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Quickly compared: which smartphone photo backup app should you use? (Updated)

By Alvin Soon - 23 Dec 2015

Quickly compared: which smartphone photo backup app should you use?

 

Quickly compared: which smartphone photo backup app should you use?

Updated 22/12/15: Microsoft has announced that OneDrive’s free tier will drop from 15GB to 5GB of storage. But if you’re an existing OneDrive user with 15GB of storage, you can click here to keep it. Find out more. iCloud Photo Library prices have also been updated.

Updated 10/6/15: Added Microsoft OneDrive to the comparison matrix based on user requests.

The rest of the article was first published on 4th June 2015 and is still valid:-

Google announced a new photo backup service called Google Photos. The unique selling proposition is insane: free and unlimited backups of your smartphone photos.

To be clear, there are actually two versions of Google Photos. The first is a free, unlimited backup option that stores compressed versions of your photos and videos. Google calls this the High Quality option. The second version, what Google calls the Original option, keeps your photos and videos in their original resolutions, but storage is limited to the first free 15GB of your combined Google Account. If you want more storage for original, you’ll have to pay.

How does Google Photos stack up against popular photo backup services for mobile, and is it the one for you? Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide.

Online photo backup services compared
  Dropbox Flickr Google Photos (HQ) Google Photos (Original) Microsoft OneDrive
Free storage 2GB 1TB Unlimited 15GB (uses your Google Account) 5GB (15GB opt-in available for existing OneDrive users)
 Paid storage
  • US$9.99/month
  • US$99/year
    for 1TB
  • US$5.99/month 
    for ads-free or
  • US$49.99/year
    for ads-free
  • US$499/year
    for 2TB
See Google Photos (Original)
  • US$1.99/month
    for 100GB
  • US$9.99/month
    for 1TB
  • Plans up to 30TB available
  • US$1.99/month
    for 100GB
  • US$3.99/month
    for 200GB
  • US$6.99/month
    for 1TB (includes Office 365)
 Photos saved in original quality Yes, no size limit per photo Yes, at up to 200MB per photo No, compressed, and up to 16MP per photo Yes  Yes
 Photo formats supported Any JPEG, GIF, PNG, other formats will be converted to JPEG JPEG Any Any
 Videos saved in original quality Yes Yes, 1080p HD videos up to 1GB in size each No, compressed, at up to 1080p  Yes Yes
 Automatic uploads (on mobile) Yes Yes Yes (on Android) Yes (on Android) Yes
 Deleted photos kept for 30 days N.A. 60 days 60 days One year
 Downloads Download in original quality Download in original quality Download in compressed quality Download in original quality Download in original quality
 Available on (mobile) Android / Blackberry / iOS / Windows Android / iOS Android / iOS Android / iOS Android / iOS / Windows Phone
 Great if
  • You want to backup your photos in their original quality
  • You want to backup your photos in their original quality
  • You like free
  • You want a free, simple way to backup your photos and videos
  • You like having it organised for you automagically 
  • You want to backup your photos in their original quality
  • You like having it organized for you automagically
  • You want to backup your photos in their original quality
  • You don't mind paying
  • You're getting Office 365 anyway
  • You like having super long backups of deleted photos
  • You're on Windows Phone
 Not great if
  • You want a great photo-browsing experience
  • You don't want to pay
  • You don't like ads
    (in the free version) 
  • You don't like having your photos compressed to lower quality
  • You're paranoid about Google scanning your stuff
  • You don't want to pay 
  • You're paranoid about Google scanning your stuff
  • You don't want to pay for more than 30GB of free storage

 

People on iOS have two more options in Apple’s own photo backup services:

  Photo Stream iCloud Photo Library
Free storage 1000 most recent photos, or last 30 days, whichever is greater 5GB
Paid storage N.A.
  • US$0.99/month for 50GB
  • US$2.99/month for 200GB
  • US$9.99/month for 1TB
Photos saved in original quality Yes Yes
Photo formats supported JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and RAW JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and RAW
Videos saved in original quality Does not upload videos Yes
Automatic uploads
(on mobile)
Yes Yes
Deleted photos kept for 30 days 30 days
Downloads Download in original quality (on Mac or PC) Download in original quality (on Mac or PC)
Available on (mobile) iOS 5.1 or later iOS 8.3 or later
Great if You don't really want a backup You're using a Mac and running Yosemite with the Photos app
Not great if You really want a backup You're not on a Mac

Apple’s Photo Stream is free, but isn’t really a backup service, seeing that it only backups your 1,000 most recent photos, and doesn't do anything about videos. iCloud Photo Library is only great if you use Apple-everything, because you’ll need to be running Yosemite and the new Photos app to make the most of it. Apple also charges the most for storage.

We’re listing ‘paranoid about Google scanning your stuff’ in the table rather tongue in cheek, but Google scans your stuff. If you use Gmail, it scans your email to find out what ads to serve you. Google Photos also scan your photos, that’s how it’s able to help you organize them (rather magically). For example, after uploading your photos, you can search inside of them, for keywords like ‘cat’, ‘food’, ‘flowers’, ‘taken in Orchard Road’. Whether or not what Google learns about you will be fed into its ads services is anybody’s guess... but then again, Google does make most of its billions from selling ads.

 

So what's the best choice for you?

In short, if you:

  • Like free
  • Don’t mind losing a bit of image quality
  • Aren’t paranoid about Google scanning your stuff

Then Google Photos is a simple solution that fits.


But if you:

  • Like free
  • Don’t mind ads
  • Want to keep your photos and videos in their original quality
  • Are paranoid about Google

Then you can look at Flickr for a free 1TB.


Unless you’re paranoid about Yahoo! scanning your stuff, in which case, you...

  • Are paranoid
  • Want to keep your photos and videos in their original quality
  • Are okay with paying
  • Don't want any photo organization tools

Try Dropbox. They make you pay, and they’re not in the ad business, so your privacy should be reasonably safe.

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