On-site storage methods were once the most popular option for both businesses and individuals, but cloud-based storage solutions are becoming increasingly common. Rather than tying storage to specific hardware, cloud storage services store your information at a remote location where it can be accessed from any device.
Amazon’s Simple Storage Service was one of the first major players in the field of cloud storage. In fact, Google searches for “cloud storage” rose by a factor of 40 throughout the 2010s as these solutions became the standard in more and more industries.
Countless cloud storage solutions were released during that time, and it can be tough to determine which one is the best value for you or your business. The top providers offer affordable rates, excellent data security, and a variety of additional features for both flexibility and ease of use.
In our cloud storage guide, we’ll examine the pros and cons of some of the most powerful and cost-effective services for both individuals and businesses in 2020.
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What is the Best Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage services have become substantially more popular over the last few years, so there are more good options than ever for individuals, small businesses, and larger enterprises.
All things considered, iDrive remains our top recommendation for paid users due to its speed, pricing, and outstanding set of features. That said, it’s also a decent choice if you’re looking for free cloud storage or an enterprise solution—free users get 5 GB of storage, and customizable high-volume business subscriptions are available if you need a large amount of storage.
On the other hand, Google Drive is our first choice if you want to get the most out of a free platform. It provides a generous 15 GB of storage at no charge, and you can take advantage of real-time editing across all devices (including powerful productivity apps for both iOS and Android).
Security is particularly important in business contexts, and it’s one reason why SpiderOak is our favorite business cloud storage solution. SpiderOak is a no-knowledge service, meaning that even the platform itself can’t access your data. It also comes with convenient user management for team admins and customizable subscriptions for businesses with more than 500 users.
The best cloud storage you can buy today
A cloud backup and storage service that also covers network drives
Number of devices: Unlimited | Storage limit: 5TB | External drive backups: Yes | Mobile device backups: Yes | System and application backups: Yes, but not by default | Two factor authentication: Yes | Drive shipping: Seed and restore
iDrive is one of the best all-around cloud storage solutions, with all the tools you need to store data for individuals or teams. You can store up to 5 GB at no charge, and there’s no time limit for free use.
Personal plans come at $69.50 per year for 2 TB and $99.50 for 5 TB. Business subscriptions are available for 250 GB ($99.50 per year), 500 GB ($199.50), 1.25 TB ($499.50), 2.5 TB ($799.50), 5 TB ($1499.50), and 12.5 TB ($2999.50).
Business users get single sign-on, priority support, user and group management, and server cloud backups along with other unique features. Extra storage costs 25 cents per GB per month for Personal users and 50 cents per GB per month for Business users. You can upgrade to a high-volume plan if you need to store more than 12.5 terabytes.
The service also provides regular file syncing for both local and network drives along with file sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and email. IT admins can use the iDrive Thin Client to manage backups, restores, and settings for all team computers.
To prevent accidental deletions, iDrive stores as many as 30 recent versions of your files at any given time. In other words, deleting something from your computer won’t cause it to be deleted from the server unless you leave it deleted for 30 or more backups.
Furthermore, iDrive Express gives users access to short-notice backups and restores by shipping temporary storage devices. Personal subscribers get one free Express backup per year, while Business users get three. From there, backups cost $59.95 each. Restores cost $99.50 each, regardless of your subscription.
An excellent cloud storage option for large files
Along with annual subscriptions, pCloud also offers lifetime licenses for a single payment. You can get 500 GB for life for $480, while 2 TB of lifetime storage costs $980. Business plans are available as monthly or annual subscriptions, with variable pricing depending on the size of your team.
These plans cost $59.88 and $119.88, respectively, when billed annually, which works out at $4.99 or $9.99 per month. If you expect to use the service for more than three or four years, it may be worth investing in a lifetime license rather than committing to annual payments.
pCloud offers excellent security features, including TLS/SSL protection, 256-bit AES encryption, and five copies of your files distributed across separate servers.
You can add client-side encryption to your account through a separate pCloud Crypto subscription. pCloud Crypto costs $4.99 per month, or $3.99 per month when paid annually. The service is available at no extra charge for Business users.
Users can access their pCloud accounts through the website or with the mobile app, currently available for both iOS and Android. The platform comes with a strong design and seamless performance across devices.
In case you lose any important data, pCloud provides file versioning, with older versions of your account available for up to 30 days. With Remote Upload, you can upload remote files directly to pCloud by entering the file’s address into the pCloud Upload manager.
pCloud also comes with convenient features like video streaming, audio playlists, and a built-in video and audio player. The service doesn’t place any limits on file size or speed, and you can back up from Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, OneDrive, or Google Drive.
Business users can take advantage of a robust set of collaboration tools. Employees can be organized into separate teams, with permissions set either by team or for each individual. pCloud also enables admins to track all account activity.
- [$175 one time payment] Lifetime premium subscription with 500GB storage
- [$350 one time payment] Lifetime premium subscription with 2TB storage
- [$47.88 per year] Premium package with 500GB storage
- [$95.88 per year] Premium package with 2TB storage
3. Zoolz Cloud Backup
One of the most well-known cloud backup solutions
Zoolz is a reliable and flexible cloud storage solution, with affordable plans available for both individuals and businesses. While business subscriptions cost significantly more than personal plans for the same amount of storage, they also come with several notable features.
For example, 1 TB of storage costs $69.99 per year for individuals and $180 per year for companies. Business subscribers get unlimited users, unlimited external drives, and unlimited servers plus GDPR compliance and more powerful file versioning tools. While Business users can customize their file versioning settings, Home users can only store the ten most recent versions of a given file.
The Zoolz Tribrid backup system is one of the tool’s most efficient features. Files can be moved between one of three types of storage: instant cloud storage based on Amazon S3 for easy access, cold storage for large volumes of data that don’t need to be accessed frequently, and local storage for even quicker recovery.
Like other top cloud storage services, Zoolz provides 256-bit AES encryption during all file transfers and on the server side. You can access files using the website or mobile app. Zoolz is currently available on both the App Store and Google Play.
An intriguing new alternative to established cloud storage platforms
Degoo is an AI-based cloud storage service available online or through excellent mobile apps on both iOS and Android. While there’s a surprisingly robust free plan, you can also pay for a monthly subscription to access additional features and higher storage limits.
The Pro plan costs $2.99 per month. It comes with 500 GB of cloud storage with access for up to three devices. Paid users also gain access to lifetime storage, while free users have to log in at least once per 90 days to avoid losing data.
Finally, you can get 10 TB of storage through the Ultimate subscription for $9.99 per month. This plan also includes a photo storage maximizer, which frees up hard drive space on your phone or mobile device by automatically transferring photos to cloud storage.
To keep your information safe, Degoo encrypts data using a passphrase that’s only known by each user. This passphrase isn’t stored on Degoo servers, and your information is encrypted into separate storage across data centers in multiple countries. Degoo uses randomly generated AES-256 encryption keys for all files.
Unfortunately, while Degoo technically supports two-factor authentication for added security, the platform is only compatible with Google Authenticator. In other words, you can’t receive authentication codes via text or email or with another authenticator service.
5. Mega Cloud Drive
An incredibly secure cloud storage option for personal and business use
Mega is an affordable cloud storage service with a web presence as well as iOS and Android apps. Like Degoo, it has a decent free option, with up to 50 GB of storage available at no charge. Unfortunately, free users have to perform certain actions such as installing the mobile app or inviting friends in order to transfer data or store more than 15 GB.
Personal accounts are divided into Pro Lite (approx. $5.39 per month), Pro I (approx. $10.78), Pro II (approx. $21.57), and Pro III (approx. $21.57). Mega’s pricing is based on euros rather than dollars, so your monthly payment may vary slightly depending on currency fluctuations.
Pro Lite users are limited to 400 GB of storage and 1 TB in transfers. Those restrictions increase to 2 TB each if you upgrade to Pro I and 8 TB with Pro II. Finally, Pro III users can store and transfer up to 16 TB of data per month. Custom subscriptions are also available if you need more volume.
Mega encrypts information using a key that’s associated with your password. The platform doesn’t have access to the key, so you could lose all data if you forget your password. You can back up your key as a failsafe in case you lose your password. You will most likely lose access to your account if you can’t find either one.
It’s important to be careful with your information if you choose to use Mega, but this practice undoubtedly improves its security. You can trust Mega to protect your information as long as you trust yourself to backup your recovery key and keep your password in a safe place.
A convenient cloud storage option for Windows users
In contrast to most cloud storage solutions, OneDrive is pre-installed in Windows 10. You can find OneDrive files in the File Explorer, making it a convenient option for any individual or business running Windows.
On the other hand, OneDrive is behind the competition in some areas. Users only get 5 GB in free storage, significantly less than what’s available with some other services. You can upgrade your OneDrive plan to 100 GB for just $1.99 per month.
Microsoft also offers Office 365 bundles that come with additional OneDrive storage. 365 Personal costs $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month for 1000 GB of storage and other Microsoft tools such as Word and Outlook.
365 Family, at $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month provides 1000 GB each for up to six people, or a total of 6000 GB in storage. Business plans are available with custom pricing depending on your storage needs and the size of your team.
With OneDrive, you can access files through your PC or with a variety of other devices. The service has applications for macOS, Android, and iOS. Files can also be viewed through the OneDrive website, and you can preview and edit files using various Office applications.
Integration with other areas of Windows is the key benefit of Microsoft OneDrive compared to other services, but it also offers a wide range of convenient features. For example, file versioning is available for up to 30 days in the past. You’ll also have the option to automatically sync specific folders to the cloud without running a manual backup.
Native cloud storage and syncing for macOS users
Similar to OneDrive, iCloud is the native cloud storage platform for Mac and iOS users. If you’re using Windows, you can still sync files via iCloud by downloading the official Windows client. The iCloud website also provides access to Apple productivity tools such as Pages and Numbers.
iCloud comes with as much as 5 GB of free storage, more than enough for some personal users. That said, you’ll only start with 1 GB for free unless you already own an Apple device. Keep in mind that there’s no Android app—you’ll need to use a third-party application or access files through the iCloud website.
You can upgrade to 50 GB for just 99 cents per month. 200 GB of storage costs $2.99 per month, while 2 TB are available for $9.99 per month. Family users with 200 GB or 2 TB plans can share their iCloud storage with other family members.
If you’re using iCloud with iWork tools, you can quickly revert to previous versions in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. To recover previous files, go to iCloud Account Settings and select Restore Files in the Advanced section. Files will be deleted after 30 days.
8. Google Drive
Cloud storage, syncing, and sharing with seamless G Suite integration
Just as OneDrive integrates with Windows and iCloud works well with Apple products, Google Drive is a particularly convenient option for Android users. That said, it functions well across all devices, with real-time editing support for as many as 100 users in Google Docs.
Premium plans were recently rebranded to Google One. Subscriptions are available at numerous price points. Free users can store up to 15 GB of data, while 100 GB of storage costs just $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. Paid users also gain access to Google experts, family sharing, and other benefits.
You can upgrade to 200 GB for $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. This plan also comes with 3% back on Google Store purchases. 10 TB, 20 TB, and 30 TB cost $99.99, $199.99, and $299.99 per month, respectively. Each of these subscriptions provides 10% off at the Google Store.
9. Box Cloud Storage
Excellent cloud storage, content management, and collaboration
Box is a cloud storage solution designed for both personal and business use. You can use the platform for free, but free users are limited to just 10 GB of total storage and 250 MB per file.
At $10 per month, Personal Pro comes with 100 GB of storage and a 5 GB file upload limit. Business plans are priced separately. Business users gain access to user management, single sign-on, custom branding, and other unique features.
Unlimited storage costs just $15 per user per month through the Business subscription. At $25 per user per month, Business Plus comes with unlimited users and external collaborators, full user activity tracking, and other advanced features. Enterprise plans are also available in case you want to bundle cloud storage with other Box solutions.
Box encrypts files with AES 256-bit encryption across multiple locations. You can set up two-factor authentication for additional security. The platform integrates with Office 365, Slack, G Suite, Salesforce, and numerous other third-party applications.
You can view and manage files stored on Box using the website or mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. There’s also a Box Sync client for Mac, Windows, and Android. Box Sync automatically updates Box to mirror data stored on your computer.
Box stores a different number of versions of each file depending on your subscription. Free users can access one version, while Personal Pro users get ten. The limit increases to 25 with Starter, 50 with Business and Business Plus, and 100 with Enterprise.
Self-hosting solution for DIY cloud storage and syncing
In contrast to many other cloud storage services, Nextcloud gives users the ability to select their own server. It’s completely free to use, but the platform also offers pre-configured Enterprise solutions, which start at roughly $2,050 per year for 50 users.
Nextcloud makes it easy to sign up with a server provider to streamline the signup process. Since you’re responsible for finding your own server, how much you pay for storage ultimately depends on the provider you select. You should be able to find a free option for 5 GB of storage or less.
By keeping data on your server rather than using Nextcloud’s storage, you gain additional flexibility while minimizing your vulnerabilities. Of course, you’ll need to do research on your own in order to determine the best provider for your needs.
Like many other services, Nextcloud makes it easy to access your data online or with the mobile app on iOS and Android. The platform also integrates with Outlook for secure file sharing. Instead of sending files as an attachment, you’ll have the option to share them using a Nextcloud link.
No-knowledge cloud backup with desktop clients for Windows, macOS, and Linux
SpiderOak brands itself as a no-knowledge cloud storage service, meaning that the platform has no access to your password, files, or metadata. You can download clients on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, although the mobile apps don’t give you the option to sync files.
SpiderOak offers four subscriptions depending on your storage needs. For $6 per month or $69 per year, you can get 150 GB of storage. The 400 GB plan costs $11 per month or $115 per year.
2 TB are available for $14 per month/$149 per year, and finally 5 TB of storage are available for $29 per month or $320 per year. The storage limit is the only difference between plans—each subscription comes with the same features.
Best Free Cloud Storage
1. Google Drive
Up to 15 GB free cloud storage, with sync and backup options too
Google Drive is an equally viable solution whether you’re looking for free or paid storage. Free users are limited to 15 GB of cloud storage, more than you can get with many other services. Google One subscriptions provide higher storage limits starting at $1.99 per month for 100 GB.
Your storage is shared across all Google services, so you may need to manage email and photo backups if you start running out of space. While files are protected with 128-bit AES encryption at rest, Google Drive is not a zero-knowledge service like SpiderOak.
You can access files online or through the mobile app on iOS or Android. Google also supports real-time file editing with collaborators in G Suite, which includes Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Separate mobile apps are available for each of those tools if you want to edit files from a smartphone or tablet.
With the Backup and Sync app for macOS and Windows, you can quickly view your data and upload or delete files as needed. Unfortunately, the client isn’t currently available for Linux. That said, you can get many of the same features through various third-party applications.
File sharing, a sleek interface, and 10 GB of free cloud storage
pCloud is another excellent option for free cloud storage, and free users can store up to 10 GB of data. You can increase this limit by making referrals for 1 GB each and completing various other tasks.
Rather than immediately deleting previous versions of your files, pCloud stores file versions for 15 days for free users and 30 days for paid subscribers. It’s easy to restore older versions of files through pCloud Rewind.
You can access your pCloud files online or by downloading the pCloud desktop client. Unlike Google Drive, pCloud has an application out for Linux as well as macOS and Windows. There’s also a mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices.
pCloud supports file sharing through shared folders and download and upload links. Shared folders are only accessible to other pCloud users, and you can set viewing and editing permissions for each one. Meanwhile, download and upload links enable you to securely share files with people who don’t use pCloud.
Limited free cloud storage, but great syncing for Windows users
OneDrive is a good choice for any Windows user, regardless of whether you’re looking for free or premium storage. It’s integrated directly into Windows 10, so you won’t need to install any additional software to get started.
Unfortunately, OneDrive only offers 5 GB of free storage, significantly less than Google Drive and pCloud. That said, you can upgrade to 100 GB for just $1.99 per month. OneDrive is also available as a bundle with other Microsoft services.
While the service is a natural fit for Windows users, you can also download OneDrive for macOS, iOS, and Android. On the other hand, there’s no official support for Linux, so you’ll have to access and manage your files using a third-party client.
With OneDrive, you can share files using sharing links. These links work whether or not the recipients are also OneDrive users. The service limits sharing for free users, but it doesn’t provide any specifics on the sharing limit. Microsoft 365 subscribers can share ten times as much data as free users and people on the 100 GB storage-only plan.
A popular cloud storage and syncing solution with numerous third-party integrations
Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage platforms for both personal and business use. While the service only provides up to 2 GB for free users, it offers enough features to be worth considering if you only need to store a small amount of data.
You can upload and manage files through the website, desktop app, or mobile app, available on both iOS and Android. There’s a separate package for Linux users, but this version of Dropbox doesn’t receive as many updates as the Windows and macOS releases.
If you need more storage, you can upgrade to Plus for 2 TB at $11.99 per month. Professional comes with 3 TB and additional features for $19.99 per month. Unfortunately, critical features like Dropbox Rewind (file versioning) and full text file searches are limited to paid accounts.
Still, free Dropbox users can easily share files and folders through sharing links. It’s simple to configure viewing and editing permissions for each individual user. Sharing links are accessible regardless of whether the recipient is a Dropbox user.
Up to 50 GB of cloud storage for free users
MediaFire is a cloud storage platform with both free and paid options. Free users get 10 GB of storage automatically, but you can raise that limit by referring friends, downloading the mobile app, and performing certain other tasks. Including these bonuses, you can store up to 50 GB of data for free.
The downside to the higher storage limit is that MediaFire supports free accounts with ads. Furthermore, free users are restricted to just 4 GB of data per file, even if you increase your storage cap to 50 GB.
Along with the website, MediaFire provides apps on Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. That said, there’s currently no native client for macOS, Windows, or Linux, so you’ll have to access MediaFire.com to manage your files from a laptop or desktop.
Furthermore, free accounts miss out on several notable features. For example, paid users can access direct download links rather than directing recipients to the MediaFire website. They also gain the option to share files with one-time links that expire after a single use.
Best business cloud storage
Outstanding security for cloud backup plus efficient device management for admins
SpiderOak is a zero-knowledge cloud storage platform, meaning that even the service itself doesn’t have access to your data. Its security is one of its main advantages compared to other business cloud storage solutions.
Each of SpiderOak’s paid plans supports an unlimited number of devices, making it a good option for businesses and teams. Subscriptions are available at 150 GB ($6 per month), 400 GB ($11 per month), 2 TB ($14 per month), and 5 TB ($29 per month).
Businesses with at least 500 users can contact SpiderOak directly for a custom quote. The admin console provides centralized device management with activity monitoring, backup scheduling, user permissions, and other helpful features. You can manage devices from macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, or Android.
With SpiderOak, users can securely share files through the Share Room, with the option to use temporary links. Unfortunately, there’s no support for real-time editing between collaborators.
SpiderOak automatically stores a separate version of each file each time a user saves their changes. You can quickly revert to previous versions of a file by clicking Version History in the desktop or mobile app.
Another no-knowledge cloud storage solution with available enterprise packages
Tresorit is a Hungarian and Swiss cloud storage service that has been providing online storage since 2011. Apps are currently available for macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS.
Like SpiderOak, Tresorit emphasizes that the platform doesn’t have access to user data. You can also set up two-factor authentication if you want to add an extra layer of protection to your account. When sharing files, you’ll have the option to create a password, open limit, and expiration date for additional security.
Tresorit offers separate subscriptions for individuals and businesses. The Small Business plan costs $25 per user per month for teams of 2–9 people, or $20 per user per month when billed annually. It comes with 1000 GB of storage and access to basic features like secure file sharing and user-group management.
You can upgrade to Business for $30 per user per month, although it’s currently on sale for $15 per user per month. This subscription is designed for companies with between 10 and 100 users. Business users get all features included with Small Business plus advanced functions like download monitoring for shared files, remote deletion for lost and stolen devices, and priority support.
Enterprise plans are available for $30 per user per month, starting at 100 users. Along with the tools available in Business and Small Business, Enterprise provides features such as personalized storage limits, options for data residency, and phone support from a dedicated account manager.
Tresorit is somewhat more expensive than many competitors, and whether it’s worth the extra cost depends on your company’s needs. Considering its security features, tools for team administrators, and file sharing capabilities, Tresorit is one of the best cloud storage services for businesses of all sizes.
Cloud collaboration that works with G Suite, Microsoft Office, and Salesforce
Egnyte is a business-focused cloud storage solution with features designed for small and large companies. While desktop and mobile apps are available for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android, there’s currently no native support for Linux users.
Egnyte subscriptions are separated into Business and Team plans. Team users are limited to three employee licenses, while Business subscriptions are intended for companies with five or more employees. The Team plan costs $10 per employee per month and comes with 1 TB of online storage.
At $8 per employee per month, Office subscriptions support anywhere from five to 25 users, with up to 5 TB of total storage. Business plans cost $20 per employee per month for companies with 25–100 employees. You’ll get up to 10 TB of storage plus advanced features like two-factor authentication and central device management.
Egnyte integrates with some of the most popular productivity tools, including Gmail and G Suite, Microsoft Office and Outlook, AutoCAD, and Salesforce. That said, some integrations, such as Salesforce and G Suite, are limited to Office plans.
Files are encrypted with 256-bit encryption both in transit and at rest. All subscriptions come with custom branding, file versioning, user and group management for team admins, and other helpful features. Admins can also set up file versioning policies to control how many versions of each file are saved.
4. Dropbox Business
Affordable cloud storage, syncing, and collaboration with plans for businesses of all sizes
Dropbox is one of the most well-known cloud storage services, and it’s a strong option for both individual and business use. Dropbox Business offers additional tools and features that aren’t available with personal subscriptions.
The Standard plan costs $15 per user per month for companies with at least three users. It comes with 5000 GB of storage and everything you need to securely share files with team members.
At $25 per user per month, Advanced comes with custom storage limits and sophisticated security tools such as file viewing history, support for single sign-on, and tiered admin roles with separate permissions.
Dropbox also provides seamless integrations with various business platforms, making it easy to implement within your existing practices. Some of the most popular applications supported by Dropbox include Zoom, Slack, Salesforce, Trello, WordPress, and Zapier.
In contrast to many other cloud storage services, Dropbox has an official client for Linux plus software for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android. Unfortunately, the website states that the Linux release doesn’t receive updates as frequently as Dropbox apps on other operating systems.
5. Box for Business
Competitive pricing for this cloud storage and collaboration solution
Box offers cloud storage plans specifically designed for the needs of small- to medium-sized businesses. You can also contact the company directly if you’re interested in a quote for a custom Enterprise subscription.
At $5 per user per month, Starter comes with 100 GB of storage, although you’ll still be limited to 2 GB per file. This plan is intended for teams with three to ten users.
The Business plan costs $15 per user per month. Business subscribers get unlimited storage, a 5 GB file upload limit, and support for unlimited users. This tier also comes with more advanced features including single sign-on and data loss prevention via customizable access permissions, activity monitoring, and other security tools.
While Box users can edit files shared by other Box users, people who don’t have the application will be limited to reading privileges. This can complicate workflows if your company regularly needs to share documents with external users. Of course, it won’t be an issue if files are only being shared in-house.
How to Choose the Best Cloud Storage for You
Every cloud storage solution advertises unique benefits, and it can be tough to determine exactly what you need. While each user’s needs are different, there are a few critical factors to consider when comparing providers.
First, you should look for a service that stores data in both on-site and off-site servers. Keeping files in multiple places dramatically reduces the risk of losing information.
In case you need to recover data, you’ll also want access to an efficient backup option. For example, a few services will mail you physical hard drives to replace information quickly. Cloud-based recovery is typically more efficient if you need to avoid downtime.
Business users may also prefer a solution that integrates with their company’s existing practices. If you already use Google Docs and Sheets, it may be more convenient to pay for extra Google Drive storage rather than using a third-party provider.
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