Even without unlimited storage, Microsofta€™s OneDrive remains one of the best deals in cloud storage. Unfortunately, OneDrivea€™s photo management features cana€™t keep up with Google Photos and Apple iCloud Photo Library, even after a recent update for Windows 10 users. The new Microsoft is supposed to be all about cross-platform cloud services powered by machine learning, and photo storage would be the perfect consumer application for that vision. Compared to OneDrivea€™s menus and loading times, both Google Photos and Applea€™s iCloud do a better job of making cloud photos easier to access. Google Photos, meanwhile, performs some kind of black magic that loads image thumbnails near-instantaneously as you scroll through. Although OneDrive includes some basic album collaboration features, Microsofta€™s rivals make sharing more enjoyable.
Both iCloud Photo Library and Google Photos support comments on their shared photos and albums.
Google goes a step further by letting you add shared photos and albums to your main library view, so therea€™s no barrier between shared and non-shared photos. Google and Apple, for instance, both include editors in their photo apps (just as Microsoft does in Photos for Windows 10). Besides, having a dedicated photos app is simpler to access when photos are all you care about.


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At $70 annually, the companya€™s 1TB plan is far cheaper than rival plans from Google and Apple. The companya€™s Face API, can detect facial features and identify people from previous images, while the Emotion API can understand peoplea€™s expressions. Search terms for specific objects tend not to deliver anywhere near the same number of results, and therea€™s no easy way to filter for videos only, like Google can.
If youa€™d rather not use up all that space, therea€™s an a€?optimizea€? setting that stores lower-quality versions locally, while maintaining full-resolution versions in the cloud.
Applea€™s sharing function also includes an activity feed, so you can easily look back at who did what. That way, you can touch up photos from your phone after the initial backup, and the changes will automatically sync to the cloud. You dona€™t have to deal with extra menu clutter, or wade through other documents while searching.
Quite simply,A at $70 per year for 1TB of storage, ita€™s the cheapest way to sync full-resolution photos to my PC (which in turn backs up to another hard drive on the local network). But for now, Ia€™m stuck using OneDrive for archival chores, and Google Photos to actually enjoy the photos Ia€™ve taken.


I should know; for more than a year, Ia€™ve used OneDrive in tandem with Google Photos for cloud storage, and I always gravitate towards the latter to look through old images. With no manual tagging required, Google Photos lets you look up photos of your kids or your friends, and scroll back through a lifetime of picturesa€”sometimes stretching all the way back to birth. That way, you can quickly get to your most-viewed photos without waiting for the files to download. And if you run out of space with the photos on your phone, Google offers a bulk-delete option for everything ita€™s backed up already.
While ita€™s nice to have a single app for all cloud-related needs, a separate Photos app has its own advantages. The facial recognition happens automatically, and if you decide to add a name, Google keeps those labels private. But for now, Photos is an exception to Microsofta€™s newfound interest in cross-platform development. And while Amazon Cloud Drive photo storage is also cheap, at $12 per year or free with Amazon Prime, it doesna€™t offer desktop sync, and I dona€™t trust the cloud as my only option for backups.



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