Why I ditched Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud & Affinity

Adobe Creative Cloud has long been touted as the gold standard in graphic design software. It is the preferred tool of many professionals and provides a suite of useful and popular tools. Its popularity also means that there are a lot of resources for using Adobe products, and they integrate great together. I have used Adobe products for a long time, and I enjoy using them. However, I had to switch away from their products and find alternatives. Recently, Adobe has made some controversial decisions and the FTC has even taken legal action against Adobe. My decision to switch was not directly related to these issues, but I have experienced the problem with Adobe’s cancellation policy that the FTC is trying to address. A culmination of different issues led me away from Creative Cloud.


Adobe’s software used to be available as a one-off purchase when it was still Adobe Creative Suite. Like most software nowadays, it has moved to a subscription model. As a creative, this is just a business expense like any other, right? Income from design jobs should be able to cover these costs, right? Unfortunately, income from doing design as a freelancer or a hobbyist is not always guaranteed. Some months are extremely slow, while others are more fruitful. It becomes harder to justify the monthly subscription when times are slow, or when things are slow for a prolonged period, such as during a pandemic. It was actually during the Covid-19 pandemic that I started really reassessing my need for Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Creative Cloud pricing plans

Adobe offers various plans for its products. All of them are subscription based, so you have to pay either monthly or annually.

I am not disputing the value of Adobe’s products. As a website and graphic designer, I used Photoshop and Illustrator extensively. I also used InDesign, and Adobe Acrobat Pro came in handy for manipulating PDF files. With the popularity of video online, Adobe Premiere Pro was also useful. I developed a workflow using Adobe Bridge, and access to Adobe Fonts allowed me to easily add variety to my designs. That said, it was obvious that I required the full suite of Adobe products. Unfortunately, the volume and type of jobs I was doing did not always justify the cost of this suite, even though it was convenient to have. Ditching Adobe products was intended as a temporary measure to cut costs, but I have not been compelled to reinvest in the software quite yet.

Resources and Hard Drive Space

Adobe Creative Cloud requires a lot of disk space and its programs are tasking on system memory. The installation alone requires more than 4GB of free space. This may not be a problem if you have a lot of memory and hard disk space on your machine, but it can limit the program’s usefulness on older hardware. I personally use a less powerful and lighter laptop when I am working remotely. To be efficient, I need to be able to access all the critical design applications on this laptop even when I am not connected to the internet. This allows me to work from anywhere and sync my files later when I am connected to the internet.

Avoiding Vendor lock-in

Despite the utility of Adobe’s suite of tools, good design transcends tools. A masterpiece can be designed on any canvas using proper design principles. Designers can also adapt to use the tools at their disposal effectively. Despite this, the sheer popularity of Adobe’s tools and the years of experience with the particular workflow makes switching tools inconvenient at best. This can cause dependency on one vendor to work efficiently, and that is a very dangerous position to be in.

Alternatives to Adobe Creative Cloud

I have not found a suite of tools that can completely replace all the functionality of Adobe Creative Cloud. I have however found a few options that satisfy most of my image editing needs. While most of these alternatives are not free, there are many open source programs you can use to create your own creative suite.

Affinity by Serif

Affinity Photo Screenshot

Affinity provides a suite of tools that compete with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign in Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Publisher respectfully. One of my primary requirements for a replacement to Adobe’s products was that it had to be compatible with Adobe’s common file formats, so I can work seamlessly with anyone using those formats. Affinity does just this, and it is similar enough to the layout and workflow of Adobe’s products, although there are some noticeable differences. You can also purchase the Affinity products and use then perpetually, unlike Adobe Creative Cloud. You may have to repurchase when there is a major version upgrade, or you can continue using the version that you have already purchased. In March 2024, Canva, another rival to Adobe, purchased Affinity.


Canva editor

Canva has emerged as a go-to solution for people who are not professional graphic designers to quickly create without needing to purchase any desktop graphic design software. Its large library of templates and ease of use can help both amateurs and professionals create various designs quickly online. Canva is a great option when you cannot install programs on a computer, and you can also use it from a mobile device. You can use Canva for free with some limitations, or purchase a Pro or Teams plan. You can also use generative AI in your designs using Canva’s Magic Design feature.


Inkscape is an open source vector graphics program which is similar to Adobe Illustrator. I especially like this program for its ability to convert raster images into vector graphics (a feature Affinity Designer lacks for now). Inkscape is free and is one of the few desktop graphic programs that works natively on Linux.


Adobe Creative Cloud provides a wide variety of apps with advanced features that are useful for many creatives. If you can afford the subscription fees, it may be the ideal choice for you. The company is continually integrating artificial intelligence into Photoshop and its other apps. This is something to consider if you intend on using generative AI. If you can live without these features, feel free to consider some of the alternatives provided.

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