iCloud Photos works flawlessly throughout the entire Apple ecosystem. Shooting photos and videos on the iPhone, and then having them backed up and available on an iPad or Mac is just mind-blowing. As pleasant as it sounds, the service does suffer from some setbacks.
The most pressing issue in iCloud Photos is the paltry free storage offering of 5GB, which hasn’t changed since 2011. And to make matters even worse, the storage quota is shared across other iCloud services including backups. So you are bound to run out of iCloud storage often.
That aside, iCloud Photos also falls apart outside the Apple ecosystem. It’s just atrocious on Windows (albeit recent improvements), not to mention being completely inaccessible on Android. Not great if you prefer having all photos and videos across devices stored and accessible in one place.
Thankfully, several alternative cloud storage services address most of the frustrations associated with iCloud Photos. So without any further ado, let’s check them out.
1. Google Photos
Google Photos is quite possibly the best iCloud Photos alternative hands down. There are multiple reasons for that. For starters, Google Photos provides you with access to 15GB of free storage, which is three times compared to what iCloud offers.
That does come at a price — compression. Photos will be compressed to a maximum of 16MP, while 2K or higher resolution videos will be scaled down to 1080p. Unless you are into serious photography, the compressed photos and videos will still be good enough for most purposes.
The Google Photos app for the iPhone is also a terrific tool to manage your photos. Google employs machine learning algorithms to smartly categorize your photos by person and location. Meanwhile, the built-in Assistant helps you perform a range of actions (creating albums, movies, collages, etc.). The app also features an integrated Google Lens functionality.
Furthermore, Google Photos is available across all major platforms — macOS, Windows, and Android. On desktops, you can either use the Google Photos web app or sync photos locally via Google Drive. On Android, you can use the built-in Google Photos app to access your photo library.
Amazon Photos is another excellent alternative to iCloud. If you are subscribed to Amazon Prime (costs $12.99/month), you can upload as many photos as you want. Unlike Google Photos, Amazon Photos won't compress your pictures. However, video uploads are restricted to a maximum of 5GB, which is a downer.
But even without an Amazon Prime membership, Amazon Photos offers a better deal when it comes to available storage plans. The base storage tier of 100GB starts at $11.99/year. Compared to $0.99/month for 50GB of iCloud storage, that's double the storage for the same price.
The Amazon Photos app is super-smooth and very comfortable to use. You can easily flick through photos, enhance images quickly, and even order physical photos albums from Amazon.com. Check our Amazon Photos versus iCloud comparison for more details.
Amazon Photos is also accessible on any device regardless of platform. Android has a dedicated app similar to the one on iOS. On macOS and Windows, you can use the Amazon Photos app to download photos locally or utilize the web app instead.
Shutterfly offers unlimited photo uploads completely free of charge. Sadly, it doesn't facilitate video backups, but the ability to store all the photos that you want is still a terrific deal.
Regardless, it's sensible to be wary of unlimited storage offerings that don’t seem to have any strings attached. But Shutterfly’s primary business model is to provide the means to order various forms of physical prints based on your photos. So unlimited photo backups are likely a move to entice people to use those services in the long run.
The Shutterfly app provides two modes for uploading your photos — Automatic and Manual. The former lets you automatically upload photos from your camera roll, while the latter is perfect if you only want to take a backup of your best shots to the cloud.
Aside from the ability to create albums and order prints, the Shutterfly app is barebones at best. It offers no photo enhancement tools. That could work in your favor if you want to view photos in a clean and neat interface.
You can access your photos easily using the Shutterfly app on Android, or by signing into the Shutterfly web app on Windows and macOS.
Microsoft OneDrive offers another excellent means to upload photos and videos shot on the iPhone, and works best if you have an ecosystem comprised of Windows-based devices.
Just turn on the integrated Camera Upload functionality, and your photo library should start backing up immediately. And considering that OneDrive is available pretty much everywhere means that you should have ready access to your photos no matter what device you use.
But when it comes to free storage on offer, OneDrive also disappoints with its quota of 5GB. And the paid storage tiers don’t make much difference either from a cost per gigabyte perspective.
If you have an Office 365 subscription (which nets you a 1TB of storage), then it makes sense to use Windows-based devices to sync your photos with OneDrive. That combination makes it a much better deal than iCloud.
Box offers 10GB of storage space straight out of the box. But there's a catch — it won't perform automatic uploads unless you upgrade to a paid account.
Regardless, having twice the amount of storage compared to iCloud which you can use to upload select items can come in handy.
Aside from providing you with the ability to back up photos and videos, Box really doesn’t do anything special. Well, it does let you share items with contacts. Box is available on all major mobile and desktop platforms.
Upgrading to a paid Box account makes little sense considering that the service is really geared towards small businesses. Also, it's too expensive cost-wise for an average user. In short, put that 10GB to good use and look elsewhere for additional storage.
Apple's strongest point is user privacy. Your photos stored on iCloud Photos won't be used to mine data or for other nefarious purposes. If you are concerned about potential privacy implications, it's wise to purchase additional storage and stick to iCloud.
Next up: Did you know that you can use My Photo Stream functionality to sync photos via iCloud without consuming storage space? Find out the difference of using it versus iCloud Photos.