Cloud storage has become an integral part of our modern, mobile lives. Services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box all vie to hold our vital data on their servers, but which one is the best for you? We review the best cloud storage services and explain what they have to offer.
How to choose a cloud storage service
It’s really quite surprising how much free cloud storage you can get these days. Signing up to free services from Google, Mega, Microsoft and a host of others will give you many gigabytes of space where you can store your photo library, important documents, or music.
To help you choose between the myriad providers, we’ve hand picked what we consider to be the best cloud storage services and put them through their paces to see which ones are worthy of your treasured data. Some focus on high security, others on cross platform availability, but it’s safe to say that most of them are an excellent choice if you want to bolster you ailing hard drive or simply backup some files to an easily accessible folder in the cloud.
Choosing which service to use will depend on several factors – the variety of devices you use, the amount of space you need, and the level of security your data requires. As well as covering the most popular services to see just how much you can get for nothing, we also explain the extras some services offer which make it worth paying a small fee per month or year to keep you files online.
Dropbox is one of the only online storage solutions to offer clients for Linux and Blackberry, alongside the usual Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS standards. Plus, an official Windows Phone app was released in January 2015. This goes a long way to ensuring that your data can be with you, no matter what flavour of technology you want to use.
The basic, free account comes with a rather small – in comparison to rival services – 2GB of storage. For documents this is still huge, but if you want to store any kind of media – photos, music, or video – it will disappear very fast. You can upgrade to the 1TB plan for around £7.99 per month, but Dropbox also offers 500MB of additional free storage for each friend you get to sign up to the service – with a limit of 16GB.
Security features include two-step authentication (always worth turning on) and all files held on the Dropbox servers are encrypted by AES 256-bit encryption, albeit employed from Dropbox’s side rather than the user, with SSL for the data being uploaded and downloaded.
Free Storage Space: 15 GB
Premium Plans & Pricing: 15 GB Free, 100 GB for $1.99, 1 TB for $9.99, goes up to 30 TB for $299.99 (monthly prices)
Google Drive is a viable option to store your files and documents online for free. While Google Drive does provide a 15 GB free storage, which is seven times the amount of space offered on DropBox, that shouldn’t delude you. Google Drive’s 15 GB of free space includes all your Google services, including Google+, Gmail and any other Google service in use. While this alone shouldn’t stop you from shifting some of your files and documents to Google Drive.
A desktop client is also available for Mac and Windows systems to allow drag-and-drop support for syncing your files over the cloud storage. Google Drive also makes web editing possible through a host of its other tools like Google Docs. A mobile app for iOS and Android is also available to access your files on the move.
Free Storage Space: 10 GB
Premium Plans & Pricing: $6/mo for 100 GB with 2 GB file size limit and $17/mo for Unlimited storage with 5 GB file size limit.
With free add-ons for different versions of Microsoft Office, Box.com lets you save, edit and share your files without having to leave the program itself. Android, iOS and Windows applications make accessing Box.com even simpler on different mobile devices. Its easy sync feature makes accessing your files on different systems a piece of cake.
The only major drawback to using this service is the 250 MB file size limit on individual uploads. The managing and sharing features of Box.com have compelled this service to go mainstream and challenge for a spot among the leading cloud storage services.
Free Storage Space: 20 GB
Premium Plans & Pricing: Starting from $4.99/mo for 250 GB to 1 TB
Copy.com has been developed by the well-renowned spam-filtering and security service provider Barracuda. This Dropbox alternative offers 15 GB free space with no limits on individual file sizes. You can also increase your free storage space to 20 GB with the downloading of the native desktop client. If you do manage to get a few more of your friends on board through their referral system, you can increase your free storage space a further bit more.
Along with the services’ desktop client, iOS and Android apps, you can easily sync your files and folders with drag-and-drop support and access them anywhere, any time on the device of your choice.
Free Storage Space: 20 GB
Premium Plans & Pricing: $1.99/mo for 100 GB, $3.99 for 200 GB and $6.99/mo for 1 TB.
Formerly known as Sky Drive, One Drive is Microsoft’s own cloud storage service which offers up to 7 GB of free storage space on their network. Upon attaching a Microsoft Office 365 Home or Professional subscription to it, the free storage space is extended to 20 GB. The integration of One Drive with Office online makes editing of Microsoft Office files easy. The service includes apps for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows Phone, making the accessing and managing of files and documents easier on the network.
The only issue that many users have claimed to face with this network is due the fact that it is harder to share your files through its built-in sharing options.
Free Storage Space: Up to 19 GB
Providing a standalone virtual desktop within the cloud, CloudMe provides up to 19 GB of free storage space for its users. The cloud storage service has a restriction of 150 MB in individual file space. Your personal files will never be confused with other files and folders as you can easily sync specific files to specific devices.
The service is available for all major operating systems and devices.
Free Storage Space: 5 GB
Premium Plans & Pricing: $99.99/yr for 250 GB, $550/yr for 1000 GB
Sugar Sync is one of the highly secured Dropbox alternative. SugarSync provides an easy way to sync your files to specific folders and devices. The file version feature makes it easy to view and take backups of specific files and folders on your computer. Streaming of media to your devices is also supported. An interface with better functionality as compared to DropBox makes this service a worthwhile one for the advanced cloud users.
While you begin out with a 5 GB free storage space, each referral earns you further 500 MB of storage space on this network.
8.AMAZON’S CLOUD DRIVE
Free Storage Space: 5 GB
Premium Plans & Pricing: $10/yr for 20 GB, $25/yr for 50 GB and goes up to $500/yr for 1000 GB.
Amazon’s own cloud storage service offers 5 GB of free storage to get started with. You can also upload your files to their network through mobile and desktop apps. When your phone is synced with their network, you can have your photos stored to the Cloud Drive, which will retain your images even when deleted from the phone. An automatic backup feature makes sure that files and photos on your phone are always safeguarded from any unforeseen loss of data.
A single maximum file size limit of 2 GB is implied on the free service, the content could not be made public and the network supports syncing between a maximum of 8 devices.
Free Storage Space: 2 GB
TeamDrive is an awesome cloud-based collaboration tool developed in Germany. Sync data between different systems with ease using this cloud storage service. The high level of encryption on this network makes it harder for people to view them without access rights to the files. This makes Team Drive one of the most popular option for cloud storage and collaboration by many small business and Fortune 500 companies alike.
The most comprehensive and secured cloud storage service is what Team Drive is all about.
Free Storage Space: 5 GB
Premium Plans & Pricing: €2.99/mo for 20 GB, €5.99 for 50 GB and €9.99 for 100 GB.
Another cloud storage service that insists on a better secured cloud storage is Wuala. This service puts a much greater emphasis on security by encrypting your files while being uploaded to their servers. This encryption makes it necessary for people to access your files through Wuala itself, and hence it is not easier to break the encryption protocols. The company states that the users’ passwords and other data is safeguarded from even Wuala’s employees.
Its highly adaptable file versions and backing up system makes sure that this network has your back in the event of an accidental file getting deleted.