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The best cloud storage in 2021: make sure your data is secure

best cloud storage
(Image credit: Anthony Harvie on Getty Images)

Making the most of the best cloud storage has become essential to many more digital creatives around the world in recent times. And it's not just that remote working means getting hold of files, without carrying around external har drives with us. From documents and PDFs to photos and videos, our digital files are getting bigger, as what used to be regarded as super-high resolution has become the go-to standard. 

Whether you're a freelancer or part of a bigger business, we're all rapidly running out of physical storage space. The cloud, conversely, offers us technically unlimited storage, spread out securely across the planet - the perfect solution to a very modern problem. 

And of course, the best cloud storage solutions are much more economical than storing all your stuff on physical media. If you have any problems, there are dedicated customer support staff to help you out. Plus, while your own physical media can get damaged, lost, stolen or hacked, the best cloud storage solutions provide a much safer and more secure way to protect your data over the long term.

So how do you choose the best cloud storage platform for your precious files? That's not so easy, because there are so many competing companies, and their websites all look pretty similar. Not to mention that their marketing spiel is often high on jargon, but low on actual facts. 

To make things easy, then, we've gathered together the best cloud storage providers in one post, and our dedicated price checker automatically pulls in the very best deals available. You'll also find all the information you need to compare them, on everything from price to the level of security they provide. If you have your own business, you might also want to see our pick of the best cloud storage for business.

The three current top cloud storage deals

The best cloud storage services of 2021

IDrive logo on laptop in home office

(Image credit: IDrive)

01. IDrive

The best cloud storage service overall

Specifications
Storage: 5GB-50TB
Free storage: 5GB
Paid plans: iDrive Personal, iDrive Team, iDrive Business
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Feature-packed+Excellent custom support
Reasons to avoid
-Some free services offer more space

IDrive is the best cloud storage provider available today, because it provides everything you might need for a very affordable price. 

The UI is well designed and easy to use. And it's packed with handy features, too. For example, you can back up your data to an unlimited number of devices, with real-time syncing. And you can access older file restorations, which is handy if you accidentally delete something. 

IDrive works with mapped network drives, so you can use it to preserve full disk images – back up entire systems, in other words – if you choose. Need extra stats? IDrive can also provide you with detailed activity reports. Worried about security? You can benefit from two-factor authentication and end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption, both during transfer and at rest, making your data safer than if you'd deposited it with Google Drive. 

If you want to collaborate with others, you can share synced files with them quickly and seamlessly. And if you need help, customer support is available by phone five days a week, or by email and live online chat 24/7. 

You can get up to 5GB of storage on the free plan, and there are paid-for options that run up to 5TB, 10TB and 12.5TB. For more details, read our IDrive review.

Only interested in storing photos and videos? IDrive has launched an extra service this June, called IDrive Photos, to coincide with Google withdrawing unlimited storage from Google Photos. This cloud backup app for iOS/Android devices offers you unlimited storage for just $9.95 a year, and at time of writing you can get your first year for just 99 cents a year.

screenshot of pcloud

(Image credit: Ingram Publishing on Getty Images/pCloud)

02. pCloud

The best cloud storage service with a lifetime subscription

Specifications
Storage: 10GB-2TB
Free storage: 10GB
Paid plans: Premium, Premium Plus 2 (annual or lifetime)
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use +Cheap over long term+Media management tools
Reasons to avoid
-No live chat or phone support

Typically, online services are cheap for the first year, but then hike up the direct debit once they've got you hooked. pCloud, however, allows you to avoid that happening by offering a lifetime subscription. This gets you 500GB or 2TB of storage for a one-off payment of just $175 / £159 or $350 / £309. 

Alternatively, if you'd rather pay monthly or annually, pCloud's prices are pretty cheap too. And there's even a free plan which comes with 10GB of storage.

Despite these low prices, pCloud offers a great service, which lets you manage your files in real time across all your devices, using either a browser extension or mobile app. There are no limits on individual file sizes, and backups of deleted and altered files are stored for up to 30 days. Plus there are some great media management tools, which you can use to resize and compress content within your account, to make all those gigabytes stretch even further.

Security is covered by 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication, and you can choose whether you want your data stored in the EU or US. Also note that pCloud itself is based in Switzerland, which is famed for its strong privacy laws. 

Most recently (March 2021), pCloud has introduced pCloud Backup, which allows you to automatically back up any folder or file from your computer to your pCloud account. It’s automatic, so there's no need to log in to anything : just choose the folders you want to back up and let pCloud do the rest.

Overall, pCloud doesn’t have as many high-end business features as some of its rivals, and support is only provided by email or web form, not by phone or live chat. Also, the maximum 2TB might not be enough for your needs. However, as long as these aren't deal-breakers, this is the best cloud storage option for long-term low prices. For more details, read our full pCloud review.

cheapest cloud storage: Backblaze

(Image credit: Backblaze/Ingram Publishing on Getty)

03. Backblaze Cloud Storage

Cost-effective cloud storage for large amounts of data

Specifications
Storage: Unlimited
Free storage: 10GB
Paid plans: Monthly, yearly, two-yearly
Reasons to buy
+Reliable over time+Unlimited storage+Competitive prices
Reasons to avoid
-Files not encrypted

Backblaze is a specialist in providing unlimited cloud storage and backup for both personal and business customers. By default, it automatically backs up everything on your system, and so it's a great solution for time-poor businesses who just want to 'set it and forget it'. Backups can be continuous, set at regular intervals, or activated manually if you prefer.

Conversely, this is not the kind of cloud storage that's geared towards uploading and collaborating on individual files, as you'd do in Google Drive or Microsoft's OneDrive, for example. But it is a great choice for any organisation with large amounts of data that they need to archive. Particularly because it's compatible with Amazon S3, making it easy to migrate any files you have on that platform. 

How safe are your files? Backblaze states that their data durability rate is 99.999999999 per cent: "If you store one million objects in B2 for 10 million years, you would expect to lose one file," they claim. Be aware, though, that files are not stored encrypted.

You get 10GB on the free plan, with a limit of 1GB a day, and the B2 platform offers you unlimited paid storage at very cost-effective prices. It's easy to set caps and alerts to make sure you don't spend more than you intend to. What's more, you can get the B2 plan for free when you sign up to 12 months of our top-rated VPN service, ExpressVPN. That gives you a full year of Backblaze storage (worth $70) for absolutely nothing, plus you get 3 free months of ExpressVPN thrown into the bargain too. And all for just $6.67 / £4.97 a month. What's not to like?

For more details on Backblaze, see our full Backblaze review.

Cheapest cloud storage

(Image credit: Dropbox)

04. Dropbox

The best cloud storage service for collaboration

Specifications
Storage: 2GB-unlimited
Free storage: 2GB
Paid plans: Basic, Professional, Standard, Advanced
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Great collaboration features+180-day file history preservation
Reasons to avoid
-Paid plans are expensive

Dropbox has been around since 2008, and is very popular, so even if you haven't signed up yourself, you've probably used it to grab other people's files at some point. Its main aim is to make file sharing secure and easy, and it succeeds. 

That makes it the best cloud service provider for collaboration, with its team folders, editing tools, secure file transfers and commenting making it easy to work on files with others. Indeed, Dropbox has recently doubled-down on this point of difference, launching a standalone product, currently in private beta, called Dropbox Spaces, which brings the best-loved collaboration features from across Dropbox into a single surface to help teams manage projects together.

Other standout features of Dropbox include an intuitive interface, real-time syncing across multiple devices, 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication. Dropbox also offers 180 days of file history, and the ability to add watermarks and smart permission options. 

The free version offers 2GB storage, while you get more if you pay: 3TB, 5TB or unlimited amounts, depending on your plan. 

The paid tiers also unlock advanced features including device approvals, audit logging, centralised admin consoles and networking controls. On the downside, these options are expensive than many other cloud storage providers. For more details, read our full Dropbox review

bigmind by zoolz screenshot

(Image credit: Ingram Publishing on Getty Images/Zoolz)

05. BigMIND by Zoolz

The best cloud storage service for business archives

Specifications
Storage: 100GB-10TB
Free storage: 1GB
Paid plans: Home, Business, Business Cloud
Reasons to buy
+Smart AI+Intelligent filters+Photo recognition
Reasons to avoid
-Only 1GB with free version

Zoolz is an easy-to-use cloud storage provider that's broadly geared towards businesses that seek long-term data archiving, although it's recently introduced a cheap plan called Zoolz Home for individuals, with a 1GB free version.

There's no free option for the business plans (although there is a free trial). But the paid options are pretty affordable considering you get up to 1TB storage. 

Standout features include automatic backups, uploads and syncing to a variety of devices, and smart AI that groups together objects, faces, documents and text for easier organisation. There's also file versioning, photo recognition, and a range of search options with smart filters. And security is covered by 256-bit AES encryption and multi-factor authentication. 

In short, Zoolz's business plans are among the best cloud storage options for giving a long-term home for your business archives. 

Degoo cloud storage on a mobile device

(Image credit: Degoo)

06. Degoo Cloud

The best cloud storage service for photographers

Specifications
Storage: 100GB-10TB
Free storage: 100GB
Paid plans: Free, Pro, Ultimate
Reasons to buy
+100GB for free+Focused on photography+Good security 
Reasons to avoid
-Limits on free option

Founded in Sweden in 2012, there are three reasons to choose Degoo Cloud over other cloud storage providers. Firstly, because it's designed specifically for photographers. Secondly, because it gives you an extremely generous 100GB of space on the free option. And thirdly, if you click the link above, you can get 200GB for free, for your first year.

On top of that, you get 256-bit end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, automatic uploading, cross-device support and real-time syncing. You can upload files via Android and iOS, special apps for Samsung or Huawei phones, or any desktop web browser. And you have the option to duplicate every one of your backups if you choose.

As this is Creative Bloq, we should also note that Degoo has the most beautifully designed interfaces of all the cloud storage services on this list, with some elegant typgoraphy and lovely illustrations to make the dull matter of uploading your files just that little bit more enjoyable.

The main downside of the free version is that you'll get served a lot of ads, you can only use it on three devices, and your account will get cancelled if you don't use it for 90 days. But you can't really complain seeing as you're getting so much for free.

The ads and inactivity limit disappear, though when you upgrade to the paid plan. And you'll also get either 500GB or 10TB storage, support for either 10 or unlimited devices, plus advanced features such as zero-knowledge encryption and a photo-storage maximisers. For more information, see our Degoo review.

Abstract illustration of a box surrounded by icons

(Image credit: Nordblocker)

07. NordLocker

The best cloud storage service for security and privacy

Specifications
Storage: 3GB-500GB
Free storage: 3GB
Paid plans: Free or premium
Reasons to buy
+Powerful security +Free version
Reasons to avoid
-No mobile app-No phone support

Is protecting your privacy and data security your main concern? Then we'd recommend NordLocker, as this is the best cloud storage service for keeping your files safe. 

Not only does it offer more powerful encryption than most, but all your data is automatically encrypted before you upload it... so even NordLocker can’t see it. Secure file-sharing, two-factor authentication and master password support are all included as standard. 

Beyond these security protections, this is a very decent, all-round cloud storage service. The interface is particularly well designed and easy to use. With the free plan, you get 3GB of storage, while the premium plan gives you 500GB. If you want more than that, though, you’ll need to talk to NordLocker directly. 

Also note that NordLocker operates via a Windows or Mac app only, and so you can't use a mobile app or browser extension. Also, while online and email support is good, there's no phone support. For more details, see our Nordlocker review.

Cheapest cloud storage

(Image credit: Microsoft)

08. Microsoft OneDrive

The best cloud storage service for Windows users

Specifications
Storage: 5GB-6TB
Free storage: 5GB
Paid plans: Microsoft 365 Family, Microsoft 365 Personal, OneDrive Standalone, OneDrive Basic
Reasons to buy
+5GB for free +Integrated with Windows +Smartphone and Mac apps
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly basic service

If you use Windows 10, you'll know about OneDrive as it’s built right into the operating system, and includes 5GB of cloud storage for free. And if you take out an Office 365 subscription, you'll get a whole 1TB, with the option to pay for more. Alternatively you can get 100GB of monthly storage without Office 365 at a surprisingly low price.

OneDrive offers real-time syncing, 30 days of file restoration, ransomware detection and a personal vault that protects key files with ID verification. There’s support for multipage scanning, offline folders, automatic photo saving and editing on any device. And as well as using it on your Windows PC, you can also get OneDrive apps for Android, iOS and macOS. Do note, however, that OneDrive is not currently supported on a Chromebook.

OneDrive may lack some the advanced features of its business-focused rivals, but it’s solid, reliable, easy to use and nicely integrated into Windows. And Microsoft are constantly adding new features; for example in June they introduced the ability to edit photos directly within OneDrive. 

For more details, read our comparison articles iDrive vs OneDrive and iCloud vs OneDrive.

iCloud tips

(Image credit: Apple)

09. Apple iCloud

The best cloud storage service for Apple users

Specifications
Storage: 5GB-2TB
Free storage: 5GB
Paid plans: 50GB, 200GB, 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Apple integration+Easy to use +5GB for free
Reasons to avoid
-Not great for business users

Do you do most of your work using Apple devices? Then you'll already have access to iCloud and the 5GB of free storage it offers. As you'd expect, the service integrates beautifully with both macOS and iOS, making it easy to store and synchronize your data, and find files when you need them. To see how it works in practice, follow our tutorial How to Use iCloud.

Apple iCloud offers good sharing options, clear visual organisation, and two-factor authentication. And that's not all. During its WWDC 2021 keynote, Apple revealed a big upgrade will be coming to iCloud later this year. New features will include a new privacy mode for surfing Safari, auto-encrypting outgoing traffic; the ability to set up temporary email addresses, and the choice to auto-upload security camera footage to your iCloud account.

(Note: somewhat confusingly, Apple dubbed these changes 'iCloud Plus'. But this is not a new or extra service, and all these new features will be available to exisiting iCloud users, at no extra cost.)

Business users, however, won't find the kind of specialist security or advanced features available in other tools. And while it is possible for non-Apple fans to use iCloud on either Windows or Android, we can't really think of a great reason to do so. For more information, read our articles iCloud vs IDrive and iCloud vs Google Drive.

Google Drive screenshot

(Image credit: Google)

10. Google Drive

The best cloud storage service for Android and Chromebooks

Specifications
Storage: 15GB-20TB
Free storage: 15GB
Paid plans: 100GB, 200GB, 2TB, 10TB
Reasons to buy
+15GB free storage+Android integration+G-Suite integration
Reasons to avoid
-More free space with Degoo/Mega

To access Google’s cloud storage, you just need a Google account, an Android phone or a Chromebook, and you'll get 15GB of storage for free. With paid plans, you can get up to 10TB. 

As you'd expect, Google Drive nicely integrated with G-suite apps such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sheets, making it easy to edit, collaborate on, and share your files. Plus if you want to open a file that Google doesn't have an app for, it does a great job of searching for one.

With desktop apps for Windows and Mac, and mobile apps for iOS and Android, you can access all the standard cloud storage features, such as real-time syncing, encryption, offline working and document scanning. You can restore files from up to 30 days in the past, and store photos with no compression. 

As with other Google apps, the company is constantly improving Google Drive on an interative basis, often without a great deal of fanfare. For example, this June it extending the existing ability to colour-code folders to shared drives and shortcuts too. For more information, read our article iCloud vs Google Drive.

Box screenshot

(Image credit: Ingram Publishing on Getty Images/Box)

11. Box

Unlimited cloud storage for business users

Specifications
Storage: 100GB-Unlimited
Free storage: 10GB
Paid plans: Personal Pro, Starter, Business, Business Plus, Enterprise
Reasons to buy
+Unlimited storage on most plans+Supported by 1,500 apps+Data loss protection 
Reasons to avoid
-Indvidual file upload limits

If you're looking for vast amounts of cloud storage for your organisation, then Box is well worth investigating. With most of its paid plans, you get unlimited storage. Note, though, that there's a 5GB limit on individual file uploads.

Box offers some sophisticated security options, data loss protection, note-taking tools and collaboration features. There are bespoke Box apps for Mac, Windows and Android. And because it's been around since 2005, Box is also supported by a lot of third-party apps: more than 1,500 in total. 

We'll be honest: this isn't the best cloud storage solution for personal use. On the free plan you get just 10GB storage, compared with Google Drive's 15GB, and there's a 250MB maximum file size. And its Personal Pro plan isn't very competitively priced. But for business use, including creative freelancers, this feature-rich service  is very much worth considering. For more details, read our full Box review

Mega screenshot

(Image credit: Ingram Publishing on Getty Images/Mega)

12. Mega

The most open and transparent cloud storage provider

Specifications
Storage: 20GB-16TB
Free storage: 20GB
Paid plans: Pro Lite, Pro 1, Pro 2, Pro 3, Business
Reasons to buy
+Open approach to technology+Strong security features+20GB storage for free
Reasons to avoid
-Apps are quite basic

Mega is one of the best cloud storage options for free space, offering a decent 20GB. And if you need more, you can get 1TB-16TB at some very low prices.

Mega's desktop apps, mobile apps and browser extensions are basic, but usable. They offer seamless syncing and uploading across its apps and extensions. There's also a strong focus on security, with user-controlled end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and endpoint encryption all included. Both chat and file-sharing are encrypted too. 

What really stands out about Mega, though, is that it publishes its own source code and cryptographic architecture, which is great practice for eliminating security vulnerabilities. So if you're seeking transparency and support for the open web, this is the best cloud storage provider for you. For more information, see our Mega review.

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