Cloud storage is an important tool for individuals and businesses looking to store, access and manage data remotely over the internet rather than on local devices or servers. It's convenient, cost-effective and scalable, and it facilitates collaboration. In this article, you will find the best cloud storage options of 2023 for different categories and answers to questions you may have.
Our Top Picks for the Best Cloud Storage
- Best for Budget: iDrive
- Best for Third-party Integrations: Dropbox
- Best for Google Apps Integrations: Google Drive
- Best for Lifetime Subscriptions: pCloud
- Best for Businesses: Sync
- Best for Apple Users: Apple iCloud
- Best for Windows and Office Users: Microsoft OneDrive
The 7 Best Cloud Storage Reviews
Why we chose it: With 10 GB of free storage and a starting price of $1 per TB per month, iDrive is the most affordable cloud storage service on this list.
- Cost-effective plans
- Discount if you're switching providers
- Backup multiple devices
- Free account with 10 GB of storage
- Slow upload and download speeds
- Entire disk image backup only available for Windows
iDrive is an online backup and cloud storage solution that allows individuals and businesses to back up multiple devices from the same place while offering some of the lowest prices per TB.
It offers a free account with 10 GB of storage you can start using right away. Users can subscribe to a paid plan to increase their storage limit, starting at $60 per year for 5 TB of storage. If you're switching from a competitor cloud storage provider to iDrive's personal plan, iDrive offers a considerable discount for your first year, so you'll only pay $8.
If you have a small team and are more concerned with storage space, the Team plan gives you five TB of cloud storage for five users across five devices. If, on the other hand, you have a large team and many devices, the Business plan grants you unlimited users and works across multiple devices.
Because both plans cost $75 per year, the tradeoff comes in the form of a lower storage limit. The Business plan starts at 250 GB, and you have to pay more for additional cloud storage.
To keep your files secure, iDrive uses a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for transfer and storage. Plus, to access your account, two-factor authentication (2FA) is required.
In spite of the benefits mentioned, one drawback for iDrive is its upload and download speeds. Compared to some of the other online cloud storage service providers, iDrive speed is on the slower side, according to multiple online reviews.
Why we chose it: Dropbox allows you to store and work with files directly from a large variety of third-party apps such as Canva, Adobe products, AutoDesk, AWS, Zoom, Microsoft Apps, Google GSuite and many more.
- Various useful third-party integrations
- Unlimited storage option available
- Allows eSignatures
- Only 2 GB of free storage
- Higher prices than other providers
- No zero-knowledge encryption yet
Although the free account from Dropbox is more limited than other providers, offering only 2 GB of storage, the company offers various paid plans, starting at $12 per month, that provide between 2 TB and unlimited storage. This makes it a good option for businesses that require significant amounts of storage.
As with any other cloud storage platform, the upload speed for Dropbox will depend on the user's internet connection. However, you can typically expect around 12 Mbps uploads and 40 Mbps downloads. While these rates are relatively good, other providers are faster.
When it comes to security, Dropbox uses the industry standard 256-bit AES encryption, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology, Transport Layer Security (TLS) technology and 2FA account verification to protect your files. There are plans to add zero-knowledge encryption in the future with Dropbox's recent acquisition of Boxcryptor.
Why we chose it: Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud storage services because of its easy-to-use interface and integrations with other Google Apps. This tool allows you to easily share, work and collaborate on files across all Google Apps like Gmail, Docs and Sheets.
- Free 15 GB of storage
- Easy-to-use interface
- World-class security
- Integration with other Google Apps
- Unknown upload and download speeds
- Upload limit of 750 GB per day
- No zero-knowledge encryption
Google Drive offers users up to 15 GB of storage for free, which is more than enough for individual users and some businesses with light storage needs, making it the best free cloud storage plan. If you need more storage, you can subscribe to a paid plan, starting at $12 per user per month and 12 TB of storage per user. Individuals can also increase their storage by subscribing to Google One, a membership that includes multiple Google Apps and up to 2 TB of storage.
Google does not specify its upload and download speeds since these are dependent on a user's internet connection and location. However, what is known is that users can upload a maximum of 750 GB per day. If you want to upload a bigger file, it will take multiple days.
Another critical factor to consider is security. Google excels at protecting your files thanks to its industry-leading data centers that encrypt data in transit and at rest. Plus, every time you download a file from Drive, it is scanned for viruses.
Why we chose it: pCloud is a simple cloud storage service that protects your files and is more cost-effective in the long run than any other service, thanks to its lifetime subscriptions. This means that you only have to pay once for your storage, starting at $570 for 500 GB of storage.
- Lifetime subscription option
- Unlimited upload and download speeds
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Lacks collaboration tools
- Encryption is an add-on
Even though pCloud's lifetime subscription is a great option to save in the long term, you also have the option to pay monthly or annually, starting at $5 per month.
pCloud's top priority is its data security. All plans come with TLS/SSL encryption and use multiple high-security data servers. For a one-time fee of $150, you can add encryption to your plan that provides multi-layer protection and zero-knowledge encryption, which is the safest type of encryption for cloud storage.
pCloud also stands out for its speed. Its download and upload speeds are automatically set to unlimited, which means that uploading and downloading files will be as fast as your internet provider can handle.
While pCloud offers a useful integration with Facebook and Instagram to easily back up your photos, it lacks collaboration tools like real-time commenting and other third-party integrations to work directly on popular platforms such as Canva.
Why we chose it: Sync is a secure cloud storage platform built for businesses on a budget. It offers advanced team administration features and key integrations such as Microsoft 365, making it a good choice for businesses that require constant team collaboration.
- Cost-effective for businesses
- Collaboration tools
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Slow upload and download speed
Sync's affordable plans allow teams to have anywhere from 1 TB to unlimited storage starting at $6 per user per month, making its business plans more cost-effective than other services on this list.
Some of Sync's key features for businesses include automatic backups, controlled access to files, advanced sharing, custom branding and integrations with popular business tools such as Adobe and Microsoft applications. These integrations allow you to access your files directly from the apps. The company also offers a high level of security with zero-knowledge encryption supported by an enterprise-grade infrastructure.
Sync’s main shortcoming is its upload and download speeds. Online reviews mention that, in comparison with other cloud storage providers, Sync has subpar rates. According to Sync, lower speeds can be attributed to its zero-knowledge encryption, which can slow down uploads and downloads of large files.
Why we chose it: iCloud is the best cloud storage for individuals with Apple devices, thanks to its ease-of-use within the Apple ecosystem. Real-time sync makes it effortless to access your documents, pictures, music, notes, calendar and more from all your Apple devices.
- Free 5 GB of storage
- Fully integrated with the Apple ecosystem
- Easy to use
- Strong security features
- Not available for Android and Linux devices
- No zero-knowledge encryption
This service works as a personal cloud storage platform for Apple users who have outgrown their hardware storage. With iCloud's seamless integration, you can spend less time worrying about filling up your device's built-in storage because, in a matter of seconds, you can get and use plenty of extra storage. Plus, iCloud makes it easy to back up all your devices and never lose any important information, from contacts to documents.
Users begin with five free GB, and paid plans start at $1 per month for 50 GB. You can upgrade your plan and get up to 2 TB of storage for $10 per month, which is relatively affordable compared to its competitors.
Thanks to Apple's world-class infrastructure, you can trust that your files will be secure on iCloud. Plus, Apple uses end-to-end encryption and 2FA, so only you have access to your files.
The biggest shortcoming of Apple’s iCloud is that it's not available for Android or Linux devices; if you have a Mac and an Android phone, iCloud will be less functional for you. Plus, compared to pCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox, iCloud's upload speed is slower. According to user tests, you can expect upload and download rates of around 5 Mbps.
Why we chose it: Just like iCloud for Apple users, OneDrive is the best cloud storage service for people that primarily use Microsoft devices and apps. The integrations give OneDrive more capabilities in this ecosystem, such as easy access to files from any device and real-time collaboration.
- Fully integrated with the Microsoft ecosystem
- Collaboration tools
- Unlimited upload and download speeds
- Doesn't offer zero-knowledge encryption
- Not as affordable as other services
Businesses that use Microsoft 365 apps can enhance collaboration with OneDrive since everyone on the team has access to the relevant documents. Other key features include document scanning, photo storage and a personal vault to store your most important documents.
Microsoft OneDrive offers a free plan with 5 GB and multiple plans for personal and business purposes. Home cloud storage plans start at $2 per month for 100 GB, and business plans start at $5 per user per month for 1 TB per user.
OneDrive doesn't cap its upload and download speeds. However fast you can upload and download files depends on your internet service provider.
Microsoft OneDrive doesn't offer zero-knowledge encryption to protect files. However, it uses 2FA and basic encryption that is relatively secure. With that in mind, Microsoft OneDrive is a good option if security is not your primary concern.
Other cloud storage we considered
- 1,500+ app integrations
- Strong security features
- Powerful collaboration features
- Free 10 GB storage
- Limited file sizes depending on plans
- High prices
Aside from easy file sharing and real-time collaboration, Box provides features that other services don't offer, such as eSignatures and workflows. Plus, Box integrates with over 1,500 apps.
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Ransomware protection
- Unlimited historical versions
- Sync unlimited devices
- No free plan
- High prices
- Lacks integrations and collaboration tools
SpiderOak One is one of the most secure cloud storage providers for individuals thanks to advanced security features such as zero-knowledge encryption and ransomware protection. Plus, it has some of the best cloud storage backup features, such as unlimited file history, which means you can always access old versions of your documents from any point in time. However, SpiderOak One doesn't offer a free plan, and the plans are relatively expensive.
- Free 5 GB storage
- Great for backing up photos
- Simple web interface
- Will no longer be supported in 2024
- Lacks features
Amazon delivers a simple cloud storage tool where you can back up important files. However, it lacks key features such as file-versioning, and the app will only be supported through December 31, 2023.
Cloud Storage Guide
To make the best decision on a cloud storage provider, you need to understand what cloud storage is, how it works and the advantages and disadvantages of using a particular type of cloud storage.
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage is a service that allows people to securely store their data remotely. The main benefit of cloud storage is that you and your team can access data from anywhere and don't have to worry about losing it if your own device is lost, damaged or stolen. And, with cloud storage, you aren't limited by your physical hardware.
Features included in cloud storage platforms depend on the provider but include automatic backups, advanced sharing, real-time collaboration tools and integrations with third-party applications, programs and services. In addition, cloud storage providers offer security features that keep data safe.
How does cloud storage work?
Cloud storage works by storing data on a network of remote servers which are managed by a cloud storage provider. To access your data, simply connect to the internet and log into your account with the provider.
The cloud storage provider manages a network of servers and is responsible for ensuring that the data is stored securely and available to users when needed. The provider uses different technologies and techniques, such as data replication and backup, to ensure that the data is always available and can be recovered in the event of a disaster.
In addition to providing access to data, cloud storage providers offer the aforementioned data backup and recovery, as well as data security and collaboration tools. This makes cloud storage a convenient and flexible way to store, access and share data.
Advantages of cloud storage
Cloud storage providers offer different features, but the core benefits are the same. Here are the main advantages of subscribing to a cloud storage platform.
Cloud storage costs much less than traditional storage methods because there are no upfront fees or equipment costs. You don't need to buy external hard drives or upgrade your devices every time you run out of space. By using cloud-based storage instead of accommodating on-site servers, businesses free up office space and save money on rent and maintenance.
Paid cloud storage can start at $1 per month for the most basic plans. If you want to increase your storage use, even up to unlimited storage amounts, plans can get pricey. However, most platforms offer a free plan or free trial, meaning there are plenty of subscription options that will fit your needs and budget.
Files are readily accessible
Cloud-based services like Dropbox and Google Drive allow you to access all of your files from any device that has internet access. This means that if your device is lost, damaged or stolen, you can still access your data from another device. Plus, you enhance team collaboration since members can easily access the files they need in seconds and work together in real-time.
Data can be recovered
One of the key benefits of cloud storage is that it makes it easy to restore data in the event of data loss. Most cloud storage providers offer backup and recovery, which automatically save copies of data on a regular basis. If data is lost or corrupted, it can be quickly and easily restored from these backups.
The specific steps for recovering data with cloud storage will vary depending on the provider and the features offered. However, most providers make accessing and recovering data easy, even if you don't have extensive technical knowledge.
Disadvantages of cloud storage
Cloud storage is a great way to ensure you have access to your data wherever you are, but there are also disadvantages that you should know about. Here are three things to consider before choosing a cloud storage service provider.
Non-customizable data storage setup
If your business has specific requirements for its data storage setup, cloud storage can have its downsides. Cloud storage providers operate their own data centers, so you can't customize how and where your data is stored. This is more of an issue with enterprises than small businesses, but if you require greater control of your data storage setup, you may wish to keep your servers on-premise.
Any time you sign a long-term contract, you risk outgrowing your provider and getting stuck with a vendor that no longer meets your needs. If you change your mind down the road and want to migrate your data to another cloud storage provider or take it in-house, it will cost you considerable time and money.
Requires an internet connection
Cloud storage requires an internet connection. Without one, devices can't access your account and sync the files. If you do much of your work offline or live and work in an area with an unreliable internet connection, cloud storage might not be the right fit for you.
What to consider when choosing a cloud storage provider
Before committing to a cloud storage tool, there are a few things you need to think about.
The storage you need
If you don't want to overspend on storage or run out of space, then you need to estimate how much you will need.
For personal use, it should be easy to determine how much storage you need by calculating the number of photos and documents you typically create per month. Images and videos are the items that most fill up an individual's storage.
In the case of businesses, however, you need to consider how many team members need access to the cloud storage and how many files your business creates on average each month. You should also consider the number of devices from your organization that you want to back up. All of this gives you an idea of how much storage you need.
Fortunately, cloud storage platforms make it easy to upgrade a plan, and the additional storage gets added immediately.
The integrations you need
Integrations are essential to businesses looking into cloud storage. For example, thanks to Dropbox's integration with online graphic designing tool Canva, you can save all designs instantly in your Dropbox account. This saves time and the storage required to download and upload the design manually to Dropbox.
Some cloud storage services integrate better with specific tools. For example, Google Drive integrates with all Google Apps, giving extra functionalities to users. So before making a decision, consider the tools you and your team use. Without these integrations, you risk decreasing your productivity.
Finally, you need to decide how much you're willing to pay for storage. Paid cloud storage services range from $1 to thousands of dollars per month, so there are plenty of options for all budgets. Platforms that include additional collaboration features are typically more expensive.
Look at the platform's annual billing rates if you want to save money. Many vendors offer discounts for customers paying for annual subscriptions as opposed to monthly ones.
Best Cloud Storage FAQ
How do I clear my cloud storage?
How much does cloud storage cost?
Is cloud storage safe?
What's the difference between cloud storage and a backup?
How We Chose the Best Cloud Storage
To help you find the best product for your specific needs, we reviewed dozens of cloud storage services and determined the best ones based on the following criteria.
Cloud storage pricing varies greatly depending on the provider, the amount of storage you want and the features it comes with. Some services are aimed at businesses and include other collaboration features that individuals don't need, which may increase the price.
Upload and download speeds
Upload and download speeds determine the rate at which your data is transferred into or out of the cloud storage. Some providers have a max upload or download speed, so no file can be transferred faster than the limit.
Other platforms don't have a limit and your files will be uploaded or downloaded as fast as your internet service provider allows. Sometimes the speed is also affected by the company's servers. The cloud storage providers' upload and download speeds range from 0.75 Mbps to as much as your internet provider can handle.
Cloud storage platforms protect users by using controlled access to files and two-factor authentication. This form of authentication requires people trying to log into an account to verify they are the account owner, often through an SMS message. Without this verification, the person won't be able to access the account.
Encryption is also a necessary security feature in cloud storage products. Encryption is generally the safest way to protect files on the internet because, without a key, it's very difficult to decode an encrypted file.
If you're looking for the most secure cloud storage platform, choose one that offers zero-knowledge encryption. This way, not even the service provider can see what’s inside your documents.
Cloud storage providers offer a variety of plans with different storage levels. Most of the companies on this list also offer free plans with multiple GB of storage, with the ability to upgrade your plan.
Many providers have a maximum storage level, while others offer unlimited storage for enterprises.