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Best Cloud Storage Services for Personal and Business Use in 2021

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Cloud storage providers allow you to store your files on their servers, securing them and ensuring you can access them at any time, from anywhere, and on any device. Before you decide which one to go with, let’s compare the best cloud storage on the market right now.

Quick Summary:

  • Best cheap cloud storage option: pCloud ⇣ If you are running a tight budget but still want to access as many advanced features as possible, pCloud is an excellent option with affordable lifetime plans.
  • Best cloud storage for business use: Sync.com ⇣ This popular cloud storage provider boasts an excellent range of features, industry-leading security integrations, and excellent value for money.
  • Best cloud storage for personal use: Dropbox ⇣ Anyone looking for a high-quality cloud storage provider with generous storage and a powerful free plan will love Dropbox.

Cloud storage use is so common that you may already be using it without realizing it. We’re looking at you, Gmail account holders! But if you want to get more serious or more intentional with your cloud storage use, read on. 

Security and privacy are two of the most important things to consider when selecting the best cloud storage for your needs.

You should try to make sure you choose a provider that uses zero-knowledge encryption, has a highly secure server infrastructure, and values privacy above all else.

We will help you navigate questions ranging from “what are the best cloud storage providers” to “what are the different types of cloud storage” and beyond. Let’s get started.

Best Cloud Storage Providers in 2021

1. pCloud (Best value for money and cheap cloud storage in 2021)

pcloud

Storage: Up to 2TB

Free storage: 10GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: 2TB for $95.88 per year ($7.99 per month)

Quick summary: pCloud is a secure and easy-to-use Swiss-based storage provider that lets you store up to 10GB for free, and it offers lifetime plans for up to 2TB which makes its service cheaper in the long run because you won’t have to worry about renewal fees.

Website: www.pcloud.com

What makes pCloud stand out from competitors perhaps most of all is its unique offer of permanent, lifetime cloud storage.

Features:

  • Lifetime cloud storage with a single payment
  • No file size limits
  • Generous free plan
  • Built-in music player
  • Full range of security and privacy options

Rather than monthly or annual payment plans, pCloud users simply put down a one-time lifetime cloud storage fee and are set with cloud storage from then on.

When you pair this option with a functional, easy-to-use interface, no file size limits, and the choice of where to store your data (US or EU) for privacy concerns, pCloud can make a very appealing offer for many personal cloud storage users.

pcloud features

pCloud also offers one hard-to-find feature that is appealing to some: a built-in music player.

However, business users might find this setup less appealing, and pCloud lacks certain other features that facilitate collaboration and third-party integration.

Pros

  • One time fee — no monthly or annual payments to remember (or forget)
  • Easy to use
  • No file limits
  • Good privacy options

Cons

  • No collaboration
  • Lacks integration options
  • Limited support
  • End-to-end encryption (pCloud Crypto) is a paid addon

Pricing plans

There is a generous free account with up to 10GB of storage.

Among the paid plans, pCloud offers premium, premium-plus, and business. Each of these can be paid on a monthly basis or with a single lifetime fee.

Free Plan
  • Data transfer: 3 GB
  • Storage: 10 GB
  • Cost: FREE
Lite Plan
  • Data transfer: 250 GB
  • Storage: 150 GB
  • Monthly plan: not available
  • Yearly plan: $1.67 per month ($19.99 billed annually)
  • Lifetime plan: $59 (one-time payment)
Pro Plan
  • Data transfer: 2 TB (2,000 GB)
  • Storage: 1 TB (1,000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $4.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $4.17 per month ($49.99 billed annually)
  • Lifetime plan: $149 (one-time payment)
Pro+ Plan
  • Data transfer: 8 TB (8,000 GB)
  • Storage: 5 TB (5,000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $17.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $15 per month ($179.99 billed annually)
  • Lifetime plan: $499 (one-time payment)

Bottom Line

It is easy to think that pCloud is expensive. However, a one-off payment is cheaper in the long run because you won’t have to worry about renewal fees. You can also rest assured that your data is safe, thanks to the strong encryption and extensive redundancies.

Learn more about pCloud and how cloud storage services might benefit you. 

2. Sync.com (Best speed & security cloud storage)

sync.com

Storage: Up to 2TB

Free storage: 5GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: 2TB for $96 per year ($8 per month)

Quick summary: Sync.com's easy-to-use cloud storage comes with great speeds, privacy, and security all for an affordable price. It also has a generous free plan you can use to test it, and it comes out of the box with zero-knowledge encryption included.

Website: www.sync.com

If you are looking for the best all-around cloud storage option, Sync would be your best bet.

Features:

  • Zero-knowledge security
  • Excellent file versioning
  • No file size limit

While other cloud storage providers may offer more in one or two specific areas, Sync offers the best solution in general.

Created in Canada in 2011 with a primary focus on user privacy, Sync is incredibly accessible and intuitively user-friendly.

sync.com features

Installation is easy and most operations revolve around a drag and drop approach. This secure cloud storage accepts any kind of file, and those files are easy to share.

However, this cloud storage service only offers yearly contracts and may not be for you if you require the flexibility of monthly plans.

Pros

  • Prioritizes privacy law compliance
  • Mistake-proof, easy file restoration
  • Easy file sharing
  • Great variety of plan options
  • Earn free storage through referrals. 

Cons

  • Very simplistic desktop client
  • No contracts shorter than 1 year
  • No live support

Pricing plans

Sync offers generous pricing plans, including a solid free option as well as 4 levels of paid: solo basic, solo professional, teams standard, and teams unlimited. Both team-based plans are priced by the number of users.

Free Plan
  • Data transfer: 5 GB
  • Storage: 5 GB
  • Cost: FREE
Personal Mini Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 200 GB
  • Yearly plan: $5 per month ($60 billed annually)
Pro Solo Basic Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 2 TB (2,000 GB)
  • Yearly plan: $8 per month ($96 billed annually)
Pro Solo Standard Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 3 TB (3,000 GB)
  • Yearly plan: $12 per month ($144 billed annually)
Pro Solo Plus Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 4 TB (4,000 GB)
  • Yearly plan: $15 per month ($180 billed annually)
Pro Teams Standard Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 1 TB (1000GB)
  • Yearly plan: $5 per month per user ($60 billed annually)
Pro Teams Plus Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 4 TB (4,000 GB)
  • Yearly plan: $8 per month per user ($96 billed annually)
Pro Teams Advanced Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 10 TB (10,000 GB)
  • Yearly plan: $15 per month per user ($180 billed annually)

Bottom Line:

Sync is a straightforward cloud storage solution with reasonable prices for massive storage space. Its services are relatively basic, but the simplicity makes it appealing, especially to users who don’t want many features. Even though customer support has limited options, the extra security and limited third-party integrations are something to consider. So, if you are looking for a simple and effective cloud storage solution, register an account with sync today to get started. 

Learn more about Sync and how cloud storage services might benefit you. 

3. Icedrive (Best strong security and ease of use option)

icedrive

Storage: Up to 2TB

Free storage: 10GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: 1TB for $49.99 per year ($4.17 per month)

Quick summary: Icedrive offers some really remarkable features, high security, and competitive pricing but falls short in the collaboration department and in the lack of support.

Website: www.icedrive.net

Icedrive, founded in 2019, is one of the more recent and up-and-coming cloud storage providers.

Icedrive Features

  • File previews, even on encrypted files
  • Very generous free plan with 10GB
  • File and folder sharing
  • File versioning

This cloud storage option has a lot of potentials, and with a generous 10GB of free storage space, you simply can’t beat Icedrive as one of the most generous free plans.

Much like Sync, Icedrive puts a high priority on privacy and really delivers. It also offers a clean, straightforward user interface that can be great for new users, and the virtual drive means it won’t eat up your hard drive.

icedrive features

However, it still has room to grow, and users might miss the lack of collaboration options or the ability to integrate with third-party productivity apps like Microsoft 365.

Icedrive Security

With Icedrive, you can free up hard drive space by moving files into the cloud and save money in the long term because it offers high storage rates.

Icedrive brings with it some of the most advanced security features out there including file sharing which means that only those who have access to a shared link will be able to see any part of what is inside that particular folder.

Also worth noting is its zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption which means that even if someone were somehow able to hack their way through your password they would not be able to view anything without first decrypting or breaking down your data.

Twofish algorithm

Twofish is a symmetric key encryption that was designed by Bruce Schneier and Niels Ferguson. It has a 128-bit block size, uses 256 bits keys, and can use keys up to 512 bits long. The Twofish key schedule relies on the Blowfish cipher for its core operation. Twofish consists of 16 rounds with eight identical subkeys per round; this total amount of independent data ensures resistance to related/chosen plaintext attacks.

Icedrive is the only encrypted cloud storage service out there to use the Twofish algorithm.

Zero-knowledge encryption

Icedrive offers zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption which means only you have access to your files, not even Icedrive.

Zero-knowledge encryption is a way of scrambling information so that it cannot be read by anyone other than the person or computer who generated and encrypted it. It guarantees that no one but you can see your data in its unscrambled form.

Icedrive's zero-knowledge cloud storage encrypts all of your files client-side which means even Icedrive employees will not have access to them for any reason, including on their servers.

Your privacy is safeguarded with zero-knowledge cloud storage from Icedrive!

Pros

  • Amazing free storage plan
  • Strong security and privacy features
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Virtual drive

Cons

  • Lacks good collaboration options
  • Doesn't offer much third party integration
  • Only Windows users will be able to use all features

Icedrive Plans and Pricing

Taking our top award for free plans, Icedrive’s 10GB of free storage paired with great features is compelling enough that you may not need one of the paid options.

But if you do, Icedrive offers three tiers: Lite, Pro, and Pro+, mainly differing on bandwidth and storage limits.

Free Plan
  • Data transfer: 3 GB
  • Storage: 10 GB
  • Cost: FREE
Lite Plan
  • Data transfer: 250 GB
  • Storage: 150 GB
  • Monthly plan: not available
  • Yearly plan: $1.67 per month ($19.99 billed annually)
  • Lifetime plan: $59 (one-time payment)
Pro Plan
  • Data transfer: 2 TB (2000 GB)
  • Storage: 1 TB (1000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $4.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $4.17 per month ($49.99 billed annually)
  • Lifetime plan: $149 (one-time payment)
Pro+ Plan
  • Data transfer: 8 TB (8000 GB)
  • Storage: 5 TB (5000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $17.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $15 per month ($179.99 billed annually)
  • Lifetime plan: $499 (one-time payment)

Bottom Line

Icedrive is a newcomer to the cloud storage scene, that being said, it's definitely displaying some very promising signs.

It offers more space than any of its competitors and pricing is great. Security-wise, they offer reliable features like Twofish encryption, client-side encryption as well as zero knowledge of your data which should make you feel safe about storing your files with them for the long term.

On the downside though; they are a relatively new company and if this bothers you then it might be worth looking into other providers such as Dropbox or Sync instead who have been around longer.  But if that isn't a breaker for you, then try out Icedrive today! Your files are secure with zero-knowledge cloud storage from Icedrive!

Learn more about Icedrive and how cloud storage services might benefit you. 

4. Dropbox (Industry-leader but with privacy shortcomings)

dropbox

Storage: 2000 GB – 3 TB

Free storage: 2GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: 2TB for $9.99 per month ($119.88 billed annually)

Quick summary: Dropbox is one of the leaders in the cloud storage industry, and offers excellent features such as collaboration, tool integrations, and synced desktop folders for anywhere-access. However, Dropbox falls short when it comes to privacy and security.

Website: www.dropbox.com

In addition to having the prestige of being one of the original players in the field of cloud storage solutions, Dropbox takes the designation of best for team collaboration.

Features:

  • Great collaboration options, including Office and Google Docs
  • Access to a wide range of third-party integrations
  • Digital signature
  • Customizable portfolio tool

With the Dropbox Paper feature, teams can collaborate on a document in a myriad of ways, adding everything from videos to emojis, and add comments to the group or to specific users.

It also offers integration with Microsoft Office and Google Docs for greater collaboration. Another popular feature of this cloud storage service is the digital signature option.

However, Dropbox does not have strong security compared to other cloud providers, and many users complain about the steeper pricing structures.

Pros

  • Extensive collaboration capabilities
  • Digital signature features
  • Third-party productivity integration
  • Compatible across multiple OS and mobile platforms

Cons

  • More expensive pricing plans
  • No end-to-end encryption
  • Limited storage, especially in the free plans

Pricing plans

Dropbox does come in on the pricier end of the cloud storage solution spectrum. There is a free account option, but it offers a paltry 2GB, which pales next to other providers.

Its paid offerings come in three packages: Dropbox Plus, Dropbox Family, and Dropbox Professional, for which you pay by the user for 2000GB.

Basic Plan
  • Storage: 5 GB
  • Cost: FREE
Plus Plan
  • Storage: 2 TB (2,000 GB)
  • Yearly plan: $9.99 per month ($119.88 billed annually)
Family Plan
  • Storage: 2 TB (2,000 GB)
  • Yearly plan: $16.99 per month ($203.88 billed annually)
Professional Plan
  • Storage: 3 TB (3,000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $19.99 per month per user
  • Yearly plan: $16.58 per month per user ($198.96 billed annually)
Standard Plan
  • Storage: 5 TB (5,000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $15 per month per 3+ users
  • Yearly plan: $12.50 per month per 3+ users ($150 billed annually)
Advanced Plan
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • Monthly plan: $25 per month per 3+ users
  • Yearly plan: $20 per month per 3+ users ($240 billed annually)

Bottom Line

Dropbox is regarded as the provider that turned cloud storage into a mainstream phenomenon. It’s been in the market for several years; hence, other providers have copied most of its features and ideas. Its main strength is offering features that are easy to use. So, if you are looking for a storage service that has excellent collaboration features and robust integration, then Dropbox is your ideal service.

Learn more about Dropbox and how cloud storage services might benefit you.

5. NordLocker (Secure and all-in-one VPN & password manager)

nordlocker

Storage: Up to 500GB

Free storage: 3GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: 500GB plan is $3.99 per month ($47.88 billed annually)

Quick summary: NordLocker “is a whole-disk encryption solution that offers users complete control over their data. This means they can load and unload files just like with conventional hard drives but without any hassle of decrypting/encrypting.”

Website: www.nordlocker.com

You may already be familiar with the company behind NordLocker, but not necessarily for cloud storage. This cloud storage service provider got its start as no more than an encryption tool.

Features:

  • Unhackable encryption and security
  • Simple, invitation-based sharing
  • Unlimited devices
  • 24/7 support

However, the company behind the well-known NordVPN decided in 2019 to expand into the personal cloud storage business.

For obvious reasons, this puts NordLocker at the front of the pack if end-to-end encryption is your priority.

The company is so confident in its security that it sponsored a hacking challenge in 2020 and none of the contestants was able to successfully hack their way in.

nordlocker security

Security aside, NordLocker’s biggest selling points seem to be focused around ease of use and the clean, straightforward interface.

However, its plans are comparatively pricey, payment options are more limited, and it lacks some of the features of bigger names in the cloud storage game.

And technically, NordLocker is only the encryption side of cloud storage and thus needs to pair with another provider for the full cloud storage experience.

Pros

  • Excellent end-to-end encryption
  • Encryption is instant, automatic, and unlimited
  • No restrictions on file type or size
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
  • Free 3GB plan enjoys the same level of encryption

Cons

  • Does not accept PayPal
  • Lacks two-factor authentication
  • Pricier than comparable options

Pricing plans

Although the less impressive 3GB of storage space of NordLocker’s free plan doesn’t stack up next to other providers, the fact that free plan users have access to all of the same top-notch security and encryption features as paid users is pretty compelling.

The paid plan, NordLocker Premium, basically adds more storage.

Free Plan
  • Data transfer: 3 GB
  • Storage: 3 GB
  • Cost: FREE
Premium Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 500 GB
  • Monthly plan: $7.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $3.99 per month ($47.88 billed annually)

Bottom Line

Nordlocker is a very secure cloud storage service that comes with a remarkable user interface. However, you can only use it on desktop operating systems, and its plans are not high capacity.

Learn more about NordLocker and how cloud storage services might benefit you. 

6. Google Drive (Best beginner-friendly option)

google drive

Storage: Up to 30TB

Free storage: 15GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: 100GB for $1.67 per month ($19.99 billed annually)

Quick summary: Google Drive is a storage service provided by Google Inc. that allows users to store files and later access them from a web browser or from the Google Drive client application running on Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Android or iOS.

Website: www.google.com/drive/

If you want a cloud service provider that is easy and familiar, you can't go wrong with Google Drive.

Features:

  • Full integration with impressive options in the G Suite
  • Full range of support options
  • Extensive options for third party integration
  • Two-factor authentication

Outside of the small but loyal followers of Bing, pretty much everyone is familiar with the cheerful primary colors of the G Suite, Google’s expansive collection of productivity tools and apps.

So jumping into the intuitive Google Drive functionality is a smooth transition. In fact, most Google account holders are provided a Google Drive account by default.

The opportunities for collaboration with this cloud service provider are excellent, and Google integrates well with many third-party services.

google drive

With a generous 15GB free plan, the casual user might never see a reason to go any further than that.

As far as basics go, such as syncing and file sharing, Google Drive has a lot to offer, but if users want more advanced options within those categories, Google might not be the best product.

Users also have many concerns about Google’s poor track record with privacy.

Pros

  • Google product familiarity
  • Easy-to-use layout and interface
  • Expansive collaboration abilities
  • Generous free plan

Cons

  • Features are basic
  • Privacy concerns

Pricing plans

All Gmail account holders by default receive 15GB of free storage without having to do anything. If your needs are greater than that, Google Drive prices additional packages based on storage size. Packages are available for 100GB, 200GB, 2TB, 10TB, and 20TB.

15GB Plan
  • Storage: 15 GB
  • Cost: FREE
100GB Plan
  • Storage: 100 GB
  • Monthly plan: $1.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $1.67 per month ($19.99 billed annually)
200GB Plan
  • Storage: 200 GB
  • Monthly plan: $2.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $2.50 per month ($29.99 billed annually)
2TB Plan
  • Storage: 2,000 GB (2 TB)
  • Monthly plan: $9.99 per month
  • Yearly plan: $8.33 per month ($99.99 billed annually)
10TB Plan
  • Storage: 10,000 GB (10 TB)
  • Monthly plan: $49.99 per month
20TB Plan
  • Storage: 20,000 GB (20 TB)
  • Monthly plan: $99.99 per month
30 TB Plan
  • Storage: 30,000 GB (30 TB)
  • Monthly plan: $149.99 per month

Bottom Line

Google Drive is one of the most reliable cloud platforms. We were particularly impressed by its collaboration capabilities. Its native integration with G Suite and file sharing features are second to none. Therefore, if you need a simple cloud storage service with excellent collaborative features, you should sign up for a Google account to access Google Drive.

Learn more about Google Drive and how cloud services might benefit you. 

7. Box.com (Best cloud storage for businesses in 2021)

box.com

Storage: 10GB to Unlimited

Free storage: 10GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: Unlimited storage from $15 per month ($180 billed annually)

Quick summary: Box.com cloud storage features Basic and Pro levels. Both plans offer a lot of storage space, but the Premium plan gets you additional features such as advanced file management tools, storage for multimedia files like videos & music, corporate security policies to prevent backup mistakes from affecting your business, automatic email notifications upon new file uploads and more.

Website: www.box.com

Like Dropbox, Box.com is one of the earliest players in cloud storage, and in fact, the two providers share many of the same features.

Features:

  • Instant integration with Google Workspace, Slack, and Office 365
  • Note-taking and task management apps come standard
  • Direct collaboration abilities
  • File previews
  • Two-factor authentication

But where Box really stands out is in its excellent business offerings. Box offers a long list of third-party app integrations, including some of the most popular productivity and task management apps, like Salesforce, Trello, and Asana.

It also allows for seamless team collaboration. Some may argue that Box's business plans, and its plans in general, run on the pricey side.

However, business plan offerings like data protection and unlimited storage are hard to beat. Box even offers businesses custom branding. On the other hand, Box only offers average privacy features. 

Pros

  • Unlimited storage
  • Extensive integration options
  • Data protection
  • Solid business plans
  • GDPR as well as HIPAA compliant

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Greater limitations in the personal plans

Pricing plans

Box offers a free plan with 10GB of storage, but it lacks most of the business productivity features that make this storage provider stand out.

There are 5 categories of paid plans: Starter, Personal Pro, Business, Business Plus, and Enterprise. The Starter plan, similar to the free plan, offers few of the great features but offers more storage space than the free plan.

Individual Plan
  • Data transfer: 250 MB
  • Storage: 10 GB
  • Cost: FREE
Personal Pro Plan
  • Data transfer: 5 GB
  • Storage: 100 GB
  • Monthly plan: $10 per month
Starter Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 100 GB
  • Monthly plan: $7 per month per 3-6 users
  • Yearly plan: $5 per month per 3-6 users ($60 billed annually)
Business Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • Monthly plan: $20 per month
  • Yearly plan: $15 per month ($180 billed annually)
Business Plus Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • Monthly plan: $33 per month
  • Yearly plan: $25 per month ($300 billed annually)
Enterprise Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • Monthly plan: $47 per month
  • Yearly plan: $35 per month per user ($60 billed annually)

Bottom Line

Box is keen on serving the business community. However, individuals can also find something that works for them. Users enjoy excellent collaboration tools, data automation and compliance, and access to several APIs. For businesses interested in unlimited storage, create a Box account to start enjoying the benefits!

Learn more about Box and how cloud storage services might benefit you.

8. Microsoft OneDrive (Best for MS Office Users & Windows backups)

microsoft onedrive

Storage: 5GB up to Unlimited

Free storage: 5GB free cloud storage

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: Unlimited space for $10 per month per user ($120 billed annually)

Quick summary: Microsoft OneDrive is the cloud storage file available for free for all windows users. You can store unlimited files and access them from any device with an internet connection. OneDrive gives 5GB space to new users by default, which you can increase up to 100GB by referring friends.

Website: www.microsoft.com/microsoft-365/onedrive/online-cloud-storage

If staying in sync with your Microsoft flow is a high priority for you, Microsoft OneDrive won’t let you down.

Features:

  • Full integration with Microsoft Office 365, Windows, SharePoint, and other Microsoft products
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Automated backup option
  • Secure personal vault

Despite offering cloud storage later than other providers, Microsoft OneDrive quickly became popular simply by being the default provider for most PC users.

Microsoft OneDrive offers many appealing features, such as easy collaboration. And thanks to seamless integration with Microsoft products, PC users will find this option very intuitive.

However, the main appeal here is for Windows users, and other OS users may be underwhelmed with this product.

Pros

  • Easy and intuitive interface, especially for Microsoft Office users
  • Extensive collaboration opportunities
  • Generous free plan
  • Easy to install if it isn’t already installed by default
  • Fast file syncing

Cons

  • Strongly biased toward Windows users
  • Some privacy concerns
  • Limited customer support

Pricing plans

OneDrive offers a basic free plan with up to 5GB of storage, but those searching to benefit from the full spectrum of features can choose from one of seven additional paid plans designed to serve individuals, families, or businesses at varying levels.

Basic 5GB
  • Storage: 5 GB
  • Cost: FREE
OneDrive 100GB
  • Storage: 100 GB
  • Monthly plan: $1.99 per month
OneDrive Business Plan 1
  • Storage: 1,000 GB (1TB)
  • Yearly plan: $5 per month per user ($60 billed annually)
OneDrive Business Plan 2
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • Yearly plan: $10 per month per user ($120 billed annually)

Bottom Line

Without a doubt, Microsoft OneCloud is well suited for Windows users and those that regularly use Microsoft 365 suite. Therefore, if you primarily use Microsoft products, then you will find this tool very effective. The service has matured over the years and can help you back up your files and sync them as needed. If these benefits suit you, create a user account today to get started.

Learn more about OneDrive and how cloud storage services might benefit you.

9. Backblaze (Best unlimited cloud storage and backup)

backblaze

Storage: Unlimited cloud backup and storage

Free storage: 15-day free trial

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: Unlimited space for $5 per month per device ($60 billed annually)

Quick summary: Backblaze provides backup and storage for your computer. They keep versions of your files in their cloud data centers and provide secure online access to your data via a web application, mobile app, or Cloud Access. Backblaze offers unlimited online backup and storage starting at $5 per month, with no contract required.

Website: www.backblaze.com

Some cloud storage providers like to offer a wide variety of features but specialize in none. Not Backblaze.

Features

  • Keeps previous versions of files for up to 30 days.
  • Users can inherit backup states from previous computers.
  • The service’s web client allows you to locate your computer in case you lose it.
  • Streamlined, easy-to-use backup
  • Unlimited business backups
  • Two-factor authentication

Backblaze.com, on the other hand, takes a different approach and prefers to limit the range of features offered while focusing on two main selling points.

First, Backblaze is the go-to cloud storage solution if the ease of backing up your computer files is a priority. What’s more, this product is all about “unlimited” – unlimited backup and unlimited storage at reasonable prices.

However, while excelling in these areas, Backblaze skips out on many other features, and the inability to customize leaves some users chafing at the inflexibility.

Pros

  • Unlimited cloud backup
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Fast upload speeds
  • No file size limits

Cons

  • Basic operations with limited customization
  • Only a single computer per license
  • No image-based backup
  • No mobile backup

Pricing plans

Unlike many other plans on this list, Backblaze does not offer a free plan, but it does offer a free 15-day trial. Beyond that, backup is unlimited and plan prices vary only based on the length of time committed.

Backblaze Free Trial
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • 15-day free trial
Backblaze Unlimited Plan
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: Unlimited
  • Monthly plan: $6 per month per device
  • Yearly plan: $5 per month per device ($60 billed annually)
B2 Cloud Storage 1TB
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 1 TB (1,000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $5 per month
B2 Cloud Storage 10TB
  • Data transfer: Unlimited
  • Storage: 10 TB (10,000 GB)
  • Monthly plan: $50 per month

Bottom Line

Backblaze is a widely used cloud storage service because of its simplicity and reasonable pricing. I also loved that it does not have file limits and does not limit the amount of data users send to the cloud. If you are looking for a set-it-and-forget-it backup solution to protect your data in case of a disaster, then create your Backblaze account and start enjoying its unmatched services.

Learn more about Backblaze and how cloud storage services might benefit you. 

10. iDrive ( Best cloud backup + cloud storage option )

idrive

Storage: Unlimited cloud backup and storage

Free storage: 5GB

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Pricing: 5TB from $5.79 per month ($69.50 billed annually)

Quick summary: IDrive is one of the best cloud backup services on the market, offering loads of backup features for a low price. iDrive gives you the option to create a private key for encryption, which makes it a zero-knowledge cloud backup service.

Website: www.idrive.com

Features:

  • Windows and Mac compatible
  • iOS and Android mobile apps
  • File sharing and sync features
  • File versioning up to 30 versions

Cloud backup and cloud storage are not the same things, and often users have a high need for both. Cloud storage provider iDrive is best in its class for offering packages that combine these two needs efficiently. Even better, it does it cheaply while offering a ton of features that put you in more control of your experience.

Its Snapshots feature provides users a historical timeline of activity and the ability to recover at any point. It is easy to use and even allows unlimited devices. However, upload times are relatively slow, and despite good prices, the variety of plans could leave something to be desired.

Pros

  • Unique combination cloud backup and cloud storage package
  • Tons of features, including sync and great file sharing, as well as Snapshots for recovery
  • Unlimited devices
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap pricing

Cons

  • Slow speeds
  • No monthly plan

Pricing plans

IDrive offers some of the most competitive prices in the field. There is a free plan of up to 5GB. There are also two paid personal options at 5 and 10TB. Beyond those, there is a wide range of options for business plans varying mostly by storage space size.

It is also worth noting that those who are already with another cloud storage provider and joining IDrive can save up to 90% in their first year.

Learn more about iDrive and how cloud storage services might benefit you. 

What is Cloud Storage?

The origins of cloud storage are generally attributed to the work of Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s. However, in the context in which we generally use it today, the earliest version of a web-based cloud would probably be AT&T’s PersonaLink Services in 1994. 

Have you ever looked around your home and thought, “Wow, I have way too much stuff. I wish I had one of those Mary Poppins purses to make it all disappear into thin air until I need it again!” Well, cloud storage is the data equivalent of Mary Poppins’ purse. Instead of storing files and data locally on a hard drive, with cloud storage, you can keep it all in a remote location and access it from anywhere.

what is cloud storage

You may still be wondering, “What is the difference between cloud storage and cloud backup?” It is important to understand that these are two very different things, albeit related. While both happen in “the cloud”, that virtual storage space for all of your important files, they serve different functions.

Cloud storage is when you store data (files, documents, photos, videos and son on) in the cloud, across multiple servers, instead of on a physical device.

With cloud storage, you are literally storing files. They are held remotely until you need them and then you can access them whenever you need them by connecting to any internet-connected device on which your storage provider has access.

With cloud backup, on the other hand, you are looking for more of emergency protection. Cloud backup takes duplicates of your important files and stores them so that if something happens to cause you to lose the original files, all is not lost.

Cloud storage features to look for

When looking for cloud storage services, it can be hard to know what you need. There are a few key features to look for when selecting storage space. Which of these is most important will vary based on personal needs.

Security & privacy

The idea of cloud storage can be intimidating for some when considering privacy. The thought of your personal and potentially sensitive documents being held in some remote place accessible from anywhere can make many people uncomfortable.

zero knowledge encryption

For this reason, a focus on security features might be important. Some key features that cloud storage providers might offer to include:

  • AES-256 Encryption: Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is one of the most commonlty used and most secure encryption algorithms available today. As of today, no practicable attack against AES exists.
  • Zero-knowledge encryption: this means that your cloud storage solution provider knows nothing about what is in the content you have stored.
  • End-to-end encryption: with this feature, you are essentially blocking eavesdroppers. During file sharing, only the sender and receiver have any knowledge of or access to the data. Even the cloud service is blocked from the information.
  • Client-side encryption: this basically means that your data will stay encrypted and secure at all times during a transfer. With many encryption services, the provider can only guarantee that your data is protected on your end of the transfer. Client-side makes sure it stays secure all the way until the recipient has it.

Ideally, the cloud storage company’s location should be in Europe or Canada (where for example Sync, pCloud, Icedrive are based) that have stricter privacy laws that are more consumer-friendly compared to for example the U.S. (Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are under U.S. jurisdiction).

Storage space

Another very important feature in considering cloud storage is how much space you will be able to use. Obviously, more space for a lower cost is ideal. For personal cloud storage, you might not need the highest and most expensive offers, but if your cloud storage needs are business-related, more storage space or even unlimited storage may be important. Storage space is measured in GB (gigabytes) or TB (terabytes).

Speed

When you are busy, the last thing you need is technology slowing down your productivity. When considering cloud storage options, you might prioritize speed. When we think of speed and cloud storage, we are looking at two factors: syncing speed and the speed at which materials are uploaded and downloaded. One further thing to consider, however, is that more secure storage with added layers of security may be slightly slower due to encryption.

File versioning

If you have ever had your internet interrupted while working on a document and yet still were able to restore previous versions of the document, you have experienced file versioning. File versioning relates to the storage of multiple versions of a document across time.

Sharing and collaboration

While it may be somewhat less important in personal cloud storage, if you are seeking business cloud storage solutions, the ability to share files with ease and collaborate smoothly with other users can be essential. In this case, you will want to consider features such as which third-party apps can be integrated and whether or not users can simultaneously view or edit a document.

Price

It goes without saying that no one wants to spend a lot of money unnecessarily. The various cloud storage solutions will offer different features, and that can make it difficult to compare options on a simple bottom line price basis. In this case, consider which features are most important to you, find the solution that offers those at the best price, and try to avoid paying premium prices for other features you may not need.

Customer support

There is no avoiding the fact that technology doesn’t always work as smoothly as we would like. In those circumstances, we want to feel supported and know that we can easily connect with someone to resolve our issues. The best-priced cloud storage with the most features may not be worth it if you can't reach a person to help when problems happen.

Types of cloud storage

While researching cloud storage solutions, you might come across a variety of cloud storage types and be curious about which one you need. You may have heard about public, private, and hybrid cloud storage options.

types of cloud storage

For the vast majority, this is a straightforward answer. Most people will use public storage options. The solutions mentioned above are all good examples of public cloud storage. In public cloud storage, a provider owns and manages all of the cloud infrastructure and users simply hire the services.

In private cloud storage, a business with exceptionally large storage needs or perhaps exceptionally sensitive security needs might elect to have a cloud storage system built exclusively for their own use.

Obviously, this is well beyond the scope of a private user or even the average business as something of this nature would require staff trained to manage the system.

Similarly, a hybrid storage option is exactly as the name implies: a mixture of the two. In this case, a business might have its own cloud infrastructure but may also utilize some aspects of a public provider as support.

Business vs personal use

When selecting your cloud storage provider, it is important to consider if you will be using the service for personal cloud storage or for business needs. Not only will this influence decision around storage size, but also security needs and which types of features you need. A business might prioritize collaboration features while a personal account might find more use for storing videos and images.

Best cloud storage for photos

If your cloud storage needs include many files that go beyond basic document type, particularly if you have a substantial amount of photographs or videos to store, take care to note which providers adequately support image file types. Not all providers are created equal in this regard!

Free vs Paid cloud storage

We all like to hear the word “free”! Most cloud storage providers include some level of a basic account that is free to users. Providers vary on the included sizes and features of these accounts. However, if your storage needs are very basic, it is worth prioritizing a provider with a solid free offering. On the other hand, if there is a high level of importance or you need extra security for your storage, paid accounts are worth the added quality.

Comparison Table

Free StoragePrice FromZero-KnowledgeEncryptionStorage From2FAMS Office / Google Integration
Sync.com5 GB$5/monthYesAES 256-bit200 GBYesNo
pCloud10 GB$3.99/monthYesAES 256-bit500 GBYesNo
Dropbox2 GB$10/monthNoAES 256-bit2 TBYesOffice
NordLocker3 GB$3.99/monthYesAES 256-bit500 GBYesNo
Icedrive10 GB$19.99/yearYesTwofish150 GBYesNo
Box10 GB$10/monthNoAES 256-bit100 GBYesOffice/Google
Google Drive15 GB$1.99/monthNoAES 256-bit100 GBYesGoogle
Amazon Drive5 GB$19.99/yearNoNo100 GBYesNo
BackblazeNo$5/monthNoAES 256-bitUnlimitedYesNo
iDrive5 GB$52.12/yearYesAES 256-bit5 TBYesNo
Microsoft OneDrive5 GB$1.99/monthNoAES 256-bit100 GBYesOffice

Cloud Storage FAQ

Why should I use cloud storage?

There are a lot of reasons why someone might consider using cloud storage. You might benefit from the ability to access files anywhere. Perhaps you are looking to store a lot of files but don’t have space on a local drive. You might choose to use cloud storage as a safety net. After all, who hasn’t knocked over a cup of coffee scarily close to their hard drive? Other reasons might include a desire to easily collaborate on a file with others or share files without hassle. But suffice to say, most people could probably benefit from some cloud storage.

Where do files in cloud storage go?

While it is fun to think of our files living in a fluffy cloud somewhere above (imagine flying through THAT cloud!), in reality, “cloud storage” is just a useful way of describing the concept. The fact is, your files are living on a very powerful remote drive and are sent to you wherever you need them. These remote drives are very secure and are well backed up, so the risk of file loss is almost non-existent.

Is it worth paying for cloud storage?

That depends. There really is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. How much storage do you need? How sensitive are the files and how much security would you need on them? Do you need to do a lot of things with your files, like share them or collaborate with others? If your needs are basic, you may not need to pay for cloud storage. Most major cloud storage providers offer some level of free basic account. Research those options and if the offered features cover all of your needs. Save your money and enjoy your free account!

Are there other cloud service providers worth considering?

Cloud storage is a rapidly expanding industry and new players enter the field on a regular basis. While our above top list was well researched and we stand by our recommendations, it never hurts to continue to examine your options. Other companies, such as Tresorit, SpiderOak, and many more, may have features that are uniquely perfect for you.

What is the best free cloud storage?

There are a lot of great free cloud storage solutions out there, but as mentioned above, our conclusion gives the top honor to Icedrive. Some accounts offer plenty of features but are skimpy in the storage space. Other accounts may offer more storage space but fewer features. Icedrive offers the best of both worlds: a generous 10GB plus all of the best features you could look for.

What is the best cloud storage for business?

Again, there are lots of good options out there, and your business will have unique needs and priorities. However, in general, we would say that Box has the best offers for business. Its unlimited storage space is appealing for businesses handling large amounts of data. Its incredibly easy-to-use interface means even the inexperienced temp can be up to speed quickly. And its wide range of available integrations means you will find solutions to many of your productivity needs at your fingertips.

Summary

Clearly, the cloud is where the action is these days…or at least, all our records of the action! Hopefully, you now feel better equipped to engage with this dynamic and essential resource. If you still have questions about cloud storage services and how to choose the best cloud storage provider, reach out and connect with us today!

References