A BUYERS GUIDE TO ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD

Confused about how to make the switch? We’re here to help.

Like it or not, Adobe Creative Cloud is here. Instead of buying packaged software that can be used in perpetuity, former Creative Suite customers will now have to pay a minimum of $19.99 per month, and that’s only for a single application with annual commitment.

For most users, Adobe’s $49.99 per month «Complete Individual» plan is the best value, with access to Mac and Windows versions of everything the service offers on up to two computers at once. As long as you keep paying, Adobe promises frequent updates and new additions over time, along with a host of additional services and 20GB of cloud storage to sweeten the deal.

But here’s the catch: the deal requires an annual commitment, ensuring Adobe has you on the hook for $600 each year. Subscribers can cancel during the first 30 days without penalty, but after that you’ll be charged 50 percent of whatever time remains during the 12-month stretch. If you’re a freelancer who doesn’t need access every month, it’s safer to spend $74.99 every 30 days on a month-to-month basis, with the benefit of starting and stopping the membership without penalty.

The deal is a bit crummier for those who only need a single application, such as Photoshop CC. With annual commitment, you’ll pay $19.99 per month, or $29.99 month-to-month. Owners of any CS3-or-later product can save up to 50 percent on the first year’s subscription at only $9.99 per month (other limited-time offers are also available). Clearly, Adobe has positioned the Complete Individual plan as the most enticing, and for anyone using two or more of the company’s creative applications, it’s a no-brainer.

Adobe also offers subscriptions aimed at students and teachers as well as teams, with the latter billed at $69.99 per user per month and includes a bump to 100GB of cloud storage as well as two one-to-one sessions per year with an Adobe expert. Last but not least, Adobe continues to offer last year’s CS6 products in the same individual or bundled packages, with a pledge to continue supporting them indefinitely—new features aside, of course.

There’s one potential bright spot to Adobe’s move away from packaged software: the company offers prepaid gift cards that can be applied to existing subscriptions, so there’s always the hope of finding a deal to reduce the amount you spend each year—after all, there’s no guarantee Creative Cloud won’t increase in price someday.

Regardless of plan, an Internet connection is required to install and license applications, which will then attempt to validate an active membership with Adobe’s mothership every

30 days. Subscribers can continue working without validation in offline mode, but only for 30 days on month-to-month service or 99 days for annual members.

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