Cloud storage offers multiple benefits for individuals and businesses, but sometimes you don't need a big enterprise solution for big data but simply a central repository for key business files and documents.
This is especially to serve as a simple backup for disaster recovery of all your files, folders, such as documents and images, so that in the event of a harddrive failure you can easily recover them from another PC or other device. This can also help free up space in busy offices where saving data across multiple machines can be impractical.
Another advantage is that it allows you to sync your files between multiple devices, so you can work with a file on your home or office PC, then work with the same files with your phone while on the go. This makes it easy to reference and update files as required.
Businesses are also likely to find the ability to collaborate with files across multiple users and locations especially useful. This can be especially the case for contributing and editing office documents, project management software, CRM, or employee productivity platforms.
Some software applications will save your data to the cloud regardless, but provide an option to use their own services or integration a cloud storage provider. Google Chromebooks are sold on the principal of saving all of your work and documents to the cloud.
Here then are the best in cloud document storage solutions.
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Best cloud document storage - at a glance
- Google Drive
- Adobe Document Cloud
Harness the might of Microsoft via OneDrive’s cloud platform
OneDrive, previously known as SkyDrive, was rolled out in 2007 as Microsoft’s own cloud storage platform. It works as part of the Microsoft Office Suite and gives users 5GB of free storage space. Registered students and those working in academia are given 1TB of free storage.
OneDrive is available for all platforms. You need to have a Hotmail or Microsoft account but this is very easy to set up. Users can collaborate on, share and store documents.
OneDrive also gives you offline access to documents so you can always have your most important documents at your fingertips. It comes pre-installed on all Windows 10 machines and can be easily accessed or downloaded onto other platforms.
One of the main complaints about OneDrive is that it appears to have trouble syncing at times and there have been reports by users that it can crash on occasion.
You can upgrade your storage to 50GB for $3 (£2.30) a month.
Google has recently been busy rebranding parts of itself, and its famous Google Drive is no different. While the name has been retained for the free version, with a 15GB storage limit, the paid-for Google Drive plans have now been rebranded to Google One, and Google Drive is now headed with "Google Cloud".
Google Drive by itself offers 15GB of cloud storage, though this includes not just the documents in your Google Drive account but also everything else saved to your Google account, not least GMail and any high-resolution images you might have uploaded to Google Photos.
Google One, on the other hand, offers not just additional storage space but also additional features. For storage capacity there are different plans for individuals, with the main three being 100GB for £1.59/month, 200GB for £2.49/month (or £24.99 per year), or 2TB of storage for £7.99 (or £79.99 per year). Additional plans with more storage are available as required.
On these individual plans are additional options, such as setting up a shared family account to use your storage, plus promotions for other Google services.
However, for business purposes with multiple staff you would almost certainly need to use Google Drive/Google One as part of the G Suite. The basic plan there offers up to 30GB of storage on top of G Suite apps, for $6 per user per month. The Business plan offers unlimited storage for $12 per user per month (though for teams of less than 5 it's 1TB of storage).
Google's prices for Google Drive/Google One/Google Cloud are among the cheapest in the industry. Though be warned that at the time of writing Google services are increasingly inaccessible unless you use the Google Chrome browser.
Simplified cloud storage from a veteran in the field
Dropbox is one of the oldest cloud storage providers. It does offer a rather miniscule 2GB of storage space for free users but this can be increased by up to 16GB through referrals as well as by linking your Dropbox account to social media accounts.
To date it is one of the simplest storage providers to use. Dropbox can be installed on most computers or devices and syncs easily between apps. The app can store almost any kind of file with no compatibility issues. You can drag and drop files into the desktop app with ease.
You can also share files with other users easily through links, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. As Dropbox has been around for a long time it integrates with most other apps such as MS Office and Slack.
The downside to Dropbox is that it can be expensive if you need more than 2GB of space and you have run out of friends to refer.
Pricing varies according as to whether you need an individual or business plan. Individual plans start from $11.99 (£7.99) per month for 2TB of storage. Dropbox Business offers features for teams with a generous 5TB of storage, with pricing starts from $12.50 (£10) per user per month, and an annual payment discount.
Box offers excellent storage and integration at very affordable rates
Box is a cloud content management and file sharing service for businesses. It was founded in 2005.
Box offers strong management capabilities and security features. The interface is made for ease of use and is simple to navigate.
The dashboard allows access to settings and files and folders. Admins cam manage all users, monitors activity and control sharing.
As Box has been around for a while, it is supported by a number of mainstream apps such as Google Docs and Office 365. The Box Sync client is available from the Downloads page for Mac and Windows, plus there's also an official Android client.
Box offers a 14-day free trial for all packages. For business use, their ‘Starter’ plan is priced at $5 (£4) per user per month. This includes 100GB secure storage, 2GB file upload with a maximum of 10 users.
The ‘Business’ plan starts at $15 (£12) per user per month which includes unlimited storage, 5GB file upload and no maximum number of users.
Moving up again, the ‘Business Plus’ package is $25 (£20) per user per month and this comes with unlimited storage, 5GB file upload and unlimited external collaborators.
In order to subscribe to Box’s ‘Enterprise’ plan, users will have to contact them directly for a quote.
Unlike other cloud storage providers, if you choose to share a file with someone who doesn’t have a Box account they’ll only have read-only access.
Flexible pricing plus a robust interface makes Egnyte an ideal document storage platform
Egnyte was founded in 2007. The company provides software for enterprise file synchronization and sharing.
Egnyte allows businesses to store their data locally and in the cloud. All types of data can be stored in the cloud, whilst data of a more sensitive nature can be stored on servers on-premise. This provides better security.
Business teams can work how and where they want with an easy to use collaboration system through their content services platform.
Egnyte integrates with the more popular industry applications such as Office 365. This allows remote and internal employees to access all the files they need.
The ‘Office’ plan starts at $8 (£6) per employee per month. This covers 5-25 employees, 5TB of storage and 10GB max file size.
The ‘Business’ packages starts at $20 (£16) per employee per month. This includes 25-100 employees, 10TB online storage and 10GB max file size.
In order to take advantage of their ‘Enterprise tier’, which includes over 100 employees, 25GB max file size and unlimited storage, you will need to contact Egnyte directly.
Egnyte offer a 15-day free trial for their packages.
Users have observed that some files, such as photos, can take a long time to sync.
For using PDF document archives
The Adobe Document Cloud is worth adding to this list, for the simple reason that most businesses will need to actively handle PDF documents. This means not simply needing to store these PDFs in the cloud but also still be able to manage and edit them as required.
The Adobe Document Cloud is mainly powered by Adobe Acrobat CC and Adobe Sign, both of which together mean that you can do almost anything you can imagine you need to do with PDF documents. Whether it's editing, importing or exporting data, as well as scanning, it's not simply a passive storage repository but also a way to actively use PDF documents, and collaborative features are built in.
The service comes with a free 2GB document storage tier, with 100GB available through a single app subscription, but you can pay to increase storage capacity.
Another advantage of the Adobe Document Cloud is that it enjoys a number of integrations, such as for CRM, ERP, and HR software, including Office 365, Salesforce, Zoho, and various products from IBM and Oracle.