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Which Cloud Sites are Best for Hosting Home Movies?
Collectionaire Team
Mar 31, 2020

The following analysis was performed to compare how seven popular cloud sites organize and present digitized home movies, and stream them to connected devices. It also evaluates share features and other attributes that make the viewing and sharing experience better, and addresses pricing.

Bottom Line - There is no one site that is the overwhelming winner for hosting your home movies, but we rank Google Drive and Vimeo as the best, for reasons shown below.

Rating Criteria:

Site Management - Ease of uploading, organizing, viewing, and sharing your movies.

Guest Viewing / Streaming Experience - Viewing-window aesthetics and ability to view the entire movie via share link.

Viewing Resolution -  Streaming in full 480p resolution. This may sound low, but most home movies, home videos, and even digital tapes up until about 2012 will be captured and digitized at 480p. Few formats transfer at a higher resolution if not recorded with a high definition camera. We do not rate the quality of playback of high-def 720p, 1080p or higher resolution video, but it's likely that all of the sites below accept and stream higher quality videos.

Thumbnail Scrubbing - "Scrubbing" is the act of holding and dragging the dot on the slider bar at the bottom of a video to move fast-forward or reverse.  "Thumbnail scrubbing" is the presence of a small image when doing this, which is quite helpful in knowing the contents of the video at a given point.

Start Movie at a Specific Scene - A few sites allow adding a time mark to the share link, enabling a video to start at a specific scene. This is helpful in sharing an important scene found anywhere in a long movie or video.

Price - Basic pricing for each service.

Summary of Cloud Sites (Ratings 0 - 10)

Site-by-Site Analysis

Note:  All images below are those of the first screen seen by a guest viewer when they click on a share link from a given cloud site.  In all cases, "full screen" mode can then be selected, which usually eliminates excess information and up-sell messages.

We add notes on Google Photos, Amazon Photos, iCloud Drive, Box and SmugMug at the end of the presentation.

DropBox - overall rating: 4

 
Has a great clear presentation with good thumbnail scrubbing, but ranking is low.

Dropbox clearly doesn't prioritize the concept of sharing long form home movies because guest viewing is limited to the first 15 minutes without an account.  Requiring login to view the whole movie makes it a non-starter.

  • Pros - Easy uploading and sharing, good picture at highest resolution, awesome thumbnail scrubbing, can disable downloading with premium account level.
  • Cons - 15 min sharing limit unless guest logged in, and movies can't be started at a specific point.
  • Cost - 2 TB for $9.99 per month

YouTube - overall rating: 7

 
Great video presentation, but its rating is hit hard due to its distracting sidebar of additional suggested videos

YouTube is a feature-rich site made for storing and sharing videos. So it should be perfect for our needs, plus it's free. But the sidebar is simply too distracting.  Advanced users might consider creating a private channel to get around this but it's not made for clean sharing of just one video.

  • Pros - Made for viewing and sharing videos, free service to host and view videos, guest viewers need no subscription, great picture displaying at highest resolution, great visual scrubbing.
  • Cons - The sidebar
  • Cost - Free to upload, manage, view and share

Google Drive - overall rating: 8

Google Drive is just a solid workhorse of an app. Site graphics aren't beautiful but nested folder organization is quite clear, it's easy to move files from one folder to another, presentations are clean without ads or up-sells, and it does a good job with streaming.

  • Pros - Easy upload, organizing, and sharing; and viewers do not need subscription.
  • Cons - Besides the scrubbing, playback resolution on few occasions has dropped from 480p to 360p if connection is not great.
  • Cost - 2TB for $9.99 per month

Amazon Drive - overall rating: 3

 
For storing and streaming Home Movies, Amazon Drive is a non-starter due to the 20-minute time limit.

Like DropBox, Amazon is pretty much a non-starter for your home movies.  Here's why:  per the Amazon Drive Wikipedia entry:  "Amazon Drive streaming is not available for videos longer than 20 minutes or larger than 2 GB, but these can be stored in Amazon Drive to download and watch offline." 

  • Pros - Easy upload, good file management and presentation.
  • Cons - Several concerns, including streaming size limit; does not show all folder levels in same view, and share link takes you to a line entry not the movie.
  • Cost - $5.00 per month for 1 TB, but only if you have an Amazon Prime account.  
  • Perhaps of interest: Amazon Photos and Amazon Drive Help Topics

Microsoft OneDrive - overall rating: 6

OneDrive does a great job manage your movies but its rating is dinged by not having visual scrubbing and forcing on your viewers an up-sell "sign up" banner even in full-screen videos.

  • Pros - Easy upload, good file management
  • Cons - Distracting up-sell banner, no thumbnail scrubbing, can't start at a specific scene.
  • Cost - $5.83 per month for 1 TB ($1.99 for 100 GB)

Vimeo - overall rating: 8

 
Beautiful site with only drawback being videos only and no thumbnail scrubbing.
  • Pros - It's a made-for-videos site with a beautiful presentation and great sharing, and the ability to start at specific scene. Seems to squeeze the highest resolution from each video.
  • Cons - No thumbnail scrolling and this made-for-video site is not made for all your other files, so you may need another cloud site for documents.  5GB/week limit on Basic plan will limit speed of adding to collection.
  • Cost - $8.00/mo. with no storage limit, but it has a 5GB per week (about 5 hours of 480p MP4 video) limit for uploading that may be constraining.  

Forever - overall rating: 7

 
 
Forever does a good job with video streaming and sharing, but there's no "start at specific scene" feature, cost is high, and we find the site hard to organize.
  • Pros - Adequate upload, easy sharing, thumbnail scrubbing, full and beautiful video showings.
  • Cons - Can't start a movie at a specific scene, expensive add-on to Forever's storage service, playback resolution not stated, bright up-sell banner is shown to your guest and detracts.
  • Cost - $9.92/mo. on top of storage costs to enable streaming.
  • Storage is sold on a one-payment or 12-payments for a "lifetime" of storage:
    • $999 for 100 GB Lifetime
    • $6,999 for 1 TB Lifetime

Google Photos and Amazon Photos

Google Photos and Amazon Photos are similar in many aspects, and not as well suited to long-form movies and videos as their sister "Drive" sites, above.  For example, while they do allow at least some long-form video storage and playback, they treat a long-form movie the same as a photo.  This makes them hard to organize and they give up many features addressed above.  It also seems that long movie viewing resolution is sometimes downgraded in playback.

When online help topics note that both sites can be used for storing photos and videos, they're usually addressing shorter videos shot on a digital camera or your phone after about 2010.  They are usually not addressing 1 hour or 2 hour converted 8mm, VHS analog, or digital tapes.  

Pros of storing movies/videos here: You can do it and Google Photos, at least, may do so for free though we've not tried 100gb of movies as we have on Google Drive.

Cons: Hard to organize as they are stored in date order, not by file name; they may play at a lower resolution than optimal; and they have no special features addressed in sites above.

      Difference between Amazon Photos and Amazon Drive

Apple iCloud Drive

Apple iCloud is not a streaming service that works like those noted above.  It is a a cloud service to store all types of files and sync these with your ios devices, but it does not stream movies.  You can store movies there (limit unknown) but they need to download from the cloud before playing.  This is not a reasonable solution for our purpose.

Movies need to be uploaded to either iTunes or iCloud Photos (yes, it’s confusing) to share them.
 

Box

We consider Box more of a business-centric cloud site not really made for this purpose, so we do not review it here.  We are not aware if they stream movies. 

SmugMug

Smugmug has a limit of 20 minutes on uploading videos to their site.

Flickr

Flickr has a limit of 10 minutes per video on their site.

Questions?  Please send them to us at Collectionaire via Contact Us and we'll do our best to answer them. We always love hearing from our readers.

 
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