Finding the best cloud storage service can be a challenge, with all kinds of factors to consider from pricing to capacity, security and reliability just to name a few.
As individuals, we produced and manipulate hundreds of GB worth of content. A TechRadar Pro cloud storage survey commissioned in March 2022 found that nearly 5% of respondents stored more than 1TB of data online. More worrying was that a third of those polled didn't know how much data they had stored online.
Whether you're a cloud storage newbie or a seasoned veteran, we will point you in the right direction by explaining what cloud storage is, how cloud storage benefits you and how to choose your perfect provider.
Those who want to know more about cloud storage can check out, what is cloud storage, how we tested cloud storage providers or read through the extensive list of cloud storage services we've reviewed to date.
If you're just looking for the top providers, we've ranked them based on capacity, price, security, ease of use and more, and you can read our conclusions just a short scroll down the page.
We've focused on quality paid packages for consumers and small businesses, but if that doesn't quite suit your needs, we also have guides to the best free cloud storage, best lifetime cloud storage deals, best unlimited cloud storage deals, best business cloud storage, best cloud backup services and best photo cloud storage.
Best cloud storage deals, right now
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1. IDrive is our top cloud storage provider (opens in new tab)
Cloud storage veteran IDrive (opens in new tab) offers an incredible amount of online space for a small outlay across a wide range of platforms. 10TB of storage for $3.98 (opens in new tab) for the first year is unmatched and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
2. Get lifetime cloud storage from pCloud (opens in new tab)
pCloud (opens in new tab) 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. 2TB for life for under $400 while the 10TB plan costs only $1,190.
3. Get $50 off Sync's yearly plans (opens in new tab)
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.
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 a paid version costing only $3.98 for 10TB for the first year (opens in new tab). And it tops our lists for Best free cloud storage, Best cloud backup, and Best cloud storage for photos, too.
PCloud (opens in new tab) is another service vying for the title of best cloud storage provider, thanks to features like its built-in players, powerful file sharing tools and great value lifetime plans.
Sync only does file syncing, as you'll guess from the name, but it does this very well and it's really easy to use. Backblaze is a comprehensive backup tool which offers unlimited storage, and right now you can get one Backblaze year for free when purchased with ExpressVPN
The best cloud storage services of 2023 in full:
IDrive tops our best cloud storage charts with its appealing mix of easy-to-use desktop and mobile apps, excellent backup features, strong security and great value.
Signing up gets you from 10TB (personal) to 50TB (business) , but pure storage is just the start. Sync support keeps files up-to-date across all your hardware, and excellent backup features enable protecting everything from individual files and folders to full SQL, Exchange, SharePoint and other servers. We found this was very easy to use, and our tests revealed iDrive's performance was a close match to Google Drive and the other top contenders.
The service is strong on the security fundamentals, with end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication to protect you from attack. But it also excels at extras, such as an option to transfer your data to iDrive on a physical device, ideal if you've a slow internet connection and 50TB to protect. IDrive sends you the drive, pays return postage (in the US), but it's still free once a year for personal users (three times for business plans.)
The free tier gives you a decent 10GB storage, more than enough to try the apps and get a look at what iDrive has to offer. And if you like what you see, right now there's a spectacular deal offering 10TB storage for only $3.98 for the first year, little more than $0.01 a day.
- Read our full IDrive cloud storage review
Internxt is a security-focused cloud storage provider who applies multiple technologies to ensure your data stays safe. End-to-end encryption shields your data from snoopers; the service stores files in chunks spread around its networks, protecting it from hardware failures; a virus scanner checks your files for malware, it even checks your account for weak passwords.
Paid plans start at just €0.99 a month for 20GB, a low total but also not much storage. Fortunately you get 2TB for a reasonable €9.99 per month, and the business plans offer up to 20TB for €190 per month (to cover two users.)
We found Intrnxt's well-designed web view and apps did a good job of helping us find and manage files. Windows Explorer and Mac Finder integration made uploading as simple as a drag and drop. Sync support keeps files up-to-date across all your devices, and you can share files with others via custom links.
Internxt can't quite match the advanced features you'll find with OneDrive or Dropbox, and it has one or two small unexpected hassles. Although there's a free 10GB plan, for instance, to get it all you must install a mobile app, sign up for the newsletter and invite four friends. Still, Internxt's security-first approach and quality apps give it a lot of appeal, and if that's what you're after, it more than deserves a place on your shortlist.
- Read our full Internxt cloud storage review
Swiss-based pCloud stands out from the cloud storage crowd for its hugely advanced file sharing features. If regular download links aren't enough, you can create special download pages with custom messages, build slideshows of shared images, even stream audio or video files directly from your storage space.
There's no monthly pricing, but annual plans are fair value at $49.99 for 500GB, $99.99 for 2TB. Even better, pCloud's lifetime plans give you 500GB forever for a one-off $199, 2TB for $399, or 10TB for $1190. There's a 10GB free plan, too, though beware: like Internxt, you must sign up friends, install the app and more to get the full amount.
We found the service very easy to set up and use. Sample folders and files helped us immediately try out its powerful file management and sharing features. We had no issues connecting our account to Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts, and backing up their content. The desktop app adds a Dropbox-like virtual drive to your file manager, simplifying operations, but Internxt's mobile app can make life even easier by (optionally) automatically uploading pictures and videos direct from your phone.
There's a lot to like here, but we also noticed one or two issues. The desktop interface is a little dated, not quite as slick as some of the competition. 2TB isn't a lot of storage by today's standards, either, and iDrive's Personal plans can give you up to 20TB for only a little more.
- Read our full pCloud Cloud Storage review
Sync.com may not have the range of features you'll see elsewhere, but (as the name suggests) it excels at simple file syncing, delivering an easy-to-use, speedy and secure service that works for personal and individual users.
There's still plenty of power here. Sophisticated file sharing allows creating read-only, password-protected or expiring links, set download limits and more. Sync.com's versioning supports restoring files from at least the last 180 days (most providers stop at 30.) The mobile apps can automatically sync photos and videos as you take them, while two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption keep your account and data safe.
We found Sync.com's apps and web interface slick and easy to use, and performance was a real highlight, with both upload and download speeds amongst the best we've seen.
Sync.com particularly impressed us with its team-friendly features, including the ability to add comments to file sharing links, share folders with groups of people, open and edit Office documents direct from your Sync space (if you've Office 365) and manage all your users from a central console.
Prices start higher than most, with a 2TB personal plan costing $96 a year. But demanding team users can get unlimited storage for only $360 per user per year (minimum two users), just $15 a month. There's a 5GB free plan to try it out, and you can expand this to 27GB by carrying out various tasks (some as simple as creating a folder.)
- Read our full Sync cloud storage review
Backblaze is a high-powered cloud backup service which provides unlimited storage with no file size limits for a very fair price.
Install the Backblaze desktop app (there's no backup for mobile devices, unfortunately) and it immediately scans for important files, and begins uploading them. You're able to take manual control, if you like, but we found it simpler to let Backblaze handle everything automatically.
The initial transfer of data to the web can take a long time, but our tests found impressive upload speeds kept delays to a minimum. And on the download front, if you need your data in a hurry, Backblaze will ship up to 8TB to your door on a USB drive.
The focus on backups means there's no file syncing, no clever collaboration tools, and only the simplest of file sharing options. You can only protect one computer per account, too, and network drives aren't supported.
If you're just looking for an ultra-simple high capacity backup service, though, Backblaze is a must-see. Prices start at a good value $7 billed monthly, $5.83 on the annual plan.
If you also need a VPN to protect yourself online, you can alternatively get Backblaze completely free for a year when you sign up to our #1 favorite, ExpressVPN (and you get three extra months of ExpressVPN protection, too.)
- Read our full Backblaze review
UK-based IceDrive has only been in the cloud storage business for a very few years, but its groundbreaking file management features more than justify its place in our 'Best...' list.
Windows users can browse their storage space from Explorer, for example, moving, renaming, opening and even editing files, just like working on a local drive. Install the Windows, Mac and Linux app and you can also preview documents and stream media files without having to download them first.
The clean and easy-to-navigate browser interface is so simple that even newbies will figure it out in moments. The desktop and mobile apps have similar functionality, but we found inconsistencies in design and layout made them a little more awkward to use.
Security is a highlight, with IceDrive encrypting data on your device before it's transferred, and its zero-knowledge approach ensuring only you can decrypt and view your data. It's good to see IceDrive protect your account with two-factor authentication, too, although we were slightly annoyed to see SMS support is only available to premium customers.
A 10GB free plan gives you an easy way to get started, although with some restrictions (no client-side encryption, a 3GB/ day bandwidth limit.) If you need more, annual plans range from $1.67 a month for 150GB, $4.17 for 1TB and $15 for 5TB. IceDrive even offers lifetime plans, including 150GB for a one-off $99, and 10TB for $999.
- Read our full IceDrive review
Wondering which cloud storage providers you can trust? Choosing a company with a strong track in privacy is a good place to start, and NordLocker is hard to beat: it comes from the people behind NordVPN, one of the best and most successful VPNs around.
We've reviewed more than 20 cloud storage platforms recently, and NordLocker is one of the easiest to use. The desktop apps enable uploading, downloading and managing your files with little more than a drag and drop. The mobile apps are a little more basic, just a browser which redirects to NordLocker's browser portal, but they're also easy to use.
The service scores well on the fundamentals. We found NordLocker's leading-edge encryption extremely quick, upload times were reasonable, and the addition of multi-factor authentication protects your account from attackers.
Prices for the personal plans seem low at $2.99 a month (billed annually) for 500GB, $6.99 for 2TB, but beware: they leap to $4.99 and $14.99 on renewal. Fortunately, a free plan gives you 3GB storage to play with. That’s a little disappointing when you often get 5-10GB elsewhere, sometimes more, but it's still enough to see how NordLocker works for you.
- Read our full NordLocker review
Microsoft OneDrive doesn't have the features of some of the cloud storage competition, but its Windows and Microsoft 365 integration, XBox support, and extreme ease of use, make this a great solution for anyone committed to the Microsoft world.
OneDrive comes built into Windows 10/ 11, for instance, so there's nothing to install. It shows up in Explorer, and you can drag and drop files to sync them to the cloud and your other devices. Microsoft 365 support includes auto-saving to the cloud, and collaboration options include the ability to work on documents simultaneously with others, or share them via OneDrive-generated links.
Microsoft hasn't forgotten other platforms, but we found they delivered mixed results on the usability front. The web interface covers the basics, for instance, but doesn't have the simplicity or style of Google Drive or Dropbox. The Mac client is more straightforward, though we found some conflicts with iCloud. The elegant and intuitive mobile apps are the real highlight, though, with strong photo and video syncing tools and solid security.
OneDrive's free plan offers only 5GB, half the allowance you'll get with some providers. You can pay $19.99 a year to upgrade, but that still only gets you 100GB. Microsoft 365 users get the best value, with Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and 1TB of OneDrive storage from as little as $70 a year.
- Read our full Microsoft OneDrive review
Google Drive's Android and Google Workspace integration make it an ideal cloud storage platform for Google fans, but a generous 15GB free tier, and a host of desktop, mobile and Drive-supporting third-party apps, ensure it also has plenty of all-round appeal.
The service more than delivers on the cloud storage essentials, with versioning support, offline access, syncing, file sharing and more. But there's much more here. Business users will love the Google Sheets, Docs and Slides integration, for instance, where you can create, edit and share cloud files with others, without ever downloading anything.
Whatever platform you choose, we found Google Drive to be intuitive and easy to use. The Android and iOS apps are a close match for the browser view, ensuring smooth operations even when you're regularly switching devices. We've been a little disappointed by previous versions of the desktop apps, but the latest edition is just as easy to operate as the rest of the Drive family.
Drive doesn't have end-to-end encryption, which means that, in theory, Google could see your files. And if you're not a Google fan, tying yourself so tightly into the company's ecosystem may not appeal. But for everyone else, it offers a slick and powerful free service, and plenty of benefits if you upgrade. The $99.99 upgrade to Google One doesn't just get you 2TB of storage, but also includes 10% off Google Store purchases, access to Google experts, and even an Android and iOS VPN.
- Read our full Google Drive review
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.
For more detailed coverage, read: Cloud storage reviews: how we tested them (opens in new tab)
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage is a remote virtual space, usually in a data center, which you can access to save or retrieve files.
It’s important to know a cloud storage service can be trusted with your files, so most providers go to a lot of trouble to make sure they’re safe. They’ll upload and download files via a secure encrypted connection, for instance. Maximum security data centers ensure no unauthorized person gets access to their servers, and even if someone did break in, leading-edge encryption prevents an attacker viewing your data.
There are dozens of services which are powered by some form of cloud storage. You might see them described as online backup, cloud backup, online drives, file hosting and more, but essentially they’re still cloud storage with custom apps or web consoles to add some extra features.
You won’t have to look far to find your nearest cloud storage service, though, because there’s a very good chance you have access to one already. Facebook and Twitter provide free cloud storage when they allow users to store photos and videos on their servers, for instance, while even the most basic free Google account gets you 15GB of cloud storage space via the Google Drive app.
How to choose the best cloud storage service?
Finding your perfect cloud storage solution starts by thinking about your needs. What are you hoping the service will do?
If your goal is to protect all your data from harm, then look for a service with solid backup tools and the ability to access your files from anywhere.
If you'd like to share a group of files - photos, say - across multiple devices, then you'll need quick and easy syncing abilities.
If you're more interested in sharing individual files or folders with others, look for a platform which supports password-protected or time-limited links, anything that helps you stay more secure. Businesses will benefit from collaboration tools, too, allowing users to work on files together, add comments and more.
Pay attention to the figures. Most cloud storage keeps previous versions of your files for up to 30 days, for instance, but that's not always the case. If your provider says it supports 'versioning', that's good, but check the details, see how it really compares to the competition.
You'll want to consider a provider's cost and capacity, too, but be careful. Don't simply opt for a high-capacity plan just because it seeks better value: think about whether you really need that much space. And when it comes to price, browse the small print, look out for hidden charges or fees which jump on renewal, make sure you know exactly what you're getting.
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.
Free vs Paid cloud storage: what you need to know
If your backup budget is low (or non-existent) then opting for free cloud storage might appeal, but is it the right choice for you?
Capacities are often very low (NordLocker's free plan has just 3GB), which is likely to rule out free plans for any heavy-duty tasks. Some free options may have other limits, or leave out important features from the paid plans. IceDrive's 10GB plan looks generous, for instance, but you can only use 3GB bandwidth a day, and there's no client-side encryption.
These may not be deal-breaking issues, at least if your needs are simple, and you can do better with a little work. Signing up with one provider doesn't mean you can't use another, for instance: set up IDrive for one task, Google and OneDrive for a couple of others, and suddenly you've 30GB to play with.
Free plans aren't only useful for bargain-hunters, though. However much you've got to spend, the real advantage of a free plan is it gives you time to try out different platforms before you commit.
Cloud storage jargon buster
Baffled by cloud-storage techno-speak? We've got the key terms you need to know.
AES-256: one of the strongest encryption algorithms around, AES-256 is often used to protect cloud storage and ensure no-one else can access your data.
At-rest encryption: encrypts your data while stored on a device, protecting it from snoopers. See In-transit encryption.
Cloud: servers that are accessed over the internet, along with the software, databases, computing resources and services they offer.
Continuous data backup: a clever technology which automates backups by looking out for new and changed files, and uploading them as soon as they appear.
Data center: one or more physical facilities which house networked computers and the resources necessary to run, access and manage them: storage systems, routers, firewalls and more.
Egress: the transfer of data from a network to an external location, such as downloading a file from a cloud storage account. (See Ingress.)
End-to-end encryption: a method of communicating data which ensures no-one but the sender and receiver can read or modify it. In cloud storage terms, it means your files can't be intercepted and accessed by anyone, even your provider.
Ingress: the transfer of data into a network, such as uploading a file to a cloud storage account. (See Egress.)
In-transit encryption: encrypts your data before transmission to another computer, and decrypts it at the destination. Even if an attacker can intercept your communications, they won't be able to read your files. (See At-rest encryption.)
Private cloud: a cloud computing environment which offers services to a single business only. A business might use its own private cloud storage to ensure no other company gets to handle its data, for instance, improving security. (See Public cloud.)
Private encryption key: a method of encryption which means only you can access your encrypted files. This guarantees your security, but is also a little risky, because if you forget your password, the provider can't help you recover it, and your data is effectively lost.
Public cloud: a network of computers which offers cloud services to the public via the internet. Google, Microsoft and Amazon are examples of public cloud providers. (See Private cloud.)
S3: A fast flexible cloud storage type invented by Amazon and used by major companies like Netflix, reddit, Ancestry and more.
Sync: the process of keeping a set of files up-to-date across two or more devices. Edit a file on one of your devices, for instance, and a cloud storage service which supports syncing will quickly upload the new version to all the others.
Two-factor authentication: a technology which requires you to enter an extra piece of information (beyond just a username and password) when logging into a web account: a pin sent by email or SMS, a fingerprint, a response to an authenticator app. It's an extra login hassle, but also makes it much more difficult for anyone to hack your account. Sometimes called 2FA or two-step authentication.
Versioning: the ability to keep multiple versions of a file in your cloud storage area. Accidentally delete something important in a document last Tuesday, and even if you've updated the file several times, you may still be able to recover the previous version.
Zero-knowledge encryption: a guarantee that no-one else, not even your cloud provider, has the password necessary to protect your data. That's great for security, but beware: if you forget your password, the provider can't remind you, and your files will be locked away forever.
If you want to learn more about cloud storage
- Balancing on-premises vs cloud storage needs
- What is the smart city, and why is cloud storage key?
- Cloud storage could end up being much greener than data centers
- Cloud-native apps demand cloud-native storage systems
- How does cloud storage work? (opens in new tab)
- What is cloud storage? (opens in new tab)
- We've also featured the best cloud document storage