Thursday, May 19, 2022

Best Free Flickr Alternatives

 With Flickr downgrading its free 1TB storage to a distinctly ungenerous 1,000 pictures, now is the ideal time to find an alternative home for your photos. we eye up the best online photo-storage services.

1. Google Photos 

Once upon a time. Google Photos was part of the ill-fated Google+ service. Now, spun out as a standalone app, it's a near-faultless photo-focused storage service that offers users unlimited storage for free.

First, a note about that 'unlimited storage'. There's no such thing as a free lunch: if you take advantage of its infinite space, Google will cap your image resolution to 16 megapixels and 10130p for videos. If you're a home user uploading snapshots from your phone or budget digital camera, it shouldn't be a problem. But if you want your high-res photos stored in all their original glory, you'll be limited to 1SGB across all Drive services, including Photos.

Google's paid-for storage upgrades are good value -100GB costs just £1.59 a month, and more options are being rolled out under the new Google One plan which shares storage across Photos, Drive and Gmail, and can be shared with family members.

The layout is uncomplicated, whether on the web or the identical smartphone app. With its spacious overview, viewing, uploading, sharing, and editing is effective and intuitive. When you open a photo, the viewing experience remains faithful, with no rogue pixelation or downgraded resolutions. And that big old Search bar is clever enough to find all your photos of, say, a field, without you needing to tag them.

Google Photos' crowning glory is the Assistant. Tucked away on the left-hand sidebar, and also under the Create tab at the top of the screen, there's a media editor that's smart enough to tweak a photo's lighting, add filters, animate still images, and cut videos into GIFs. Once you're happy with the results, press Save to store Al's handiwork (don't worry, it won't overwrite the original). You can also use the Assistant for your own creations, including animations, collages, and films.

2. OneDrive

Microsoft's OneDrive -our preferred cloud-storage service for some time - is a simple tool that integrates well with both desktops and smartphones. Sign up for free to get 5GB storage plus Microsoft Office Online, which includes Word and Excel (Office 365 subscribers get 1TB of storage for free). However, it lacks Google Photos' pin-sham focus and elegance of use.

The sidebar's Photos hub lets you explore all pictures chronologically. The menu across the top lets you view them by Albums, Tags, and Places. Select a photo to unlock an array option, including edit, share and embed.

A nice touch is OneDrive's album creator, which automatically collates your photos based on the date they were taken. As a 'smart' cloud-storage solution, we were also impressed with OneDrive's ability to cleverly recognize and tag themes, including people, animals, sunsets, cities, and much more (weirdly, even lndoors' and '#meetingrooms' had their own tags).

3. Shoebox

If you'd rather keep your data away from the internet giants, stash your photos in Shoebox. It offers Android and iOS apps, and browser-based uploads - although, if you're using Windows or Mac OS, the desktop app is a smarter choice because the website doesn't always load properly. Syncing is immediate, and the Search function reads metadata, so you can quickly find pictures based on times, dates, and specific locations.

The "forever free" plan offers unlimited photo backup, though image resolutions are capped at 10.6 megapixels. That's probably fine for home users because phone cameras generally hit 8 to 16 megapixels - and it's tough to spot the difference without zooming right in. But it's not suitable for serious photography enthusiasts.

4. iCloud 

There's barely a cigarette-paper's difference between Apple's iCloud and OneDrive - our recommended general cloud storage service. Both offer 5GB for free and syncing is quick and simple. But the old-fashioned iCloud doesn't categorize images, which forces you to create and manage your folders. It all comes down to price: if you're an iPhone owner wanting a massive 2TB storage and don't need free Microsoft Office, then iCloud's £7 a month is good value.

5. Dropbox  

Once the cloud-storage king, now struggling against its better-equipped rivals, Dropbox suffers the same problem as iCloud: lack of file-type organization. Files and photos are lumped together, leaving you to sort everything out yourself. Free users only get 2GB storage, though images aren't downgraded or capped. But we appreciate the File Explorer integration, which, like Windows' local OneDrive folder, makes uploads quick and easy.

6. Canon Irista

Irista, from the top camera brand Canon, gives free users an uncommonly generous 15GB just for signing up, which is tempting in a sea of 1GB and 5GB offers. Sadly, it's let down by an inconsistent service: syncing across devices is slow, uploading is slow, and we struggled to add even modestly sized pictures without receiving error messages.