Choosing the best cloud storage service for your important files is a tough task, thanks to a competitive sector. If you know what to look for before you start, though, it can be so much simpler!
It's worth trying to find a cloud storage and backup provider that offers you the scope for future growth, and with most services offering not only personal or premium plans but also free and business packages, the right choice at the start could be beneficial and optimal going forward.
Our advice is to keep your needs in mind at all times, and we recommend considering affordability, versatility, and storage capacity and file size limits, as well as cloud storage security, a given providers' ease of use, the customer support they offer, and any additional or specific features you might need.
In our guide below, we've ranked and reviewed the best cloud storage premium plans. These sit between the best cloud storage for business and free cloud storage, offering some top-level features like file syncing and high-standard secure cloud systems for reasonable prices, for smaller businesses and individuals.
We begin by exploring and explaining what cloud storage is, and then evaluate and interrogate top premium services against the key areas identified earlier. Read on, and let us help you find the best cloud storage provider for your storage needs!
What is cloud storage?
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.
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.
The top 3 best cloud storage solutions available
Google Drive: high-performing, seamlessly integrated
Google Drive's wealth of useful tools elevate it beyond cloud storage. Slick apps and tight integration with Google Workspace make it easy to fit into workflows, while seamless integration with third-party apps and swift performance make it an easy sell.
Which is the best cloud storage service?
IDrive is top of the best cloud storage premium solutions, as it offers great value for money throughout a range of highly secure plans. It's also the best free cloud storage, the best cloud storage for photos, and the best personal cloud storage.
Google Drive provides leading integrations with Google Workspace and slick mobile and desktop apps, while Dropbox continues to be one of the best cloud storage solutions thanks to its ease-of-use, as well as its third-party app integrations.
Microsoft OneDrive provides integration with Microsoft 365, premium plans for individuals, families, and businesses; Zoolz' high-quality cloud storage boasts excellent security, a great free trial, and 24/7 support; and pCloud competes with the industry giants via a lifetime subscription across family and business plans, secure file-sharing, and widespread app support across mobile and desktop 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||$199 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|
Check out these exclusive cloud storage deals:
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.
For a limited time only, until 31st December, Zoolz is offering its Ultimate Backup Bundle for just $54.99 a year!, including the G Cloud mobile backup Unlimited plan (usually $59.99 a year), the Polarbackup cold storage Home Unlimited plan, and the Genie Timeline Home local backup service.
In addition, G Cloud’s three annual plans have 75% off, and enable backup of multiple Android and Apple mobile devices to one account. The Polarbackup Home Unlimited plan is available for only $0.99 a month, offering one user and computer (PC and Mac) unlimited cold storage, and an upgrade to hot storage if needed.
Until 2nd December, Icedrive is offering huge discounts on its lifetime 3TB and 8TB Pro III and Pro VIII plans! You can get Pro III for $459 (usually $689), and Pro VIII for $799 (usually $1,119), and take advantage of responsive, drive-mounted storage to back up important files.
The best cloud storage premium solutions
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 5TB 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.
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.
|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 the undiscounted rate of the cheapest available annual plan. Monthly plans are only available on Business plans with 1.25TB of storage 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.
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, Google Drive’s UI is clean and intuitive. It is worth remembering, however, that this is more than cloud storage. It comes with companion apps including Google Photos, Docs, Sheets, and Slides — together known as Google Workspace. Consequently, Google Drive lets you create, edit, store, view, and synchronize files via a 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 spacier 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 your storage space 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 by downloading the Google Drive desktop application for Windows and macOS. This features a file explorer-based drag-and-drop system not dissimilar to Microsoft OneDrive, which lets you back up, store, modify, and delete files directly from your desktop.
|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 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.
|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 (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 of storage, 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, 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.
|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.
The service is 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 of free storage via OneDrive. Even if you aren’t, you can test it with a forever-free storage capacity of 5GB. You can always expand storage later via its personal plans, with 100GB for just $1.99 a month.
|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, providing you with 500GB of storage 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 of storage. 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, 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.
|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)|
Cloud storage FAQs
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, they 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 their 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.
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.