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Home > Tips January 23rd, 2014

Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) vs. Creative Suite (CS6): The Pros & Cons

[UPDATE (Jan. 2017) – Adobe just stopped selling CS6 entirely – here’s why.]

You most likely already know the news that Adobe ended the Creative Suite line (there is no CS7), and that new releases of all the CS tools (and more) have been relaunched as “CC” – and these new versions are available only via a Creative Cloud membership

Show What's in Adobe CC (Creative Cloud), the Next Release after 2012's CS6

At the same time, Adobe is continuing to sell 2012’s CS6 version for people that prefer the traditional licensing model instead of CC sub­scriptions, though statistically fewer than 1 in 5 customers are still going that direction.

Meanwhile, the 15 new CC applications have brought hundreds of new features and enhancements compared to CS6, with more being added all the time through ongoing upgrades that are included free with all memberships… Thus far, the latest CC tools have been getting nearly 5-star reviews from customers, as they sign up at the rate of 65,000 per week.  But still, because of the relative newness of the Creative Cloud offering, some confusion abounds and there remain a few big myths floating around out there.

So all in all, there has been a lot of change to digest over the past year, and folks often ask us which route is best to take – what are the pros and cons of each option?

In response, we thought we’d put together a practical feature list for the two major choices that should help you decide when comparing them side-by-side

And so here it is, the comparison chart – just click on any of the highlighted links in the table to find out more about that topic:

Suite 6
For product-by-product differences, see CC vs. CS6 Features
Install and use all the top Adobe applicationsYesNo
Benefit from the latest/greatest release, CCYesNo
Upgradeable to future versionsYesNo
All ongoing product upgrades includedYesNo
Over 1,000 new features added since CS6YesNo
Buy at higher price to own a static versionNoYes
Pay a lower monthly membership priceYesNo
Apps continue to run if subscription endsNoN/A
Can purchase prepaid in advance if neededYesYes
Can buy just one tool if that’s what you wantYesYes
Supported on next Windows/Mac OS versionsYesNo
Run tools locally on desktop, not over webYesYes
Can activate on up to two of your computersYesYes
Can install on both Windows and Mac OSYesNo
Use without a continual Internet connectionYesYes
You decide when/if to install your upgradesYesYes
Available in dozens of countries worldwideYesYes
Includes multiple language use & switchingYesNo
Can run on same machine as older releasesYesYes
Can easily move it between two systemsYesYes
Can get a software disc/DVD from AdobeYesNo
Includes library of exclusive training/tutorialsYesNo
Can try it out first with a free 30-day trialYesYes
Covered by full 30-day return/refund policyYesYes
Pricing discounts for owners of older CS toolsYesYes
Student & Teacher discounts are availableYesYes
Volume licensing for groups is availableYesYes
Special package offered for photographersYesNo
Can use short term, turn on & off as neededYesNo
Has a free level of membership & use, for allYesNo

Do you have any further questions about the comparison or your decision?  Just ask them below and we’ll get you answers fast!

See Also

Get New CC 2018 Direct Download Links: All Free Trials

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  1. Adrienne

    I use CS6 for Windows on a desktop at work. I am starting to travel more and looking into getting a laptop as well. Will CC work for business on two Windows computers? Do you think that CC is a better option for me in a corporate setting?

  2. Sandrine


    I heard about the new bundle of CC Photoshop plus Lightroom and I would be greatly interested.

    However, something just bothers me.

    I live now in the countryside in Europe, and I have a very wacky internet connection. I think this is OK, if I go to some place else to download my software it’s all right, but I wonder if the software needs daily updates or actually requires an internet connection on a permanent basis? As weird as it is, it’s not a broadband connection.

    Let me know if it would be possible to get the offer, or if it’s preferable for me to wait until have a broadband connection.

    Many thanks,

    PS: BTW, a simple explanation of the internet use of all the features including the Creative Cloud and everything in the package would be very much appreciated!

    • Salut Sandrine, great to hear from you again!

      You ask some good questions. And in fact it’s a common myth that Creative Cloud requires a constant Internet connection…

      In fact, for annual memberships the CC applications (like Photoshop and Lightroom) only need to revalidate their licensing online once every 4 months, and it’s very quick and does not require high bandwidth.

      So the only time a strong/fast Internet connection is helpful is for the initial download and install of the applications… However, even so, you can still instead request a CC disc/DVD from Adobe and skip the initial download entirely.

      And as for the ongoing product upgrades and updates that are included? They are never mandatory, nor are they downloaded/installed without your permission… In other words, you control when/if you upgrade your installed products. In any event, these tools are not updated daily but typically only every 2-3 months.

      Bottom line, it should not be a problem for you, even with a slow or sometimes unreliable Internet connection.

      Hope that helps, and if you have any other questions then feel free to post back!

  3. Dennis

    This is a very comprehensive comparison list – thank you!

  4. Bronson

    With Adobe CC, are my project files, images, clips, etc on my desktop computer or in the Cloud?

    • Hey there Bronson, thanks for your question. With CC, your work and data files are on your local disk drive, unless or until you want to put them into your CC folder on the Cloud – where they will be synced with your local copy, and you can also share them with others as desired…

      In other words, using the cloud storage is completely optional, and you choose how you want to work with or share your files.

  5. Mike

    I do feel that this comparison downplays the major advantage of CS6, which is something I’ve noticed in Adobe’s own promotion. However, I wasn’t expecting to see a third party comparison look so slanted in the same way.

    Your list includes “Buy at a higher price to own a static version” and “Apps continue to run if subscription ends”. These are the only items included that show CS6 to advantage. But even then, the wording is slanted.

    “Higher price” is entirely relative—if you DON’T need cutting edge all the time, you will likely be happy with CS6 for years and years to come. Even if you eventually subscribe to Creative Cloud, it will only take a few years of use of CS6 for it to pay for itself in terms of the savings from NOT using CC. So instead you might say “Pay a one-time price for permanent ownership and use of the software.”

    Including the phrase “static version” in that line is just adding in a negative from another comparison (the one about updates). You could just as easily do the same thing in reverse and say, “Ongoing product updates included as long as you pay monthly.”

    The wording on the latter point (re subscription ending) is such that “N/A” is the entry under CS6. Instead, you might say “Apps are permanently available and running on your machine without additional payments.” Then CS6 would say “YES” rather than the more neutral “N/A”.

    I do know that most people are going with CC, and especially most big companies in the industry are going with it. I just wanted to point up the benefits of CS6 a bit more for the casual user. (I may be slightly biased myself as I got one of the very last education-priced copies of CS6 at $450! At that price, of course, I would have to have a major need for the latest cutting edge to want CC instead.) :)

    • Hey Mike, thanks for weighing in. We don’t have quite enough space in the chart for the length of the phrases you suggest, but basically tried to sum up each key factor in about 40 characters for brevity. Probably there are different ways to put each one of the attributes, and we could bandy about the phraseology of them all. But hopefully most people know already how CS6 pricing works because it’s been around for a while, and likewise hopefully it’s clear that CC is subscription-based.

      We didn’t use “one-time” or “pay once” or “permanently” for CS6 because no software will run forever, technology evolves and most useful products eventually need upgrades. So in practice that is really not as big of an advantage as some people imagine, because several years down the road say your laptop crashes and the newer operating system doesn’t support CS6. You may not be thinking that now, but it happens – and forking over $2,000 upfront for a CS6 suite is a big investment to be unprotected going forward.

      Also note we never used the term “updates” in the table, but rather “upgrades.” That’s because CS6 may still get occasional updates in terms of bug fixes, but not ongoing product upgrades and new features like with Creative Cloud.

      So bottom line if you look at the overall balance of the chart above, the new/modern model sizes up better than the old/traditional one in almost all ways. In the age of instant software App Stores and rapid technology changes, it just makes sense. Yes, some folks are vocal and say they won’t move to CC until Adobe provides long-term file access after a subscription ends, and that will come. But in the meantime, the Creative Cloud is growing fast with 12 million paying customers having joined already.

  6. The list is very biased towards CC. One example: “Hundreds of new features added since CS6” CC Yes CS6 No. Of course CS6 will be a no because of your wording. I will not go line by line, however, because it is futile and pointless. And one of the posters here said that this is one of the most comprehensive lists they’ve ever seen. Wow. Dennis, please. ProDesign, your reply to Mike is a bit more on the side of how biased your list is. Most definitely, CS6 will be behind in terms of technology in 5 years time. But I can see CS6 living for another good 2 to 3 years until a suitable alternative arrives on the market. Many people are waiting for this! This pricing model Adobe has adopted is a tremendous negative. If you don’t believe me, start Googling. The pricing model is far more expensive long-term than the old model, which the majority of software vendors still use. It’s a suck-me-dry model, and it’s right in your face. There’s no denying it. And I’ve used Photoshop CC, and there are very few enhancements that I find helpful vs CS6 for my photo retouching needs, web development needs, and others. And these enhancements by no means makes up for the bloated cost that comes with having a CC license. In fact, CS5.5 or even CS5 is worthy of being suitable for people to do most of their work for years to come. From video effects, 3d texturing, web design, photo retouching and many more, PS CS6 is phenomenal, and putting a spit shine on Photoshop and calling it CC with a rental model is not going to make it any better. What I see Adobe eventually doing is adding as many features not supported in previous versions that you will eventually not even be able to open a CC PSD in CS6. This will happen, and is perhaps only a couple years off. By then, I’m sure a suitable alternative will have arrived on the market.

    • Wow, that’s a pretty slanted view Daniel and one could even say biased, to use your phrase… Did you find any factual errors in the long comparison list in the article?

      You say that you can see “CS6 living for another good 2 to 3 years,” so then is that worth paying $1900 for? (e.g., CS6 Design & Web Premium suite)

      So over that three-year window until your suggested alternative appears, the math actually works out better for Creative Cloud – and you get to benefit from complete access to more and newer tools with better features in the meantime…

      Like it or not, this is what Adobe says the future is – and most of the 12 million CC customers to date actually do seem to like it (a lot; Creative Cloud is the highest-rated product in their history receiving nearly five stars from users). For those who don’t like it (and don’t mind not having the latest release), Adobe is continuing to sell last-year’s CS6.

      Lastly, as to file compatibility between versions – almost all the new CC tools have the built-in ability to save or export back to the CS6 file formats… For example with Photoshop, Adobe says they’ve worked hard over the years to keep the openly-published PSD format as backwards compatible as possible, and in fact someone recently tested saving a complex file in Photoshop CC and had it open in 2010’s Photoshop CS5 without surprises.

      So no offense, but we won’t be holding our breath on all those negative statements/predictions.

  7. morgan

    I was very upset when I purchased CS6 so I could continue to purchase and upgrade into the future only to find out a few short months later that Adobe was discontinuing support for standalone licenses. This was an expensive choice, I feel like I could have been given warning so I could have saved my money.

    • Hi Morgan, Adobe is continuing to both sell and support CS6 right now and indefinitely into the future, including technical support and bug/security fixes.

      You’re right that you won’t be able to upgrade to CS7 because there isn’t a CS7, but if you want to keep your products upgraded going forward then that’s why the company offers an upgrade discount from CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6 to Creative Cloud – which will always remain up-to-date.

      We wish that upgrade discount were a little larger to adjust for what earlier CS customers might have paid, but it is what it is. There is some fantastic news out for photographers using an older version of Photoshop with the new Photoshop CC + Lightroom 5 Bundle offer available worldwide for only US$9.99 a month.

  8. denise

    So i have been weighing my options over the past week and even talked with an Adobe sales rep about going for the cloud. I have been searching the internet for the pros and cons about getting cc or cs6, and i found this website useful on the matter.

    I have been using cs5 student/teacher licensing because that is what i was provided with when i was going to school. I graduated over a year ago and i have been looking to go from cs5 to cs6, but of course i cant afford cs6 as much as i want it. So i came across the cloud but i’m still a bit torn between which to get. I do have some concerns such as what will happen to my work if i wouldn’t be able to keep the subscription? are all or most of the programs besides photoshop backwards compatible? i think that if they are backwards compatible that would be great seeing how i have cs5 and can open them or modify them that way. are the prices of the subscription subject to change?

    Either way as a graphic designer, i have to stay on top of the latest software and cc seems the way to go for that – and at the same time owning cs6 as a back up wouldn’t hurt in the event that paying a monthly subscription can no longer be done due to financial issues… any suggestions would help.

    Thanks in advance

  9. @Mike
    I quite agree.
    I can’t afford either at the minute. But once I can, I will be buying CS6. Then I will have it forever.
    As it is, because I’m not currently paying a subscription, I can’t open my files. (This is not a problem, but it could be)

    • Be careful, just because you “own” it forever, doesn’t mean you can run it forever… Hardware and operating systems evolve, then old programs aren’t supported – so for most people, static software has a usable lifetime.

      That will never happen with CC obviously because it will always be updated and upgraded for the latest platforms and with the best new features and evolving technologies.

      About opening your files? Well, the free level of Cloud membership (which you retain permanently) will always open all your files.

      So will third-party applications like XnView (and others) because formats like PSD are published specifications.

      Similarly, you can use the preview and display capabilities of Adobe Bridge CC, which is free for everyone, for life.

      Adobe will also be resetting a new round of free CC trials every year that will work fully and open your files for 30 days (or even 60 days). And there’s always a month-to-month membership if you need to do more work.

  10. zippo

    I was told by a mac-book dealer that one can only get about 10% production using cs6 on the latest mac-pro laptop or Imac because of the operating system or Haskell processor? In other words cs6 operates 90% slower than the cloud, on these new apple computers, for some technical reasons???? Would you know about this???

  11. bartek

    Lack of Fireworks is my essential CON !! Adobe doesn’t understand Fireworks at all. They don’t see the difference between FW, PS and AI – they want their tools to do everything. I have a saying – a jack of all trades is master of none.

  12. Mark Ireland

    To ProDesign,

    Adobe could offer CS6 license users who are subscribing to the Creative Cloud the option to upgrade any CS6 Suite and offer them an up-to-date version release when they stop subscribing to the CC service say after a two-year contract term, this could be linked into the serial number of the software purchased by its owner.

    • Well, last year the company said they were looking at this:

      “With regards to file access, Adobe completely agrees that customers should have access to their files if they choose to stop their Creative Cloud membership. Our job is to delight our customers with innovation, but there are a number of options open to us here …”

      So whether they ever offer any sort of buy-out option, or some other kind of mechanism to continually open/view files (besides the Cloud itself), we’ll see.

      But importantly, it isn’t stopping the adoption of the CC release.

  13. Beth

    With the CC membership for $9.99/month can you use the silhouette tool?

  14. Joy

    I subscribed to the monthly creative cloud in Dec. I am paying $29.99 per month. I noticed it is now down to $19.99 per month. How do I get my monthly charge changed?


  15. Steve Savoy

    The software cost and evolving enhancements sound like a fair advantage.

    What would really help me decide would be the hardware requirements from moderate to optimal performance.

    I am currently the gatekeeper for the computer purchases and software approvals.

    I did see a comparison yet it left me wondering if the specs would differ depending on CC or CS6 based on a ease-of-functionality point of view.

    Please advise.

    • Hey there Steve, from time to time we help users with older machines and so go back to using older versions like CS6… We can definitely say that both the performance and ease-of-use for virtually every product has improved since CS6.

      Adobe has generally streamlined and improved the user interfaces and continues to increase deep GPU support within the CC products. The applications are smoother, faster, and better-looking. You also benefit from regular upgrades included in the price, keeping your tools fresh, relevant and useful.

      So on the whole, we would not want to go back to using the older releases if we had a choice.

      Finally, on hardware requirements, here are Adobe’s official system specs for CC 2014.

      Hope that addresses your question – if not then just post back!

  16. Anonymous

    So CC will have all the tools and features of CS6?

  17. Rosie

    Hi! So I recently had a conversation with one of my brothers’ friends about my associates degree I’m currently working towards (Fine Arts/Animation) and he told me about this CC and CS6 program. He said if I plan on going into those fields then I should become familiar with CC or CS6. My question is if I’m studying to be a animation/graphic design student, would this be the right program to purchase?

  18. Vic

    I see that purchasing a monthly subscription allows you to put the software on two computers… If one of those computers quits working or you get a new one, can you easily transfer a subscription to another machine (CPU or Laptop)?

  19. Georgie

    Hi, I have a valid NHS card and need to purchase Adobe Creative Suite (Mainly Photoshop, Indesign & Illustrator).

    I was just wondering if I can buy a version (doesn’t have to be the latest) without having to make monthly installments (as I can’t afford this right now).


  20. Shan

    I am only looking to use photoshop for making T-shirt design graphics. From a novice approach, which option would be best for me: the standalone solo program or out-of-the-box software?

    • Well Shan, there are many factors involved – so the answer really depends on all the different options outlined in the article above: which are right for you?

      You can still buy Photoshop CS6 from Adobe, but can you manage the upfront cost of it? And do you mind having software that is over 3 years old now?

      Or would you prefer a subscription to the latest-and-greatest versions of both Photoshop and Lightroom, included with the new CC Photography Plan that costs US$9.99 a month?

      As stated in the table above, with CS6 you own a static version that does not expire. With CC instead, the software continues to run so long as you maintain your subscription, and you get ongoing product upgrades included at no extra cost.

      For more pros and cons, review the various attributes in the table and please feel free to ask any follow-up questions.

  21. Lydia

    I was wondering if retired teachers still qualify for the educators discount?

    • Hello Lydia, thank you for sharing your thoughts. At this time, Adobe does not offer special pricing for seniors or retirees – most discounts are extended only to students and teachers (within six months).

      However, if you wanted to consider enrolling for a class at your local community college or similar institution, then you could well qualify to buy these products at the much lower education rates, which can be 60-70% off the regular prices.

      Sorry there isn’t a direct answer for you at the moment, but trying a solution like that could even pay for itself… Or if you just need Photoshop and Lightroom, you could go with the CC Photography Bundle, which has a standard price of just $9.99/month.

      Thanks for asking and sharing your feedback!

  22. Keval

    So CC is better than Cs6 in all products?

  23. Ron

    This list seems kinda… biased. No, nevermind, this list IS biased, very very biased. The choice in words, categories, everything is written to make CC look strong and Suite weak. A complete Strawman argument.

    Anyway, it doesn’t convince me that I need CC even now. My school uses suite and I’ve done a lot of things in suite, it doesn’t feel like anything is rally lacking and the few problems I do come across can be looked up on youtube. I still don’t understand why people would choose another bill over a finished product, I mean if I could buy a lifetime of tv without exception rather then pay month to month I totally would.

    • The list is completely factual. If you find anything incorrect or inaccurate, please let us know. But the reality is that CC offers a lot of advantages over CS, which are outlined specifically in that table, point by point.

      Creative Suite is history – Adobe ceased selling CS6 standalone on their website last year. The reason is because it’s over 4 years old now (from spring 2012) and increasingly unsupported; they stopped releasing updates for it last summer as the newer CC rapidly grew and took over. With the CS6 software EOL and end of support, there are no updates, no bug fixes, and no guarantees it will run on future operating systems. So at this point we’ve stopped recommending it as a good or viable option going forward.

      By contrast, with CC all ongoing upgrades, compatibility updates and product additions are always included – so becoming obsolete will never happen. The monthly payments are also more budget-friendly in the new model than in the old CS model – where the software used to cost many hundreds or often thousands of dollars upfront, and never evolved.

      As for why choose Creative Cloud over the old Creative Suite programs, one important reason is because there are countless new time-saving features and performance improvements added to later versions of CS and then now CC. For most professionals, it doesn’t make sense to use 5+ year old software when the latest products do so much more – and better/faster. Time is money, after all.

  24. MW

    I have to agree with Ron here. The list is biased, flatly. Whether that is a bad or a good thing depends on your point of view, but please don’t pretend it is unslanted objective comparison.

    Some examples of rephrased categories that would slant the other way would be:

    App will never stop working due to a missed payment or payment issues.
    Works on an internal system (intranet) without ANY internet connection needed, ever.
    Use is not dependent upon another company’s future decisions about pricing models or changes in prices.
    Application doesn’t need to “phone home” to continue to work.
    Benefit from the old long-tested and proven greatest release, CS 6.

    The last point is obviously ludicrous, right? But, so is “Benefit from the latest/greatest release, CC.” Talk about “begging the question” (in the formal logical sense). Any list that includes THAT as a bullet point for comparison rather forfeits any pretense at objectivity.

    A REAL comparison should assume the reader understands the difference in *purchase model* between CS 6 and CC, and should stick to describing some of the “Over 1,000 new features added since CS 6.”

    Are there ANY removed features? (There must be some, right? No matter how unimportant or useless they may seem to you.)

    How many of the new features actually enable something that was flatly impossible in CS 6, instead of just a little more difficult?

    These are questions that a REAL comparison of CS 6 and CC should answer.

    • In fact, Adobe does also offer solutions for Creative Cloud if you have machines that are offline permanently, or offline for extended periods (such as six months or longer).

      This article may help dispel any other misconceptions about CC:

      The 10 Most Common Myths About Adobe’s Creative Cloud

      Overall, by virtually any measure, Creative Cloud has been a remarkable success – even exceeding Adobe’s own expectations.

      Never before has the company had 12 million customers all using the exact same release of their creative products – not even with any version of Creative Suite (ever). And all CC customers receive ongoing upgrades moving forward, so this version unity will continue – and is extremely powerful.

      There have now been three major releases of CC since CS6 (in 2012), and all were sold side-by-side against CS6 on Adobe’s website. Customers over­whelmingly (by large margins) chose CC over CS6.

      As for new features and tool improvements, there have been thousands. We use CC 2015 every day here and would never want to have to go back or live without all the great capabilities that have been added since CS6 in many of the key applications.

      Finally, because of the low cost of entry, CC has been able to introduce significant numbers of new customers to Adobe, as well as reduce piracy. Adobe CFO Mark Garrett recently said this at the 2015 Global Technology Conference:

      The cloud for Creative Cloud and Document Cloud helps quite a bit against piracy. My analogy is kids who used to download music from say Napster stopped doing it when Apple and iTunes came out and they could buy it in a legitimate and affordable way. So now people who don’t want software downloaded off the web that may have viruses in it, that might be buggy, that isn’t up-to-date and isn’t current, that doesn’t leverage the ability to sync and store and share or use mobile – we’re seeing that really switch over and people being legit and subscribing to the service. And it’s a much lower price point now, because you’re subscribing as opposed to of laying out thousands of dollars upfront.

      All in all, looking at the actual facts and figures, CC has been a huge success – much bigger than some wanted to believe – and is poised to grow still larger as Adobe continues to expand the countries it is offered and available in.

  25. Toby

    So I’ll be able to open and edit all my CS6 files (mainly PSD and InDesign) in CC?

    Then, would I just need to “Save Down” to CS6 when I need to work on my other office computer?