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Whether you're looking to downsize from bulky three-ring binder photo albums, are waiting until you have time to properly scrapbook all your memories, or are simply looking for a spot to store your photos that's better than a shoebox under your bed, photo storage boxes can be a smart choice. They offer a convenient, organized way to store all your precious memories.
"When selecting photo storage boxes, considerations include archival qualities, extra storage features, and external appearance," says Carl Mink, owner of Millburn Camera ASAP Photo in New Jersey. Be sure to consider your photos' sizes, how you want to organize your photos, where you want them to live, and how accessible you want them to be. Dust and sunlight can negatively impact your photos, so choosing the right spot is pivotal.
Here are the best photo storage boxes available online.
Best Overall: Novelinks 4" x 6" Photo Case
Fits up to 1,600 photos
Color coded and places for labels
Easy to carry
Not as high quality as more expensive options
With this photo storage system, you get 16 sturdy snap-shut boxes that each hold up to 100 4 x 6-inch photos. You can sort the images by month, year, occasion, or family member to readily find whatever you're looking for in the transparent rainbow-colored boxes. There are places to stick a label (not included) on the box for even better organizations. All the smaller boxes fit in the larger one, which is also clear so you can see what's inside without opening it, plus it has a top handle for easy carrying. And, yes, they're acid-free, too.
Best Acid-Free: Pioneer Photo Storage Boxes
Label holder on the front
Some users recommend using different dividers than the ones included
Acids can affect the image and quality of your photos, especially if they are older, but Mink tells us that archival boxes, like this one from Pioneer, are designed for this reason and are acid-free. In addition to storing photos, users like it for greeting cards, wedding keepsakes, baseball or football cards, plus postcards and other souvenirs. There's a metal ID holder on the outside for a label. The boxes come in seven different colors, and a stack of several makes a nice display on a bookshelf.
Best for 4 x 6 Photos: IRIS 4" x 6" Photo and Embellishment Craft Keeper
Easy to add labels for extra organization
Keeps photos wrinkle-free
Boxes may feel slightly lower quality than more expensive options
Store your 4 x 6-inch photos for perpetuity in these durable, snap-tight boxes. They feature rounded corners to prevent damage to your pictures and keep them wrinkle-free, too. Each transparent case holds six smaller colorful photo carriers that can hold 100 photos. The outer case is quite large; if you need more. With a handle molded into the lid, they're each to stack. The boxes are BPA-free, acid-free, PVC-free, and lignin-free. In addition to photographs, use them to store recipes on index cards, flashcards, and seeds.
Best Archival: University Products Archival Photo Storage Box
Fits large photos
Some users had issues with receiving the correct number of envelopes
For long-term storage of your precious memories, including photographs and newspaper clippings, this 60-point weight, acid-free, lining-free barrier boxboard with a lid will keep them pristine. In addition, the container features a buffering agent to neutralize any migrant acid and atmospheric pollutants to protect against acid, dust, dirt, and light. Inside the box, you'll find 12 archival-quality photo storage envelopes that fit 12 photos up to 6 x 6-inches to help organize photos by year or event; they're great for negatives, too. (Need more? The extra envelopes are sold separately.) The box and envelopes are certified by Image Permanence Institute's Photo Activity Test.
Best Large: ArtBin Semi Satchel Photo Photo & Craft Organizer Set
Hard plastic is resistant to wear
Tight closing lid
Photos are easy to insert
May be too large for some needs
For those who have more photos than they know what to do with, this large photo box is a good place to start. It's made of acid-free polypropylene with a tightly snapping latch to keep your images safe. The plastic is hard and resistant to wear and tear. It comes with three removable dividers for a versatile system and eight inner organizers. For even more organization, invest in more ArtBin's smaller, compatible organizers. In addition to photos, the large size makes this case an ideal place to store craft items, old magazines, first aid kits, and emergency supplies.
Best Plastic: Recollections Photo & Craft Keeper
Easy to carry
Some noted that the latches can be fragile
Plastic has the advantage of being see-through, which means you can more readily find what you're looking for because you don't have to open each and every case to see what's inside. This set comes with 16 smaller cases that are large enough to hold up to 1,600 photos that are 5 x 7 inches. The plastic is acid-free, and the cases have a snap-tight buckle to hold and remove your photos safely. The outer case has a handle for easy carrying. In addition to photos, try this for LEGO or other small toys or craft supplies.
Best With Organization: Advantus Photo Keeper Box
The closing clip can feel a bit weak
This larger outer case holds six smaller individual cases that hold up to 100 4 x 6-inch photos each. The sturdy, durable plastic is acid-free—try placing a label on the outside to ID the date or occasion of the photos or write it on with a Sharpie. All the cases are transparent, which makes it easy to see what's inside at a glance. In addition to photos, use them to store negatives, trading cards, postcards, or flashcards.
Best Wooden: ArtMinds Wooden Photo Box
Spot for label
This unfinished wooden box can be stained, painted, or otherwise personalized—it makes a great gift for a newlywed couple or a new parent for a place to store their photos and other mementos. Note that it's not acid-free, so if you do plan to use it primarily for photo storage, you may want to buy archival envelopes or smaller plastic cases to place inside. It has a small embedded window on top where you could place a label or photo that would identify what's inside.
The best overall photo storage box is the Novelinks Photo Storage Box, which can hold up to 1,600 4 x 6-inch photos in rainbow-colored boxes. The colored boxes are transparent enough to locate photos easily. If you're looking for a storage box that's specifically acid-free, we recommend the Pioneer Photo Storage Boxes.
What to Look for in a Photo Storage Box
There are two sizes you must take into consideration when searching for a photo box. First is the overall size of the box which will affect how many photos you can store. Additionally, keep in mind the size of the photographs you are looking to store. Many options are suitable for a standard 4 x 6 photograph, while others can accommodate larger dimensions. Ensure your photos will fit in your storage solution before taking the plunge.
Different materials will affect the longevity of your photos. Many options on this list are made from plastic that is acid-free and designed to keep photos looking like new for longer. Cardboard photo boxes tend to have extra features like linings or additional buffers to protect against dust and debris. Wood may be a more stylish option but will not have the added benefit of being acid-free.
The purpose of a photo storage box is often to find a place to store photographs in a safe and organized manner that still remains attractive in appearance. For those who will regularly be looking at their store photos, clear boxes and photo sleeves will make it easy to search for photos. Also, additional features like labels or color-coded boxes can add to the level or organization.
For those placing their storage boxes in attics or storage rooms, the appearance will not be as important. Those who still wish to have their photos on hand may choose a more aesthetically pleasing option or one that can easily be decorated or painted. Consider where your photo boxes will live and how they look if that's important when making your decision.
What is the best way to store old photos?
According to Mink, boxes designed for archival materials are best for long-term storage. Using a box ensures that photos are organized, not wrinkled, and not affected by acid, depending on the material of the box you choose.
Mink makes sure to note that some very old photos may already show signs of aging that a storage box will not be able to fix. "Many studio prints from the 1920s to the 1950s did not have the fixer properly washed from them when they were printed," he says. "If your photos from this era have a dull silver sheen when you tilt them at an angle, that is the original silver coming through the paper onto the front of the image. This damage cannot be arrested—these photos should be professionally duplicated and restoration copies should be made."
Is it better to store photos in a cardboard or plastic box?
Mink's word of advice is, "Any box is preferable to no box." He goes on to say cardboard is preferable to a generic plastic one, as cardboard boxes usually have more features to slow the aging of photos. However, transparent plastic makes photos easy to organize and they are often more affordable.
How can a storage option affect a photograph?
An acid-free box will help ensure that no acid gets into the photos. Acid can warp the chemical composition of photographs, affecting the color and image quality. This distinction often has to do with the material, so if extending the life of your photographs is important, be mindful about what material you choose.
Mink shares another reason why photographs may change over time. "The primary cause of long-term photo damage is sunlight, and, to a lesser degree, indoor light. A box keeps out light that an album or frame (with non-UV glass) will not protect against," he says. Therefore, a box of any kind is vital when storing.
Why Trust The Spruce Crafts?
This article was written by Anne Fritz, a freelance home writer with over 20 years of experience. Previously, she was an editor, and her work has appeared in several top publications. Additional research was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce brands covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics, including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.
Expert advice was provided by Carl Mink, owner of Millburn Camera ASAP Photo in New Jersey.