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Best cloud storage in 2022

man working on laptop in data center
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Choosing the best cloud storage services for your specific needs can be a tough ask, particularly if you don't know what to look for. In this guide, we'll help you by explaining what cloud storage is, and which services are right for you. We've also answered a range of frequently-asked-questions that you might have. 

Most top platforms provide a range of premium, personal, free, and business plans, meaning customers have a great deal of options to choose from. A cloud storage and backup provider offering scalability can save you time, stress, and money, because you can then upgrade storage and access advanced tools when required.

This guide zeroes in on premium packages, residing between the best cloud storage for business and free cloud storage. Premium plans offer individuals leading business features and tools at competitive prices, such as file syncing and secure cloud systems. By investing in premium storage, you can enjoy the advantages and benefits of business-level cloud storage for less.

Our best cloud storage deals, right now

Whether you're a business or individual, IDrive's wide range of options mean it's ideal when looking for the best cloud storage deal. It's not only our number one provider; currently, it's offering the best deal on cloud storage!

IDrive: the best cloud storage available

IDrive: the best cloud storage available
IDrive ranks highly consistently among the best cloud storage services thanks to top features, high security, and fair pricing. It’s available across Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, and you can get 10TB of storage for only $3.98 a year with our exclusive deal!

Get $50 off Sync.com solo or team plans

Get $50 off Sync.com solo or team plans
With Sync.com, you can take advantage of cloud storage and syncing whether you're an individual or a business. We've got an exclusive deal offering $50 off the annual price of its Solo Professional and Teams Unlimited plans, offering secure storage, custom branding, priority support, and much more.

Get Backblaze for free with every ExpressVPN purchase

Get Backblaze for free with every ExpressVPN purchase
ExpressVPN, Tom’s Guide’s #1 VPN provider, is offering free unlimited cloud backup courtesy of Backblaze for a whole year with its annual subscription. Secure, business-grade online backup for everyone, no strings attached.

We've reviewed premium cloud storage providers, ranking each on performance against key elements such as cloud storage security, storage capacity, file size limits, affordability, versatility, ease-of-use, customer support, and any additional, platform-specific features and tools. Find the best premium cloud storage for your storage requirements below!

Which is the best cloud storage service?

IDrive is the best cloud storage provider of premium solutions, offering great value-for-money across a range of highly-secure, feature-packed plans. It's also our top pick for the best free cloud storage, the best cloud storage for photos, and the best personal cloud storage provider. 

Google Drive provides leading integrations with Google Workspace as well as slick mobile and desktop apps, while Dropbox continues to be one of the best cloud storage solutions thanks to ease-of-use and third-party app integrations.

Microsoft OneDrive provides integration with Microsoft 365, as well as premium plans for individuals, families, and businesses. Zoolz' high-quality cloud storage boasts excellent security, a great free trial, and 24/7 support. Finally, pCloud competes with industry giants via a lifetime subscription across family and business plans, secure file-sharing, and widespread app support across platforms.

The best cloud storage providers, compared
Cloud storage platformLowest-priced planStorage capacityNumber of devicesEncryption
IDrive$79.50 a year (IDrive Personal)*Up to 10TB (up to 50TB for business plans)UnlimitedEnd-to-end
Google Drive$1.99 a month (Google One)Up to 2TBUnlimitedEncrypted transfer
Dropbox$11.99 a month (Plus)Up to 5TBUnlimitedIn-transit and at-rest
Zoolz$9.99 (1TB plan)Up to 50TBUnlimitedEnd-to-end
Microsoft OneDrive$1.99 a month (OneDrive Standard)Up to 6TB30AES 256-bit
pCloud$4.99 a month (Premium)Up to 2TBUnspecifiedIn-transit and at-rest

*IDrive is offering 10TB for just $3.98 for the first year, currently


The best cloud storage premium solutions

IDrive logo

(Image credit: IDrive)
An excellent all-around choice for all users

Specifications

Storage capacity: Up to 10TB (up to 50TB for business plans)
Number of devices: Unlimited
Encryption: End-to-end

Reasons to buy

+
Compatible with almost any device or OS
+
Unlimited user and device plans available
+
Very easy to use
+
Affordably-priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Unlimited storage isn’t available
-
No two-factor authentication
-
Slow download speeds

IDrive takes first in our list of the best premium cloud storage providers, and for good reason. It offers great value-for-money, provides highly secure cloud storage solutions, and has an option for every user. 

The basic free-forever plan only supports 5GB of storage, but this should be enough for you to test it. Personal plans that support one user and unlimited devices cost $59.62 a year ($79.50 on renewal) for 5TB or $74.62 a year ($99.50 on renewal) for 10TB of storage. IDrive is also currently offering 10TB for a hugely discounted price of $3.98 for the first year — one of the most affordable high-capacity plans available, though you need to prove you're using a competitor as part of the signup.

All plans can be used on various desktop and mobile operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. You can set up continuous data backup if required, and it’s even possible to create a copy of external hard drives and NAS (network-attached storage) devices. 

We found that files can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, and file sharing is extremely easy. All plans come with the innovative IDrive Express feature, which enables you to back up files and data to a physical storage device, which is then mailed to your chosen address. This is available once per year with the Personal plans.

Read our full IDrive personal cloud backup review, and our IDrive business review.

IDrive's pricing plans
FreePersonalTeam**Business**
Cost per month/yearFree$5.79* / $79.50***$8.29* / $99.50$8.29* / $99.50
Storage capacity5GB5TB***5TB250GB
Number of usersOneOneFiveUnlimited
File versioning✔ (30 versions)✔ (30 versions)✔ (30 versions)✔ (30 versions)

*All prices are based on undiscounted rates of the cheapest available annual plan. Monthly plans are only available via Business packags with 1.25TB or more, starting at $49.95 a month.
**Entry-level Team and Business plans shown: plans go up to 100TB and 100 users /  50TB and 50 users.
***IDrive is
offering 10TB storage at a hugely discounted $3.98 for the first year

Get IDrive's RemotePC for $2.98 for the first year

Get IDrive's RemotePC for $2.98 for the first year
IDrive's RemotePC product, offering remote desktop access, is exclusively available for $2.98 a year for the first year! This plan offers remote access to up to 10 machines, and also includes (for free) its RemotePC Meeting video-conference solution for enterprises.

Google Drive logo

(Image credit: Google Drive)
All-in-one solution powered by Google Workspace

Specifications

Storage capacity: Up to 2TB
Number of devices: Unlimited
Encryption: Encrypted transfer

Reasons to buy

+
15GB of free storage
+
Android, Chromebook, and Workspace integration
+
Fully featured cloud sync that’s simple to use
+
Very easy to work with

Reasons to avoid

-
The web interface can be a little complicated
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No end-to-end encryption
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Security could be tighter

Google’s cloud storage walks hand in hand with Android and Google Workspace. If these platforms are already a part of your workflow, Google Drive offers a feature-rich, affordable native backup-and-sync solution.

While not as barebones as some of the other options listed, we found Google Drive’s UI to be clean and intuitive. It is worth remembering, however, that it's more than cloud storage. It comes with companion apps including Google Photos, Docs, Sheets, and Slides—together known as Google Workspace—meaning you can create, edit, store, view, and synchronize files via this unified, web-based interface. 

When you open a new account, Google offers you free storage of up to 15GB on Google Drive. This plan is yours to keep forever, and if you wish to upgrade to a higher storage plan down the road, you can do so. The paid plans, offered under the banner of Google One, start at $1.99 a month for 100GB. From there, you can upgrade storage to a maximum of 30TB for $299.99 a month

The web interface, while very attractive, isn’t the easiest to use. This problem is easily solved however by downloading the Google Drive desktop application for Windows and macOS. This file explorer-based drag-and-drop system is not dissimilar to Microsoft OneDrive, which lets you back up, store, modify, and delete files directly from your desktop.

Read our full Google Drive review, our Drive Enterprise review, and our Google Cloud review.

Google Drive's pricing plans
Free100GB200GB2TB
Cost per month/yearFree$1.99 / $9.99$2.99 / $29.99$9.99 / $99.99
Storage capacity15GB100GB200GB2TB
Number of usersSixSixSixSix
File versioning✔ (30-days)✔ (30-days)✔ (30-days)✔ (30-days)

Dropbox logo

(Image credit: Dropbox)
A leader in file sharing over the cloud

Specifications

Storage capacity: Up to 5TB
Number of devices: Unlimited
Encryption: In-transit and at rest

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Freedom to choose third-party applications
+
Free plan will suffice for many personal users

Reasons to avoid

-
No backup features
-
Expensive
-
Only a file storage service that allows for app integrations, unlike the competition

Dropbox is a fantastic choice for personal cloud storage. Plans are affordable, the user interface is impressive, and it integrates well with many third-party platforms.

It is a leader in file sharing, with several features helping to make it easy to share large files with others, whether they use Dropbox or not. However, one limitation we found is that you can’t back up external or network drives — Dropbox only stores what you transfer to the Dropbox folder on your device. This isn’t a major issue, but differentiates it from competitors like IDrive. 

Security is impressive without being exceptional, with all files are encrypted at rest and in transit, though there is no end-to-end encryption. Accounts can also be secured with two-factor authentication (2FA).

It has a free plan with 2GB of storage, as well as two other personal plans. Of these, the Plus Plan is $9.99 a month for 2TB of storage, and enables you to send files up to 2GB per transfer. The Family Plan has the same storage and transfer capabilities, but for six individual users, for $16.99 a month. Despite its limitations, we think you could do much worse than Dropbox for cloud storage. 

Read our Dropbox review and our Dropbox Business review.

Dropbox's pricing plans
BasicPlusFamilyProfessionalStandardAdvanced
Cost per month/yearFree$11.99 / $119.88$19.99 / $203.88$19.99 / $1,198.96$15 / $150 (per user)$25 / $240 (per user)
Storage capacity2GB2TB2TB3TB5TBUnlimited
Number of usersOneOneSix (maximum)OneThree (minimum)Three (minimum)
File versioning✔ (30-days)✔ (30-days)✔ (180-days)✔ (180-days)✔ (180-days)

Zoolz logo

(Image credit: Zoolz)
A popular cloud backup platform with an excellent reputation

Specifications

Storage capacity: Up to 50TB
Number of devices: Unlimited
Encryption: End-to-end

Reasons to buy

+
Streamlined platform with minimal system impact
+
Attractive, intuitive user interface
+
Smart file search across hybrid storage

Reasons to avoid

-
No live backup options
-
Pricier than competitors
-
Clunky and frustrating mobile apps

Zoolz offers high-quality cloud storage backed by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem. It boasts excellent security, including full 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption, and compliance with various legislative frameworks including HIPPA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation). 

A fully-functional free trial is available with 50GB, enabling you to try the service before committing. Prices range from $14.99 a month for 1TB of storage to $674.99 a month for 50TB. Significant discounts are available with annual payments.

All business plans support unlimited users, unlimited server backups, and unlimited external drive connections. Users also have access to excellent 24/7 live support and a comprehensive help center.

The Zoolz desktop interface is neat and easy to navigate, and there are also mobile apps available for managing files on the go. Unfortunately, we found these are clunky and frustrating to use, while upload and download speeds can be slow, which could be an issue if frequently working with larger files. 

Read our full Zoolz cloud storage review, and our Zoolz BigMIND review.

Zoolz's pricing plans
1TB2TB5TB10TB20TB50TB
Cost per month/year$9.99 / $99.99$19.99 / $199.99$49.99 / $499.99$99.99 / $999.99$149.99 / $1,799.99$449.99 / $4,499.99
Storage capacity1TB 2TB5TB10TB20TB50TB
Number of usersUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
File versioning✔ (10 versions)✔ (10 versions)✔ (10 versions)✔ (10 versions)✔ (10 versions)✔ (10 versions)

OneDrive logo

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Built-in cloud storage for Windows 10

Specifications

Storage capacity: Up to 6TB
Number of devices: 30
Encryption: AES 256-bit

Reasons to buy

+
Free with Microsoft 365
+
Integration with Microsoft and Windows
+
Comprehensive support

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks advanced features
-
No zero-knowledge encryption
-
Quite pricey

Microsoft OneDrive is the ultimate cloud storage solution for Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 users, and is also available for users of macOS, Android, and iOS. It's also available to Xbox One console gamers, making it possible to store precious game save files safely in the cloud.

The platform balances high-capacity storage with functional user interfaces, powerful integrations with the entire Microsoft 365 suite, and a robust security framework. Once you’re set up, it will perform as described with no further effort or stress on your part.

We found the service to be very well integrated into Windows. In essence, it enables you take away any file or folder on your desktop and access it on a variety of other devices. It also offers the ability to share files and folders with users who don’t have OneDrive.

You can also edit files directly on the cloud, without the need to download them every time. From Outlook to AutoCAD, OneDrive is compatible with a variety of different other services, both internal and third-party. Security-wise, it offers the Personal Vault feature, which lets you lock away essential files safely via 2FA and Bitlocker encryption.

If you're a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you have up to 1TB free via OneDrive. Even if you aren’t, you can test it with a forever-free capacity of 5GB. You can always expand storage later via its personal plans, with 100GB for just $1.99 a month.

Read our full Microsoft OneDrive review, our OneDrive for Business review, and our Microsoft Azure review.

Microsoft OneDrive's pricing plans
OneDrive Basic 5GBOneDrive Standalone 100GBMicrosoft 365 PersonalMicrosoft 365 FamilyOneDrive for Business (Plan 1)OneDrive for Business (Plan 2)Microsoft 365 Business BasicMicrosoft 365 Business Standard
Cost per month/yearFree$1.99$6.99 / $69.99$9.99 / $99.99$5 (per user) / $60$10 (per user) / $120$5 (per user) / $60$12.50 (per user) / $150
Storage capacity5GB100GB1TB6TB1TB (per user)Unlimited1TB (per user)1TB (per user)
Number of usersOneOneOneUp to sixPotentially unlimitedPotentially unlimitedPotentially unlimitedPotentially unlimited
File versioning✔ (30-days)✔ (30-days)✔ (500 versions)✔ (500 versions)✔ (500 versions)✔ (500 versions)

pCloud logo

(Image credit: pCloud)
Secure storage with a lifetime subscription

Specifications

Storage capacity: Up to 2TB
Number of devices: Unspecified
Encryption: In transit and at rest

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful media sharing and playback tools
+
Impressive lifetime license available
+
10GB free storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricing options are very confusing
-
No document editor or collaboration options
-
Limited support

pCloud is one of the only cloud storage providers offering a lifetime subscription, providing you with 500GB for a one-time payment of $175, or 2TB for $350. Alternatively, annual plans are available for $47.88 and $95.88 respectively. 

Monthly payment options are also available, and there’s a fully-functional free plan with 10GB. You can also choose a family plan, which supports up to four users. All plans come with advanced collaboration and file-sharing features, and you can even back up files from a series of third-party platforms. 

Additionally, we were impressed to find that all files are protected by TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer) security, with 256-bit AES encryption. Powerful Android and iOS apps are available for mobile management, and there are tools to help you set up automatic social media uploads should you require this. 

Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems are supported, and there are also browser extensions for Opera, Chrome, and Firefox. On the flipside, it lacks competitors' collaboration tools, an in-built document editor, and a smoother interface.

Read our full pCloud review.

pCloud's pricing plans
FreePremiumPremium PlusFamilyBusiness
Cost per month / year / lifetimeFree$4.99 / $47.88 / $175$9.99 / $95.88 / $350$500 / $1,000 (lifetime only)$9.99 per user / $7.99 per user (no lifetime plan)
Storage capacity10GB500GB2TB2TB/4TB1TB per user
Number of usersOneOneOneUp to fiveUnlimited
File versioning✔ (15-day)✔ (30-day)✔ (30-day)✔ (30-day)✔ (180-day)

Benefits of the best cloud storage

Image

There’s a high level of emphasis on military-grade encryption and security for cloud storage users, running the range from end-to-end to zero-knowledge encryption. This means providers protect your data from upload to storage and even download, keeping it safe in highly-secure data centers. 

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Thanks to its low pricing levels across all types, cloud storage offers convenience and cost-efficiency, enabling individuals and businesses alike to back up and save important files and data. Services often also offer file-sharing too, so you can share key documents with others. 

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A high degree of automation means providers can handle many of the complex tasks for you, while extended scalability gives you the option of increasing storage when required, should your current capacity for important data exceed your limits. 

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As well as being simple and accessible to use for all levels of user, cloud storage services often utilize drag-and-drop interfaces and cross-platform synchronization. This means that any file uploaded from one type of device can be accessed simply from another, for maximum utility and ease-of-use. 


Cloud storage FAQs

Want to learn more about cloud storage? We’ve covered all levels of questions in our frequently-asked questions below. Knowledge is power, and having as much information as possible before you sign up to the best cloud storage services will ensure you make the right choice for your needs. 

What is cloud storage?

Cloud storage stores data on a physical drive, and makes it accessible online for users via software from any internet-connected device, whenever and wherever a user wants to access them: hence the term "cloud". Some users utilize multiple cloud services in what is called a multi-cloud service.

Self-hosted cloud storage works by using on-premises (on-prem) infrastructure to provide storage, rather than managed, remotely-based servers. You need to manage these types of services yourself.

Storage as a service (StaaS) uses externally managed, third-party infrastructure and data centers, and offers large, affordable amounts of online storage. Designed for collaboration, they can also be described as storage and syncing platforms.

Hybrid cloud storage combines cloud and local storage (or public and private storage) together to give you the benefits of both types. This is aimed more at businesses than individuals.

Cloud sync technology encompasses link sharing and file versioning, and is offered by many StaaS providers, allowing larger businesses to undertake inter-colleague collaboration, file sharing, and much more.

How much does the best cloud storage cost?

Unlike most tech and software markets, cloud storage providers often offer excellent free plans as well as paid plans. Free plans are ideal for those seeking relatively small amounts of storage, but feature storage capacity limitations, and don’t include the same high level of tools and features as paid plans.

Paid plans are available in monthly, annual, and even lifetime models, ranging from around $50 a year (this price depends entirely on factors including storage levels and additional features). Monthly plans can be as low as a few dollars a month, and in general pricing depends entirely on what plan you want, what tools and security coverage you seek, and the encryption on offer.

How secure is cloud storage?

When we compare on-prem vs cloud storage, or even cloud storage vs external hard disk drives, security is key. Cloud storage may not theoretically be as secure as local, but the best cloud storage uses cutting-edge security and encryption. So is cloud storage secure, how secure is it, and how does it protect your data?

When it comes to enterprises, cloud storage security is crucial, particularly in data and privacy-sensitive sectors, and so investing in secure cloud storage that offers state-of-the-art policies is non-negotiable. End-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture mean services are almost hack-proof, and that not even a provider's staff can access your data. 

In-transit and at-rest encryption mean that even in the unlikely event of a cybercriminal intercepting data, it would be indecipherable. The very best providers not only protect data, but infrastructure housing it. StaaS data centers have 24/7 security guards, biometric authorization for entry, and frequent security auditing. 

Data center locations are also key for most businesses, as different countries have different data privacy laws. You'll need to make sure data is stored in a nation that complies with your data privacy obligations.

The best cloud storage for business: what you need to know

Identifying the best cloud storage for business means looking for highly stable, secure systems that protect data at all times. End-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture are particularly important, but also look for StaaS products, as they offer advanced cloud sync and collaborative features for seamless digital workflows, increased employee cooperation and productivity.

Powerful administrative features provided, such as access management, system auditing, 2FA, and roles-based permissions, are also worth keeping an eye out for, particularly for medium- and large-sized organizations.

What you need to know about free cloud storage 

If you've got less complex storage requirements, or have a tight budget, most providers offer free plans. While less feature-rich, with smaller storage allowances and other limitations, free cloud storage can be more than sufficient for personal needs. You can store important documents and images, but should you want more capacity, you'll have pay to upgrade. However, the advantage is that you can try out different platforms for free before you do.

How we review the best cloud storage

When we review cloud storage providers, we test upload and download times for files, as these speeds are integral to performance and usage. We also look at how each provider's security stacks up, how responsive customer service teams are when there's a problem, at pricing, and at any additional features offered.

Our comprehensive reviews also make a point of comparing each cloud storage service to competitors, across key features and pricing, so you can benefit from as much information as possible before you make your choice.

Take a look at some of our other reviews of leading platforms, including:

Ready to purchase cloud storage? Make sure you check out our top cloud storage deals to get top storage for less.

Next steps with cloud storage

Make sure to follow a cloud storage checklist when looking for a provider, and consider top factors when selecting online storage, as well as top tips for data backup and recovery. If you're unsure about the differences between cloud storage, cloud backup, and cloud sync, ensure you're well informed. 

If you're buying cloud storage on behalf of a small company, research the best cloud storage for small business, but also learn the top reasons you should use small business cloud solutions; find out why small businesses should use cloud services; and understand why a multi-cloud strategy benefits businesses.

Are you an iPhone user of iCloud, and have no space left in your storage? Make sure you learn how to free up space if your iCloud storage is full.

Darcy is a freelance copywriter, and a candidate for the dual master's program between the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in France and Peking University in Beijing, China. His academic and professional areas of interest include human rights and development, sustainable agriculture and agroecology, Pacific Islands diplomacy, and Sino-Australian relations.

With contributions from
  • khelban
    The free 50GB that Zoolz offers is a 14 day trial.
    From cloudrewards.net:
    Zoolz offers a 14-day free trial with 50GB of regular storage and 100GB of cold storage so that you can thoroughly test it out.
    Reply
  • joppo
    This review is ridiculous for having Zoolz in it. I subscribed for Zoolz's "Lifetime subscription" a few years back to get 5TB or something for the likes of $100-200. 1 year later Zoolz annoused that they're removing their "lifetime subscription plan" and all their "lifetime customers" need to move their files elsewhere or re-subscribe for an annual plan. I then subscribed to onedrive and wanted to move my files there, but I couldn't , because Zoolz didn't have the tools available for me to download my files in bulk ... I had to buy higher tier subscription to get access to automatic download tools in order to do it ?!?! I had to ask them several times, so that they "implement UI" on their site to support bulk download. And here I come 2 years later to see this being RECOMMENDED by Tom's guide storage experts. Tell me this is a joke, please... You could have checked trustedpilots and Zoolz review score of 1.4 there with 1K reviews...

    Mod Edit - Language
    Reply