Phototgraphy

The Best Cloud Storage for Photographers in 2024

The best cloud storage for photographers

As a photographer, choosing the best cloud storage isn’t as simple as picking the cheapest option, but it’s not too complicated, either. There are plenty of great choices available, and at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you find a storage package that works for you and suits your needs.

Some photographers require terabytes of storage that offer instant access everywhere, while others have far more modest needs. However, a few options stand out among the rest (and there are a few options I think you’d do best to avoid, as well).

Best cloud storage for photographers
Trusting your images to a cloud storage service means you will always know they are safe, secure, backed up, and easy to access from anywhere.

Until recently, cloud storage for photography was more of a luxury than a necessity. Digital images were shot only with pricey DSLRs or dedicated pocket cameras, stored on desktop computers, backed up to external hard drives, and emailed or posted on social media for sharing with others. Cloud storage was expensive, slow, and burdensome to set up and manage – and often designed for IT professionals and not photographers.

But modern photography, as the saying goes, requires modern solutions. Cloud storage is now well within reach of even the most casual photographer, and it can also meet the needs of demanding professionals. In fact, there are plenty of cloud storage options available to photographers, and they’re capable of suiting a variety of workflows and storage requirements.

Price, speed, and storage capacity are still worth considering, but they’re not the barrier to entry they used to be. Now it’s not a matter of deciding whether cloud storage is right for you (it probably is!). Instead, the question is which cloud storage is best for you, and thankfully, there are a lot of great options.

Best cloud storage for photographers bird on a boxwood bush
Today’s cloud storage services let you store tens of thousands of images, and some even sync your RAW files!

The best cloud storage for iPhone photographers: iCloud

While it might seem like a bit of a cop out or an overly simple answer, I really do think that the best cloud storage for iPhone photographers is Apple’s iCloud service. iCloud automatically backs up all the photos on your iPhone and makes them available across all your other Apple devices (including iPads, iMacs, and Macbooks).

Your edits also sync across devices, so if you crop a photo on your iPhone, it will appear cropped everywhere else, too. Photos stored in iCloud can be shared with others, and you have the option of storing originals in iCloud while keeping small thumbnails on your iPhone. It’s a great way to free up space on your phone, and it’ll also keep down your costs, since you won’t need to spend hundreds of extra dollars on a phone with more internal storage.

Best cloud storage for photographers iCloud photos
iPhone users will find a lot to like, especially iCloud Photo’s easy setup and management.

All iPhone users get 5 GB of iCloud storage for free. This is hardly enough to store more than a handful of photos and videos, and it almost certainly won’t meet your needs if you also need to back up essential iPhone data and documents.

Fortunately, the price of iCloud storage is quite reasonable: the lowest-tier option costs just 99 cents/month and gives you 50 GB of cloud storage, while the next tier (and the one I recommend for most people) offers 200 GB of storage for $2.99/month.

iCloud pros:

  • A reasonable price makes it more affordable than other cloud storage options
  • Requires almost no effort to set up and use
  • Seamless integration with other Apple devices

iCloud cons:

  • Not a good option for Android users
  • Sharing options can be frustrating
  • Cost increases significantly if you need more than 200 GB of storage

The best cloud storage for Android photographers: Google One

In the same vein as my iCloud recommendation above, the best cloud storage for Android photographers is Google One. It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and integrates seamlessly with Google Photos, one of the most widely used photography platforms in the world.

Anyone with a Google account gets 15 GB of storage for free, though while this is more free storage than iCloud offers, it’s pretty limited once you start filling it up with high-resolution photos and videos. It’s also a little frustrating that the free 15 GB version locks users out of some of Google’s photo-editing tools, such as Magic Eraser and Portrait Blur.

Fortunately, additional storage is only $2/month for 100 GB. (Once that is exhausted, the next available option is significantly more expensive at $10/month for 2 TB.)

Best cloud storage for photographers Google photos
Google Photos is a great choice for Android users and will easily let you access all your photos from any device or web browser.

Google One is easy to recommend for Android users because, like its iCloud counterpart on iPhones, it’s incredibly easy to use. Much of its operation, such as backing up your photos to the cloud, happens automatically without any intervention from the user. Plus, Google Photos does a great job of organizing your images, tagging people, finding objects, and letting you share pictures and videos as needed.

Google One pros:

  • 15 GB of storage is free to anyone with a Google account
  • Integrates with Google Photos for simple backup and cloud storage
  • Simple photo organization and sharing

Google One cons:

  • No mid-tier storage upgrade options between the inexpensive 100 GB and the very pricey 2 TB
  • The free version lacks many photo-editing tools

The best cloud storage for DSLR and mirrorless photographers: Dropbox

Photographers who rely on DSLR and mirrorless cameras generally have different needs compared to their mobile-based counterparts. In other words, if you shoot with a more traditional camera and need to store, organize, and back up thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of high-resolution images and RAW files, you’re going to need something different than iCloud or Google One. Dropbox is the best choice – not just for its price and storage options, but also for certain features that make it uniquely suited to address the needs of DSLR and mirrorless photographers.

Best cloud storage for photographers Dropbox
Dropbox doesn’t do much in the way of editing, automatic organizing, or AI. However, it offers rock-solid syncing and has lots of options for sharing images.

Dropbox is easy to recommend because it does one thing exceedingly well: it offers fast, reliable, highly customizable cloud storage and syncs across all your devices, which is perfect for DSLR and mirrorless shooters. Dropbox has also been around for well over a decade and, as one of the major players in the cloud storage market, is not going anywhere anytime soon; you know your images will be stored securely for years to come.

The $10/month plan gives you 2 TB of storage, similar to iCloud and Google One, but Dropbox works incredibly well on laptops, desktops, and both Android and iOS devices. It has no trouble syncing loads of images at high speeds, including RAW files, and allows you to organize your photos however you want.

Dropbox pros:

  • Fast, reliable, and easy to use for storing images as well as other files and documents
  • Syncs across multiple devices
  • Includes powerful mobile apps for iPhone and Android
  • Multiple family members can share a single Dropbox plan

Dropbox cons:

  • Works well for storing photos but is not specifically designed for photographers
  • Can be used to share images with clients but doesn’t offer customizable galleries

The best cloud storage for professional photographers: SmugMug

If you rely on your camera gear to pay the bills, and you have a vast collection of client images you need to store and manage, you’ll want to pay for a cloud storage option that can keep up with your workflow. SmugMug is the best option for professionals because it doesn’t just offer great cloud storage; it also boasts client galleries and e-commerce options for selling images. It’s not cheap, but it’s well worth the price if your livelihood depends on your cameras and the files they produce.

Best cloud storage for photographers Smugmug
SmugMug has a great set of tools and options for professional photographers.

SmugMug is not designed for amateurs and hobbyists, and there is no free plan. All SmugMug packages, which start at $120/year, are intended for professional photographers and include unlimited photo storage as well as tools to create galleries and websites that effectively showcase your images. The $246/year plan has tools for selling images, watermarking your photos, and delivering files to clients.

While casual shooters can certainly use SmugMug’s services, they would do better to choose one of the other options on this list. But for professionals, SmugMug has everything required for a complete cloud-storage, client-gallery, and e-commerce solution, and it’s easy to recommend.

SmugMug pros:

  • Comprehensive suite of tools and services for professional photographers
  • Unlimited photo storage, including support for RAW files
  • Easy to upload images as well as to manage, sort, and organize photos and RAW files

SmugMug cons:

  • More expensive than other cloud storage options
  • Not designed for casual or amateur photographers

The best cloud storage for hobbyists and amateur photographers: The Adobe Lightroom plan

Now, if you enjoy photography and want advanced editing tools to enhance your creativity, but you don’t quite make a living from taking pictures, then I encourage you to subscribe to Adobe’s Lightroom (1 TB) plan.

The $10/month option offers 1 TB of cloud storage while also including access to Lightroom, the gold standard in digital asset management and editing. It’s the perfect solution for people who want to move beyond Apple Photos or Google Photos, and it’s easy to recommend because it includes enough storage for tens of thousands of images as well as advanced sharing options. It even includes a full suite of educational tools.

Best cloud storage for photographers Lightroom
Lightroom’s combination of cloud storage, asset management, and powerful editing tools makes it easy to recommend for hobbyist and amateur photographers.

Lightroom automatically uploads your images to the cloud – whether you use a mobile phone, DSLR, mirrorless model, or any other camera. It syncs your images across all your devices, and it lets you create beautiful custom galleries that you can share online with friends, family, and anyone else. The mobile Lightroom app is incredibly easy to use and offers advanced editing features like masking and color grading, plus it can be accessed on tablets as well as desktops or even just a web browser.

Finally, this plan gives users five custom websites through the easy-to-use Adobe Portfolio platform, which is an excellent way to create a publicly-viewable showcase for your images. While the 1 TB plan doesn’t include quite as much storage as other services do for the same price, it’s more than enough for most hobbyist and amateur photographers, and it includes all the software you need to edit, organize, and share your photos, too.

Adobe Lightroom pros:

  • The only cloud storage option that includes a full suite of editing, publishing, and sharing tools
  • Offers access to the Lightroom Discover platform, which lets you learn from other photographers and access a wealth of training materials
  • Lightroom receives regular updates, which add meaningful improvements and functionality

Adobe Lightroom cons:

  • Priced similarly to other cloud storage options, but without as much space
  • Photographers who shoot in RAW will hit their storage limit quickly
  • Additional storage is expensive ($10 per terabyte)
  • Lightroom is not quite as useful as Lightroom Classic, which is not part of the 1 TB cloud storage plan

Best cloud storage backup for photographers: Backblaze

Many photographers don’t need the editing tools, sharing options, and additional features that come with other software on this list. Instead, they require rock-solid solutions for simple image backup and recovery. This type of cloud storage typically operates in the background, quietly humming along while backing up everything on your computer (or only certain folders, depending on what you prefer).

When disaster strikes and you lose hundreds of thousands of photos, you need a backup option to recover them quickly. There are many great options – such as iDrive, CrashPlan, and Carbonite – but the one I recommend for photographers is Backblaze.

Best cloud storage for photographers Backblaze
Backblaze ensures all your images are safe and secure, and there’s no limit on storage or number of files.

While it’s not the cheapest option for cloud storage backup, Backblaze isn’t the most expensive. I think it strikes a nice balance between price and features, especially compared to its peers. Backblaze’s $99/year plan will back up all your images with no limit or cap in terms of overall storage, which makes it ideal for photographers, especially those who shoot in RAW.

Trust and reliability are also factors here; anyone can make big promises, but the proof is in the pudding. Backblaze has been in business for over 15 years and has built a reputation for trust, security, and reliability during that time. It isn’t a flash-in-the-pan, here-today-gone-tomorrow kind of operation, and you can trust the company to have your photos when you need them.

Backblaze pros:

  • Very affordable, even for casual photographers
  • No limit on storage; you can back up as many photos as you want
  • It’s easy to recover all your data if you need it; you even have the option to have everything shipped to you on an external hard drive

Backblaze cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than some of its peers, which can add up over time
  • Designed for backup only; no image editing and sharing tools are included

Other good cloud-storage options for photographers

Not sure if any of my recommendations suit your needs? That’s okay! Here are a few more storage options to consider:

Amazon Photos: This a good choice if you already pay for Amazon Prime and need a cloud storage option but aren’t ready to commit to another service. It backs up all your images automatically, including RAW files, and allows you to access them from the web or through a mobile app. While Amazon Photos works fine, it’s just not as full-featured as the other options on this list, and I’ve found it to be slow, buggy, and downright frustrating at times. Still, it’s worth considering even as just a simple off-site backup option, especially if you’re already paying for Amazon Prime.

Best cloud storage for photographers Amazon photos
Amazon Photos is free to anyone already subscribed to Amazon Prime, though its syncing and organization tools leave a bit to be desired.

Personal cloud services: Companies like Synology have been making big inroads into what is basically your own personal cloud service, usually in the form of a small box that sits near your cable modem or router. These NAS (Networked Attached Storage) options won’t save your photos if your house burns down, but they do let you access your images from anywhere and often include mobile apps and sharing functionality. Personal cloud services don’t require subscriptions since you manage the device and the storage on it, and if you run out of space, you can just add another hard drive or SSD. The learning curve is a little steep, so I don’t recommend them for beginners, but these tools are a good option for photographers who don’t mind a high upfront cost and are willing to do a bit of work to manage things on their own.

One-time-purchase services: There are plenty of subscription-based cloud storage options for photographers, but there are also services that promise essentially the same thing but for a one-time fee. This can sound appealing, but I never recommend such a route. It costs money to maintain servers, develop software, fix software vulnerabilities, and adapt to rapidly changing technologies. Subscription fees offer a way for companies to do all of this, so I would not recommend trusting your photos or other data to any company that claims to do the same for a one-time price.

Final words

Best cloud storage for photographers dog running with a frisbee
The worst cloud storage is no cloud storage. If your images are only saved on a single device or computer, you risk losing all your precious memories in the event of an accident or disaster.

The best cloud storage for photographers is a bit subjective, but the options on this list will work great if you fall into one of the categories described above.

And if you still aren’t exactly sure what cloud storage will meet your exact needs, just remember that any cloud storage is better than none at all. Try one of the options here, or ask around to see what other photographers prefer. Most cloud storage platforms have trial periods, and even if you sign up for one and don’t like it, you can always cancel and switch to another one.

Finally, if you have a storage service you like, share it in the comments below!



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