Finding the best cloud storage provider isn’t always easy. The market has developed and evolved so much of late that there are now a plethora of different options available. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered whether you are a complete newbie or a seasoned techie.
In the following guide, we go back to basics by explaining what cloud storage is (and what it isn't), as well as which service providers are the best - and most importantly why.
We have tested and reviewed more cloud storage services than anyone else online. More than 50 services, including personal cloud storage and enterprise-grade secure cloud storage. Each platform has been analyzed carefully so we can tell you which cloud storage service is the closest to perfection.
Below, we cover a variety of different criteria, such as capacity, price, file size, security, ease of use and more. If you’re still wondering how to choose the right cloud storage partner, you could do a lot worse than considering the safety and privacy of your files and folders. Fortunately, our experts have worked on a list that represents our top picks for the best cloud storage services, putting those considerations at the forefront.
Make sure you read the fine print carefully when assessing the pricing plans of any cloud solution as some offers are only valid for new customers. In addition, keep in mind that - as is the case with all service providers - we urge you to adopt the 1-2-3 backup strategy. Keep reading for our in-depth assessment of each cloud storage service below and much more.
Our best cloud storage deals, right now
1. IDrive is out top cloud storage provider
IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay, across a wide range of platforms. 10TB of storage for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
2. pCloud provides a lifetime cloud storage subscription
pCloud is more expensive than the competition, but the one-off payment means that you won't have to worry about renewal fees that can be horrendously expensive. $350 for 10 years service is less than $3 per month.
We tested these cloud storage services providers to see how they performed on security, capacity, file size limits, value-for-money, user friendliness, platform compatibility, features but also customer support as well as feedback from third parties.
Which is the best cloud storage service?
If you're searching for the best cloud storage service, overall - then look no further than IDrive. It boasts an easy setup process, unlimited devices per account, and the option of a free 5GB plan with the paid version costing only $3.98 for 10TB for the first year. Another major plus point is its excellent mobile app. With so much modern work taking place in a remote or hybrid environment, any cloud storage platform needs to allow users to manage their files wherever they are - even when away from their desks. Its speed and security also give other services a run for their money.
pCloud is another service vying for the title of being the best cloud storage provider around. The price point is also very appealing, as is the fact that you can open a family account to share your storage space. What's more, the free account is seriously impressive, offering 10GB of storage, pus the same feature set that accompanies the paid offerings. Ultimately, both IDrive and pCloud represent great cloud storage offerings.
Best cloud storage services 2022
IDrive nabs the first place in our best cloud storage leaderboard by offering tons of online storage with plenty of security features and a price tag that's hard to beat.
The web interface supports sharing files by email, Facebook, and Twitter. Cautious or click-happy users will be pleased to hear that files deleted from your computer are not automatically deleted from the server, so there's less danger of removing something important by accident.
Up to 30 previous versions of all files backed to your account are retained. Another thing to note is that IT admins have access to the IDrive Thin Client application, which allows them to backup/restore, manage settings, and more for all their connected computers via a centralized dashboard.
For mobile, IDrive offers a backup app available for iOS and Android devices, that offers cross-platform backup and recovery. IDrive also offers IDrive Express which sends you a physical hard disk drive if you lose all your data, allowing for the swift restoration of all your backed up files.
IDrive Business offers priority support, single sign-on, as well as unlimited users, and server backup. While IDrive Personal offers up to 10TB per user, the IDrive for business delivers up to 50TB of online storage.
- Read our full IDrive cloud storage review and find out why it is the best cloud storage provider.
IDrive 10TB cloud storage -
$95.99 $3.98 for 1-year
IDrive, the secure cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 10TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched, and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
Challenging for the title of best cloud storage services is this newcomer from Switzerland. pCloud is one of the very few cloud services that offer lifetime subscriptions; you essentially get a virtual, permanent cloud drive. It describes itself as a "personal cloud space where you can store all your files and folders [with] a user-friendly interface that clearly shows where everything is located and what it does."
pCloud comes with a 30-day trash history and unlimited remote upload traffic (you only need the URL of the file); you are - as expected - limited on the download link traffic: 500GB for the Premium package and 2TB for the Premium Plus package every month.
While some bandwidth limits apply, there seems to be no limit to the size of files you can upload, so feel free to sync large media files. The service is available for all desktop and mobile platforms – users can also log in via the website.
pCloud now allows its users to choose where they want their data to be stored, either in the EU or US. The company itself is registered in Switzerland which has strong privacy laws, and you can also pay a premium of $4.99 a month for pCloud Crypto to lock (and unlock) individual files with passwords.
There's also a family option that allows you to share your space with up to four other family members and a superior option - pCloud Business - that offers 1TB per user with pCloud Crypto included.
- Read our full pCloud Cloud Storage review
pCloud 2TB lifetime cloud storage - $350
At face value, you might think pCloud's offering is a little on the expensive side. However, a one-off payment will be cheaper in the long run plus, you can rest easy in the knowledge your data is secured by strong encryption and extensive redundancies.
Despite some stiff completion in the cloud storage space, Sync more than holds its own. One of its biggest strengths is in terms of security, with end-to-end encryption offered across all plans. And, as the name would suggest, syncing files across different devices and users is straightforward - you always have total control over the files that you share with others. Password protection and expiry dates for any links you send help to bolster this control.
Sync also supports versioning, so if you want to roll back a particular file to an earlier version, this can be achieved easily. Impressively, these older versions don't count towards your storage limit. What's more, Sync does have an accompanying mobile app, with automatic video and photo uploading, which means it's ideal if you simply want to make sure the pics on your smartphone are kept safe.
While Sync may not have as wide a range of features as some of the other cloud storage services reviewed here - in many ways, that is one of its strengths. Sync focuses on its core offering. It may not be as polished as other cloud platforms, but what it does, it does well.
- Sync cloud storage: Read the full review here
Solo professionals can access Sync cloud storage for just $24 a month (dropping to $20 when billed annually). Teams, meanwhile, can access unlimited storage for $18 per user, per month (or just $15 if billed annually) - only with this exclusive deal.
Backblaze is a cloud storage giant, an industry veteran that caters for personal and large-scale business backup needs. The keyword is "backup" here, because there are no file syncing or fancy collaboration features here – as the name suggests, Backblaze backs things up, and that’s it.
It is the only one in this list that offers true unlimited cloud storage, no strings attached. The subscription price for personal backups – which can be paid monthly, yearly, or on a two-year deal – is good value ($60 for a year), particularly considering that you’re getting unrestricted storage.
Not only is ExpressVPN our #1 favorite service out there for protecting your privacy online, reinforcing your anonymity, and letting you geo-spoof your location, you also get 15 months for the price of 12 - and now that free year of Backblaze, too!
But if all you need is a backup system, then Backblaze is a seriously tempting proposition on a number of fronts. For starters, Backblaze makes the whole process of keeping your files backed up and safe extremely easy; trivial, even.
Simply install the app, and it continuously backs up all important data (basically grabbing everything that isn’t a system file or similar), with no need for any intervention from the user. You can forget it’s installed and simply not worry about your files.
The caveat is that one account only covers one computer, so while there are no data allowance worries, you’ll have to pay for a fresh account for each PC you want backed up.
Backup speeds are fast, your data is encrypted for security, and you have the option – for a fee – of having a physical hard drive or flash drive sent over in the event that a restoration process is required.
Whether or not you go for Backblaze will depend on your exact needs when it comes to secure cloud storage, but those who just need a pure backup system, with no extra features or trimmings, will find it a great service for sure – and an impressive value proposition given the unlimited data support. Also of note is a 15-day free trial (no credit card details required) to try before you buy.
- Backblaze: Read our full review here
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BackBlaze is the only unlimited cloud storage service we recommend, offering unlimited bandwidth and file size. Sign up for the #1 rated VPN provider - ExpressVPN - for $6.67 per month and get your first year of BackBlaze completely free, a freebie worth $72.
IceDrive may only have been in the cloud storage business for a couple of years, but the firm offers a compelling solution and one that’s rather different to the traditional cloud locker.
The key difference is that IceDrive’s online storage can be presented as a standard drive on your (Windows) system, just like your hard drive, with the idea being that it makes this storage easier and more intuitive to use. It’s just the same as accessing a local drive, and you can use functions like opening or editing files with close to the same speed you’d get with a local operation – as we observed in our review, there’s almost no slowdown evident.
That’s a Windows-only feature, although there is a nifty app for other platforms – Windows, Mac or Linux, and a web app for that matter – with a streamlined and well-thought-out interface.
Security is also a strong suit here, with IceDrive employing super-safe twofish encryption on its servers, with the data leaving your machine encrypted client-side as well, to keep things even safer. The major weak point with IceDrive is the lack of any of the collaboration features and tricks you can pull off with the likes of OneDrive, for example.
IceDrive subscription plans are nicely priced, and you can get the Lite tier which offers 150GB of storage for as little as $20 for a year ($1.67 per month). A Pro+ plan with 5TB capacity comes out at $15 per month, and lifetime plan options could work out as superb value, running from $99 to $599.
- IceDrive: Read the full review here
IceDrive 1TB lifetime cloud storage - $149
One of the top options from IceDrive is the lifetime Pro deal, which gets you 1TB of storage – and 2TB of monthly bandwidth – on a permanent basis. Normally, it runs to $224, but you can pick up this plan for $149 now, which is a third off. If you prefer an annual Pro subscription, it’ll set you back $4.17 per month (meaning that in three years, you’ll pay the same as the lifetime cost).
NordLocker might sound familiar, mainly because it’s from the makers of NordVPN, one of our best VPN services. It’s a relatively simple but effective service which gives you a cloud storage locker, or alternatively can be used to create a local file vault on your device for secure storage, protecting your data with encryption in both cases.
To use on your own machine locally, NordLocker is free, and with that free version you also get a small amount of online storage – 3GB to be precise. If you want a workable amount of secure cloud storage, however, you’ll need to pay for a subscription, with two available plans that provide 500GB and 2TB of space, respectively. That comes at a reasonable $3.99 per month on the annual subscription or $9.99 per month for the latter.
NordLocker allows you to sync all those files in the cloud between all your devices, and using the app is an absolute breeze – just drag-and-drop your files in, and they’re automatically encrypted and uploaded. File sharing with others can be achieved, but they must also have signed up for a NordLocker account and be using the app.
As you might expect, security is super-tight, with NordLocker using Argon2, AES256, and ECC encryption protocols, with a ‘zero knowledge’ policy in place, meaning that your files can only be decrypted by yourself (and not the company, even if it wanted to).
NordLocker may not deliver enough in the way of features for experts or more demanding users, but it’s a solid basic service, highly user-friendly, and if that’s what you need, it’s a robust value proposition.
- NordLocker: Read the full review here
NordLocker Premium 2TB cloud storage - $9.99 per month
NordLocker only has one paid plan, which gives you 2TB of online storage. The good news is that it’s currently being offered at 50% off for the first year, so instead of forking out $19.99, you’ll pay $9.99 per month. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the service initially.
Like Google Drive's appeal to Google users, OneDrive will be a good fit for anyone who is committed to using Microsoft's services, offering neat integration with Outlook.com, the company's popular email platform, for instance.
OneDrive also ties in nicely with Windows 10 and Windows 11 and there is a selection of reasonable mobile apps to facilitate access on the move. It's also integrated with non-Microsoft services like design behemoth AutoCAD.
It's possible to share files with other people even if they aren't OneDrive users (complete with customizable permissions), and the ability to edit files online without downloading them is a welcome touch.
Coming from Microsoft – a company with plenty of money to throw at the cloud – it's a little disappointing to find that OneDrive doesn’t include more space free of charge. Free users get a mere 5GB of storage, although it's relatively inexpensive to increase this to 100GB.
If you have Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) either through your work, educational institution, or private purchase, you'll automatically get 1TB of space per user for free with an option to boost it up. Just bear in mind that this is secure cloud storage at its simplest with barely any advanced features here.
The Pro version has a dark mode and tighter integration with Microsoft Teams. Note that Microsoft upped the upload file size limit on OneDrive from 100GB to 250GB.
- Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage: Read the full review here
Microsoft 365 Family | $99.99 for 1-year
This is the best value for money offer from Microsoft. 365 Family costs only $99.99 per year and provides you with 6TB of secure cloud storage in all, spread across six separate users. Other than the apps included (Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, OneNote and PowerPoint), you get AI-powered creative tools and 60 minutes of Skype calling per month.
Google Drive is a natural choice for owners of Android devices as it's already integrated, but users of other platforms may appreciate the generous free storage too.
You can also store unlimited high-definition photos on your mobile phone with the companion app Google Photos, and make use of Google's own office suite (Workspace). Also, individuals upgrading to paid Google Drive plans will join Google One.
The array of features delivered by Google Drive via One - which ties into Google's Cloud platform - is bewildering and evolves continuously. At the time of writing, Google engineers were rolling out the ability to request approvals for Drive items and lock approved versions.
The 2TB tier - which offers 10% back in Google Store credits - allows the main account holder to invite up to five other additional members and costs $99.99 per year.
Downsides include the fact that the web interface isn't very easy-to-use, although Windows and Mac users can download a desktop app to drag-and-drop files easily. Drive also integrates Google's powerful AI and search technology, probably one of the best in the world.
- Google Drive cloud storage: Read the full review here
Google One (2TB) | $99 for 1-year
Google offers One as a membership, a quasi-lifetime commitment that's not unlike Amazon Prime. Although you get unlimited storage for your photos (terms and conditions apply), you "only" get 2TB to play with via Google Drive. You can share it among up to six members, and Google Experts are only a phone call away should you need them.
What to consider when choosing cloud storage services
Given the number of cloud storage providers on the market today - from tech giants like Google to smaller, more niche players - choosing the solution that’s right for you isn’t easy. One of the first things you’ll probably want to consider is cost. While the capital expenditure for cloud storage is usually very low (or nonexistent), the operational expenditure can add up when you factor in additional storage requirements and premium features. Be sure to check your cloud contract carefully to ensure you don’t receive an unexpectedly large bill.
Credentials around service and security standards are also key. Look for a cloud storage provider that can boast the certifications that promise an SLA you can rely on - and safeguards that protect your data. In addition, make sure your storage provider offers the scalability you need should you grow - and a flexible pricing model to accompany it. Perhaps the best thing to do when choosing a cloud storage provider is simply to shop around. There’s bound to be a solution that suits your needs - but don’t simply go with the first cloud provider you find.
How we tested the best cloud storage providers?
When we test a cloud storage provider, we look at the upload and download speeds of file transfers but this is a minor component of the overall rating as there are scores of other factors that affect your download or upload speeds that cannot be easily mitigated (contention rate, time of day, server load etc).
The other thing you’ll probably want to consider is cost. While the capital expenditure for cloud storage is usually very low (or nonexistent), the operational expenditure can add up when you factor in additional storage requirements and premium features. Be sure to check your cloud contract carefully to ensure you don’t receive an unexpectedly large bill.
Credentials around services and security standards are also key. Look for a cloud storage provider that can boast the certifications that promise an SLA you can rely on - and safeguards that protect your data. In addition, make sure your storage provider offers the scalability you need should you grow - and a flexible pricing model to accompany it.
Last but certainly not least is the level of support that a cloud storage service will provide to its customers, whether it's 24x7 over the phone or web-based only. Our reviews include all this and more details including usability, and platform compatibility, and compare each cloud storage service to similar rivals, across key features and pricing, so you can make an informed decision based on as much data as possible when it comes to the time when you will choose the best cloud storage provider for you.
What is cloud storage and more
What is cloud storage?
To understand what cloud storage means, you need to grasp what the cloud is. In a nutshell, that's a resource (usually computing power or storage) that you can access remotely online either for free or for a fee.
At its simplest, it is a secure virtual space that you will usually access via your browser or a desktop application (or mobile app).
Think of it as the self-storage services - cherished by home movers and renters - but instead of filling them up with boxes, you fill cloud storage accounts with your own files.
There are dozens of services that fall under that umbrella term (cloud storage) and many users interchangeably call them cloud backup, online storage, online drives, online backup, file hosting, file storage, and so on.
Where is data stored in the cloud?
The actual location of your files is usually in a data center somewhere, in a server, on a hard drive or solid-state drive. But bear in mind that there are providers that allow you to store files on tape drives and even on other people's computers using a technology similar to bit-torrent.
How does cloud storage work?
Believe it or not, the concept of cloud storage has been around for a long, long time. Amazon popularized the concept with its S3 (Simple Storage Service) launched in 2006 but the ability to upload and save files remotely on a service provider's disk drive can be traced back to 1983's Compuserve offer.
At the end of the day, you are simply using someone else's resources (part of whole of a hard drive, a solid state drive, or even tape) to store your information.
That resource is usually located in a server housed in a data center (but not always) alongside potentially hundreds of others. The process is done over the internet over a secure connection via a dedicated app or via a web browser.
Almost everyone who has a smartphone or an email address has a cloud storage account of some sort. One might even consider Facebook to offer a limited version of cloud storage to its members as videos and photos can be uploaded free of charge to its servers.
What cloud storage have you reviewed?
As of March 2022, we've reviewed the following cloud storage providers
- IDrive Photos
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Google Drive
- Amazon Drive
- Amazon Photos
- Apple iCloud cloud storage
- Zoho WorkDrive cloud storage
- Ionos HiDrive
- SOS Online Backup
- WD Upthere
- Hetzner storage box
- Data deposit box
- G Cloud Unlimited cloud storage
- Internxt cloud storage
- 500px cloud storage
- Gladinet CentreStack
- AOMEI Multcloud cloud storage
- Rewind cloud storage
- Arq cloud storage
Where did cloud storage come from?
Amazon is widely credited with launching the first true cloud storage. Simple Storage Service or S3 was unveiled in March 2006, almost 16 years ago. The actual term Cloud Storage predates it by more than 100 years. The earliest mention of Cloud Storage can be found in an 1896 book with a title that seems to come straight from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Mystery of the White Snake: A Legend of Thunder Peak Tower. 1896 was the year the modern Olympic games were revived in Athens; it’s that old.