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Best online photo storage

Best online photo storage

There are two problems with storing all your photos on your phone: They take up a lot of space, and if you ever lose your phone, your photos are gone, too. That's why you should back up your photos to the cloud. Cloud storage gives you a lot of space and convenience for free (or cheap).

We looked at 11 of the top online photo services. While none of them offers the perfect mix of storage space, convenience, and price, we narrowed the field to our top four, which excel in different ways -- find out which one matches your needs.

Also, if you wonder how many photos you can you store in the cloud, find out in our guide comparing the major online photo services.

Apps in this guide

Amazon Cloud Drive Photos (Android, iOS, desktop)

Flickr (Android, iOS, Web)

Google Photos (Android, iOS, desktop)

OneDrive (Android, iOS, desktop)

Best for unlimited storage: Amazon Cloud Drive Photos

Amazon's Cloud Drive offers unlimited space and lets you automatically sync photos via the Amazon Photos mobile app (Android, iOS) or the Amazon Cloud Drive desktop app.

However, if you try to upload an image larger than 13 megapixels, the service will automatically downsize it. Most phone cameras capture images less than 13 megapixels (the iSight rear-facing camera on the iPhone 6S and SE captures 12 megapixels, as does the Samsung Galaxy S7's camera), so you most likely will run into this limit if you shoot with a DSLR. And the interface for Amazon's Web and app is a bit flat, though it offers simple organization, sharing, and editing tools.

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime ($10.99 per month or $99 per year), Cloud Drive Photos comes for free. Or you can get a Photos-only plan for $11.99 per year.

Best for community: Flickr

Flickr gets a lot of things right, starting with 1TB of free cloud storage. While that's not as nice as unlimited space, it's room enough for more than 300,000 average-sized (3MB) photos. Flickr's photostream pages do a nice job of showing off images. And Flickr's photo tags make it easy to search across the community-oriented service for images.

Flickr's free Uploadr mobile app (Android, iOS) automatically uploads photos in bulk. But the desktop version will charge you $5.99 per month for group uploads.

Flickr can handle large photos, up to 200MB, but it doesn't accept RAW files, which could be a deal-breaker for pros and hardcore amateurs looking for photo backup.

Yahoo seems to run hot and cold on supporting its photo site, which frustrates Flickr's strong community.

Best for online editing: Google Photos

With Google Photos, you don't have to worry about uploading your images: Both the mobile and desktop apps automatically sync your photos to the cloud.

You get unlimited photo storage if you use Google's high-quality compression setting for images (photos under 16 megapixels are untouched; larger photos are resized). If you want to store your images uncompressed, the first 15GB of online storage is free; additional storage starts at $1.99 per month for 100GB. Note: Your Google Drive contents and Gmail also count toward the storage limits.

Google Photos automatically assigns categories to images, sorting by people, places, and things. But you can't assign your own tags to make organization and searches easier. It also offers a useful collection of editing tools.

Best for multiple platforms: OneDrive

Microsoft's OneDrive perhaps offers the most platform options, from Xbox to Mac OS X.

Via the simple OneDrive app, you can automatically sync full-resolution photos and then organize your images. You can't, however, edit your images via the app.

The app is stark, and while you can sort images by app-generated tags, you can only add or changes tags through the web interface. The app lacks editing tools but does offer ways to share your images.

You get 5GB of cloud storage space for free. Move to 50GB for $1.99 per month. If you subscribe to Office 365 ($6.99 per month), you get 1TB of space plus Microsoft's Office apps.

More cloud photo services

500px. A website and marketplace for showing off your best work.

Backblaze. A desktop backup service popular among photographers.

Dropbox. After cancelling its Carousel photo product, Dropbox returns to being a solid backup and sharing service.

iCloud Photo Library. A solid choice for an Apple-only setup.

Snapshots. Directed at professionals with a focus on image management and commerce.

SmugMug. A handy paid service that scales to professional needs.

Zenfolio. A paid service with marketing and retail tools.

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Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.