6 of the best online photo storage sites

Online photo sharing has to be one of the most popular activities to have grown out of the internet revolution. The spread of broadband to most households also means it's possible to upload loads of pictures in one go.

Obviously, it's possible to create your own photo galleries by writing some HTML code and resizing your photos accordingly. The problem with this approach is that not only is it time consuming, it also requires that you do the work.

So it's no surprise that automatically managed photo uploading sites are a much more popular method of getting your images online.

In this group test we're going to put six of the most popular ones through their paces to see which you should be using. We'll be looking at which sites make it easiest for you to get your images online and which offer the most flexible ways for you to share your pictures.

Obviously, pricing will also be an important factor too, as will extra services and add-ons. A welldesigned service should also make the process simple enough for you to use over and over. The sites we've gathered here all offer much the same end result, but their design and features all differ greatly, not to mention pricing structures.

The best photo sharing site will have to balance all of the best features and price with usability.

Test One: Storage pricing

A free service isn't always the best, but it helps

This test might seem like a simple win for Snapfish, which offers unlimited uploads to its free service, but there's a large caveat to this: you have to pay to download your images (25p each).

Test 1

Photobucket and Flickr also offer free options, though these have restrictions. Flickr has a 100MB monthly upload limit and Photobucket restricts you to 500MB. You pay $25 (about £17) a year extra to remove these limits.

Picasa Web Albums from Google is free, but storage is limited to 1GB, but it's possible to pay Google for an extra 200GB of storage space for $50 (£34) a year, for example.

MobileMe and SmugMug have offer trials. SmugMug's standard account costs $40 a year with unlimited uploads/downloads. MobileMe is £59 for 12 months and comes with 20GB of storage, but this is shared between your iDisk, email and other services. Add to that a 200MB restriction on data transfer and MobileMe seems the mean-fisted one in the bunch.

Test Two: Uploading images

How easy it is to get photos onto the web

You can upload your pictures to each of the services here with a simple web tool. Getting your images online is hardly a chore, but the methods used do vary.

Test 2

An obvious leader here is MobileMe with its iPhoto and Aperture integration, simple and effective editing, sorting and uploading in one app.

Google's Picasa application is also effective and totally free. If you plan to use the Picasa service the desktop app is all but compulsory given that you can only upload five images at a time via the web interface.

Photobucket is the poor relation in this section, with just a web upload option. You can perform bulk uploads, but the lack of any Mac-based synchronisation other than your own file system is a bit of a drawback.

Though MobileMe might appear an easy winner here, it's worth remembering that iPhoto doesn't get free upgrades, unlike Picasa, and for that reason the Google service edges this round.