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 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 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.
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.
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?