If you’re not storing your data in the cloud, you’re missing out! Today, we’ve shortlisted the 5 best cloud storage providers that are truly user-friendly, secure and affordable. Read our detailed comparison below!
Looking to store your files and photos in the cloud?
After months of testing, our top pick is pCloud thanks to its outstanding versatility and one-time payment plan (perfect if you’re sick of paying for subscriptions!)
However, cloud storage comes in many different forms, so we’ve included 4 other superb products that really wow-ed us.
As file sizes keep growing bigger, switching to cloud storage just makes sense.
By storing your data on remote servers, cloud storage lets you free up valuable space on your laptops and mobile devices. Most importantly – cloud storage can help protect you against harddrive failure, and let you access and share files from anywhere in the world.
Thing is – when choosing a cloud storage provider, many people jump straight to names like Google Drive and Dropbox without realizing there are far better alternatives out there.
Here are the best 5 on the market – all scrutinized and tested by our review team.
“An outstanding cloud storage all-rounder with an excellent lifetime plan.”
After our tests and comparisons, we’re happy to give pCloud the crown as THE #1 best cloud storage provider.
Based in Switzerland, pCloud has been around since 2013. They’ve come a long way since!
If you’re looking for a complete cloud storage solution for the long-term – pCloud is, hands down, our favorite.
For one – it’s so damn versatile. This all-rounder covers every feature you could need from a cloud storage service – whether that’s online backup, file syncing, or a virtual drive to help you free up storage space on your computer. They also do it extremely well (check out our full pCloud review for the details).
Yet not only is it a high-quality product – pCloud can also sort you out for life. They offer the option of ‘lifetime’ plans, where you can pay a single fee to unlock lifetime access to your plan, as well as any future improvements. No more monthly fees!
For context – lifetime memberships are pretty rare in the industry. Most providers follow a subscription model where users pay ‘rent’ for as long as they use it. Those costs can really add up over time, so it’s obvious why many people prefer making a one-time investment.
As cloud computing continues to explode in popularity (especially post-pandemic) we’re expecting to see more people and businesses turn to cloud storage. If you’re planning to be a long-term cloud user, a lifetime plan can help save you big bucks.
Given pCloud’s solid features and security, it’s a product we’d be happy to commit to. We’ve written more on their lifetime plan here.
There’s not much we dislike about pCloud, but be aware that some features cost extra. Their client-side file encryption, via pCloud Crypto, will cost you an additional $49.99 a year (or a lifetime payment of $150).
In addition, file versioning only goes up to 30 days. It’s the industry standard, but some brands like Sync do offer 180-days. You can increase pCloud’s period to 365 days for an extra fee, if you need it.
pCloud’s free plan is impressive – unlocking a 10GB storage to start with.
However, their best features come out in their Premium and Premium Plus plans – each offering different storage and download traffic space at a very fair rate. It comes up to about $4.99 (500GB) or $8.33 (2TB) per month, which is very fair!
You can also get the same benefits on a permanent basis for a one-time payment of $200 and $400 respectively.
By our calculations, you’ll save $149.95 in 5 years if you pay for the Premium Plus 2TB lifetime plan. Read our in-depth pCloud review to learn more!
“Sync provides rock-solid security and zero-knowledge privacy to ensure your files are safe as can be.”
Formed in 2011, Sync’s founders wanted to create a storage solution that had privacy protection built-in. This unique approach has served 1.8 million individuals and businesses so far!
Sync’s greatest feature is its obsession with security.
All files uploaded in Sync, on any of its paid plans, are protected with end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption and zero-knowledge privacy. Files are encrypted at source and only YOU hold the data key, which helps keep you safe from rogue employees and data breaches.
Other ways Sync keeps your data safe include:
In a nutshell – Sync makes it easy to keep your files safe, confidential and out of the wrong hands.
Whilst we love Sync’s emphasis on security and privacy, it can sometimes slow things down. Literally. For example, their high-level encryption can make it slow to upload and download large files.
Oh – and Linux users will need to look elsewhere.
Sign up for an instant 5GB of free storage, or opt for one of their paid business or personal plans. They have varying levels of storage space and users per account, all of which are well priced.
Read our detailed Sync.com review for more info.
“Online backup that’s refreshingly straightforward, secure and affordable.”
Established in 2007, Backblaze has a very clear specialty – online backup. Impressively, they’ve stored over an exabyte (a billion GB) of data storage so far!
They’re a popular choice for both business and personal use, and were nominated #1 cloud backup service by About.com.
Simple – Backblaze offers unlimited backup for cheap!
For a flat rate of $7 a month, you get unlimited storage space that can be used to backup one computer.
Backblaze will automatically back up all your files including documents, photos, music, movies, and more. It’s insanely good value, especially since they will also backup any external hard drives that are plugged into your computer.
But not only is their backup unlimited, it’s ‘astonishingly easy’ (true to their tagline) .
Everything about their service is simplified and streamlined. From their refreshingly simple price structure, to their clean user-interface that contains all the bare basics you need. When you want to restore your files in future – the process is also foolproof!
In a nutshell, Backblaze’s no-frills approach and low price is ideal for anyone looking for a no-fuss way to keep their files safe.
Whilst $7 is very affordable, bear in mind it’s on a per-computer basis. If you’re using multiple computers, that fee multiplies too.
Also, mobile applications can access the backup files remotely but cannot be used for syncing. That means you can’t back up your mobile data.
Lastly, file versioning is again limited to 30 days. However you can extend this easily to a year for a fee.
Their pricing plan is as straightforward as it gets. For $7 you’ll get unlimited backup per computer!
See our full Backblaze review and find out more!
“An up-and-coming cloud storage provider that’s secure, modern and offers unique features.”
Icedrive is a very strong new contender in the cloud storage field, aimed at both individuals and businesses.
It’s still an unpolished diamond – missing some functions from other providers on our list, but also boasting some unique features. Most excitingly, they’re evolving quickly and we’ve already seen them improve in leaps and bounds.
Aside from their impressive 10GB free plan – Icedrive stands out to us for its revolutionary desktop software.
Basically, they let you access and manage your cloud storage space as if it were a physical hard disk or USB stick you’ve plugged in.
They’ve replicated what they call a ‘native OS feel’, to mimic the user experience of editing, uploading, deleting and opening files that are offline. Thanks to their smart caching system, it doesn’t gobble up bandwidth or time syncing.
This is awesome because you can access your online files from your computer without syncing them first. Just install the app and your files are at your fingertips. Just note that this virtual drive feature is only available for Windows… for now.
Whilst Icedrive continues to impress us with its constant evolution, it’s still not quite as fully-fleshed out as some cloud providers like pCloud that have been in the game for longer.
There are still some features missing. For example, there’s no option to choose selective sync or block-level sync, and their virtual drive feature can’t be enjoyed by Mac users. However, we won’t be surprised to see that fixed in future.
We think the Pro Icedrive plan is perfect for homeusers and small businesses, as it comes with 1TB of monthly storage for a modest $4.17.
We were also happy to see they also offer a lifetime plan!
Read our full Icedrive review and find out more!
“Cloud storage with strengths more in productivity & collaboration than security.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably already heard of Dropbox. It’s one of the most well-known cloud storage brands out there.
Whilst we can’t help but wish it was cheaper, we’ve included Dropbox on our list thanks to its top-notch collaborative features and usability!
Dropbox is a fantastic option for anyone wanting to use the cloud alongside collaborative or productivity features. It’s got a ton of features that are perfect for sharing and syncing. Seriously – A TON. It’s no wonder that Dropbox is popular with teams.
For one – file sharing with Dropbox is as simple as it gets. You’ll also get real-time updates that can help you track file edits made by others, and these changes are automatically synced for all team members.
Plus, it’s very easy to keep shared folders organized and you can set granular file permissions to make sure that only the right people have access.
Dropbox also integrates Office Online, which lets you do things like create Word or Excel files directly in your Dropbox folders. They’ve also got a native note-taking app (Dropbox Paper) and an app called Showcase that lets you share your files on a professional-looking page! The list goes on…
Dropbox isn’t cheap. Their free plan limits you to a measly 2GB, but the next size jumps up to 2TB, and will cost you $9.99 a month. We wish there was some sort of middle ground. You’ll also need to pay more if you want to extend the file versioning past 30 days.
Slightly more worrying however is that Dropbox has a rocky history with security. Whilst it uses strong encryption for both files at rest and in transit, it isn’t zero-knowledge. Your metadata stays in plain text on a separate server.
Dropbox ran into scandal after a security breach of 68 million stolen passwords in 2012. Dropbox has since improved its security, though we’d still say it’s better suited for users not storing sensitive information.
You have an option to pay either monthly or yearly installments. Here’s what the monthly fee looks like if you pay in an annual lump sum.
If you prefer to pay on a month-by-month basis, the price increases slightly to $11.99 a month for 2TB.
Visit Dropbox official website to learn more.
There are two main reasons why people use cloud storage.
The first and primary use is to store things online like a data vault. You need a secure place where you can store your valuable information that you may or may not access everyday, and protect yourself from data loss.
The second and more social function of cloud storage is to provide easy access to your files from any device or other people who may need access to these files – whether for fun or to synchronize working projects. This is particularly helpful for businesses and teams.
To hit these needs, ‘cloud storage’ providers often come in many different shapes and sizes. Some brands focus on back-up, whilst others are more about syncing.
Backup and syncing can get confusing, so here’s a simplified take on it:
|Online backup||File syncing|
|How they work||True online backup services can
back up ALL your computer’s files in
bulk, not just those in a synced
|Focuses on managing and syncing
select files. You choose which
folders/media you want ready
access to via the cloud.
|Higher priority||Specialize in backing up your
precious files. They focus on
security and privacy to give you
peace of mind.
|Focus on making it easy to share
files and collaborate in real time.
|Lower priority||Quick syncing and immediate
access is less important.
|Don’t always have features to
|Example||Most top cloud storage brands have
back-up features, but Sync and
BackBlaze specialize in it.
|Dropbox lets you keep folders
synced for all users and accessible
Lastly – many of our favorite cloud storage services are all-rounders.
Brands like pCloud offer a well-balanced combination of backup and syncing functionality – plus handy extra features like virtual drives. They can also offer special features like media-streaming and productivity apps.
Looking for a mix of cloud storage and external drives?
Many users are turning to Networked Attached Storage (NAS) devices to store their files securely. Here’s our round up of the Best NAS for home users!
Many of us get our first taste of cloud storage for free – often through Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud. However, free cloud storage usually comes with important limitations that shouldn’t be overlooked.
As these providers know very well – having 5GB or 15GB of space isn’t realistic for most everyday users. This is soon eaten up, and you’ll then need to either start deleting files to make room for new ones, or pay to unlock the next tier of storage.
Opting for paid cloud storage is when you can really start enjoying the possibilities of the cloud. Not only will you have a lot more storage space to work and play with (usually in the TBs), but you’ll often get nifty features and higher security standards.
Having said that – there are 2 cloud providers on this list that offer a very generous free plan of 10GB. Both pCloud and Icedrive are fantastic products, and it’s a great idea to sign up for their free plans to test them out before you commit your coin.
When choosing a cloud storage provider for yourself, look out for considerations such as:
We kept all of this in mind when choosing what cloud storage providers to feature in this list. And of course, we made sure to test them all first-hand!
We signed up for an account and used the services to assess their pros and cons. By assessing their performance against price and features, we were able to draw conclusions on which are the best value for money.
Finally, if none of the above 5 are taking your fancy – here are a couple of other highly-rated storage providers that we’ve used in the past, and are worth checking out:
Before we go, let’s recap our top cloud storage providers for most users:
|Cloud storage plan||Premium||Free||Personal Backup||Lite||Plus|
|No. of computer supported||5||1||1||1||1|
|Support external HDD||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|See all features|
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for an all-round solution that works across all platforms with all the necessary tools to backup, sync and share files conveniently, look no further than pCloud.
If, however, you don’t mind sacrificing some benefits for higher security, especially if you are dealing with data-sensitive or confidential projects, then Sync.com may be what you need.
For simple backing up of computers at a competitive rate, look no further than Backblaze.