We live in an increasingly virtual world. More and more companies offer remote work, and nearly everything is shared over the internet. So, it pays to have a backup of important files. Even though physical storage is cheap (the best microSD cards cost about 11 cents per gigabyte), having a good, reliable cloud storage option is a necessity.
There are many great options for cloud storage, and here are the ones worth looking at.
1. OneDrive: Best for Windows
Modern Windows PCs automatically back up your files to Microsoft OneDrive until you use up the 5GB of free storage. If you need more storage, consider one of the paid OneDrive subscriptions. OneDrive is a versatile cloud storage solution for personal and business uses.
Since OneDrive functionality is built into Windows computers, it's a cinch to choose which files and folders you want the system to save to the cloud automatically. Its drag-and-drop storage functionality is simple to use, and its integration with Windows and the Microsoft 365 apps makes it a great choice for anyone who uses Microsoft's apps, either alone or in collaboration with others.
Its lowest-priced personal subscription offers 100GB for $19.99 per year, which is cheaper than Google's 100GB offering. However, larger storage amounts require you to purchase bundles that include Microsoft 365 apps. Whether that's a good deal depends on whether you plan to use Microsoft 365.
2. IceDrive: A contender for all purposes
IceDrive is an interesting service. There's not a lot you can knock it for, but nothing it does makes it stand out from the competition. It has competitive prices but is beaten by its competition at higher tiers. It has fast servers, but not as fast as Google's. It has good backup options, but they're not as robust as Sync's. It has end-to-end encryption, but only for one folder. It'd be a great pick for the best all-around service, except pCloud beats it for that title.
IceDrive works with all mobile and desktop operating systems and generally avoids the major downsides that its competitors have. Keep IceDrive in mind if you're shopping for a new cloud storage service.
3. Google Drive: Best for speed
If you're entrenched in the Google ecosystem, you already have Google Drive. The only question is whether you're getting the most out of it. Owners of Android devices and Chromebooks will find it integrates flawlessly with the Google Workplace suite, which makes it a breeze to open documents and spreadsheets from within its web interface.
Finding a file is easy thanks to its full-featured search function and its cloud sync feature automatically backs up the folders you choose. It offers some robust options for sharing files and collaborating on documents. The service also takes advantage of Google's high-speed data centers, offering the fastest cloud storage service available.
Google Drive has some downsides. Unlike other Cloud Storage solutions, Google Drive does not offer end-to-end encryption. It also is more frustrating to use on iOS devices than other solutions.
Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage. You can also pay $1.99 a month for 100GB of storage, $2.99 a month for 200GB, and $9.99 for 2TB.
4. pCloud: Best all-around service
While it might not have the name recognition of the other cloud storage services on this list, pCloud is recommended by many who are familiar with the wider range of cloud storage options. There are four main reasons for this:
- pCloud offers client-side encryption (which many of its competitors don't).
- pCloud can function as a hosting service for HTML sites (which isn't the case for many of its rivals).
- Its syncing, backup, and file-sharing options are comparable to its competitors.
- Its individual and family plans offer lifetime subscriptions for one-time payments.
However, its services aren't as fast as Google Drive's, and if you're looking for seamless functionality with office apps, you're better off looking at Microsoft or Google. Also, while the service offers client-side encryption, it does not come for free. It requires a one-time payment of $150 (or $50 annually) to activate its encryption abilities.
pCloud also has a reputation for zealously enforcing its Terms of Service, and it closes accounts that violate them without warning. While the consensus is that the company usually does this to fight piracy, it's a factor worth considering when you're looking at where to store your files.
5. TeraBox: The most free cloud storage space
Let's say you're not looking for any technical features for cloud storage. You don't care if you have the fastest servers, the best privacy, or the greatest compatibility with your favorite apps. Let's say you have a lot of files, and you want somewhere that will store them for free.
TeraBox will do that. It offers a full terabyte of free storage, which blows its competition out of the water. It also has decent smart search and video playback options.
However, there's a catch. There are lots of ads. And while the app claims not to send its data to third parties, it collects a lot of your information, from phone numbers to purchase history. Privacy advocates be warned.
6. MEGA: Good encrypted storage
MEGA has made a name for itself by offering 20GB of free storage and competitive features. It offers end-to-end encryption and anti-ransomware capabilities. It works with the largest two-factor authentication apps. It also offers good communication features for collaborating with others.
With pricing that's roughly the same as its competition, it's a service worth looking at even if you're looking for more than its free offering.
7. MobiDrive: Slimmed-down with sizable storage
If you're looking for a simple cloud storage system with a decent amount of free storage but getting blasted by ads irritates you, give MobiDrive a try. While 20GB is nothing compared to the full terabyte that TeraBox offers, it's tied with MEGA for the second-most free storage.
Its other features are a bit on the slim side. However, it has one interesting capability. It converts file types in-app, so you can download documents in a different format.
8. Dropbox: Easy file sharing
One of the big names in personal cloud storage, Dropbox offers plenty of reasons to give it a try if none of its competition meets your needs. It has been around for a while and the developers have streamlined its interface and made it a smooth experience for anyone looking to store or share files.
Its main focus has always been file sharing, and its options help you easily send large files and choose who has access to what. Its free storage space is a bit on the low side, and many users have complaints about its sorting system, but it still fills its file-sharing niche with practiced ease.
More ways to store files
Any tech geek will tell you that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to digital storage. Even cloud services can unexpectedly fail, so it's good to have a backup and a backup for your backup. Our guide to the best NAS hard drives is one good place to look.