos. It's not a social network, but strictly a storage service; however, if you do wish to share your photos, you can share a link to your folders and Dropbox will nicely display them for you. You can also set up the iPhone and iPad app to automatically upload your photos when you launch the Dropbox app.

A free Dropbox account includes 2 GB (with the ability to reach 18 GB), and "Pro" accounts start at $9.99/mo for 100 GB.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon Cloud Drive is a storage service that's similar to Dropbox, and with the Amazon Cloud Drive Photos companion app for iPhone, you can easily upload and view your saved photos.

A free Amazon Cloud Drive account includes 5 GB of storage with paid plans starting at $10/year for 20 GB.

Your favorite way to store photos?

These are just a few of the different options available for storing your precious photographs, and if we missed any good ones, we want to know. Do you use a different service that you believe to be superior to these? Or do you not trust your memories in the hands of a 3rd party and back up onto external hard drives, instead? We want to know your system!

Personally, I'm going to start using Flickr to store everything that's important to me and 500px for photos I'm particularly proud of and value as art.

What about you?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Who can you trust with your memories? iPhone photo storage options compared!

45 Comments

I recently switched over to Copy from Dropbox.

https://copy.com?r=FKwEvk (use this link for 20GB's of free storage space)

More or less the same but Copy gives a little more free storage up front (15GB's+5 with that link referral). The main difference as a photographer is that when I share a large folder with tons of pics, Dropbox would take away that shared space from my client, all of it, even if they only downloaded one of the images. most my clients didn't even have enough Dropbox storage space to be able to accept the folder of pics from an event. Copy doesn't do this, they let me share as much as I want with my clients and friends/family without taking away their storage space, only taking space away from the client when the client downloads something onto their storage space.

The iPhone app is pretty solid, only one bug so far, I couldn't paste an email address into the field when I didn't have the contact in my phone. Other than that, I like the UI better than Dropbox.

I'm still curious what other professionals think about it, so let me know what you think if you use it or download it.

Ha! Funny you say that. As soon as I came back to thank you, I noticed it was you and was all Jerry Sienfeld.

I'm curious on the speed of uploads. Dropbox and cubby are painful.

haha. THAT'S funny because I used to do a mean Seinfeld impression about the white/black cookie.

I'll be honest, I think it's about on par with Dropbox, which I love. But the sharing system on DB forced me to look elsewhere for my clients. And of course the ridiculous amount of free space that Copy is giving out. I keep looking for fine print to see if it's only for a short time. I think they stop doing the big referrals soon, but it looks like we get to keep all the space forever.

I'm backing up some really big picture files right now (9PM west coast) and getting 117 kb/s. My internet is only 250 kb/s upstream so that's pretty decent.

OK, little more info to pass along. I'm uploading 10GB's worth of photos and it's a pretty big resource hog. Almost 3 gigs of virtual memory and a half gig of real memory. Loading the same folder in DB and it's using 300MB of virtual memory and 75MB of real memory.

Granted, Copy's been out for 3 or 4 months compared to Dropbox which launched in 2008. So Copy has some catching up to do.

Good info. So something to do when I don't need to use the Mac. Maybe I'll try some tonight. The sharing is what I am most excited about.

Thank you @BilboTeabagins for this great link, I just signed up their service. Dont you think that Copy service is not reliable and fast as compared to sugarsync and dropbox. I just read the whole features and pricing plan about Copy service and compare it with sugarsync and dropbox here http://www.cloudreviews.com/sugarsync.html
http://www.cloudreviews.com/dropbox.html
and the conclusion was that still sugarsync and dropbox are offering much better and reliabe services as compared to Copy

yeah, I never really liked Sugarsync. I tried it a few times but I also have very selective needs as an artist loading really big files so I'm definitely not the norm. I will say Dropbox is leaner on using resources than Copy. But like I said earlier, it's only been out for a few months compared to Dropbox which has been out for over 5 years. I'll still use both, but for my big files Copy is already making my life easier. Thanks for those links!

Since we are talking about photos, Shutterfly. The Flickr deal sounds great too, might have to make it my 2nd backup.

I saw the WD drive in the photo and I was like... "WHAAAAAA!!!" ;)

I saved up and purchased a 2 TB WD (My Passport) external drive that looked exactly like that. Backed up everything on it and a day over it's warranty period, it crashed out on me and never recovered :'( [Good thing i had most of the important stuff saved up on a secondary computer]

I have all of my photos backed up automatically with Time Machine. Crashplan backs up my photos, files, music, etc (200GB), so if both hard drives fail I can access them again.

Flickr has some of my photos, but I should be adding more. Everpix allows me to access the last 27 months of my photos from wherever I am with their app, for free. It helps me have more photos without taking up more space on my iPhone or iPad.

I barely use my Dropbox for backing up photos. If I need to send photos I will zip them and add share them via Dropbox, though. I have 35GB free from Dropbox (student 15GB + lots of promotions and such), but most of it is used for school. Dropbox replaced my Home folder on my MBP.

I use Skydrive and Carbonite. Both have the added bonus to backup video and other documents as well. Carbonite is not free, but it is automatic. Skydrive is free but you have to remember to backup your photos.

Now that flickr offers 1 TB, I started to back up with them as well as with Google drive (not mentioned above for some reason).
I guess 2 cloud backups beat just one.
Now Im waiting for a start up that will automatically sync flickr and drive

I tried to like Google Drive but it was slower than Dropbox and the iOS app is kind of pointless. To send someone a file from it, it makes me open the file in a different app and use that app to send the file. Seems kind of dumb because iOS doesn't have a native PDF reader and one of the options for opening the file is Dropbox! haha. Google kind of dropped the ball on that app.

Google drive works better than dropbox for me because I use several others google services and its much simpler to have everything under same roof.

I do too, and that's what's so frustrating for me. I can't believe they don't have a way to easily share what I have stored on the iOS app. It seems like such an obvious oversight.

Great article...and may I add I think this is an area where apple and iCloud are brain dead.

Ok here is my case: I have a PAID iCloud account with extra cloud storage. I have my iPhone and iPad automatically backed up to iCloud. If one of my devices goes down I can do an iCloud restore and all my photos (and videos too!) come right back. That is very cool.

The problem with iCloud is unlike any of these other services I don't have a way to "view" my photos in the cloud. (say from another device or computer). It's cool that they are all backed up but give me access to them.

Plus I have a mac. Photo stream sends all my photos over to iPhoto where I edit, rate by stars, add "faces" and group into "events". I think all this should "sync" between my mac and other devices. Maybe this could be a "premium" iCloud feature for only "paid" iCloud accounts (since the free one's don't have enough storage to keep all the photos and videos).

This could be a HUGE selling point for apple to get more people on board with the Paid iCloud accounts...

I literally had this same though process to my self last week when I was getting frustrated with how apple handles pics. I started looking into all these services, but I'm not happy with any of them 100% because most of my photo "editing" and "grouping" is done in iPhoto...and none of these services let me sync all that back to the iOS device.

My #1 hope and dream is that at WWDC in June apple shows their new iOS "photos app" and they have added Faces, Events and star ratings... and it syncs with iPhoto (and or aperture) on the mac. Just like notes, messages, reminders, etc. PLUS they give you access to your photos stored in the cloud. (Even if they don't give me access to the pics in the cloud, just letting me put my iPhoto library on there ...as long as I have enough icloud storage, and I do...and then syncing all that back to the iOS devices... with faces, evens, and the ratings would ROCK) If not then Dropbox is probably the best solution and the one I'll go with. They store video's on there as well as photos (and any other docs you might want or need) and they do automatic uploads from your iPhone or iPad.

Here's to holding my breath that Apple delivers the cloud photo service I want...

Rene did a post about this same exact thing a week or two ago. Apple is so far behind in Cloud area, it's ridiculous. It's be great to have a Cloud service that just backed up my damn computer...all of it. That I keep easily access through a file system. I can't figure out why Apple can't get this right when storage is so damn cheap right now and only getting cheaper. Maybe that's why they're building those servers in Carolina though.

I agree about Dropbox, but I posted further up about Dropbox not being good for photographers or video people sharing large photo files or a big video. If you're sharing a folder that has more in it than the other person has in their DB account, they can't access it. It's why I switched to Copy:

https://copy.com?r=FKwEvk

Check it out, I'm liking it better than Dropbox, they just need to fix two small things about the iOS app and it will be better than DB for me.

4 external hard drives: 2 with Time Machine, 1 via Thunderbolt with audio, too. Nobody but Apple has any of my photos (the iOS shots, only).

I use skydrive cause i got, i think 25 gbs backup. I think i have 25 on box.net too but i don't use it. Oh and i got them on a hard drive too. And i got almost all on sugarsync but only because it was the first place i tried to backup but realized it wasn't gonna cut it when i only had 2gbs free.

Photos - and videos - with Amazon Cloud Drive and Crashplan. Also use Time Machine and Chronosync to back them up locally. Guess I should show my family where they're all stored/backed up in case anything ever happens to me. :)

Leanna,
I use Box.com, I have a 50Gb for free.

Most concerned with the title of the article rather than all of the possible places. Who can we trust with our pictures? Are they safe? What are the disclaimers? I don't want to hear "oops, your files are gone."
"Who can you trust with your memories? iPhone photo storage options compared!"

yeah i'd probably be on dropbox, except i think two years ago they did exactly what instagram did and changed their terms of service and tried to get rights for every document uploaded, so i deleted all my stuff (had it backed up of course). Well a week later after public freakouts by users they changed the TOS again back to something sensible saying you still own the copyrights on everythign you upload. For me it was a big deal cause i had all these articles i once wrote for a website backed up. Well i own them. And my pictures, some scholarly papers i wrote. Regardless. yeah i read all those TOS's so it matters.

I don't know why no one mentions this about Dropbox....

If I want to share photos with someone, it creates a public link! Anyone with that link can see it...very lame. Other services operate the same way too...

Everpix. I signed up a few months back and it's great. It's more than just storage, it's breathed new life into my old photos, giving me neat ways to view forgotten images. Their website and iPad apps are fantastic.

Locking photos away in folders in Dropbox or with backup companies like crashplan wasn't what I wanted. I've already got redundant backups and off site backups - what I wanted (and needed) wasn't storage it was BETTER storage. www.everpix.com

I am a Dropbox freak. I also have flickr pro but I am all about the Dropbox. I have a pro account, since I use it for more than photo backup, but the photo backup is rad. I actually only learned about that earlier this year, shockingly! Before that, I synced my phone to iPhoto to have them copied to my Mac and then had that backed up to my 3 externals and 2 offsite backups. (Business!!)

I don't share my pics on dropbox though. Anything I share I do through Flickr. Flickr is just hell to upload to on the phone.

Definitely a Dropbox fan myself—the iOS syncing/sharing options are great, and it just works. If anyone is interested in a new account, using my referral link will earn us both some extra free space: http://db.tt/lEIROA4X

I think Flickr has totally blown all competition out of the water with this... And they have a killer iPhone app (they need to hurry up with the iPad app though).

500px is a little too pretentious and the interface counter-intuitive for me.. Not to mention too expensive. It's also full of pseudo-professional over-photoshopped images and flowers in macro!

With regards to online storage, there's only Dropbox. Yes, they're expensive but they're the iTunes of the online storage world. In terms of security, apps, integration and interface there's nothing remotely as good.

I was happy with flickr until they started messing with the user interface recently. I disagree with the author of this article when they say it has a, "gorgeous new interface". It's horrible to look at and horrible to use. I found this article via searching for an alternative to flickr because after 7 years of satisfied use of it I am really fed up with how every new change they implement makes it worse.

I back up my thousands of photos to icloud with paid extra storage, but have yet to view them (unable to open them in icloud on my old windows vista computer but may be operator error). Google Drive ran out of space then prompted me to purchase more (NOT); my photos open in windows media, and I can edit them in my old Adobe Editor, store them in Adobe Organizer, but I'm hardly a professional (but need to make money so thanks for the info on selling). WD TB external drive backed up my hard drive, but I could not retrieve the data! Do NOT recommend WD unless researched thoroughly. I need to remove photos from hard drive to make computer run faster; should I burn to flash drives or discs? Any recommendations?

What about backing your photos up to ITUNES? I recently went to an Apple Store and they told me that I could back-up my photos to ITUNES and its unlimited storage for free compared to backing them up to ICloud. Can someone give me some advice? I'm surprised that no one has mentioned ITunes.
On a separate note, does anyone know if Iphoto saves your pics? Why wouldnt you store your pics there if so? I am new to the Mac world so I am still trying to understand how you can save pics on your computer that you imported from your phone. I'm not for sure if they will just remain in Iphoto or how that works.
Can anyone tell me?