The best cloud storage (opens in new tab), whether for individual use or for businesses, allows you to simply, securely, and quickly store backups (opens in new tab) of important data and files online. In this growing market, dozens of services vie for your custom, and offer safe storage of your key files, whether they be photos, videos, music, or documents.
For businesses at least, comparing cloud storage vs local storage (opens in new tab) is worthwhile when investigating all options. Recently however, cloud storage's advances in technology, encryption, interfaces, and competitively-priced plans have made it the demonstrably stronger option for safe and secure backups.
In focussing here on the best premium cloud data storage (opens in new tab), it's worth noting that providers of premium storage also offer business (opens in new tab) and free cloud storage (opens in new tab). In essence, by making the right decision, you can save time and money should you need to upgrade down the line.
Today's best cloud storage deals
Looking for the best cloud storage deals? IDrive is our top provider across all cloud storage types, and offers the best cloud storage deals.
IDrive: get the best cloud storage for only $3.98 (opens in new tab)
IDrive provides large storage amounts for highly-competitive prices. Support for unlimited devices, and an extensive file versioning system, couple with other top features to make it the best cloud storage available. For a limited time, get 10TB for only $3.98 for the first year! (opens in new tab)
Get Backblaze cloud storage for free with every ExpressVPN purchase (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN (opens in new tab), our best VPN service (opens in new tab), is offering free unlimited cloud backup courtesy of Backblaze (opens in new tab) for a whole year with an annual subscription. Secure, business-grade online backup is available for everyone, with no strings attached.
Before buying, you should ensure your chosen provider offers a series of key features. These include comprehensive encryption, adequate storage, and professional, responsive, and knowledgeable customer service. Our frequently-asked questions below aim to assist you with any storage questions, should you be a beginner or an expert.
In reviewing and ranking the best cloud storage services' premium plans, we analyzed performance on security, storage, support, ease-of-use, collaborative tools, file size limits, and more. Read on, and find the top premium plan available.
How much does the best cloud storage cost?
Unlike many other sectors, leading cloud storage providers often provide excellent free plans alongside paid subscriptions. If you’re looking for relatively small amounts of storage, a free plan might be ideal, though there are limitations on capacity, and you often won’t get the same level of security or features.
With paid plans, cloud storage is often available for annual prices ranging from around $50 upwards (depending on storage levels, features, and other factors), and there are even lifetime plans available. Monthly plans can be as low as a few dollars a month: pricing depends entirely on the type of plan you want, what tools and security you’re looking for, and the encryption provided.
What's the best cloud storage service?
IDrive is the best cloud storage provider of premium plans. It's ideal for a variety of storage needs, with extensive, great-value features and high-quality security across a range of impressive, competitively-priced plans.
Google Drive is the go-to for Google users, via seamless integration with Google Workspace and versatility across well-priced subscriptions. Nextcloud's free, open-source self-hosted file sync and content collaboration platform can be installed and administered on your own server, with paid add-ons available.
We highly recommend pCloud, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, SpiderOak, iCloud, Icedrive, and MEGA. Each offers top-level features and tools that stand them apart from the rest of the market.
|Cloud storage platforms||Lowest-priced plan||Storage capacity||Number of devices||Encryption|
|IDrive (opens in new tab)||$79.50 a year (IDrive Personal)||Up to 10TB (up to 50TB for business plans)||Unlimited||End-to-end|
|Google Drive||$1.99 a month (Google One)||Up to 2TB||Unlimited||Encrypted transfer|
|Nextcloud (opens in new tab)||$42.60 per user a year (Basic)||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited||Fully customizable|
|pCloud||$4.99 a month (Premium)||Up to 2TB||Unspecified||In transit and at rest|
|Box (opens in new tab)||$11.50 a month (Personal Pro)||Up to 100GB (unlimited for business plans)||Unlimited (for business plans)||End-to-end|
|Microsoft OneDrive (opens in new tab)||$1.99 a month (OneDrive Standard)||Up to 6TB||30||AES 256-bit|
|SpiderOak One||$6 a month (150GB Plan)||Up to 5TB||Unlimited||Zero-knowledge|
|iCloud (opens in new tab)||$0.99 a month (50GB plan)||Up to 2TB||10||2FA|
|Icedrive||$1.67 a month (Lite)||Up to 5TB||Unlimited||Zero-knowledge|
|MEGA (opens in new tab)||$5.88 a month (Pro Lite)||Up to 16TB||Unlimited||Zero-knowledge|
The best cloud storage providers available(opens in new tab)
IDrive is the best cloud storage service available for premium users, offering great value for money and highly-secure storage that makes it the best secure cloud storage (opens in new tab) and the best encrypted cloud storage (opens in new tab) too.
Arguably its biggest advantage is that it covers network drives too, meaning everything from servers to mobile devices is covered. Users can share files via email, Facebook and Twitter, and restore up to 30 previous versions of back-ups.
When it comes to cloud storage for backups (opens in new tab), IDrive Express provides a physical hard disk drive in case you lose all of your data, making a backup quick and painless (disk image backup is also covered). The service doesn’t automatically delete cloud files if you delete something on your hardware, so there’s no risk in completely erasing valuable data by accident.
IDrive also ranks first among the best cloud storage for photos (opens in new tab) and the best photo storage apps (opens in new tab), and photo-minded users will be happy to hear there’s a facial recognition feature that automatically organizes and syncs images across all linked devices. For a limited time, you can get 10TB of storage for only $3.98 for the first year (opens in new tab)!
Read our comprehensive IDrive review (opens in new tab).
|Cost per month/year||Free||$5.79* / $79.50***||$8.29* / $99.50||$8.29* / $99.50|
|Number of users||One||One||Five||Unlimited|
|File versioning||✔ (30 versions)||✔ (30 versions)||✔ (30 versions)||✔ (30 versions)|
*All prices are based on the undiscounted rate of the cheapest available annual plan. Monthly plans are only available on Business plans with 1.25TB of storage or more, starting at $49.95 a month.
**Entry-level Team and Business plans shown: plans ascend to 100TB and 100 users / 50TB and 50 users.
***IDrive is currently offering 10TB at a hugely-discounted $3.98 for the first year (opens in new tab).
Get IDrive's RemotePC for $2.98 for the first year (opens in new tab)
IDrive's RemotePC (opens in new tab) remote access service is available for $2.98 a year for the first year (opens in new tab) for up to 10 computers! This exclusive, limited-time deal also includes the company's free enterprise-grade video conferencing solution, RemotePC Meeting.
For personal and professional projects, Google Drive is the natural go-to for Google Workspace and Android users, due to seamless integration and versatility. You can use the office suite to create and store documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more; and store mobile-based high-quality photos via Google Photos (opens in new tab).
While the web interface is somewhat poorly executed and not as user-friendly as elsewhere, native clients allow Windows and Mac users easier file storage through drag-and-drop.
There's a 15GB free storage plan, and you can buy more via Google One. Each subscription can be shared for free with up to five others, but everyone will have to share the same amount of storage. Upgrades add cashback from the Google Store, and while this isn’t always clear online, additional storage is also available through Google Workspace.
Read our full Google Drive review (opens in new tab).
|Cost per month/year||Free||$1.99 / $9.99||$2.99 / $29.99||$9.99 / $99.99|
|Number of users||Six||Six||Six||Six|
|File versioning||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)|
Technically speaking, Nextcloud is not an online cloud storage provider. Rather, it's a self-hosted file sync and content collaboration platform, which provides free software you can install on your own server, and administer cloud storage yourself.
The benefit of a self-hosted product is that you get to keep your data on your servers, offering complete control and faster performance. While this might seem intimidating for 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 setting up, running, and administering your own servers. However, if you already have infrastructure in place, using Nextcloud instead of a commercial cloud storage solution could save you money.
There are three pricing plans as an alternative, which are pre-configured and ready to go. These are billed annually, with no monthly payment plans available. 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, a pre-configured, production-ready version.
Read our detailed Nextcloud review (opens in new tab).
|Cost per year||$42.60 / $33.72||$76.90 / $57.38||$112.99 / $88.14|
|Storage capacity||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited|
|Number of users||100 / 200||100 / 200||100 / 200|
|File versioning||✔ (30-day)||✔ (30-day)||✔ (30-day)|
Hailing from Switzerland, pCloud offers no file size limit, making it ideal for storing large media files, although there are some bandwidth limits. You can also send up to 5GB for free with pCloud Transfer, which covers all desktop and mobile platforms, and also has a web-based login. You can also spend more on a monthly, annual or lifetime basis for pCloud Crypto, which can encrypt individual files.
Its appealing, highly-functional interface store files easily via desktop and mobile apps, as well as pCloud’s website. Its simple file-sharing features also provide the ability to share files with non-pCloud users, while built-in streaming features mean you can simply watch or listen to videos or music within the platform.
It’s worth noting that pricing plans include lifetime subscriptions, a fairly unusual sight when it comes to cloud services. Each comes with unlimited remote upload traffic and 30 days trash history, with the difference being the amount of storage and download link traffic.
Read our comprehensive pCloud review (opens in new tab).
|Cost per month / year / lifetime||Free||$4.99 / $47.88 / $175||$9.99 / $95.88 / $350||$500 / $1,000 (lifetime only)||$9.99 per user / $7.99 per user (no lifetime plan)|
|Storage capacity||10GB||500GB||2TB||2TB/4TB||1TB per user|
|Number of users||One||One||One||Up to five||Unlimited|
|File versioning||✔ (15-day)||✔ (30-day)||✔ (30-day)||✔ (30-day)||✔ (180-day)|
With almost 15 years in the sector, Box is a mainstay in cloud content management and file sharing. Its strong points include broad management abilities and an emphasis on security, while its UI is easy to navigate, making you feel you at home immediately. It's supported by a variety of commonly used app packages, including Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.
One quick look at pricing, and it’s clear Box is prioritizing businesses as its key demographic. However, it offers both individual and business plans, and Box's pricing structure is very simple for the former.
You pay nothing for up to 10GB, with a maximum file size of 250MB, or $10 a month for the Personal Pro plan, with up to 100GB of storage and a maximum file size of 5GB. The Box apps for desktop include the Box Drive client, which can be used on both Windows and Mac, while mobile users can use the official Android client.
|Individual||Personal Pro||Business Starter||Business||Business Plus||Enterprise||Enterprise|
|Cost per month/year||Free||$11.50 / $120||$7 / $60||$20 / $180||$25 / $300||$47 / $420||On enquiry|
|Number of users||One||One||10 (maximum)||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|File versioning||✔ (one version)||✔ (10 versions)||✔ (25 versions)||✔ (50 versions)||✔ (50 versions)||✔ (100 versions)||✔ (unlimited)|
Ever since the switch to Windows 10, OneDrive has been the Microsoft cloud storage (opens in new tab) solution of choice. It's directly integrated into the file explorer, providing immediate access 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 helpful if you're looking to boost productivity. The Photos app can sync images across all your devices, and you can selectively sync files stored on your hard drive. The mobile app offers interesting features, such as multi-page scanning that allows you to save them as a single document, and access anywhere from any device.
The basic paid plan offers 50GB, and it's worth noting that if you're already a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you get 1TB of space off the bat. Its interaction with Microsoft Office apps is OneDrive’s biggest appeal, and its collaborative functions aren't limited to OneDrive users.
OneDrive has plans for home and business use, with four for home: two of these are OneDrive only, while the others incorporate Microsoft 365.
Prices range from the free plan offering 5GB of storage, up to 6TB at $9.99 a month ($99.99 a year) with the Microsoft 365 Family plan, accommodating up to six people (1TB per person). Microsoft 365 plans offer Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Skype. The most expensive plans also come with a one-month free trial.
|OneDrive Basic 5GB||OneDrive Standalone 100GB||Microsoft 365 Personal||Microsoft 365 Family||OneDrive for Business (Plan 1)||OneDrive for Business (Plan 2)||Microsoft 365 Business Basic||Microsoft 365 Business Standard|
|Cost per month/year||Free||$1.99||$6.99 / $69.99||$9.99 / $99.99||$5 (per user) / $60||$10 (per user) / $120||$5 (per user) / $60||$12.50 (per user) / $150|
|Storage capacity||5GB||100GB||1TB||6TB||1TB (per user)||Unlimited||1TB (per user)||1TB (per user)|
|Number of users||One||One||One||Up to six||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited||Potentially unlimited|
|File versioning||✖||✖||✔ (30-days)||✔ (30-days)||✔ (500 versions)||✔ (500 versions)||✔ (500 versions)||✔ (500 versions)|
Zero-knowledge cloud storage pertains to encryption, which, according to SpiderOak, takes place before syncing, so it has no idea what you're storing. You're the only one who knows what's being encrypted and saved, which makes your data utterly private. The source code isn’t public though, so you’ll just have to take SpiderOak’s word for it.
There's a 21-day free trial available, so you can see how the service works and test it before buying, and considering the focus is on security and privacy, it has a simple and straightforward interface, which utilizes a convenient drag-and-drop feature to help with quick and efficient file organization.
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 files. SpiderOak One has four pricing plans, with the cheapest at $6 a month including 150GB of storage and support for unlimited devices.
Read our full SpiderOak review (opens in new tab).
|Cost per month/year||$6 / $69||$11 / $155||$14 / $149||$29 / $320|
|Number of users||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|File versioning||✔ (unlimited)||✔ (unlimited)||✔ (unlimited)||✔ (unlimited)|
Right on the heels of Microsoft, Apple’s own cloud storage delivers a sound service. Even if 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 with iCloud Drive, and also sync iWork documents across all your devices, which are saved to iCloud.
If you’re a Windows user with an 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's 5GB for free is better than other providers, but significantly less than the 15GB available with Google Drive. Additional storage is available too.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any long-term subscriptions, which could be a significant disadvantage for some users.
Read our detailed iCloud review (opens in new tab).
|Cost per month/year||Free||$0.99 / $11.88||$2.99 / $35.88||$9.99 / $119.88|
|Number of users||One||One||One||One|
A relative newcomer to cloud storage, Icedrive provides excellent storage plans for individuals at competitive prices. Utilizing the advanced Twofish encryption algorithm instead of the more widely-used AES encryption, as well as offering zero-knowledge encryption, means that your files are extremely safe when stored.
Across web, mobile, and desktop applications that are both easy-to-use, nice to look at, and user-friendly, Icedrive provides simple cloud storage. However, if you're looking for collaborative tools and features, these are not offered. On the customer support side of things, you only have phone and email access.
On the positive side though, it supports not only real-time file syncing and unlimited versioning, but also provides support for file sharing via emails or links. Its virtual sync drive is especially notable for Windows users, given it integrates seamlessly with the operating system's File Explorer. In turn, you can even preview encrypted files, which is a feature many leading cloud storage platforms don't provide.
Icedrive offers a 10GB free plan and a series of competitively-priced paid packages, starting from $1.67 a month for 150GB. Lifetime licenses are available, starting from $49.99, and all paid plans are backed with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Read our comprehensive Icedrive review (opens in new tab).
|Cost per month/year||Free||$1.67 / $19.99||$4.99 / $49.99 (save 17%)||$17.99|
|Number of users||One||One||One||One|
|File versioning||✔ (unlimited)||✔ (unlimited)||✔ (unlimited)||✔ (unlimited)|
The invention of the infamous Kim Dotcom, MEGA allows you to upload files via an encrypted connection, and maintain control over your encryption key. That effectively prevents others, including MEGA, from scanning your content. In addition, its sync client is open-source and open to vulnerability checks.
A 50GB free plan is a real rarity in cloud storage, so MEGA delivers right from the start. Add in an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface, and you have one of the best cloud storage solutions. A mobile app allows uploading of files and photos, while desktop users have sync clients at their disposal.
For those seeking a paid option, there are four tiers ranging from Pro Lite to Pro III: the only main difference being storage and transfer amounts (all four maintain the same additional features). There's also a Business plan with 15TB of storage, unlimited data transfer, and other features.
Read our full MEGA review (opens in new tab).
|Free||Pro Lite||Pro I||Pro II||Pro III||Business|
|Cost per month/year||Free||$5.88 / $58.93||$11.78 / $117.88||$23.56 / $235.77||$35.35 / $353.66||$5.89 per user|
|Number of users||One||One||One||One||One||Three (minimum)|
Cloud storage FAQs
If you want to find out more about cloud storage, no question is too basic that we wouldn’t cover it in our frequently-asked questions below. Forewarned is forearmed, and knowing as much as you can about cloud storage before you take the plunge will ensure you get the right provider for your storage needs.
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage stores data on a physical drive, and makes it accessible to users whenever and wherever they want to view it via an online software platform. It comes in three main forms: self-hosted, storage as a service (StaaS), and hybrid cloud storage, with cloud sync technology utilized by leading services.
Self-hosted cloud storage uses on-premises (on-prem) infrastructure, without any external file storage. Your business hosts the servers on site, and you manage the service.
StaaS uses externally-managed infrastructure in data centers, allowing for economy of scale and large, affordable storage levels. These services are often known as storage and syncing platforms.
Finally, hybrid cloud storage (opens in new tab) combines both on-prem infrastructure and cloud networking, utilizing the strengths of both for extra security.
Cloud sync technology allows users to seamlessly upload, access, edit, and share data from any connected device, via file versioning, link sharing, tracked document changes, and edit incorporations. Many StaaS products provide these features in a cohesive, integrated digital environment, and as a result often rank among the best apps to share files (opens in new tab).
How secure is cloud storage?
Two highly-desirable features to look for are end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture: respectively meaning providers are essentially hack-proof, and that not even staff can access your data, even if law enforcement compels them to.
It's also worth looking for in-transit and at-rest encryption if end-to-end isn't offered: data is totally indecipherable even should a cybercriminal intercept it. StaaS organizations utilize highly-secure data centers, protected by 24/7 security, biometric entry authorization, and frequent auditing.
Make sure to look out for extra features like 2FA: while it's only natural to have concerns about data security, the best cloud storage services' strong features and security tools are cutting-edge.
Benefits of the best cloud storage
Cloud storage is not only easy to use, but also very accessible to users of all experience levels. Most services employ simple drag-and-drop interfaces, while cross-platform synchronization and compatibility mean that uploading a file from your phone will mean it can be easily accessed via desktop.
Compared to many verticals, cloud storage puts an emphasis on encryption and security for its users. From end-to-end through to zero-knowledge encryption, leading providers protect your data from upload to storage and back to download, with highly-secure data centers keeping it safe.
With pricing so low on average for cloud storage of all types, it’s a highly convenient and cost-efficient way to back up important data for individuals and businesses. File-sharing is often included too, so you can share data with others as part of your plan.
Automation and scalability mean that not only can your backups be handled for you by a provider’s desktop or mobile apps, but also that if you require more storage, it’s very easy to upgrade and get more capacity for those important files, photos, and more.
How to choose and use cloud storage
Watch our video to learn everything you need to know about choosing, and then using, cloud storage
How to choose the best cloud storage for business
When looking for the best cloud storage for business (opens in new tab), there are key differences to personal cloud storage. Stable, highly secure cloud storage for business (opens in new tab) must be able to protect sensitive and important company data. As a result, look for services offering end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture.
Most business cloud storage providers are StaaS services, providing collaborative functionality and seamless digital workflows to facilitate and increase collaboration and productivity. These elements are particularly important to businesses with a blend of remote and office workers in a hybrid workspace.
Cloud sync technology allows for document edits to be immediately visible across all connected devices, and to all users given access. Business cloud storage providers also usually provide important administrative tools for access management and system usage auditing, such as roles-based permissions and 2FA.
What you need to know about free cloud storage
Because of the constantly changing market in cloud storage (opens in new tab), many services offer free plans for users seeking basic storage, or with little to no budget. While these offer lower maximum storage capacities and fewer features, they're often ideal for the average person's needs, such as backing up documents or photos.
Even a small amount of storage makes a huge difference to the majority of users, who can securely save copies of important files for quick and easy access. If you require more space, it's simple to upgrade to premium plans offered by many free providers.
Another benefit of the best free cloud storage (opens in new tab) is the ability to utilize it for collaboration on small projects, which is ideal for freelancers, for example. However, take into account that while free plans are ideal for some, their limitations can be an issue.
How we review the best cloud storage platforms
When we review cloud storage providers, we test upload and download times for files, as these speeds are integral to performance and usage. We also look at how each provider's security stacks up, how responsive their customer service teams are when there's a problem, at pricing, and at any additional features offered. Our comprehensive reviews also make a point of comparing each cloud storage service to competitors, across key features and pricing, so you can benefit from as much information as possible before you make your choice.
Next steps when choosing cloud storage
If you're set on purchasing cloud storage, but have little budget to do so, learn about reducing cloud storage costs (opens in new tab) and what you need to know. If you're interested in Microsoft's cloud storage products, you'll want to learn what OneDrive is (opens in new tab).
We've also undertaken interviews with IDrive's CEO Raghu Kulkarni (opens in new tab) and pCloud's Digital Marketing Manager Ivan Dimitrov (opens in new tab). If cloud computing interests you beyond storage, look into the best cloud computing services (opens in new tab), the best cloud management software (opens in new tab), and the best cloud HCM software (opens in new tab).