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Best personal cloud storage in 2022

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(Image credit: Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash)

The best cloud storage providers offer fast, secure cloud systems that are easy to use via intuitive interfaces, so you can manage important files and data from a distance. Personal cloud storage providers, often the same companies as those offering the best cloud storage for business and the best free cloud storage, allow you to store data in the cloud via servers situated in data centers, for a fee.

Additional features that you might imagine are only available to business users, such as enhanced cloud storage security tools like end-to-end encryption, are often available to personal cloud storage customers as well. These additional features can even extend to file syncing solutions, like file versioning and retention.

The ability to access your important files from anywhere, as long as you're on an internet-connected device, is the major attraction of cloud storage vs local storage. However, finding and choosing the right cloud storage and backup solution for personal use can be tough, so we've put together this buying guide to help you out.

We analyzed, ranked, and reviewed the best personal cloud storage solutions available, taking into account pricing, storage limits, security, and more, to assist you in finding the best storage for your needs.

The top 3 best personal cloud storage services

IDrive: the best personal cloud storage available

IDrive: the best personal cloud storage available
IDrive ranks highly thanks to top features, high security, and fair pricing. It’s available across Windows, macOS, and Linux-based operating systems, as well as smartphones and tablets. Its 10TB personal cloud plan is currently available for only $3.98 for the first year, for a limited time only!

Google Drive: high-performing, seamlessly integrated

Google Drive: high-performing, seamlessly integrated
Google Drive's series of extra tools elevate it beyond cloud storage, as its great apps and integration with Google Workspace add to seamless integration with third-party apps, swift performance, and great storage.

OneDrive: perfect option for Windows users

OneDrive: perfect option for Windows users
Microsoft OneDrive is the perfect cloud storage platform for Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 users, with cross-platform clients and the productivity suite's apps coupled with the service's third-party compatibility. A free plan and a series of competitively-priced paid plans make it a worthy contender.

What are the best personal cloud storage solutions?

In our view, the best personal cloud storage solution right now is IDrive, which combines excellent features, like continuous file syncing and drag-and-drop restore, with a license that works for an unlimited number of devices per user: making it the perfect choice for home users who own many devices. It also offers file versioning and file retention.

Google Drive's system proves especially handy if you plan to make use of the company’s free online productivity tools like Docs, Sheets, or Slides via Google Workspace. 

For people who prefer to work offline using Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, Microsoft OneDrive offers a simple, better solution; while Apple users will love seamless integration with iCloud, the company’s built-in cloud storage service.

However, if you’d rather purchase cloud storage with a one-time fee, the best - and perhaps only - option is pCloud. It comes with a large number of useful features, including file versioning and link sharing.

The best personal cloud storage providers, compared
Cloud storage providerFree tier storage Maximum paid storage capacityNumber of devices
IDrive5GB10TBUnlimited
Google Drive15GB30TBUnlimited
Microsoft OneDrive5GB6TB30
iCloud5GB2TB10
pCloud10GB2TB5

The best personal cloud storage solutions available

IDrive logo

(Image credit: IDrive)

Best all-around personal cloud storage

Specifications
Free tier: 5GB
Storage capacity: 10TB
Number of devices: Unlimited
Reasons to buy
+Generous storage tiers+Affordably priced+Backs up networked drives+Modern, intuitive user interface+Solid mobile apps
Reasons to avoid
-Slow download speeds-No unlimited-storage option-Only email-based two-factor authentication

IDrive is a robust and flexible cloud storage and backup solution that lets you upload data from all your devices and store it in a single account on the cloud. It offers an array of plans for personal, business, and enterprise users. IDrive is functional on a range of devices running Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. 

IDrive offers continuous file syncing for data stored on all your storage devices, including network drives. There’s a drag-and-drop restore feature that lets you recover important files that may have been accidentally deleted. IDrive automatically retains up to 30 previous versions of all files stored on its servers, so it’s very easy to roll back any alterations if you change your mind. And 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption keeps your files safe from prying eyes. 

A few other interesting features include a facial recognition service for images, support for unlimited devices per user, and a centralized dashboard to manage all your devices. The only downside to IDrive is the slightly outdated user interface (UI), which is scheduled to receive an update in the near future. 

IDrive comes with a free basic plan that offers 5GB of online storage. Once you run out of that space, you can upgrade to a premium plan for $79.50 (5TB) and $99.50 (10TB) per year. The pricing is quite reasonable, but tends to get more expensive as you explore higher-tier plans for business and enterprise users. For a limited time, it's offering 10TB of personal storage for $3.98 a year, which is incredible value.

Read our IDrive personal cloud backup review; our IDrive review focusing on business storage; and our comparisons pitting IDrive vs Dropbox vs pCloud, IDrive vs Carbonite, and IDrive vs Backblaze.

Google Drive logo

(Image credit: Google Drive)

Personal cloud storage with built-in productivity tools

Specifications
Free tier: 15GB
Storage capacity: 30TB
Number of devices: Unlimited
Reasons to buy
+Unlimited devices per user+15GB of free storage+Integration with Google Workspace+Android-friendly+Very easy to work with
Reasons to avoid
-Not the simplest UI-No end-to-end encryption-Security could be tighter

Google Drive is the official cloud storage solution built into Android OS and integrated with productivity apps like Google Docs. If you own a smartphone running Android or prefer using tools like Google Docs and Sheets, Google Drive should be your first choice. Its downloadable client is available on both Windows and macOS, and mobile apps can be installed on Android and iOS. 

Google Drive’s interface is clean and intuitive, if a little complicated for beginners. This is because the cloud storage platform also provides a slew of free and paid tools to enhance your productivity at work. With these tools, you can create, edit, view, and delete files directly from the cloud dashboard. 

Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage to all new users. For now, you can sync an unlimited number of high-definition photos from your smartphone to Google Photos, and they don’t count towards your total storage. However, Google did change its policy to include photos in users’ primary storage starting 1 June 2021. 

Once you have exhausted the 15GB of free storage offered with Google Drive, you can upgrade to one of its many paid plans via Google One. These plans start at $1.99 a month for 100GB and go all the way up to $299.99 a month for 30TB. 

Subscribers who are keener on using Google’s productivity suite for business reasons can also subscribe directly to Google Workspace, which also comes with cloud storage and starts at $6 per user a month. 

Read our Google Drive review, our Drive Enterprise review of its business element, and our comparison features pitting Google Drive vs Dropbox and Google Drive vs OneDrive.

OneDrive logo

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Personal cloud storage for Windows and Microsoft 365

Specifications
Free tier: 5GB
Storage capacity: 6TB
Number of devices: 30
Reasons to buy
+Microsoft 365 integration+Personal vault with two-factor authentication+Third-party application support+Comprehensive support+Clean interface
Reasons to avoid
-Low free storage space-Lacks advanced features-No zero-knowledge encryption-Quite pricey

Microsoft OneDrive is the perfect cloud storage platform for users of Windows 10 and Microsoft 365. You can even use it to store video game save files on your Xbox. Additional clients are available for devices running macOS, Android, and iOS. 

Where Google Drive has Google Workspace, OneDrive comes bundled with the online and offline productivity suite Microsoft 365. This package includes familiar productivity tools for home and office usage, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, which can be used to create, edit, and view files directly from the cloud.

A standout feature for Microsoft OneDrive is its ability to play well with both native and third-party applications, such as Outlook or AutoCAD. There’s also a personal vault feature that lets you store essential files safely behind two-factor authentication. 

OneDrive comes with just 5GB of free storage, significantly less than competitors like Google Drive. However, you can easily upgrade to a premium plan with 100GB storage for just $1.99 a month. For even more storage, it’s possible to purchase a subscription to Microsoft 365 for $69.99 for personal use and $99.99 for a family a year.

Read our Microsoft OneDrive review; our OneDrive for Business review focused on its business cloud storage; and our comparison pitting Google Drive vs Microsoft OneDrive.

iCloud logo

(Image credit: iCloud)

Apple’s very own no-nonsense personal cloud storage

Specifications
Free tier: 5GB
Storage capacity: 2TB
Number of devices: 10
Reasons to buy
+Flawless integration+Has its own productivity suite+Excellent interface+Seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem+Highly secure
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t offer 256-bit encryption-Lacks several advanced features-No search function for photos on iCloud web-Apple ID required to view files shared on iCloud

iCloud is the native cloud storage service offered by Apple on devices running macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. If you’re someone who uses Apple devices and doesn’t intend to migrate to Windows or Android anytime soon, iCloud might be the cloud storage provider for you. 

Because it’s built and managed by Apple, iCloud offers seamless integration and superb ease of use on any of the company’s devices. iCloud doesn’t impose any limitations on individual file size. Moreover, any items purchased from the iTunes Store, from songs to apps or games, can be stored on its servers for free without counting towards your storage limit.

For security, Apple offers 128-bit AES encryption and two-factor authentication to all users. iCloud automatically backs up all data from your Apple devices onto its servers. You can also use a specialized service called iCloud Drive to store specific files on the cloud. 

iCloud is integrated to iWork, a productivity suite that, while not as extensive as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, still works really well on devices from Apple. Apple iCloud comes with just 5GB of free storage. However, you can easily upgrade to one of the paid plans for $0.99 a month for 50GB, or all the way up to $9.99 a month for 2TB. 

Read our Apple iCloud review, and our step-by-step guide on how to free up space with your iCloud storage.

pCloud logo

(Image credit: pCloud)

Personal cloud storage with a one-off fee

Specifications
Free tier: 10GB
Storage capacity: 2TB
Number of devices: 5
Reasons to buy
+One-time subscription fee+256-bit AES encryption+One-click link sharing+10GB free storage+Useful media players
Reasons to avoid
-No specialized collaboration tools-No document editor-Some features are paid add-ons-Limited support

pCloud is the only cloud storage solution that offers a lifetime subscription plan for its users, meaning no monthly fees. It is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, and as a browser extension for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. 

pCloud supports file versioning and file retention to recover accidentally deleted files on your devices and the cloud. It also offers a simple link-sharing feature for those who are interested in collaborating with other users. pCloud uses TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer) channel protection and 256-bit AES encryption for all files. Previous versions of all files can be restored up to 30 days in the past. 

With pCloud, there’s no limit on individual file size. There’s also a built-in audio and video player that can be used to stream files directly from the cloud. Another great feature is the ability to sync backups from other cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. pCloud can also synchronize photos and documents uploaded to social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram.

pCloud’s single-user plans cost $175 for 500GB and $350 for 2TB. These plans are one-off purchases, without the need for recurring fees or monthly subscriptions. If you need your cloud storage provider to support more than one user, pCloud also has family plans for up to five users for a one-time fee of $500

Read our pCloud review.


How to choose the best personal cloud storage solution

Image

If you just want a powerful cloud-based service for backups and storage, IDrive and pCloud both offer excellent security, powerful features, and long-term affordability for personal users. However, IDrive requires a month-to-month subscription, whereas pCloud charges a one-off fee. 

On the other hand, users who want more out of their cloud storage provider, such as a built-in productivity suite, should opt for Google Workspace or Microsoft OneDrive. The latter is preferred by the offline crowd who use Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, whereas online-based users tend to prefer Google’s offering.

If you use Apple devices only, however, iCloud should without a doubt be your first preference. The cloud storage service is not only flawlessly integrated with Apple operating systems, but also comes with its own lightweight productivity suite.


Further reading on cloud storage

If you're looking to find cloud storage tailored to your image backup needs, make sure you read our guide to the best cloud storage for photos. You might also find our cloud storage checklist useful when looking for a provider, alongside our list of five things to consider when selecting online storage.

Ritoban Mukherjee

Ritoban Mukherjee is a freelance journalist from West Bengal, India. His work has been published on Tom's Guide, TechRadar, Creative Bloq, IT Pro Portal, Gizmodo, Medium, and Mental Floss. Ritoban is also a member of the National Association of Science Writers.