Cloud storage is quickly replacing physical storage like hard drives as an effective and secure way to store files and share them with others.
Big game players like Google and Amazon have been using cloud storage services for some time, so it’s no wonder other businesses are leveraging them for storage solutions.
Because of its popularity, these services are in abundance, so choosing the right one for your individual or business needs can be a challenge.
Our aim is to provide you with a guide to the best cloud storage solutions that we’ve tried and tested, giving you an honest and accurate account of each of them.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage stores files like documents, photos, etc. on servers familiarly known as “The Cloud”. The Cloud isn’t actually a ‘thing’, more of a name for a collection of physical servers that represent it.
Individuals and businesses can rent storage space via a cloud computing provider that offers cloud storage as a service.
Cloud storage is notoriously flexible, scalable, and reliable, offering “anytime, anywhere” access to your data and files.
What are the benefits of Cloud Storage?
Because of its popularity, there’s no wonder that there are so many benefits, including:
- Ease of use: Individuals, software testers, businesses, and developers can store and share files quickly without having to configure resources.
- Security: It has the option to move data to a remote location for backup purposes. Compared to maintaining and running their own remote facilities, companies can save costs by investing in cloud storage.
- Cost: When you sign up for a cloud storage service, you only pay for the amount of storage you actually use, so you won’t be paying out a big one-off fee.
1. pCloud (Overall Best Cloud Storage)
pCloud is one of the few cloud storage solutions that offer lifetime access within their plans. Lifetime access plans are great if you plan to use cloud storage for a long period of time.
Millions of users have signed up for pCloud’s services including businesses like Coca-Cola, Twitter, and Instagram, which is a good sign if you’re looking for a reputable company.
You can easily access your files from anywhere using their variety of applications including mobile, desktop, and web.
If you want to share files and folders with colleagues or friends, sharing and receiving files is easier than ever with pCloud, even for beginners.
pCloud’s lifetime plans start from £175 (one-off) or you can nab an annual plan for £47.88 per year.
If you need to store a lot of data safely and plan to use a cloud storage service for a long period of time, Zoolz could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Zoolz’s cloud storage plans start from £11.24 per month which gives you access to unlimited external drives, users, and servers, as well as file versioning.
Zoolz also offers pricing plans for 50TB storage and more if you require this. In most cases, personal or small business use would never reach these limits, but large corporations may want to consider Zoolz as an affordable option.
If you do decide to opt for Zoolz’s mass storage, you’ll get plenty of advanced features including:
- On-the-fly military-grade encryption
- Smart duplication algorithm
- Easy deployment for 1000’s of users
- Advanced user access rules
- Custom system alerts
- Backup previews
- Continuous data protection
If you’re searching for a cloud storage service that offers free storage, IDrive’s basic plan is free for life and comes with a generous 5GB storage.
One of IDrive’s best features is their automatic file and device backups. Whilst it may seem safe and secure to store your files, even servers can encounter issues and data can be lost.
You can back up everything from your mobile devices and desktop and retrieve a wealth of data via IDrive’s Express tool if needed.
IDrive suits a range of individuals as well as businesses who need to back up their data. You can also manage remote computers so you won’t need to physically be in front of them to back up data.
IDrive’s Personal plan 5TB data for one user and unlimited computers which is great for personal use (the key is in the name). However, businesses who require more than one user can benefit from the Business plan which offers unlimited users, 250GB, and unlimited servers and computers.
Sync is geared more towards businesses that require a certain level of compliance. They are HIPAA, GDPA, and PIPEDA compliant which is ideal for European and Canadian companies.
Each cloud storage plan includes a high level of end-to-end encryption, remote device lockout, and two-factor authentication.
Files can be sent and received securely with password protection and expiry dates, adding an extra layer of security.
Regardless of which Sync plan you choose, you’ll be able to share unlimited files and create unlimited folders, starting from just $5 per month with 1TB storage per user.
You can have between 2-100 users on the Business Pro Teams Standard and Plus plans, and up to 1,000 on the Advanced plan.
Alternatively, you can sign up to Sync for free on their Personal plan which comes with 5GB free storage, for life. Features include sharing and collaboration, end-to-end encryption, and you can transfer account ownership.
Managing a remote team can be difficult when you need to collaborate on files and share access with people around the world. This is especially pertinent during the global pandemic we’re faced with and the increase in remote working.
LiveDrive allows you to easily collaborate with others, offering unlimited PC/Mac backups. You can access, edit, and collaborate on files across any device, securely, which is ideal for remote working.
You’ll get a high level of security as well as the reassurance of UK data centers with 24/7 security, SOC2 certified and SOX compliance, and lots more.
LiveDrive’s personal plans start from £6.99 per month and include unlimited storage. Their business plans start from £30 per month which is ideal for small teams, or you can choose their reseller account which is £39.95 per month.
6. Google Drive
Google Drive is a reliable cloud solution which leverages GSuite and Android so if you already use these services, you’re onto a winner.
The free plan gives you 15GB free storage which is very generous, especially when you want to back up your essential files and folders.
As you may expect, Google Drive works seamlessly with Android devices and Chromebooks, as well as Adobe products, Slack, and DocuSign (plus many more).
It’s quite difficult to find any issues with Google Drive, especially as individuals can get 15GB storage for free. Teams and businesses can sign up to GSuite which is £4.14 per month, or you can sign up for a free trial for 14 days.
The Basic plan includes 30GB cloud storage as well as Gmail business email, chat team messaging, and lots more.
If you’re a Windows user, OneDrive is a no brainer as it’s Microsoft’s cloud storage solution. It offers seamless integration with Outlook and Microsoft devices with automated backups of your PC.
OneDrive’s offline access means you can access your files without being connected to the internet. You can even store sensitive information in your Personal Vault which comes with extra layers of added security for your peace of mind.
You can get a free plan with 5GB storage which is much less than Google Drive’s generous 15GB. Microsoft’s 100GB plan comes in at £1.99 per month or you can sign up for Microsoft 365 Personal which comes with 1TB storage plus Office apps like Microsoft Word, Outlook, and Powerpoint.
Best Cloud Storage FAQs
Is free cloud storage any good?
Most cloud services offer a free account that comes with a limited amount of storage space. In my opinion, free cloud storage is good – in fact, it gives individuals the opportunity to experience cloud storage and make the decision to move to affordable, secure storage later down the line. I find this much better than a free trial as you get to enjoy the entire service.
Why should I pay for cloud storage?
Paying for storage generally comes with the additional security of having support staff on hand if anything goes wrong. There are plenty of benefits to paying for cloud storage like extra space, fewer limitations, and more features. Being able to upload larger files is an added bonus for small businesses or graphic designers.
How can I access my cloud storage files?
Files can be accessed via an app or software installed on your PC. Most cloud storage services offer a mobile application that you can access on the go. You can upload your files and folders via a web browser if you don’t want to download an app, but you’ll need an internet connection to upload your files in the first place.