Choosing the best cloud storage service for your specific needs can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what to look for. That’s why this guide will explain exactly what cloud storage is and why it makes sense to store your files in the cloud in the first place.
Most of the top platforms in the cloud storage industry provide a range of free, personal, premium and business plans which gives you a great deal of options to choose from. By opting for a cloud storage and backup provider, you can save yourself a lot of hassle if your files happen to be lost or deleted accidentally.
While there are some great free cloud storage plans out there, we’ll be focusing on premium packages including the best cloud storage for business. Even if you’re not a business owner, premium plans provide individuals with loads of great features and tools including file syncing and secure cloud systems.
The best cloud storage deals, right now
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IDrive: the best cloud storage available (opens in new tab)
IDrive (opens in new tab) 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! (opens in new tab)
Get $50 off Sync.com solo or team plans (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN (opens in new tab), Tom’s Guide’s #1 VPN provider (opens in new tab), is offering free unlimited cloud backup courtesy of Backblaze (opens in new tab) for a whole year with its annual subscription. Secure, business-grade online backup for everyone, no strings attached.
The best cloud storage services
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 (opens in new tab) — 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.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Free||Personal||Team**||Business**|
|Cost per month/year||Free||$5.79* / $79.50***||$8.29* / $99.50||$8.29* / $99.50|
|Number of users||One||One||Five||Unlimited|
|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 (opens in new tab)
Get IDrive's RemotePC for $2.98 for the first year (opens in new tab)
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’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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab), 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.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Free||100GB||200GB||2TB|
|Cost per month/year||Free||$1.99 / $9.99||$2.99 / $29.99||$9.99 / $99.99|
|Number of users||Six||Six||Six||Six|
|File versioning||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)|
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 (opens in new tab). 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.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Basic||Plus||Family||Professional||Standard||Advanced|
|Cost per month/year||Free||$11.99 / $119.88||$19.99 / $203.88||$19.99 / $1,198.96||$15 / $150 (per user)||$25 / $240 (per user)|
|Number of users||One||One||Six (maximum)||One||Three (minimum)||Three (minimum)|
|File versioning||✖||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)||✔ (180-days)||✔ (180-days)||✔ (180-days)|
Zoolz offers high-quality cloud storage backed by the Amazon Web Services (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab) (the General Data Protection Regulation).
A fully-functional free trial is available with 50GB, enabling you to try the service before committing. Prices range (opens in new tab) 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.
|Header Cell - Column 0||1TB||2TB||5TB||10TB||20TB||50TB|
|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|
|Number of users||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|File versioning||✔ (10 versions)||✔ (10 versions)||✔ (10 versions)||✔ (10 versions)||✔ (10 versions)||✔ (10 versions)|
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 (opens in new tab), with 100GB for just $1.99 a month.
|Header Cell - Column 0||OneDrive Basic 5GB||OneDrive Standalone 100GB||Microsoft 365 Personal||Microsoft 365 Family||OneDrive for Business (Plan 1)||OneDrive for Business (Plan 2)||Microsoft 365 Business Basic||Microsoft 365 Business Standard|
|Cost per month/year||Free||$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 capacity||5GB||100GB||1TB||6TB||1TB (per user)||Unlimited||1TB (per user)||1TB (per user)|
|Number of users||One||One||One||Up to six||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited|
|File versioning||✖||✖||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)||✔ (500 versions)||✔ (500 versions)||✔ (500 versions)||✔ (500 versions)|
pCloud is one of the only cloud storage providers offering a lifetime subscription (opens in new tab), providing you with 500GB for a one-time payment of $175, or 2TB for $350. Alternatively, annual plans (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab).
|Header Cell - Column 0||Free||Premium||Premium Plus||Family||Business|
|Cost per month / year / lifetime||Free||$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 capacity||10GB||500GB||2TB||2TB/4TB||1TB per user|
|Number of users||One||One||One||Up to five||Unlimited|
|File versioning||✔ (15-day)||✔ (30-day)||✔ (30-day)||✔ (30-day)||✔ (180-day)|
What 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 (opens in new tab), the best cloud storage for photos (opens in new tab), and the best personal cloud storage (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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.
|Cloud storage platform||Lowest-priced plan||Storage capacity||Number of devices||Encryption|
|IDrive||$79.50 a year (IDrive Personal)*||Up to 10TB (up to 50TB for business plans)||Unlimited||End-to-end|
|Google Drive||$1.99 a month (Google One)||Up to 2TB||Unlimited||Encrypted transfer|
|Dropbox||$11.99 a month (Plus)||Up to 5TB||Unlimited||In-transit and at-rest|
|Zoolz||$9.99 (1TB plan)||Up to 50TB||Unlimited||End-to-end|
|Microsoft OneDrive||$1.99 a month (OneDrive Standard)||Up to 6TB||30||AES 256-bit|
|pCloud||$4.99 a month (Premium)||Up to 2TB||Unspecified||In-transit and at-rest|
*IDrive is offering 10TB for just $3.98 for the first year, currently (opens in new tab)
Benefits of the best cloud storage
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.
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 (opens in new tab).
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 (opens in new tab). Designed for collaboration, they can also be described as storage and syncing platforms.
Hybrid cloud storage (opens in new tab) combines cloud and local storage (or public and private storage (opens in new tab)) 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 (opens in new tab), or even cloud storage vs external hard disk drives (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab), how secure is it (opens in new tab), and how does it protect your data?
When it comes to enterprises, cloud storage security (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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:
- Box (opens in new tab) and Box for Business (opens in new tab)
- iCloud (opens in new tab)
- SpiderOak (opens in new tab)
- MEGA (opens in new tab)
- GoodSync (opens in new tab)
- Wasabi (opens in new tab)
- Egnyte (opens in new tab)
- Nextcloud (opens in new tab)
- Tresorit (opens in new tab)
- LiveDrive (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) checklist when looking for a provider, and consider the most important factors when selecting an online storage (opens in new tab) service, as well as these tips for data backup and recovery (opens in new tab). If you're unsure about the differences between cloud storage, cloud backup, and cloud sync (opens in new tab),it's worth doing your research first.
If you're buying cloud storage on behalf of a small company, take a look at the best cloud storage for small business (opens in new tab), but also learn the top reasons you should use small business cloud solutions (opens in new tab); find out why small businesses should use cloud services (opens in new tab); and understand why a multi-cloud strategy (opens in new tab) benefits businesses.
Are you an iPhone user of iCloud, and have no space left in your storage? Learn how to free up space if your iCloud storage is full (opens in new tab).