Last year was another marquee year for online storage, as both consumers and businesses continued the historical trend of ongoing digital transformation. According to Google Trends data, the term “cloud storage” saw massive spikes in worldwide interest over the last ten years, with an almost 40x increase in search volume. We can expect much of the same throughout 2019 with more and more reliance on online backing up of data in the cloud and less focus on local storage hardware and infrastructure.
With plenty of different options for cloud storage, it’s paramount to pick a provider that will supply you with the optimal amount of storage and bandwidth, as well as keep your data safe and sound.
The following list contains cloud storage providers we deem offer the best service. The majority offers a free plan to get a sample of the service before you decide if it’s worth becoming a paying customer. From a business standpoint, the decision warrants an even more deliberate consideration as aspects such as needs and the quality of service vary from the consumer-oriented approach.
BEST CLOUD STORAGE OF 2019:
Quality storage solution that also includes network drives
Arguably the biggest advantage of IDrive is that it applies to network drives as well, meaning everything from servers to mobile devices is covered. Users are able to share files via email, Facebook and Twitter, as well as restore up to 30 previous versions of backed up files.
Speaking of backup, IDrive offers IDrive Express option which grants you with a physical hard disk drive in case you lose all your data, making a backup of your files rather quick and painless (disk image backup feature is also covered). The service doesn’t automatically delete cloud files once you delete something on your hardware, so there’s no risk in completely erasing valuable data by accident.
Photo-minded users will be happy to hear there’s a facial recognition feature that automatically organizes photos along with syncing them across all your lined devices. Businesses can also opt-in for IDrive, with unlimited users, single sign-on, server backup, and priority support as part of the package.
- IDrive Personal - $4.33 a month, 2TB per month on 1-year contract, save 25%, only $52.12
- IDrive Personal - $6.22 a month, 5TB per month on 1-year contract, save 25%, only $74.62
Go-to provider for large files
Hailing from Switzerland, pCloud offers no limit in terms of file size, making it ideal for storing large media files, although there are some limits when it comes to bandwidth. The service covers all desktop and mobile platforms, with a web-based login also available. You have of the option of forking out additional money, on a monthly/annual/lifetime basis, for pCloud Crypto feature to encrypt individual files.
It’s worth noting that the pricing plans include a couple of lifetime subscriptions, a fairly unusual sight with cloud services. Each plan comes with unlimited remote upload traffic and
30 days trash history, the difference being the amount of storage and download link traffic: 500 GB each for Premium package and 2TB each for the Premium Plus package.
- Lifetime Premium - $175 one time payment, 500GB storage
- Lifetime Premium Plus - $350 one time payment, 2TB storage
- Premium - $3.99 per month with 500GB storage (1-year contract, $47.88)
- Premium Plus - $7.99 per month with 2TB storage (1-year contract, $95.88)
Beefed up security offering
A 50GB free plan is a bonafide rarity in cloud storage, so Mega delivers right for the start. Add in the easy-to-use interface powered by a drag-and-drop action and you have yourselves one of the best cloud storage solutions. A mobile app allows upload of files and photos, while desktop users have sync clients at their disposal.
Being the invention of the infamous Kim Dotcom, Mega allows you to store files through an encrypted connection and maintain control over your encryption key. That effectively prevents others, including the provider, from scanning your content. In addition, the sync client is open-source and open to vulnerability checks, further adding to an already secure service.
Paid subscription users have four tiers of options:
- 50 GB free
- Pro Lite - 200GB for $6 a month (£4.50, €4.99, around AU$7.50)
- Pro I - 1TB for $12 a month (£9, €9.99, around AU$16)
- Pro II - 4TB for $23 a month (£17, €19.99, around AU$30)
- Pro III - 8TB for $35 a month (£26, €29.99, around AU$46)
Ever since the switch to Windows 10, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution is directly integrated into the file explorer, allowing immediate use for users who want to jumpstart their online backup. There are also Android and iOS apps for mobile uploads, as well as an improved app for Mac users.
As a Microsoft platform, OneDrive works closely with Microsoft Office and Office 365 suite, which is rather helpful if you are looking to boost productivity. Photos app can also sync images across all your devices using OneDrive, and you can selectively sync files that are stored on your hard drive. Premium plans come with Office 365, productivity tools, and tighter security.
- 5GB free
- OneDrive 50 GB - 50GB for $3 a month (£1.99, around AU$4)
- Office 365 Personal - 1TB for $8 a month (£5.99, around AU$11)
- Office 365 Home - 5TB for $11 a month (£7.99, around AU$14)
Apple’s solution for iOS and macOS users
Right on the heels of Microsoft, Apple’s own cloud storage locker delivers a sound service. Even if the 5GB of free storage won’t back up your iPhone or iPad entirely, the paid subscriptions are competitively priced.
The standout feature is how easily accessible the service is across Apple’s platforms. For instance, you can store anything through the Mac Finder app which integrates iCloud Drive, and also sync across all your devices iWork documents, which are saved to iCloud. If you’re a Windows user with iPhone, you can also sync files with iCloud Drive via the official client, as well as use the iCloud website to access iWork apps.
- 5GB free
- 50GB for $0.99 a month (£0.79, AU$1.49)
- 200GB for $2.99 (£2.24, AU$4)
- 2TB for $9.99 (£8, AU$13)
A simple and smart solution for Google-minded users
For both personal and professional projects, Google Drive is the natural go-to cloud storage solution for a host of G Suite and Android users, due to seamless integration and versatility. You can use Google’s own office suite to create and store documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, and also store your mobile-based high-quality photos via Google Photos.
The generous 15GB of free storage will also appeal to users of other platforms too, even if the web interface is somewhat poorly executed and not as user-friendly as elsewhere. However, native clients allow Windows and Mac users easier file storage through drag-and-drop.
Google Drive price plans, now called Google One:
- 15GB free
- 100GB for $1.99 a month (£1.59, around AU$2.50)
- 200GB for $2.99 a month (£2.35, around AU$4.10)
- 2TB for $9.99 a month (£8, around AU$13)
- 10TB for $99.99 a month (£74, around AU$130)
- 20TB for $199.99 a month (£148, around AU$260)
- 30TB for $299.99 a month (£236, around AU$426)
Business-oriented storage from a long-standing service
One quick look at the pricing page and it’s clear Box is prioritizing businesses as their key demographic. There’s a two-week free trial on Business plans that include advanced collaboration options, unlimited storage, and a particular focus on security with multiple encryption methods. Non-corporate users have a 10GB free option to test things out.
Box is an established service and supports a variety of apps such as Office 365 and G-Suite that allow syncing and viewing files on and from any device. Box apps for desktop cover Windows and Mac, while mobile can use the official Android client.
- Individual - 10GB free
- Personal pro - 100GB for $10 a month (£7.50, around AU$13)
Cloud storage “provider” for DIY users
Technically speaking, NextCloud is not an online cloud storage provider on its own. Rather, the company is a self-hosted file sync & content collaboration platform that provides free software to install and administer cloud storage service on your own server yourself. The benefit of a self-hosted product is you get to keep your data on your servers, offering complete control while being faster in performance.
While this might seem intimidating for IT beginners or futile for serverless users, the service offers preconfigured hardware that runs NextCloud out of the box.
- Free to use
- As this is a self-hosting product, storage costs vary
‘Zero knowledge’ storage for privacy-minded users
Zero knowledge cloud storage pertains to the encryption process, which according to SpiderOak, takes place before syncing so the service has no idea of what you're storing with them. You are the only one who knows what's being encrypted and stored, which makes your data utterly private. The source code of the client isn’t public though, so you’ll just have to take SpiderOak’s word for it.
While we’re at the subject of clients, there is native support for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, although the mobile apps are read-only and don’t allow you to upload your mobile files.
- 21-day free trial
- 150GB for $6 a month (around £3.75, AU$7) or $69 annually
- 400GB for $11 a month (around £7, AU$11.50) or $115 annually
- 2TB for $14 a month (around £9, AU$15) or $149 annually
- 5TB for $29 a month (around £19, AU$33) or $320 annually
Best free cloud storage in 2019
Beefy cloud storage coupled with online office tools
At 15GB to peruse at zero cost, Google Drive is one of the more giving cloud providers, with the option of additional 2GB of free storage if you perform Security Checkup. Do note that all of your files from other Google services (Gmail, Photos, etc.) are also stored here, meaning each email attachment you download takes space.
However, a Gmail address isn’t mandatory to sign up for Google Drive. Create a new Google account and you’re good to go, but don’t be confused if you see Google One - a rebranding of paid Google Drive storage that’s not yet available everywhere.
As for the current service, there are mobile apps for Android and iOS users, Google’s own office productivity tools, and a nifty Backup and Sync desktop app that enables you to automatically duplicate your files in the cloud, just in case your laptop or PC dies or gets pinched.
Free storage: 15GB (expandable)
Smooth-running, user-friendly service
Free storage: 10GB (expandable)
The free pCloud version starts with 10GB of file space, which can then be upped to 20GB through a combination of completed offers (4GB) and referrals (1GB each). As a bonus, there’s a 50GB of downlink traffic bandwidth allowance on a monthly basis.
The appealing and highly functional interface makes storing files easy, whether it’s through finely crafted desktop and mobile apps or pCloud’s website. File sharing features are as simple as they can be, with the ability to share files with non-pCloud users. Built-in streaming features and no restriction on file size means you can freely send large files such as HD video to your friends or coworkers.
Although the focus here is on the free offering, pCloud also offers appreciable deals for upgrading to a paid service. 500GB storage will cost you $3.99 per month, while there are also a couple of affordable annual and lifetime subscriptions if you’re looking to save some money.
Stellar storage solution aimed at Windows users
Free storage: 5GB
One would expect that a tech giant like Microsoft would offer more space for free users to store files but that’s not the case - you will have to make do with 5GB of storage. Granted, the basic paid plan offers 50GB for a fair price, and Office 365 subscribers get 1TB of space for their trouble.
Therein lies OneDrive’s biggest appeal - much like it’s Google counterpart, the service will primarily find a home with Microsoft users, thanks to its close relationship with MS Office apps and automatic Windows 10 integration. For users on the go, there are mobile apps that allow easy cross-platform use.
OneDrive makes collaboration easy as it doesn’t limit the use to OneDrive users only, and you can even customize access and how you share files with others. Remote storage of documents also included the ability to work on files online without downloading them, which certainly simplifies things.
Popular cloud storage provider with broad third-party support
Free storage: 2GB (expandable)
Let’s get to the bad news first. For such a respected service, Dropbox doesn’t do itself any favors with only 2GB of free storage allowance, one of the least generous freebies around. However, there are multiple ways to rake up additional space that include completing the starting guide (250 MB), referring family, friend, or colleagues to the service (500MB per referral, up to 16GB), and contributing to the Dropbox Community forum (1GB).
Once you get past that initial drawback, Dropbox reveals some crafty tricks. For instance, Dropbox Paper is a collaborative tool that allows seamless sharing files between different users and syncs your photos to cloud automatically via the desktop app. You can also request users to upload directly to your Dropbox account with the File Requests feature, and edit files without downloading them first when working through the web version.
The service also exhibits serious flexibility with a bundle of desktop and mobile apps that include all the regulars and some uncommon platforms like Linux and Kindle. This allows access to your storage platform from virtually any device, accompanied by a wide range of supported third-party apps and services.
Highly capable cloud-based storage solution
Free storage: 10GB (expandable)
MediaFire starts you off with 10GB of free space, which you can then increase fivefold through various usual activities such as referring other people of following the company across the social media landscape. You’ll end up with 50GB of free cloud storage space, but do note that you’ll have to suffer through advertisements - arguably a small price to pay.
The service has been in the business for a long time and it had plenty of time to work out some kinks, such as speed and overall ease to manage files, even with non-users. MediaFire supports files up to 4GB large, with no limit of downloads.
Apart from the impressive web version, the service is available for Android and iOS users through apps that work well and have a few practical features on their own like the automatic photo and video syncing and streaming options.
Best business cloud storage
High security combined with a simple interface
Founded in 2007, SpiderOak is a collaboration tool, online backup and file hosting service that leverages a cloud-based server to allow its users to access, synchronize and share data.
Not only does it boast with high-level data security and privacy as its key feature, but it also provides cloud storage, online backup and sharing service using a ‘zero knowledge’ privacy environment (at least the company claims so). Under such conditions, your data is end-to-end encrypted and hidden from everyone without permission, including SpiderOak. You are the only one permitted to view all stored data.
Considering the focus is on security and privacy, SpiderOak didn’t waste much energy on intricate design. The interface is pretty simple and straightforward, with a convenient drag and drop feature that helps you organize files in a quick and efficient manner.
The centralized device management dashboard grants users easy access to settings for all applications such as sharing and backup selection, allowing them to manage their accounts, set group permissions and monitor usage.
If you are looking to see for yourself what the service is all about, you will need to contact SpiderOak’s Sales Team for a quote. Do note that a minimum of 500 users is required to qualify, and per online community, SpiderOak lacks many of the collaboration tools that can be found with other cloud storage providers.
Superior file encryption through stylish apps
Hailing from Hungary and Switzerland, Tresorit is a cloud storage provider with a focus on increased security and strong data encryption for businesses, but also personal users.
The provider will primarily entice businesses whose main priority is keeping stored data safe online as Tresorit offers cloud service with its ‘zero-knowledge’ encryption. This means that only the people you choose can have access to your data. Moreover, its two-factor authentication login provides an additional layer of security for your account.
Let’s talks pricing: the ‘Small Business’ plan costs $23 (€20 or £17.5) per month (or $18 monthly for the annual plan) for teams with 2-9 users. You get 1000GB of encrypted storage, synching of existing folder structure, as well as secure access for up to 10 devices.
The ‘Business’ plan comes with a price tag that starts at $28 (€25) monthly (or $23 per month if you select the annual plan). This package includes bonuses such as digital rights management, remote wipe and help via phone. At the moment of writing, the ‘Business’ plan is up for grabs at a 50% discount, which means it could be yours for as low as $14 per month. This plan is intended for organizations counting 10 people and more.
The ‘Enterprise’ option will cost you $35 month (or $28 should you choose the annual plan) and is perfect for business with more than 100 users. Additional features include admin API, personalized staff training and on-premises deployment. If you decide on this option, you will need to contact the Tresorit team directly in order to sign up.
All Tresorit’s pricing packages are accompanied by a 14-day free trial. That being said, Tresorit might be considered a bit pricey. However, keep in mind that it offers a higher scale of security compared to other similar services out there as well as additional features, so it is probably worth it.
Plenty of storage accompanied by flexible sync tools
Established in 2007, Egnyte provides quality software for enterprise's every file synchronization and sharing need.
With Egnyte, businesses can stow any type of data in the cloud both locally and online, whereas more sensitive data can be kept on on-premise servers for additional security.
The company’s content services platform has a user-friendly collaboration system that allows business teams to work wherever and in whichever way they want. The service is fully-integrative with widely used industry applications like Outlook and Office 365, providing both internal and remote employees with access to important files.
As for pricing, the ‘Office’ plan, aimed at groups of 5-25 employees, begins at $8 (£6.12) per employee per month and offers 5TB storage for files up to 10GB.
Egnyte’s ‘Business’ option kicks off at $15 (£11.50) per employee on a monthly basis, covers 25-100 employees, 10TB online storage and files no larger than 10GB.
The ‘Enterprise’ plan is intended for enterprises that have more than 100 employees and it will get you unlimited storage for files up to 25GB in size. Signing up, as well as asking about the price for this option, will require that you contact the company directly.
All Egnyte’s packages come with a 15-day free trial, with online critics having some concerns over long loading time for some files, such as photographs.
Affordable and dependable storage from the industry heavyweight
More than 11 years of experience makes Dropbox one of the oldest and most reliable options for businesses when it comes to cloud storage.
What characterizes Dropbox and makes it such a popular choice is the ease of use. There are no compatibility issues with different file types, and cross-platform functionality across most devices and apps, along with the drag and drop action for the desktop app, makes this one of the easiest services to use.
Users can freely share content with others via links, even if the person in question is not a Dropbox user. The business iteration of the service allows you to connect your personal account in order to have all your files in one place, with its automatic camera upload feature recently made available for business users.
Administrators can gain insights into the status of each team member from the dashboard, as well as modify how they share and manage files, set access permissions, and monitor usage.
Third-party support is on a high level, with apps such as Microsoft Office and Slack part of the package.
Speaking of packages, Dropbox Business offers three different tiers. The ‘Standard’ plan will cost you $12.50 (£9.71) per user per month starting at 3 users and includes 3 TB of space for secure storage, 120 days of file recovery, two-factor authentication, and a whole lot of features.
The ‘Advanced’ package builds up the ‘Standard’ plan and starts at $20 (£15.70) per user per month with unlimited storage and advanced admin controls and user management tools.
To subscribe to the ‘Enterprise’ tier, it’s necessary to contact Dropbox directly and work out a deal.
There is a 30-day free trial for which you will have to provide your payment credentials, after which you’ll be automatically bumped up to a paid plan and charged. One consistent complaint from users what the absence of online editing tools.
Low-cost and solid storage from a reliable provider
With almost a decade and a half under its belt, Box is a mainstay in the cloud content management and file sharing scene.
Box’s strong points are broad management abilities and an emphasis on security. The UI is made to feel you at home right from the start and is quite easy to navigate. Access to settings, files, and folders is regulated through the user dashboard, where admins can keep an eye on all users, track activity and manage sharing options.
Users can access their files through the Box Sync client, which is available for Mac and Windows, and also from the Android client. The service is supported by a variety of commonly used apps that include Google Docs and Office 365, to name a few.
Price-wise, ‘Starter’ plan is the entry package starting at $5 (£3.88) per user/month. This gets you 100GB secure storage, 2GB file upload with a maximum of 10 users (minimum is three users for all plans).
The ‘Business’ plan starts at $15 (£11.80) per user/month and incorporates unlimited storage in the mix, 5GB file upload, advanced security, customisation and reporting, and no limit on the maximum number of users.
There is also ‘Business Plus’ package that costs $25 (£19.60) per user/month and features unlimited storage, 5GB file upload, advanced admin controls and capabilities, as well as limitless external collaborators.
As is the custom, the top tier plan - ‘Enterprise’ - requires you to contact Box directly for a quote.
Box offers a 14-day free trial for all packages, with one common complaint that the service is missing online editing functionality for external users, thus access to read-only.