I’ve got a lot of photos to store, but I don’t want to spend extra money on it.
Where can I find cheap (or free) photo storage? That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Where Can I Get Free or Cheap Photo Storage?
The era of flip-phone cameras that produce tiny, pixelated images is over. The time when we used to bring in film to our local Walmart or pharmacy to get developed has passed as well.
Now that we’re all taking and storing hundreds or thousands of large digital images, and the cloud storage industry has matured beyond competing for market share, it’s starting to cost us.
What’s the best, cheapest solution for photo storage in 2023? That’s what one Clark listener wanted to know on the March 20 podcast episode.
Asked Jacob in Pennsylvania: “As a college student, I want to avoid signing up for too many paid subscriptions while I am still in school. Unfortunately, my Google cloud is running out of storage and it seems like I will need to change how I back up my photos. Any advice on where to find free or one-time purchase cloud space that I can use to back up my photos?”
A Modern Problem: Large-Scale Digital Photo Storage
The typical 12MP camera (12 million megapixels) in today’s smartphones produces photos that are typically single-digit megabytes (MB) in size. Some of the newest smartphone camera images can be dozens of MBs each.
The Facebook and Instagram era has transformed every vacation, Sunday brunch and backyard play session with our children into amateur photo sessions. According to one site, the average person keeps 630 photos on their phone. That number seems low for my family and friends.
And when you get a new phone, the images you’ve taken and collected previously tend to travel along with your SIM card or cloud storage.
A Little-Discussed Solution for Cheap Photo Storage: Amazon Prime
The cumulative effect can eat up your Google Drive, iPhone or Samsung storage in a hurry. Especially since Google has changed its policies.
Google previously allowed unlimited photo storage. Now you have a cap on storage. And you have to pay at least $24 a year for additional storage. That gets you 100 GB of storage.
“That may not be enough for you. Because you may be one of the people who takes 4,000 photos every single day,” Clark says.
“If you have an Amazon Prime membership, then you have free photo storage from Amazon that nobody uses, as best I can tell. That would be a way that you can offload all your pictures and do it for free.”
Beyond Google and Amazon: Other Solutions for Free or Cheap Photo Storage
If you’re worried about running out of storage on your phone, you can probably find instructions on how to compress the photos on your iPhone or Android device.
You can also store photos on a USB device or external hard drive, as some Clark listeners and community members have suggested in the past.
However, as Clark points out, storing photos on a physical device can crimp your style if you want your photos available to you at all times. Plus, they may not save you money over Google’s annual plan, as it will cost something to buy the devices.
Another option is to cobble together free storage from multiple sites. Depending on the total size of the files you need to store, this may force you into a headache-inducing number of accounts to manage.
Dropbox gives you 2 GB of free storage, for example. Here are seven of the best free cloud storage options, all of which offer between 5 and 15 GB of free storage.
“But you’d have to really work at — you put these photos in this storage and you put these other photos in this other storage,” Clark says. “That’s probably more than most of us are ever going to want to do.”
I always find dozens of photos on my smartphone that I can delete any time I take a few minutes to look through my galleries. Getting rid of photos you don’t need that are taking up space is another money-saving option.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you have the ability to access unlimited photo storage without paying anything extra.
Otherwise, if you want to avoid paying for photo storage, you may have to string together accounts across a number of platforms that offer limited free space.
Google offers 100 GB for $24 a year and 200 GB for $36 a year at the low end.
You can also buy a USB or external hard drive.
One of the best ways to save money on photo storage may be to limit the photos in your long-term storage to a manageable amount.