How to choose an alternative to Google Photos

Filed in Internet by on June 2, 2021 0 Comments

GOOGLE PHOTOS: Last November, Google announced that “unlimited” storage for what it called “high quality” photos would be reduced to “up to 15GB on your Google account” as of June 1st. (Oh, and the term “high quality” is being renamed “storage saver.”) In other words, while photo and video storage did not previously count against your total of 15 free gigabytes on a Google account, it now does — along with Gmail, Google Drive files, and other stored data. Once you’ve reached the 15GB limit, you’ll have to pay for the Google One service to increase your storage capacity. (Unless you have a Pixel 5 or earlier device, in which case there are no restrictions on “high quality” photos.)

If you’re a Google Photos user who finds all of this annoying, you might be considering leaving. But first, it’s a good idea to look into your options. Here are some of the most popular photo storage services, along with their basic fees, so you can decide whether you want to switch. (Note: We only included services with photo-specific features, rather than more general storage services like Dropbox.)

GOOGLE PHOTOS

Google gives each account 15GB of free storage space. However, photos have been treated differently in recent years: under its “high quality” plan, Google stores an unlimited number of photos for free as long as they are compressed to 16 megapixels. (According to Google, photos of that size can be printed up to 24 x 16 inches without issue.) Videos were limited to a maximum resolution of 1080p. (In order to save space, data such as closed captions could be removed.) “Original quality” photos — those that had not been compressed — were not included in the unlimited plan but were counted as regular files.

All of that, however, has changed. As previously stated, Google will begin including photos in its storage calculations on June 1st, 2021. When you reach the 15GB limit, you must subscribe to Google One for additional storage space.

Google One currently offers 100GB of storage for $1.99 per month ($19.99 per year), 200GB for $2.99 per month ($29.99 per year), and 2TB for $9.99 per month ($99.99 per year). The 2TB plan also includes a VPN for Android devices.

Before you rush to invest in Google One, keep in mind that Google provides several mitigating factors to its users. Photos uploaded prior to the new plan’s implementation do not count against your 15GB limit. Furthermore, if you have a Pixel 5 or earlier model phone, you can continue to upload “high-quality” / “storage saver” photos without exceeding your 15GB limit. (Of course, Pixel owners used to get free access to an unlimited number of “original quality” photos.) But, hey, it’s a start.)

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Google is releasing some tools to assist confused users, such as one that estimates how much time you have left before you have to purchase more storage space and another that will help you delete blurry photos, too-large videos, and other items that may take up space.

ICLOUD PHOTOS

If you are a member of Apple’s ecosystem, you have easy access to iCloud Photos, which is Apple’s equivalent to Google Photos. As a backup for your photos, iCloud Photos is linked to the Phone app on your Mac or iOS device. Your iCloud account comes with 5GB of storage space by default; after that, it costs 99 cents per month for 50GB, $2.99 per month for 200GB, and $9.99 per month for 2TB. (This is only for the United States; other countries have different fees.) Windows users can also access iCloud Photos through an associated app; Android users must use a browser.

FLICKR

Flickr also has a free plan, but it is limited to 1,000 photos — within certain parameters: photo files are limited to 200MB and video files to 1GB. You can get unlimited storage without ads for $6.99 per month or $59.99 per year (plus tax). Other benefits of a paid annual membership include statistics on which of your photos are trending and discounts from a variety of companies, including Adobe and SmugMug (which is now part of Flickr).

SMUGMUG

SmugMug, a long-running service that provides storage, portfolios, and sales opportunities for professionals, is also available. Unlimited uploads and a customizable website are available for $55 per year or $7 per month. The Power plan ($85 per year or $11 per month) includes site customization as well as your own domain name. If you want to become a professional photographer, the Portfolio plan adds e-commerce features for $200 per year or $27 per month (you keep 85 percent of the markup). Finally, for $360 per year or $42 per month, the Pro plan allows you to create events, price lists, and branded orders, among other features. If you want to give it a shot, you can sign up for a two-week trial.

500PX

500px, a Canadian company, caters to professional photographers rather than the average snap-and-save photographer. It provides professionals with a place to store, exhibit, and license their work. If you want to start selling your photos, 500px is a good place to start.

There are two paid plans available on the website. The first, aptly named Awesome, costs $59.88 per year or $4.99 per month and includes unlimited uploads, priority support, no ads, a history of “liked” photos, gallery slideshows, and a profile badge. For $119.88 per year or $9.99 per month, the Pro plan includes a way to display your services and organizational tools. (You get a discount on your first year: Awesome is $47.88 per year or $3.99 per month, while Pro is $71.88 per year or $5.99 per month.) If you want to make some money, you can submit your photos to 500px to be licensed for stock usage.

There is a free ad-supported plan that allows for seven weekly uploads. When you sign up, you can try out the Pro plan for two weeks before committing yourself.

PHOTOBUCKET

Photobucket has a limited free plan that allows you to upload up to 250 photos for free — it’s more of a trial plan than anything else. If you like what you see, you can start with the Beginner plan, which costs $5.99 per month or $64.68 per year and includes 25GB of storage, no ads, password-protected album sharing, and an image editor. The Intermediate plan offers 250GB of storage and unlimited image hosting for $7.99 per month or $86.28 per year. Finally, the Expert plan, which costs $12.99 per month or $140.28 annually, includes unlimited storage and no image compression, among other benefits.

DEVIANTART

DeviantArt bills itself as “the world’s largest art community,” with a social network for all types of visual artists. It provides visitors with a diverse selection of art galleries to view, which are divided into categories such as traditional, animation, and illustrations. DeviantArt (or DA for short) even has its own publishing platform called Sta.sh, emphasizing that this site, like 500px, is more about showing (and selling) your art than simply storing it.

There are no limits to how much you can upload for public viewing with a free DeviantArt membership, and you gain access to DA’s community of artists and art lovers. Core Members receive additional benefits. You can sell your art in Sta. sh for $3.95 per month or $39.95 per year, with no service fee (but a 20% fee on Premium Gallery & Premium download sales) and a $100 maximum price per digital item for $3.95 per month or $39.95 per year. You can charge up to $1,000 per item and pay a 12% fee on Premium Gallery and Premium download sales for $7.95 per month or $79.95 per year, along with 30GB of private storage, for $7.95 per month or $79.95 per year. Finally, $14.95 per month or $149.95 per year allows you to charge up to $10,000 per item, reduces your fee to 10% per sale, and provides 50GB of storage.

AMAZON PHOTOS

Along with free shipping, Amazon Prime members receive a grab bag of extras. In addition to video, music streaming, and other perks, you get unlimited photo storage for $119 per year.

A nice feature is that you can share your unlimited storage with up to five friends or family members in the Family Vault. Everything there is accessible to everyone who shares the Vault. By the way, “unlimited” does not include videos or other files; Prime members get 5GB of storage for those, and after that, there is a long list of storage plans available, starting at $1.99 per month for 100GB.

That is something to consider if you decide to cancel your Prime membership. According to Amazon’s instructions, in that case, “the unlimited photo storage benefits associated with the membership expire.” All photos you upload count toward your Amazon Drive storage limit.” Non-Prime members have 5GB of total storage (stills and video).

MICROSOFT ONEDRIVE

While OneDrive is a more general storage service, it does have a photo storage section with some very basic features like albums and the ability to share, caption, or crop photos. OneDrive offers 5GB of free storage, which is significantly less than Google’s 15GB, but the same 100GB for $1.99 per month. If you already use the company’s productivity suite, Microsoft 365 Personal (which costs $69.99 per year), you should take advantage of the deal’s 1TB of storage.

DEGOO

While OneDrive is a more general storage service, it does have a photo storage section with some very basic features like albums and the ability to share, caption, or crop photos. OneDrive offers 5GB of free storage, which is significantly less than Google’s 15GB, but the same 100GB for $1.99 per month. If you already use the company’s productivity suite, Microsoft 365 Personal (which costs $69.99 per year), you should take advantage of the deal’s 1TB of storage.

CRYPTEE

If you’re concerned about privacy and like the idea of encryption, Cryptee, an open-source service based in Estonia, offers to keep all of your photos encrypted using AES-256 (you have to enter an encryption key along with your password to gain access). It provides storage for both documents and photos; the photo feature allows you to organize your images into albums and choose favourites. You have free access to up to 100MB of storage. After that, you can get up to 10GB for €3 (about $4) per month, 400GB for €9 (about $11) per month, and approximately 2TB for €27 (about $33) per month.

 

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