Finding the best cloud storage service remains key for businesses and consumers, as both groups continue to evolve their data storage in line with the greater trend towards digital transformation. As this continues, and hacking up data to the cloud becomes relied upon, the focus shifts from local storage hardware and infrastructure to a more secure, less centralized format online.
With so many options for cloud storage out there, it’s integral to any individual or business's plans that they identify a provider which will provide them with the right amount of storage and bandwith, as well as keeping data safe and secure. The majority of cloud storage services offer free plans as well, so users can sample services before taking the plunge and paying for the premium service.
For businesses, this is particularly important, given that from their vantage point this decision requires a deliberate, significant consideration of not only the company's needs, but also the quality of service. These elements are not often as significant on the individual or personal side of cloud storage, but are nonetheless key factors in decision-making.
In this guide to the best cloud storage providers, we rank the top services across premium, free, and business verticals, with all those included deemed by us to offer the aforementioned important elements and features as well as the best service.
The top 3 best cloud storage services
1. IDrive - the best cloud storage provider
IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. It supports unlimited devices, and provides an extensive file versioning system, alongside competitive prices and other top features.
2. Google Drive - lifetime subscription and great features
For a range of projects, Google Drive is the go-to cloud storage solution for Google Workspace and Android users, due to seamless integration and versatility. A free 15GB account is joined by competitively-priced paid plans with more storage.
3. Nextcloud - self-hosting leader in the market
Nextcloud's self-hosted file sync and content collaboration platform provides free, open-source software to install and administer cloud storage on your own server. This offers complete control and faster performance, and offers great savings.
Which is the best cloud storage service?
In terms of premium providers, IDrive is our top choice, as it offers a quality solution and extensive additional features at great value for money across a range of impressive plans. Its highly secure cloud storage in turn means it remains the clear leader for those without huge storage needs, and features relative to cost are unmatched. Second and third are Google Drive and Nextcloud, followed by pCloud, Mega, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud and SpiderOak.
Our list of the free providers ranks Google Drive first, with its free account offering 15GB of storage alongside mobile apps, Google's office productivity tools, a great Backup and Sync desktop app, and more. pCloud comes second and OneDrive third, with Dropbox and MediaFire close behind.
Finally, for business cloud storage, we placed Egnyte first, as its quality software allows for all file synchronization and sharing needs for any type of data, while more sensitive data can be kept on on-premise servers for additional security. A range of other features, user-friendly collaboration systems and third-party integration also help it stay top, with Tresorit and Box for Business second and third, and SpiderOak and Dropbox for Business rounding out our list.
The best cloud storage providers on the market
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 the 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.
Plans start at $52.12 a year for one user, unlimited devices and 5TB of storage under the IDrive Personal plan, while the IDrive Team plan offers five users, five computers and the same storage for $74.62 a year. Finally, the IDrive Business plan offers unlimited users, computers, servers, Exchange, SQL and NAS devices alongside 250GB of storage.
For both personal and professional projects, Google Drive is the natural go-to cloud storage solution for a host of Google Workspace 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.
If you want more than the free service offers, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee. The platform was recently consolidated into Google One, which starts at $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year for 100GB (when paid annually). Each subscription can be shared for free with up to five other people, but everyone will have to share the same amount of storage.
Upgrading to 200GB costs $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year along with 3% cashback in store credit from the Google Store, while the final plan comes with 2TB of storage and 10% cashback for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
While this isn’t always clear from the website, additional Google Drive storage is also available through Google Workspace. 30GB is available for $6 per user a month, while unlimited storage for teams of five or more users costs $12 per user a month. For $25 per user a month, you’ll also get priority support, data loss prevention, and other helpful perks.
To find out more about what we thought, read our Google Drive review.
Technically speaking, Nextcloud is not an online cloud storage provider on its own. Rather, the company is a self-hosted file sync and content collaboration platform, which provides free software to install and administer cloud storage services 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.
As free open-source software, you can download and install it at no cost, but need to factor in the cost of running your own servers, setting them up, and administering them. If you already have the infrastructure in place however, using Nextcloud instead of a commercial cloud storage solution could save you money.
Third-party providers can deploy, optimize, and maintain your Nextcloud installation for you, and if you have at least 50 users, you can choose Nextcloud Enterprise, which is a pre-configured, production-ready version.
Read our Nextcloud review for more information.
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.
You can also send files up to 5GB for free with pCloud Transfer. 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 or lifetime basis - for the pCloud Crypto feature, which can 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: 500GB each for the Premium package, and 2TB each for the Premium Plus package.
For more information, read our pCloud review to learn more about the provider.
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 the 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. For those seeking the paid option, there are four tiers ranging from Pro Lite to Pro I, Pro II, and Pro III - the only main difference between the tiers being the storage and transfer amounts (all four plans maintain the same additonal features).
The lowest priced plan has 400GB of storage and a 1TB transfer limit per month, with the other plans increasing to 2TB storage and transfer (Pro I), 8TB storage and transfer (Pro II) and 16TB storage and transfer (Pro III).
Learn more about this cloud storage provider by reading our Mega review.
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.
Offering both individual plans and business plans, Box's pricing structure is very simple for the former: you pay nothing for up to 10GB of storage with a maximum file size of 250 MB, or $10 a month for the Personal Pro plan with up to 100GB of storage and a maximum file size of 5GB.
Businesses have four plans to choose from, prices (for annual subscriptions) starting from $5 a month with the Starter plan (allowing collaboration for up 10 users) up to $35 a month for the Enterprise plan. The annual subscriptions' monthly payments are 25% cheaper than the monthly subscriptions, with all business plans featuring built-in integrations for Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, alongside collaboration features.
Box apps for desktop cover Windows and Mac, while mobile can use the official Android client.
To find out more, read our Box review.
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 365, 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.
In addition, the mobile app has some interesting features, like the multi-page scanning that allows you to scan multiple pages and save them as a single document, which you can then access anywhere from any device.
OneDrive has plans for both home and business use, with four for home, two of which are for OneDrive only, and two of which incorporate Microsoft 365. Prices range from free for 5GB of storage with the Basic plan up to $9.99 a month ($99.99 a year) for 6TB with the Microsoft 365 Family plan, which accommodates up to six people (with 1TB per person).
The Microsoft 365 plans both come with Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Skype. Additionally, business plans are structured in the same way as home plans, two including Microsoft 365 and two not including it. Prices go from $5 per user a month (with an annual commitment) up to $12.50 per user a month.
The most expensive plans for both home and business also come with a one-month free trial. For more information on this cloud storage platform, read our OneDrive review.
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. iCloud offers 5GB for free: more than the 2GB you get from Dropbox, but significantly less than the 15GB available with Google Drive.
Additional storage is available at different prices, with users able to get 50GB for $0.99 a month, 200GB for $2.99 a month, or 2TB for $9.99 a month. Unfortunately, there aren’t any long-term subscriptions, which could be a significant disadvantage for some users.
To learn more about this Apple-centric provider, read our full iCloud review.
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. SpiderOak One has four pricing plans, with the cheapest
$6 a month and including 150GB of storage and support for an unlimited number of devices.
For $11 a month, you get 400GB of storage, and for $14 a month, 2TB, while a final $29 a month plan gets you 5TB per month, with a small discount of around 5% if you pay annually. For companies with over 500 employees, SpiderOak also offers an Enterprise Backup plan. You’ll need to contact the sales team for pricing though.
Find out more by reading our SpiderOak review.
What you need to know about free cloud storage
The strong competition among cloud storage services means that many offer free plans for users only seeking basic storage, who may also be on a tight budget. Despite having fewer features and a smaller maximum capacity, such plans are more than enough for most users seeking personal cloud storage.
These plans are perfect for the average consumer who wants to save personal documents and photos in the cloud, though those with more files to store or looking for more demanding services will need to pay to upgrade to premium plans.
However, for the majority of people even a small amount of free storage can make a world of difference, allowing secure copies of important files to be saved securely and easily accessed. Collaboration across small projects, such as when undertaking freelancing work, can also benefit hugely from the free services available.
While this might seem perfect for most consumers, who may not think there is much to lose from choosing a free provider, there are some factors to consider when choosing the right personal, free platform. We discuss those below in our guide to the best free cloud storage services, to help you choose the right platform for you and your needs.
The best free cloud storage available right now
At 15GB to peruse at zero cost, Google Drive is one of the more giving cloud providers. 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 as part of Google Workspace.
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.
The free pCloud package 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 a month, while there are also a couple of affordable annual and lifetime subscriptions if you’re looking to save some money.
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 Microsoft 365 subscribers get 1TB of space for their trouble.
Therein lies OneDrive’s biggest appeal - much like its Google counterpart, the service will primarily find a home with Microsoft users, thanks to its close relationship with 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 use to OneDrive users, 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.
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 (250MB), 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.
MediaFire starts you off with 10GB of free space, which you can then increase fivefold through various usual activities, such as referring other people or 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, such as the automatic photo and video syncing and streaming options.
How to choose the best cloud storage for business
As mentioned earlier, choosing the best cloud storage for a business starts out similarly to selecting one for personal use, but there are some key differences. A system has to be highly secure, stable, and able to protect company data at all times. In that regard, it's best to look for providers offering end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture: the latter specifically is key given that it prevents providers from accessing data, even if law enforcement authorities compel them to.
Any business cloud storage should provide collaborative, advanced functionality for operating seamless digital workflows, which facilitate and increase employee productivity and collaboration: particularly at this time, where many businesses continue to operate remotely, or in a blended fashion between homes and offices.
Such cloud sync technologies form an integral element of StaaS (storage as a service) products, allowing edits made to one document to be immediately visible across all connected devices. Other important features include powerful administrative features, which enable access management and auditing of systems usage via 2FA (two-factor authentication), roles-based permissions, and auditing capabilities.
Businesses should be looking for cloud storage providers that offer both storage and sync capabilities, because these elements increase productivity and streamline business workflows. Our guide below lists our recommendations for the best cloud storage providers for businesses, taking all these key factors into consideration.
The best cloud storage for business available now
Established in 2007, Egnyte provides quality software for an 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 Microsoft 365, providing both internal and remote employees with access to important files.
As for pricing, the ‘Team’ plan, aimed at groups of one to 10 employees, begins at $10 per employee a month, and offers 1TB storage for files up to 10GB. Egnyte’s ‘Business’ option kicks off at $20 per employee on a monthly basis, covers 10 to 100 employees, and provides 1TB online storage plus 10GB per employee, while the maximum file size is 10GB.
The ‘Enterprise’ plan and ‘Enterprise Lite’ will require you to contact Egnyte for a custom quote, and give you additional benefits like unusual behavior detection, security issue alerting, content lifecycle management, AI-based content classification, behavior-based ransomware detection, and more.
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. To learn more about why we ranked this first for business cloud storage, read our Egnyte review.
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 talk pricing: the ‘Standard’ plan costs $14.20 a month, per user, billed annually. You get 1TB of encrypted storage per user, syncing of existing folder structure, secure access for up to 10 devices per user and a few other features.
The ‘Plus’ plan comes with a price tag that starts at $19 monthly per user, on the annual billing basis. This package includes bonuses such as data residency options, enhanced collaboration and tracking, and help via phone. It also increases the storage per user to 2TB.
The ‘Enterprise’ option will cost you $23.70 a month, and is perfect for business with more than 50 users. Additional features include admin API, personalized staff training and custom 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.
Find out more by reading our Tresorit review.
With almost a decade and a half under its belt, Box is a mainstay in the cloud content management and file sharing scene. Its 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 Drive client, which is available for Mac and Windows, and also from the Android client. The service is supported by a variety of commonly used app packages, including Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, to name a few.
Price-wise, the Starter plan is the entry package starting at $5 per user a month. This gets you 100GB secure storage alongside 2GB file upload with a maximum of 10 users (the minimum is three users for all plans).
The Business plan starts at $15 per user a month, and incorporates unlimited storage, 5GB file upload, advanced security, customization and reporting, and no limit on the maximum number of users.
There is also a Business Plus package that costs $25 per user a month, and features unlimited storage, 5GB file upload, advanced admin controls and capabilities, as well as limitless external collaborators.
As for the final package, Enterprise, this is priced at $37 per user a month, and includes extras such as unlimited integrations, password policy enforcement, document watermarking, and more.
Box offers a 14-day free trial for all packages, with one common complaint being that the service is missing online editing functionality for external users: thus access is restricted to read-only. Read our Box review to learn more about the consumer element of the provider's services.
SpiderOak serves as a collaboration tool, online backup and file hosting service leveraging a cloud-based server to allow its users to access, synchronize and share data.
Not only does it boast high-level data security and privacy, but 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.
In terms of pricing for businesses, a minimum of 500 users is required to qualify for the enterprise package, and you will need to contact SpiderOak’s Sales Team for a quote. As per the online community, SpiderOak is said to lack many of the collaboration tools that can be found with other cloud storage providers.
Over 12 years of experience makes Dropbox one of the oldest and most reliable options for businesses when it comes to cloud storage.
What characterizes Dropbox Business 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 per user a month, starting at three users, and includes 3TB of space for secure storage, 120 days of file recovery, two-factor authentication, and more.
The Advanced package builds on this, starting at $20 per user a month with unlimited storage, 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 available, 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 however was the absence of online editing tools.