ByJesse Hollington/May 28, 2023 1:30 pm EST
For most iPhone and iPad users, iCloud is the easy pick for storing your photos, videos, and other files. However, it's far from the only game in town, and there are plenty of additional options that may be worth considering, especially if you're bumping up against some of iCloud's limitations.
While Apple has done a pretty good job of making iCloud available for Windows PCs, it's still a solution that works best if you're firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem — there's no doubt that it's far more tightly integrated on the Mac. Further, there's no official way to use iCloud on an Android phone or tablet or a Linux PC other than logging in with a browser.
Then there's the storage allotment. Apple still only offers a relatively paltry free 5GB with an iCloud account, no matter how many Apple devices you own. Of course, Apple is happy to offer you more storage for a monthly subscription fee at reasonably competitive prices. However, many other cloud storage services offer more generous amounts of free storage that may meet your needs, and some charge considerably less if you do want to buy more.
While there's no doubt that iCloud will give you the best experience on your iPhone — it's built into the operating system, after all — many competing cloud storage services also offer iPhone apps to access your files and backup your photos. Here are some of the most popular alternatives to iCloud for storing your videos, photos, and other files online.
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Dropbox was one of the first mainstream cloud storage services to come onto the scene. The company was founded only months after Steve Jobs showed off the original iPhoneand it's been on the App Store since 2009 — well over a year before Apple launched iCloud.
Needless to say, Dropbox remains one of the most popular cloud services available, boasting over 700 million registered users.In addition to the iPhone and iPad, it offers client apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, so you can sync and access your files from just about any device you're using. Naturally, you can also log into Dropbox to access and view your files from any modern web browser and easily share files securely with other Dropbox users or with anybody else using private links.
The iPhone and iPad app can also automatically backup photos from your device's photo library, storing them in a simple file and folder structure that you can easily access from your computer without any additional software. As a bonus, the mobile app also includes a built-in document scanner to quickly capture receipts, whiteboards, and other documents.
The downside is that it's one of the few services to offer even less free storage than iCloud. You only get 2GB unless you're willing to pay for one of its storage plans, which starts at 2TB for $10 per month as long as you're willing to pay annually. That's the same as Apple's 2TB iCloud+ plan, although Dropbox lets you go beyond that with a 3TB plan for $199 per year or $20 per month.
If you already have a foot in the Google ecosystem — as a Gmail user, for instance — then Google One may actually be a better fit than iCloud. A standard Google Account gives you 15GB of storage for free. That's three times what Apple offers, although that's shared by all of your Google services, including what's in your Gmail mailbox.
For straight file storage, there's a full-featured Google Drive app available for iPhone and iPad that ties into Apple's Files app, plus Google Drive for Mac that integrates with Finder nearly as well as iCloud. However, one of the benefits of Google One over most other cloud services is you can also use this storage for the full-featured Google Photos service. Google is one of the few cloud storage providers with sophisticated photo management features, so it's a great choice if you're also looking for an alternative to Apple's iCloud Photos.
If you need more storage, you can opt for a 100GB plan for $2 per month, 200GB for $4 per month, or 2TB for $10 per month — basically the same prices Apple charges for iCloud storage. Like iCloud, Google One plans offer a few other perks, including a full VPN service that goes beyond what Apple's iCloud Private Relay offers, plus access to advanced editing features in Google Photos.
While iCloud is great for people who are all-in on Apple products, it's always been a slightly awkward fit if you're using a Windows PC. To be fair, Apple does a fantastic job trying to deliver as much of a native Windows experience as possible with iCloud for Windows, but at the end of the day, you're still bolting on a piece of additional software.
Of course, Microsoft has an answer to that in the form of OneDrive, its own cloud storage service. OneDrive is just as seamlessly integrated into Windows 11 as iCloud is in macOS, while the OneDrive app for iPhone and iPad ties into Apple's built-in Files app to make it easy to access your files on the go. It can also automatically back up your photos to the cloud for easy access through the Windows Photos app on your PC.
Microsoft offers the same 5GB free storage allotment as iCloud, but that jumps to 1TB if you opt for a Microsoft 365 subscription. That isn't as hard of a sell as it sounds since it's only $7 per month or $70 per year for an individual and includes Microsoft's entire Office suite of apps — Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and more. Even better, you can get a Microsoft 365 Family Plan for up to six people in your household for only $10 per month, and each person gets their own 1TB of OneDrive storage. If you need more than the standard 1TB of storage, you can add up to 1TB more in 200GB increments for $1 per 100GB.
Amazon Photos is a great low-cost alternative to buying iCloud storage for your photo library, and the best part of this is that you may already have this service without realizing it.
Many folks sign up for Amazon Prime just to get faster shipping or access to Prime Video, which are both great reasons to get the service. However, there's another one that often flies below the radar — an Amazon Prime subscription also includes unlimited storage for full-resolution photos and up to 5GB of storage for your videos.
You need only to install the Amazon Photos app on your iPhone or iPad and it will sync your camera roll up to Amazon's cloud servers, where you'll have no limits on the number of photos you can store. It's not just about backing up your photos, though — you can also organize them in the Amazon Photos app, and if you have an Echo Show in your home you can set it up so it shows off your latest pictures or favorite moments right after you snap them.
Sadly, while this is a great way to back up and share your photos, you'll need to look elsewhere if you want to store other types of data, as Amazon willdiscontinue its Amazon Drive file storage service at the end of 2023.
Box is a popular storage service among businesses, but it also offers some good personal plans, and since it's built for enterprise needs, it also has a rock-solid level of reliability.
You'll get a slightly generous 10GB of storage on the free tier, but you can probably bump that up if you look around a bit, as Box often runs promotions that offer bonus storage for doing things like installing the mobile app on your iPhone. It's the ability to get extra free storage that makes Box a reasonably economical choice, as the paid tiers are considerably more expensive than the competition. The lowest-tier paid plan offers only 100GB of storage for $10 per month — and that's only if you pay for a year up-front.
In addition to letting you store and access files, you can also record audio, take photos, and scan documents on your iPhone directly in the Box app, which immediately uploads them to cloud storage as long as you have a data connection. There's also a continuous capture feature that opens the camera by default as soon as you open the Box app so you'll be ready to scan in documents right away.
However, the real selling point of Box is the staggering number of business app integrations that could make it an ideal choice for professionals and freelancers. The service boasts support for more than 1,500 applications, including things like uploading files directly to Vimeo without having to download them to your PC first or securely sharing files in collaboration apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
If you want a simple, straightforward, and secure way to store your files in the cloud, then Sync may be just what you're looking for. While its free tier only provides the same 5GB as iCloud, its paid plans are very affordable, offering up to 6TB of personal storage for as little as $20 per month. There's even an unlimited storage plan for teams that starts at $30 per month for two users.
The Sync app for the iPhone and iPad doesn't offer a lot of bells and whistles, focusing primarily on accessing and sharing files rather than features like scanning or e-signing documents. However, it does support automatic camera uploads so you can ensure your photos are backed up safely to the cloud almost as soon as you take them, and it integrates with Apple's Files app for tight integration with the rest of iOS.
Sync is one of the few third-party services to offer zero knowledge end-to-end encryption, which means that even the folks who run Sync's servers can't see your files. The higher-tier plans also offer custom branding, which lets you add your own logo to the sharing pages, and a vault featurethat lets you archive files in the cloud for long-term storage without taking up space on your devices.
SpiderOak was one of the first cloud storage services to offer sophisticated client-side encryption to guarantee the security of your files through what it calls No Knowledge cryptography,and it's been standing on that principle ever since.
While SpiderOak has long had a backup service known as SpiderOak One that's strictly a desktop service the company no longer offers mobile apps for it. Instead, it has introduced CrossClave, a cloud storage app with a focus on securely storing, sharing, and collaborating on files. The app is designed solely for uploading, sharing, and accessing files, and there are no photo-related features at all.
However, it's secure sharing where CrossClave particularly shines. While most cloud services will let you share files using a link, there's nothing that prevents those links from being passed around or leaking out. CrossClave's Airlock feature shares files using links and passcodes that are only valid for a limited time and expire after a single use.
Like Box, SpiderOak CrossClave is targeted heavily toward business use, but the company offers a free plan with 5GB of secure storage for up to three users, which could be useful for families or small teams. Paid storage starts at $15 per month for 2TB, which is a bit pricier than the competition, although additional storage is available at $10 per month per terabyte.
While iCloud also recently joined the end-to-end encryption party, SpiderOak CrossClave is a useful alternative for those who want unparalleled privacy and security for storing files in the cloud and sharing them securely.
While it's not quite as full-featured as some of the other options on our list, IDrive offers the best value per terabyte that you'll find from an established cloud storage provider.
While you still only get 10GB for free, the standard plan bumps that to a whopping 5TB for as little as $5 per month. Larger plans are available if you need more storage — as much as a whopping 5TB for around $30 per month. There's also a "mini" plan that gives you 100GB of storage for only $2.95 per year.
The catch is that IDrive is primarily a backup service. It's not really designed to store and sync your everyday files for use on multiple devices. The IDrive iPhone app will back up your photos, videos, contacts, and calendar while also allowing you to access files that you've backed up from your computer, even if you can't upload individual files from your iPhone. There's also a separate IDrive Photo Backupapp that focuses more specifically on backing up and browsing your photos and videos on IDrive. It's not as full-featured as iCloud or Google Photos, but it gets the job done if you're mostly just concerned with viewing your photos.
Nevertheless, if you're looking for an affordable way to back up your data, IDrive is hard to beat, and it also offers optional private key encryption to secure your data on IDrive's servers with a passkey that only you know.
Alongside OneDrive, Google Drive is one of the most successful cloud providers and an ideal iCloud backup alternative. Private users considering the move to Dropbox or Google Drive tend to fall back on Drive. After all, Google services like Gmail and Contacts are integrated and pre-installed on Android.Is there a better option than iCloud? ›
Alongside OneDrive, Google Drive is one of the most successful cloud providers and an ideal iCloud backup alternative. Private users considering the move to Dropbox or Google Drive tend to fall back on Drive. After all, Google services like Gmail and Contacts are integrated and pre-installed on Android.What do people use instead of iCloud? ›
- Google Workspace.
- Microsoft OneDrive for Business.
Dropbox offers more features and offers a simple, easy-to-use interface on all platforms, including on Mac and iOS. However, iCloud offers greater integration for Apple device owners, making it easier to share and sync your files.How do I use iPhone storage instead of iCloud storage? ›
- Go to Settings > iCloud > Photos.
- Toggle the switch next to “iCloud Photo Library” to the “Off” position. ...
- Tap Download and Keep Originals.
Is there a free version of iCloud? Yes. The first time you sign in to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac with your Apple ID, you'll get 5GB of free iCloud storage. This allows you to back up your data and keep your personal information in sync across your devices and at iCloud.com.Is Google cloud better than iCloud? ›
In short, Google Drive works equally well on Apple and Windows devices. Apple iCloud, on the other hand, and perhaps unsurprisingly, is best suited to iOS, macOS, and iPadOS devices. This is because the platform is completely integrated with these operating systems and operates almost entirely in the background.What are the disadvantages of Dropbox? ›
- Poor storage limits for free users. ...
- Comparatively expensive paid subscriptions. ...
- Security issues. ...
- Limited search function.
Videos, photos and large email attachments are large files that fill up storage space quickly. Apps like Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders and Notes automatically access the cloud and store additional data there.Why Dropbox is still the best? ›
Dropbox excels at file sharing and synchronization. For file syncing, Dropbox offers two useful features that sound similar and are often confused: selective sync vs smart sync. Firstly, you have “Selective Sync.” This feature lets you choose which folders are synced to your account.
So if you want a reliable flash drive for your iPhone, the SanDisk iXpand is your best choice. This iPhone flash drive comes in 64, 128, and 256 GB storage. 64 GB is enough to store all the files from a single iPhone. But if you have a lot of files to transfer, you can always get the 128 or 256 GB options.How do I store photos without iCloud? ›
If you're not using iCloud Photos at all on your iPhone, open Finder and select your connected iPhone on the sidebar to the left. Switch to the Photos tab and drag and drop your images and videos to other locations on your Mac just as you would any other file.Is it really necessary to have iCloud? ›
The purpose of iCloud is so you can access your data across all of your Apple devices. However, a large portion of people either don't have another Apple device, or don't need to be storing that much data in the cloud.Should my email be using iCloud? ›
Should I use iCloud for email? If you are an avid Apple user looking for a clean interface, then iCloud is a good choice. It quickly integrates with other Apple products and is easy to learn.Can you delete photos from phone and not iCloud? ›
Open Settings from your iPhone homescreen and tap on the Apple ID with your name. On the Apple ID screen, select iCloud > Photos. Use the toggle switch for iCloud Photos to disable syncing. With the connectivity between iPhone and the iCloud disabled, you can safely delete photos from your iPhone.Can I buy iCloud storage for lifetime? ›
You can not purchase “lifetime” cloud storage. iCloud storage is a monthly rental that you pay for as long as you wish to use. Note, that it does not add storage space to an iPhone.How can I buy iCloud storage permanently? ›
- Go to Settings, then tap your name.
- Tap iCloud, then tap Manage Account Storage or Manage Storage. Or scroll down and tap Upgrade to iCloud+.
- Tap Buy More Storage or Change Storage Plan.
- Choose a plan and follow the onscreen instructions.
|50 GB||$0.99per month|
|200 GB||$2.99per month|
|1 TB||$9.99per month|
If I don't back it up, what will happen? Nothing, but if for some reason the device needs to be restored there will be a lot of data missing. The easy way around this is to either turn the Wi-Fi back on or plug the device into the computer it normally syncs with and backup the device to the computer.Does iTunes still exist? ›
While much of iTunes has faded into obscurity, the functionality lives on through Apple Music and the iTunes Store. We take a look back at the launch of iTunes and the iTunes Store, where iTunes is today and the state of downloading music in 2022.
You can back up iPhone using iCloud or your computer. To decide which method is best for you, see About backups for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.Can I use Google Drive instead of iCloud? ›
Pricing: Unlike iCloud, which only offers users 5GB of free storage, Google Drive gives users 15GB for free. This means that users can store a lot more before they have to start paying for a plan, which makes Google Drive a more attractive option for people who just want a little extra storage without a commitment.How to get 200GB iCloud for free? ›
If you have a Managed Apple ID provided from a school registered with Apple, your account should automatically be upgraded to 200GB of free iCloud storage.Why Google Drive is better than iCloud? ›
Google Drive vs iCloud in Security and Privacy
Moreover, Google offers two-step verifications. This means you have a third layer of login protection and that's with Google Authenticator. As for your data itself, this is encrypted in transit using SSL but only stored at rest using 128-bit AES like iCloud.
If you just want to find a reliable place to store your photos and videos online, Google Photos is the right choice. If you are an iOS or macOS user, iCloud is great for you to try because it is pre-installed and can sync across all these devices.Why Google Cloud is the best? ›
It is a fast, safe and secure cloud hosting service. It offers many regions and zones to set up the cloud-based server, and everything related is managed by Google Cloud. You have many options available to choose from, both for hardware and software.How much does Dropbox cost a month? ›
|Plus||$9.99/month (if billed annually)|
|Professional||$19.99/month if billed annually|
We are no longer supporting the desktop window (shown here) beginning on Jan. 17, 2022. Users will still be able to save, view, share, and access all of their files with the Dropbox folder on Finder (Mac), Explorer (Windows), the taskbar or menu bar, dropbox.com, and the latest iOS and Android apps.Does Dropbox last forever? ›
Your default file recovery period depends on your Dropbox plan: Dropbox Basic, Plus, and Family users have 30 days. Dropbox Professional and Business users have 180 days.What takes up the most storage on iPhone? ›
Remove videos, books, and music stored on your phone
Sometimes what's taking up the most amount of storage are the data and documents stored within an app on your phone. You can find out if that's the case by once again heading to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and then clicking on an app.
It will erase the data you previously backed up to iCloud.
So, in case you need to set up your iPhone from scratch, you will not be able to recover data from iCloud.
When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of free storage. If you need more iCloud storage or want access to premium features, you can upgrade to iCloud+.Does anybody use Dropbox? ›
Many people use Dropbox as their primary file backup and sync it with multiple devices so they can access their data anywhere at any time.What is safer Google Drive or Dropbox? ›
File sharing features
Each program lets you share files and folders, regardless of what program you choose. They're essentially the same in granting permissions or sharing links as well. However, Dropbox does surpass Google Drive when it comes to securing your shared files.
With Google Drive, there are two options: you can purchase storage via a Google One subscription or a Google Workspace subscription. Using Google One, you can get 2TB of storage for the same price as Dropbox's 2TB annual plan when paying monthly (though you'll save a few bucks going with Google on the annual plan).Where can I save my photos forever iPhone? ›
Store your photos and videos in iCloud
With iCloud Photos, you can make more space available on your device and still have access to your entire full-resolution collection wherever you go. Get started with iCloud Photos: Tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos. Tap Sync this iPhone.
- Don't Rely on Storing Images on Memory Cards. ...
- Store Your Photos on External Hard Drives. ...
- Backup Your Photos on the Cloud. ...
- Save Your Photos as Email Attachments. ...
- Go Old School and Burn Your Photos to CD. ...
- Print Your Favorite Photos and Put Them on Display.
An external hard drive is a great way to back up your photos and other files. It can also be used to store your photos if you don't have much space on your computer or phone. To keep your data safe, choose external drives or bulk flash drives with good security protocols, such as password protection or encryption.Does iCloud permanently store photos? ›
When you delete photos and videos on one device, they're deleted everywhere that you use iCloud Photos. If you delete something accidentally, you can recovery it in the Recently Deleted folder for 30 days. After that, it's deleted permanently.What happens if I turn off iCloud photos? ›
Turn off iCloud Photos in iCloud and all of your devices
Photos and videos stored in iCloud will be deleted 30 days after you stop using the service.
The connectivity between iPhone and iCloud means that if you delete a picture on your iPhone, it's also removed from iCloud.Why is my storage still full after deleting photos? ›
A common reason for this issue revolves around the Recently Deleted album in the Photos app. This album allows you to recover deleted photos and videos for up to 30 days after deleting them. Like the Recycle Bin on your computer, it acts as a temporary safety net in case you change your mind.What is the easiest way to backup photos from iPhone? ›
For an iOS device, go to Settings > Photos > iCloud Photos and enable the setting. Now, your device will upload all your photos to iCloud any time your device connects to Wi-Fi and the battery is charged. With iOS 11 or later, the sync can happen over a cellular connection, too.Is iCloud the best backup? ›
In most cases, Apple recommends iCloud Backup. When is iCloud Backup the best choice for me? iCloud Backup provides an easy and reliable backup solution. Use iCloud Backup if you want to back up your iOS devices wirelessly and automatically without connecting your device to a computer.Can I replace iCloud with OneDrive? ›
You can install OneDrive app on each of your devices and any files that you save to OneDrive can be accessed from all of the devices. It will not sync your Contacts, Calendars, Notes, Reminders, Keychain, etc automatically from those Apple apps the way that you can do it with iCloud.What happens if you stop using iCloud? ›
Turn off iCloud
If you sign out of iCloud, iCloud no longer syncs your data or backs up the information on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. To keep your information safe, back up your device from your Mac or PC. To stop using iCloud on your devices, learn how to sign out of iCloud.
The short answer to that question is yes, however, our research has shown that iCloud hacking is not possible in the same way it used to work. Spyware is unable to download a full backup of a victim's device from iCloud. Instead, it now works in a more limited way by acquiring iCloud Synced Data.Can I delete photos from iPhone and keep on iCloud? ›
You can delete photos from your iPhone but keep them in iCloud by turning off iCloud photo sharing. You can also use a different iCloud account to keep the previous account's iCloud photos safe. Another solution is to use a different cloud server, like Dropbox or OneDrive, to back up the photos.Should I delete iPhone backup from iCloud? ›
Therefore, we strongly recommend backing up the iPhone to your computer or external hard drive, or extracting some important data from iCloud backup, and only then delete it. When you delete iPhone backup, the data synced to iCloud.com won't be affected.Can I backup my iPhone to OneDrive instead of iCloud? ›
Part 1: Backup iPhone Photos to OneDrive Automatically
Deleting the photos on iPhone to free up some space will also automatically delete the photos from iCloud. OneDrive is an unmatchable alternative to backup photos from iPhone. All you need is a OneDrive application and an account to sign in, and you're good to go!
Which is better, iCloud or OneDrive? iCloud and OneDrive are both good cloud storage services. iCloud is a bit simpler to use and integrates well with the Apple ecosystem, while OneDrive has more features and flexibility. Ultimately, which platform you should choose depends entirely on your needs.Can I download all my iCloud photos at once? ›
On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
To select multiple photos or videos, tap more than one. To select your entire library, tap Select All. Tap the more button . Choose Download, then tap Download to confirm.
What about Gmail vs iCloud privacy? The good news is that both Gmail and iCloud email offers a high level of security. Gmail uses SSL encryption to protect your data while it is in transit. In addition, Google offers two-factor authentication for their accounts.
If you just want to find a reliable place to store your photos and videos online, Google Photos is the right choice. If you are an iOS or macOS user, iCloud is great for you to try because it is pre-installed and can sync across all these devices.