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iCloud Photo Library vs. My Photo Stream – Choose The Right Service

In the section Photos & Camera of the iPhone Settings, you can turn iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream on/off. Since the iCloud Photo Library was released in iOS 8.3, there is uncertainty within iPhone users about the differences between these two services. This article will provide clarification and explains the differences between iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream so that you can decide which fits your preferences better. There are also some links at the end of this article to explain more features of the services.

Table of Content

Similarity: iCloud Photo Library vs. My Photo Stream

Let’s start with the feature that both services offer: iCloud Photo Library, as well as My Photo Stream, automatically upload photos to iCloud.

The way of saving the photos & videos

The biggest difference between both services is how they save your photos and videos (only for iCloud Photo Library).

iCloud Photo Library

  • This service is using your iCloud storage. Apple gives you an iCloud storage of 5 GB for free. You can expand the storage by purchasing a storage plan.
  • If you have enough iCloud storage, all your photos and videos will be uploaded automatically to your iCloud. You can manage your iCloud storage and free up space. Read more…
  • All photos and videos will be saved to iCloud in the original format, resolution, and size.
  • If your photos and videos take too much storage on your iPhone, you can choose the option Optimize Storage in the Photos & Video section of the iPhone Settings.
  • If you edit an uploaded photo or video on one device, it will automatically apply the changes to all devices.

My Photo Stream

  • This service is NOT using your iCloud storage. The uploaded photos won’t be credited to your iCloud storage capacity.
  • iOS uploads the photos of the past 30 days or up to 1000 photos. Videos will not be uploaded.
  • Photos are loaded and displayed in a lower and optimized quality on your iPhone. On a computer, you will see them in the original size and resolution.
  • If you are editing a photo on one device, it will not apply the changes to all devices.

Compatible devices

Another important difference is the accessibility of the photos from other devices. Here are the compatible devices:

iCloud Photo Library

  • Mac
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • iPod touch
  • Windows PC
  • Apple TV (4. Generation)
  • Apple Watch
  • icloud.com

My Photo Stream

  • Mac
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • iPod touch
  • Windows PC
  • Apple TV (4. Generation)

Supported file types

The older service My Photos Stream doesn’t support all file types that the iCloud Photo Library does. A major difference is that My Photo Stream cannot upload videos. The following file types are supported by the respective service:

iCloud Photo Library

  • JPEG
  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • RAW
  • GIF
  • MP4

My Photo Stream

  • JPEG
  • TIFF
  • PNG

Conclusion

If you are looking for a backup solution for your photos and videos and want to save your collection permanently to your iCloud to have them available on all your devices, the iCloud Photo Library will be the best choice for you. Speaking from experience, the free 5GB will not last long and you will reach the storage limits pretty fast. That’s why we recommend expanding the iCloud storage if you are choosing the iCloud Photo Library. It only costs $0.99 per month for 50 GB.

If you are locally saving your photos and videos on a Mac or PC anyways or use another cloud service, you can choose My Photo Stream. This service is a fast and uncomplicated way to share current photos with your devices. However, there is no backup option for My Photo Stream.

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