S3 WordPress Plugins vs Infinite Uploads

Mar 9, 2021 | Comparisons

It’s more important than ever to offload your WordPress media to a cloud service like S3. The amount of content that is uploaded and shared online is growing at a staggering pace, and website hosting is not built to store and share heavy images, audio, or video files.

But connecting the WordPress media library to the cloud is tricky. Thankfully, a few cloud specialists and developers simplified the process with plugins that make moving and syncing your media files easier.

Putting your files on cloud services like Infinite Uploads, Amazon S3, or Google Cloud Storage has huge benefits for media-heavy WooCommerce sites, Multisite networks, and agencies managing many sites.

Here are some of the most notable benefits of using the cloud:

  • Your site becomes infinitely scalable for any size media library
  • Improves server performance
  • Cloud storage costs less than traditional hosting storage and bandwidth
  • Media has much lower latency when served from a CDN
  • It makes site migration easier and faster
  • Files are delivered more securely
  • And, it’s almost impossible to lose files from drive or server failure

With more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created each day, the increase of WooCommerce market share to over 29%, and WordPress now powering more than 40% of the internet, more and more WordPress users need simple cloud storage.

How We Compare Cloud Plugins

Until recently, there weren’t many cloud options for WordPress. Developers agree that your site’s hosting storage is not the best place to store big media files, but setting up and connecting cloud storage like S3 to WordPress is too difficult for most users and requires a cloud architect to create and manage your cloud stack.

Cloud plugins for WordPress are intended to make setup, syncing, and managing your files a user-friendly and cost effective experience. Plugins like this save time for developers and let users upload and serve files from the cloud without using an SFTP client.

Keeping all that in mind, here are the metrics used in this post to compare the best cloud plugins:

  1. Ease of use – How easy is it to setup and connect
  2. Cost – Includes plugin + cloud storage + CDN for delivery
  3. Features – What is possible with each plugin
  4. Compatibility – With WordPress and other plugins
  5. Versatility – What cloud services you can connect

Infinite Uploads vs WP Offload Media vs Media Cloud

So, how do you decide which plugin is right for you? With each plugin using very different pricing models and taking different approaches to the technology, it all boils down to what you value.

In this post, we look at three of the best and most popular media cloud plugins on the market including an in-depth cost comparison analysis, so you can make an informed decision.

The plugins we will be looking at are:

Note: Each of these plugins are highly-rated, backed by respected developers and teams, and delivers as promised when properly configured. This comparison is intended to help you choose the right solution for you.

Infinite Uploads – Plugin and Managed Cloud Services for WordPress

Infinite Uploads is the newest plugin but takes the most holistic approach to cloud integration for WordPress. One of the biggest differences to the other plugins we will be comparing is that Infinite Uploads is the plugin, the cloud storage, and CDN provider all wrapped into one.

Ease of Use | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Because the plugin and service are both built from the ground up by Infinite Uploads, it allows them to make the setup process- from activation, to account creation, to moving and serving your files from the Infinite Uploads cloud- a near one-click process.

With the other cloud media plugins you are required to create a cloud provider account with S3, GCS, etc, create your access and security keys, create a bucket, and configure proper policies and permissions. Then, because cloud storage is not optimized for serving media, you also have to create and configure a separate CDN account configuring origin rules, caching rules, DNS, and SSL. With Infinite Uploads, account and cloud service creation is handled as part of the plugin process, and keys are delivered automatically via an encrypted connection. No copy and paste or exposed keys.

When connecting a new site, the only choice you need to make is whether you want the files stored in the United States or Europe.

Cost | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Infinite Uploads plugin has no per site or file licensing fees, you can connect an unlimited number of sites and store as many files as you like while only paying for the cost of storage and bandwidth.

This eliminates a big part of the cost associated with using other plugins and makes Infinite Uploads the most economical choice, with savings from 52% to 96% depending on use case. You can see a complete side-by-side breakdown of cost on our pricing spreadsheet. It calculates your true costs based on plugin licensing, cloud storage pricing, and bandwidth usage combined.

Infinite Uploads Pricing Comparison

Features | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Infinite Uploads comes with an uploads directory disk utility that calculates which plan is right for your site based on the media already uploaded to your site. It syncs and serves your existing files and will perform the migration for you and even includes WP-CLI commands for faster migrations. You can connect an unlimited number of sites and transfer as many files as you like at no additional cost.

From a technical perspective, files never hit your site storage so you can use, for example, a 5GB size hosting plan with a 200GB media library. Infinite Uploads lets you use the media library to manage your files in the cloud; no need to set up an SFTP client or other software to upload files to the cloud.

As for security, Infinite Uploads transfers and stores all your files with TLS & SSL Encryption and has 99.999999999% storage durability.

It handles file mapping so you can activate or deactivate Infinite Uploads without breaking the images embedded on your site. Users with a Business plan (100 GB or higher) can customize every connected site’s CDN URL.

Available at every level is the ability to disconnect and download your files back to your local hosting server with a click. This feature is either not offered or a premium feature with the other plugins. Just click “disconnect”, and any files being stored in the cloud will begin downloading.

Compatibility | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From a compatibility perspective, Infinite Uploads uses an advanced feature of PHP called stream wrappers. The Infinite Uploads plugin bypasses the local filesystem completely making it compatible with the majority of PHP filesystem functions. This means that Infinite Uploads is nearly universally compatible with third-party plugins and themes without custom integrations. You can read a more detailed explanation in the Infinite Uploads compatibility documentation.

Infinite Uploads is completely Multisite compatible and makes it easy to scale your network to terabytes of data with millions of images. The other plugins are either not Multisite compatible or require a special upgraded license.

Versatility | ⭐️⭐️⭐️

As mentioned earlier, the Infinite Uploads plugin can only be used to connect with the Infinite Uploads cloud stack. This can be a negative if you are looking to connect to Amazon S3, Google Drive, or one of the other cloud providers. On a positive note, using a fully managed cloud stack like Infinite Uploads instead of 2-3 different accounts (plugin license, cloud storage, CDN) lets you know exactly what your costs are in one place, and reduces the risk of runaway storage and bandwidth costs. It also eliminates the need for cloud and CDN account configuration and customization during the connect process.

Overall | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Infinite Uploads is the easiest of the plugins to setup because you don’t have to create, configure, and connect a third-party cloud provider. It’s more affordable because you don’t need to pay for both cloud services and the plugin licensing. It is pretty much universally compatible with other plugins, but it is not compatible with other cloud providers like S3 or Google Drive.

WP Offload Media – Copies Files From The Media Library to the Cloud

WP Offload Media (Formerly WP Offload S3) is the first and most popular plugin for offloading media with 40,000+ active installs (lite version). It was originally built for moving files to S3 but has since added support for DigitalOcean Spaces and Google Cloud.

Ease of Use | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Connecting an existing S3 or other cloud account is easy with WP Offload Media. If you already have your account created and know where to locate your access keys, paste in your keys and you will be given the option of choosing the bucket you want to use.

If you do not have a cloud provider and CDN setup and preconfigured, there is a bit of a learning curve. Choose one of the providers WP Offload Media is compatible with, create an account, set up your CDN, create a bucket, and then you are ready to connect.

The WP Offload Media interface and configuration tools are very clean and integrate nicely with the WordPress interface. Once connecting, it is easy to use and configure.

Cost | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

WP Offload Media takes a much different approach to pricing than most premium plugins. Instead of using a traditional per site licensing structure, plans are based on the number of files you have uploaded. This allows you to connect more small media libraries or one large media library for the same cost and the automatically generated resized images from WordPress do not count toward your file count.

Keep in mind, you will still be responsible for the cost of storage and bandwidth delivery from your cloud and CDN provider. This will be charged by your cloud provider and will be metered based on usage.

There are four cost components to consider for cloud services, on top of the cost of your plugin – storage pricing, request and data retrieval pricing, data transfer and transfer acceleration pricing, and data management features pricing.

From a cost perspective, we calculated a comparison, but this can fluctuate much higher based on needs and configuration.

Features | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

WP Offload Media, like Infinite Uploads, has focused specifically on the media cloud storage and bandwidth aspect of cloud delivery. The plugin is streamlined to deliver on core compatibility and has not ventured into some of the additional performance optimization tools or extras in the Media Cloud plugin.

Once connected, the built in offload tool lets you move your existing Media Library to the cloud. This can run in the background, and like the other plugins can be stopped/started at any point and the sync will resume where it left off.

It adds controls throughout the WordPress dashboard for bulk selecting files and copying them to cloud storage, removing them from the cloud, or downloading them back to the local server from the cloud.

After your files are ported to the cloud, you can choose to remove the files from your hosting server and any new files you upload will be automatically transferred to the cloud and removed from your local server.

It also has the ability to copy files to a new bucket on the same cloud storage account. This can be handy for moving from a staging bucket to a production bucket.

Like Infinite Uploads, it can handle path changes and makes site migrations easy by allowing you to connect or reconnect to an existing library already in the cloud.

Compatibility | ⭐️⭐️⭐️

WP Offload Media has the fewest built-in compatibility options with just 9 plugins and themes listed. That said, because of its popularity, other plugins not mentioned may have added the necessary hooks to support cloud storage using the plugin.

The 9 compatible plugins and themes are:

  • WooCommerce
  • Advanced Custom Fields
  • Elementor
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • Divi Builder
  • WPML
  • Ewww Image Optimizer
  • Enable Media Replace
  • Meta Slider

If you are working with other plugins or themes that integrate with or deliver media, you will need to test or check with the developer for compatibility.

Versatility | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

With WP Offload Media you can choose from three cloud services. These include Amazon S3, DigitalOcean Spaces, or Google Cloud Storage. The flexibility can be nice if you already have a preferred provider and want to avoid transferring your files to a new service.

Overall | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

WP Offloads Media has a proven track record and is backed by a great team. If you are already using one of the supported providers, it makes connecting your existing account easy. It is not the most affordable choice but has its advantages over the per-site licensing structure of the Media Cloud plugin if you are connecting several small sites. But if you have a lot of media items as is common in WooCommerce sites or Multisite installs, you may need to go all the way up to their expensive unlimited license. Built-in compatibility is limited, but because of its popularity, a few other plugins and themes have started integrating the necessary hooks to work with it. WP Offloads Media allows you to choose between three popular cloud providers, and configure your own stack.

Media Cloud – Offload Storage, File Optimization, And More

Media Cloud has more integrations than just the ability to connect and move your files to the cloud. You can also connect an Imgix account for editing and optimizing images and Mux for video processing. You do, however, need paid accounts for each additional service.

Ease of Use | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When you first activate the Media Cloud plugin, it takes over your entire WordPress dashboard with a wizard that is built to guide you through the process of choosing a cloud provider and creating an account. Some video tutorials guide you through the account creation process.

You can tell the developers are working hard to educate new users with the built-in tutorials and training materials. After the cloud account is set up, the connect process is very similar to WP Offload Media. You connect by pasting in your access key, secret key, and selecting your bucket.

Like Offload Media, if you already use cloud storage and are just looking for a way to connect your existing account, the process is straightforward. They’ve taken an extra step with educational resources to help with the learning curve of creating and configuring your own stack. This can be a big pain point, though, when you have tens or hundreds of WordPress sites to connect.

Cost | ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Media Cloud uses a per site licensing model and they have multiple plan levels to choose from. Not every feature is available in every plan and there are different plans for WordPress and Multisite networks.

Note, the basic plans exclude some key cloud features found in the other plugins like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads. For example- compatibility, the ability to import media from the cloud, and the ability to upload files directly to the cloud. If you are the rare user who does not need these features for your site, you can get a basic license for a few dollars cheaper.

The per-site licensing model of Media Cloud can become quite expensive for freelancers/agencies that need to connect many sites to the cloud. It’s a little less fair than WP Offload Media’s per file pricing in that even if some of your sites have much smaller media libraries than others, you pay the same amount for them all. And if you want to use Multisite, a separate properly sized license needs to be purchased for each Multisite install. This is a lot of extra work and cost when compared to Infinite Uploads unlimited sites and flat-rate pricing.

Features | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Similar to the other plugins, Media Cloud integrates with the WordPress media library. This allows you to continue working with media in WordPress like you normally would and will import your existing media library with a single click.

If you choose, you can set Media Cloud to move uploads to the cloud and remove them from your hosting server, similar to how WP Offload Media works. With this feature active, you avoid double storage and the need to first upload to your hosting server, though unlike Infinite Uploads it has to temporarily write files to your hosting account before they are synced to the cloud.

A feature the other plugins do not have built in is a custom file browser. In addition to managing the files from the media library, the built-in storage browser allows you to upload items in folders, import items to your media library, delete files and folders and view items in your cloud storage from inside your WordPress dashboard.

As mentioned above, Media Cloud lets you link other services not included in the other plugins for advanced image editing or video compression and conversion on upload, but both require paid service accounts with additional third-party services.

Compatibility | ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The underling code base is similar to WP Offload Media plugin which means plugin compatibility needs to be built-in using the appropriate hooks. Media Cloud has made e-commerce integrations, WPML, and WP Job Manager available only with pro plans. While image optimization plugins like WP Smush work on all versions, the pro version includes built-in Kraken, Short Pixel, TinyPNG, or Imagify support.

Additionally, Media Cloud is compatible with Blubrry Podcasting, LearnDash, and the AMP for WordPress plugin.

Versatility | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Media Cloud is the most versatile of the three, allowing you to connect sites to Amazon S3, DigitalOcean Spaces, Google Cloud Storage, Wasabi, Minio, Backblaze, and other S3 compatible services.

Its ability to connect 8 cloud services, paired with options for connecting video and image optimization services gives you the most options if you’re are a power-user who needs to customize your cloud stack.


Overall | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Media Cloud has a nice wizard for connecting but still requires you to set up and create your own cloud stack. They offset this with some basic setup instructional tutorials. The per-site licensing structure along with the extra services required to make the additional features work make it the most expensive option of the three. It has the most add-ons and is by far the most versatile at customizing a cloud stack.

Which Cloud Plugin Is The Best?

It all comes down to what you value! While each of these plugins can be configured to provide a similar service, they take very different approaches- from the underlying tech to the pricing model.

Infinite Uploads is the easiest to set up and configure, eliminates the risk of runaway cloud costs with a managed media cloud stack, is universally compatible, and is the most cost-effective solution. But, it does not let you create, customize or manage your own cloud stack.

WP Offload Media has a trusted reputation and allows you to connect to a cloud stack you create in any of the three most popular cloud services. It allows you to connect as many sites as you like but may not be cost effective for sites with a lot of files.

Media Cloud has the most add-on options and some nice file management features in the upgraded plans. It is the best choice if you are going to use different cloud services across different sites and want to use the other 3rd-party services they have integrated.

Conclusion

With media files getting cleaner, sharper, and BIGGER, it’s more important than ever to choose a fast, secure storage and media delivery solution. Using a solid cloud plugin like the ones in this comparison will make connecting to the cloud easy, lower the cost of hosting, and improve your site performance.

Get started with Infinite Uploads plugin and managed cloud services free for 7 days.

New to the cloud or looking to save on hosting and bandwidth? Our support team is standing by to help. Leave a comment or fill out the support form and we will get back to you promptly.

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