Updated August 2016
Adobe Creative Cloud has been available since mid 2013 and it seems that people are still skeptical about the subscription only service. I've even read comments stating myths that have been known to be false since its release. I'm going to explain Adobe Creative Cloud, debunk the myths you may of heard and explain the pricing of it all.
Creative Cloud, as you may know, is a subscription based service. You pay a monthly fee and you get access to their software. Many have thought that it's more expensive than purchasing a licence and 'owning' a copy, and this is simply not true. Creative Suite 6 (CS6) was the last package to be offered for 'purchase'. It was released in 2012 and cost roughly AU$3949 for the Master Collection. This is an upfront cost that you had to pay.
Let's enter a scenario: You are an owner of CS5 and want to upgrade to the newest release of CS6 to get all the new features, updates, bug fixes etc. I'm going to assume that CS5 cost roughly the same as CS6 and assume you paid $3949 for it. To upgrade to CS6, you'd get a discounted upgrade price of $799. CS5 was released in 2010 which means you have paid $4748 over 24 months for this software. These prices are for the 'Master Collection' which entitles you to all their programs. And let's not forget that if you want Lightroom then it's an extra AU$187 on top of that as Lightroom wasn't and still isn't available in the Master Collection Suite.
Now lets enter the same scenario for Creative Cloud. You sign up for the full collection, without a student or teacher discount. You pay $49.99 a month for the first release of CC 2013. Roughly 12 months later CC 2014 becomes available. It's a major release with all new features and performance enhancements. So far you have only paid $599.88. What an incredible saving of thousands of dollars. Did I mention that you can upgrade to the newest releases for FREE? No extra costs are included. Download and install straight away. Adobe is able to release new versions of their software faster with the subscription service system and they have been pumping out updates and new features like crazy since its release.
Of course, there have been some pretty serious bugs with new releases lately, but you don't have to download the newest version the moment it's released. I typically wait a month or two so the zero-day bugs are squashed by the time I want to use it.
When I heard that Adobe was releasing a new service that I could afford I was ecstatic. A then High School student simply cannot afford thousands of dollars for this professional software. At this time in 2012, I was using the CS3 Master Collection on a PC notebook provided by my school and Photoshop CS4 on my brother's iMac. When I signed up for Creative Cloud the CC versions weren't quite available yet so I was able to install the full collection of CS6. Because I was signed up as a student I was only paying $14.99 a month for the first 12 months.
I began using CS6 for a month or so before CC 2013 was released. I downloaded and installed it for no extra cost. That's already a major upgrade for very little money. Then Adobe Lightroom 4 was available (Lightroom's upgrade cycle is separate from the other programs) and I installed that too. Since signing up–to date–I have upgraded and installed seven major releases of Adobe Creative Cloud. CS6, CC, Lightroom 4, CC 2014, Lightroom 5, CC 2015 and Lightroom 6 and have only paid $1103.27 ($1849.63 if paying the full price). It has been three years and the full price is still only $1900; where over two years you would be paying almost $5000 for the Creative Suite. Buying software outright is an old, outdated technology and almost every company on the planet has stopped doing it.
Anyone that says Creative Cloud is more expensive hasn't crunched the numbers. Adobe is releasing major upgrades yearly, with minor updates every now and again. You get more updates more frequently, without having to pay upgrade fees. It's a no-brainer really.
There's three main plans for Creative Cloud with Student & Teacher and Business discounts and benefits also available. The student discount is $14.99 per month for the first 12 months, then it's $24.99 for every year after that you're a student. Adobe does require you to submit proof that you're a student every 12 months... But that's expected. The business plan is $49.99 per month and you get 100GB of online storage per user and 24/7 advanced phone support. All the plans below are inclusive of 20GB of free online storage.
The internet does play a big part in Creative Cloud. However, the one myth people keep believing is that you must always be connected to the internet otherwise your software doesn't work. This isn't true. Adobe states that you need to connect to the internet once a month so Adobe can verify your copy of Creative Cloud (this is just so Adobe can keep records of how many systems are using their software) and to bill you for that month.
Every time you open the app it checks for an internet connection in the background, if there's one, it'll leave you alone. But if it can't find one then a 30 day countdown starts. Once it reaches 15 days (without an internet connection) it'll start warning you to connect to the internet. Simply connect for 30 seconds and the timer will restart and you're good to go. For those that are always connected, you don't need to worry about this. You don't need to be connected to the internet for any other reason.
Of course, if you want to sync files to your Creative Cloud folder (20GB of online storage), update your software or want to sync and download fonts from TypeKit (discussed below), then you do need to be connected, but your programs work just as they always have whether or not you have a connection. The programs are also installed locally to your computer. You don't need to worry about laggy software running in a browser... That's not how it works.
Your files also remain yours. They can still be saved and stored locally and if you lose access to Creative Cloud the files remain with you... They don't get taken away.
Bonus Features & Services
Here's the best part. Creative Cloud subscribers get access to some awesome services without additional costs. Your Adobe ID log in details are used for all of them so there's no need to create a million accounts or remember multiple passwords. The creative ecosystem you get with Creative Cloud is Second-to-None.
- TypeKit - Download and install thousands of professionally designed typefaces for free. Both web and print fonts available.
- Portfolio - A full featured online web builder. Build yourself a website/portfolio.
- Bēhance - An online creative and social portfolio platform that enables you to follow other creatives and share work.
- Market - The market is where creatives can share graphical and creative work for other people to use. I use it all the time.
- Lightroom Mobile - Adobe offers iOS and Android apps to allow you to work on the go (FREE for anyone).
- Downgrade - Creative Cloud allows you to go back in versions all the way back to CS6 so if a new release doesn't run well on your machine, then you're able to revert to an older version.
Important Things To Remember
- Creative Cloud is cheaper than buying software outright. Both in the short-term and the long-term.
- You can pay monthly or yearly, which ever you prefer.
- The software is installed locally on your computer. It is NOT run off the internet.
- There's a major release every year with performance improvements, new features and general bug fixes.
- You only need to be connected to the internet one day out of 30. Your software will alert you to this automatically.
- You CAN still buy CS6 and stand alone apps over the phone from Adobe here, but it's expensive and utterly pointless.