The wide world of the internet is a big, scary place. Without the proper tools, you will potentially be leaving your files and data exposed to anyone who wants to access them. Fortunately, there are numerous cloud storage providers ⇣ out there who offer the tools and infrastructure to secure your information.
In short, these providers allow you to store your files on their servers, securing them and ensuring you can access them at any time, from virtually any device.
In my eyes, security and privacy are two of the most important things to consider when selecting the best cloud storage for your needs.
Try to make sure you choose a provider that uses zero-knowledge encryption, has a highly secure server infrastructure, and values privacy above all else.
But not all platforms offer these features. After spending countless hours reviewing numerous cloud storage providers, I can comfortably say that the following ten options are the best available – in my eyes anyway.
- Best cloud storage for business use: Sync.com ⇣ This popular cloud storage provider boasts an excellent range of features, industry-leading security integrations, and excellent value for money.
- Best cheap cloud storage option: pCloud ⇣ If you are running a tight budget but still want to access as many advanced features as possible, pCloud is an excellent option with affordable lifetime plans.
- Best cloud storage for personal use: Dropbox ⇣ Anyone looking for a high-quality cloud storage provider with generous storage and a powerful free plan will love Dropbox.
Best Cloud Storage Providers in 2021
|Provider||Free Storage||Price From||Zero-Knowledge||Encryption||Storage From||Mobile App|
|Sync.com||5 GB||$5/month||Yes||AES 256-bit||200 GB||Yes|
|pCloud||10 GB||$3.99/month||Yes||AES 256-bit||500 GB||Yes|
|Dropbox||2 GB||$10/month||No||AES 256-bit||2 TB||Yes|
|NordLocker||3 GB||$3.99/month||Yes||AES 256-bit||500 GB||No|
|Icedrive||10 GB||$19.99/year||Yes||Twofish||150 GB||Yes|
|Box||10 GB||$10/month||No||AES 256-bit||100 GB||Yes|
|Google Drive||15 GB||$1.99/month||No||AES 256-bit||100 GB||Yes|
|Amazon Drive||5 GB||$19.99/year||No||No||100 GB||Yes|
|iDrive||5 GB||$52.12/year||Yes||AES 256-bit||5 TB||Yes|
|Microsoft OneDrive||5 GB||$1.99/month||No||AES 256-bit||100 GB||Yes|
All of the above provide a decent level of privacy and security, and I’m sure you will find the best cloud storage for personal or business use on this list.
1. Sync.com (Best option for business use)
- Website: https://www.sync.com
- Excellent security features across the board
- A focus on confidentiality and privacy
- Collaboration tools to streamline daily workflows
Sync.com is a popular cloud storage provider that is known for its focus on security and data privacy.
Although it hasn’t been around for nearly as long as some of the more well-known names on this list, the company has grown rapidly in the past few years to become a leader.
On top of this, Sync.com’s service is backed by a suite of advanced features, including integrations with numerous third-party platforms.
The platform is available across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android operating systems allowing you to access your files from virtually any device.
- Excellent zero-knowledge privacy
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Remote lockout tools
- No monthly subscription options
- Average customer service
- Syncing between devices can be slow
Sync.com plans and pricing:
There are numerous subscription options for both personal and business users. The free forever plan is fully functional but limited to 5 GB of storage.
Individual plans start at $60 per year for 200 GB of storage. Team subscriptions cost from $60 per user, per year for 1 TB of storage and unlimited transfer.
2. pCloud (Best affordable option)
- Website: https://www.pcloud.com
- Industry-leading security features
- Competitive prices across the board
- Attractive and highly functional apps
- Very beginner-friendly
pCloud is my leading choice for highly affordable cloud storage, and for good reason.
The value for money on offer here is excellent, and you will be hard-pressed to find another provider that offers better features at a comparable price.
One thing I love about pCloud is its powerful lifetime subscription options.
Other notable features include 30-day trash history, no upload file size limits, and the choice of data storage locations.
- Excellent value for money across the board
- Backed by Swiss privacy laws
- Very intuitive user interface
- Limited collaboration tools
- Download link traffic limitations
- Extra cost for pCloud Crypto end-to-end encryption security (there are alternatives to pCloud that include E2EE)
pCloud plans and pricing:
There are various options available, including a free forever plan with 10 GB of storage, premium plans starting from $4.99 per month, and business options from $9.99 per user, per month.
There are also lifetime payment options available, with prices starting from $175 for 500 GB of storage.
3. Dropbox (Best free option for personal use)
- Website: https://www.dropbox.com
- Versatile workflow management tools
- Excellent collaboration tools backed by app integrations
- Mobile, desktop, and web clients available
- In-app editing and viewing for most file types
Those looking for a budget-friendly option to store a relatively small amount of information will love Dropbox and its powerful free forever plan.
With 2 GB of storage, cross-platform compatibility, and advanced file sync and recovery tools, there’s a lot to like here.
On top of this, I’m a big fan of Dropbox’s workflow automation and time-saving tools.
With a business plan, you will be able to create a centralized interface that select team members can access.
Take advantage of streamlined file organization tools, advanced collaboration features, and more.
- Excellent free forever plan for personal use
- Streamlined file organization tools
- Fast, intuitive user interface
- Link sharing could be more secure
- Upload/download speeds can be an issue
- Limited offline access
- No end-to-end encryption security (there are better alternatives to Dropbox)
Dropbox plans and pricing:
Along with its attractive free forever plan, Dropbox offers a number of paid subscription options.
Individual plans start at $10 per month for 2 TB of storage and unlimited devices.
Business plans start from $12.50 per user, per month for 5 TB of storage and access to industry-leading collaboration and workflow management tools.
4. NordLocker (Best secure option)
- Website: https://www.nordlocker.com
- Powerful end-to-end encryption (E2EE)
- Strict zero-knowledge policies to help secure your data
- All data protected by state-of-the-art ciphers and powerful encryption algorithms
- Free plan with 3GB of storage
When it comes to security and data privacy, NordLocker is one of my number one choices.
Created by Nord Security, the developer of the popular NordVPN, it has a great reputation and is backed by excellent features.
For one, everything NordLocker does is done with data security as the number one priority.
It has a strict zero-knowledge policy and never logs any information about your data.
And, it uses exceptional end-to-end encryption and other security tools to ensure information is never leaked or stolen.
- Industry-leading security tools
- Advanced encryption used at all times
- Very affordable and budget-friendly
- No two-factor authentication
- Can only share with other NordLocker users
- No web interface
NordLocker plans and pricing:
NordLocker only advertises two separate plans. The free forever option includes a relatively low 3 GB of storage.
For just $3.99 per month, you can access 500 GB of premium storage. All purchases are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you need more than 500 GB of storage, you will have to speak with the NordLocker team about a custom plan.
5. Icedrive (Easiest to use option)
- Website: https://www.icedrive.net
- Free account with 10 GB of cloud storage
- Unique drive mounting software for easier management
- Web, desktop, and mobile apps
- Very secure Twofish encryption (more secure than AES)
Despite only being founded in 2019, Icedrive has quickly become one of the world’s best cloud storage providers.
One feature I love is the platform’s unique drive mounting software, which essentially lets you control your cloud storage as if it were a physical hard drive.
On top of this, Icedrive’s excellent security features and zero-knowledge client-side encryption make it a great choice for those looking to store sensitive information.
- Generous storage and bandwidth with free plan
- Industry-leading security features
- Powerful drive mounting software
- Drive mounting is only available on Windows
- Collaboration tools are limited
- Support could be better
Icedrive plans and pricing:
Along with its generous free plan, Icedrive offers three premium options.
Monthly, annual, and lifetime payment options are available, with prices starting at $1.67 per month for an annual lifetime subscription.
Lifetime plans cost from $59 to $499, which makes them an attractive option for those who are likely to continue using their cloud storage well into the future.
6. Box.com (Best teams’ option)
- Website: https://www.box.com
- Excellent third-party integrations
- Years of reliable service and an excellent reputation
- Cross-device syncing
- Very straightforward file and folder sharing
Box has been providing some of the best cloud storage for business and personal use for some years now.
I’ve used it numerous times in the past, and it’s one of my absolute favorite providers.
Standout features include a basic, user-friendly interface, excellent third-party integrations to streamline workflows, straightforward file and folder sharing, and impressive collaboration tools, among others.
- Great security features
- Excellent team admin tools
- Powerful option for syncing specific files or folders
- Not a great option for personal users
- Prices are a little high
- No in-app file previews or editing
Box.com plans and pricing:
Box’s free plan comes with 10GB of storage, but many users will be confined by the 250MB file upload size limit.
There’s only one individual premium plan, which costs $10 per month for 100 GB of storage.
Business plans start from $7 per user, per month for 100GB of storage, but they have a three-user minimum.
7. Google Drive
- Website: https://www.google.com/drive/
- Free for anyone with a Google account
- Integrated with the rest of the Google ecosystem
- Available on mobile and desktop devices
- Simple and beginner-friendly
Google Drive is available for free for anyone with a Google account.
Although you only get 15GB of storage without upgrading to a paid plan, its simplicity means that it provides some of the best cloud storage for personal use that I’ve found.
Google Drive pros:
- Extremely straightforward to use
- Generous free plan
- Decent collaboration tools
Google Drive cons:
- Substandard security and privacy tools
- Limited business features
- End-to-end encryption is absent (there are better alternatives to Google Drive)
Google Drive plans and pricing:
Anyone who signs up for a Google account will have access to 15 GB of storage for free.
If you need more storage than this, you can get 100 GB for $1.99 per month, 200 GB for $2.99 per month, or 2TB for $9.99 per month.
8. Amazon Drive
- Website: https://www.amazon.com/drive/
- Excellent free plan
- Backed by the power of the Amazon ecosystem
- iOS and Android apps are available
- Amazon Prime subscription unlocks unlimited photo storage
Amazon Cloud Drive certainly isn’t my personal favorite cloud storage provider, but it’s easy to see why so many people use it.
For one, the free forever plan grants users access to 5GB of free storage.
Premium plans are very competitively priced, and all Amazon Prime members get access to unlimited photo storage.
Amazon Drive pros:
- Unlimited photo storage with an Amazon Prime membership
- Attractive mobile apps
- Generous storage limits
Amazon Drive cons:
- Average privacy and security features
- Limited sharing and collaboration tools
- No automatic backups or file syncing
Amazon Drive plans and pricing:
Anyone who signs up for an Amazon account will have access to 5GB of free storage, and Amazon Prime members can store unlimited family photos and videos in the cloud.
Premium plans start from $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage, or you can access 1TB for just $6.99 per month.
- Website: https://www.idrive.com
- Unique physical data backup service
- A focus on security and privacy
- Options for everyone from individuals to large corporations
- Cross-platform compatibility
iDrive offers some of the best cloud storage for business users that I’ve seen.
Its high-end plans are backed by a suite of advanced features, including industry-leading security and privacy tools.
I also like the company’s physical data delivery service, which essentially lets you order a hard copy of your files for safekeeping.
- Excellent physical backup service
- Very affordable compared to similar providers
- Impressive security integrations
- Limited subscription options
- Upload and download speeds can be a little slow
- Quite complicated for beginners
iDrive plans and pricing:
A basic free plan is available which includes 5GB of storage and limited features.
Personal plans start from $52.12 per year for 5 TB of storage. Team plans start at $74.62 per year for five users and five computers.
The cheapest Business plan also costs $74.62 per year, supporting unlimited users and devices and offering 250 GB of storage.
10. Microsoft OneDrive
- Website: https://www.microsoft.com/onedrive/
- Backed by the power of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem
- Available across the main desktop and mobile operating systems
- Offline access available for those with limited internet connections
- Automatic virus and spyware detection
OneDrive is far from the most advanced cloud storage service I’ve used, but it’s an excellent option for Microsoft Office users looking for a basic solution.
It’s fully integrated with the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, comes with a selection of productivity and workflow management tools, and is backed by excellent ransomware and virus detection features.
Microsoft OneDrive pros:
- Upload and download speeds are excellent
- Automatic file syncing
- Excellent desktop and mobile apps
Microsoft OneDrive cons:
- No Linux support whatsoever
- Limited free plan
- Confusing to get started with
- No end-to-end encryption security (there are better alternatives to OneDrive)
Microsoft OneDrive plans and pricing:
All users can access 5 GB of OneDrive storage for free. There are various premium options available, with prices starting from $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage.
You will also have access to higher storage limits with a Microsoft 365 subscription.
What is Cloud Storage?
The whole concept of the cloud can be quite hard to grasp, especially for people with little tech knowledge or experience.
I mean, even I have a hard time getting my head around it, and I’ve been working in the industry for years.
Put simply, cloud storage involves saving documents, files, or other data on remote servers.
Since the files aren’t stored on your physical device, you can access this information from virtually anywhere with an internet connection.
This is extremely convenient for many people, but there are a few things you should keep at the front of your mind when you’re selecting a cloud storage provider.
Notably, it’s crucial to choose a company that values security and privacy, or else you risk your files being stolen or compromised.
Benefits of Cloud Storage (Privacy and Security)
With the best cloud storage service, you will benefit from excellent privacy and security across the board.
Things to look out for include zero-knowledge encryption and zero-logging, which basically means that your information won’t ever be viewed by your storage provider.
Providers that value security generally uses high-quality encryption, including end-to-end and at-rest encryption.
Files can be shared safely with privacy-centric collaboration tools, and you can rest assured your information will be protected from prying eyes.
Another thing to factor in if you care about privacy is the provider’s location.
Ideally, the cloud storage company’s location should be in Europe or Canada (where for example Sync, pCloud, Icedrive are based) that have stricter privacy laws that are more consumer-friendly compared to for example the U.S. (Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are under U.S. jurisdiction).
Countries that you should avoid if you value your privacy are the U.S. (Prism/ NSA government surveillance and ISP spying) and of course China, where internet users are tracked and most of the internet is blocked by its Great Firewall.
How to Choose the Best Cloud Storage Service
There are numerous features that you absolutely have to consider when selecting the right cloud storage service for your needs.
I’ve outlined a few of the most important things to keep in mind below, but this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list.
For one, every cloud storage service offers different amounts of storage at different price points.
If you just need to store a few basic files, you should probably be able to get away with a free plan, which generally offers around 10GB.
Otherwise, pay attention to the amount of storage space you’re getting when selecting a premium option.
Security & Encryption
Most modern cloud storage services offer excellent security features, but there are certainly a few exceptions.
Ensure the provider you select includes client-side encryption, zero-knowledge encryption, full backups, and a commitment to privacy.
Zero-knowledge means that no one besides you can see your data, not even the company you’re storing your files with.
It’s also a good idea to select a cloud storage service that offers automatic syncing across your devices.
For example, if you were to save a file on your personal laptop, it would be convenient to have it synced to your work computer for easy access when required.
I know this one’s pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how many people neglect to consider a service’s price.
It’s not always a good idea to simply select the cheapest option, but more expensive alternatives aren’t always a lot better.
Instead, weigh up the amount of storage you get, what features are included, and any other notable tools to ensure you’re getting the best value for money.
Business vs Personal Use
Most free cloud storage plans are tailored to personal users who don’t need a large selection of advanced features.
Meanwhile, many higher-end, more expensive options are great for business users who require more advanced tools and integrations. Keep this in mind when selecting a cloud storage service.
Free vs Paid Cloud Storage
And finally, make sure you understand the difference between free vs paid cloud storage. Most free options are quite limited, with minimal storage, restricted features, and other constraints.
These are often fine for personal use, but most business users will be better serviced by a premium subscription.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is cloud storage?
With cloud storage, you can store files and other important information in a private, secure manner. All information is stored on your cloud storage provider’s servers, and you will be able to access it from anywhere at any time.
What cloud storage is best for personal use?
Dropbox is the best cloud storage for personal use to store personal documents, family photos, and videos – due to its excellent free plan and streamlined user interface.
What cloud storage is best for businesses?
Sync.com is my number one best cloud storage for business because of its excellent security, great value for money, and intuitive collaboration and file-sharing tools.
What is the best free cloud storage?
pCloud offers the best free cloud storage plan I’ve seen. With 10 GB of included storage, client-side and zero-knowledge encryption, and great file sharing tools, there’s a lot to like here.
How much does cloud storage cost?
Cloud storage prices range between $5 to $10 per month. Plus, if you are on a budget, most providers offer free plans with generous storage.
Best Cloud Storage – Summary
It took me a lot of hours researching and testing countless cloud storage platforms to put together the above list of the best cloud storage services, but I can confidently say that I’ve identified the best options available today.
Business users will love the power of Sync.com, which offers excellent cloud storage service across the board.
pCloud is another great option, with powerful security integrations to ensure your information remains protected at all times.
Read my pCloud vs Sync comparison to find out which service is best for you
I’d recommend Dropbox’s free plan if you’re looking for a simple option for personal use, although Google Drive, Amazon Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are also decent options here, offering free cloud storage for family photos and videos.
NordLocker, Icedrive, and iDrive all offer excellent security, along with various collaboration and productivity tools.
And finally, Box.com is a great option for those looking for advanced features at an affordable price.
The most important thing to remember here is that there’s no such thing as a single best cloud storage option for all users.
Everyone’s needs are different, so I’d recommend shortlisting a few options from this list and taking advantage of their free plans to test their services.
Who knows, a free forever plan might be all that you need.