Having the best cloud storage is essential for any creative who needs to move large files around and share them with clients or colleagues, but there are dozens of services out there with different features, capacities and pricing structures – so finding the right one for you can be confusing.
We all want a place to store our files where we can access them securely, wherever we are, and having the best cloud storage means you can safely stash all kinds of files and access them from a huge range of devices, browsers and locations. Delving deeper into the features reveals cloud storage services with impressive security credentials, useful collaboration tools and slick file-sharing.
It’s also worth examining the pricing levels on offer – some tools have free services, others have different tiers, and some restrict features depending on how much you’re willing to pay.
In order to help you find the cloud service that'll work best for you, we've picked out the best options available now, from no-frills online storage through to full-fat plans with collaboration tools, heavyweight encryption, serious file transfer capability and much more besides.
The best cloud storage in 2020
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There aren’t many cloud services that offer a range of features like iDrive. At its core, iDrive can backup data to an unlimited number of devices, it offers real-time syncing, older file restorations and file retention once it’s been deleted. This product works with mapped network drives and can be used to preserve full disk images – handy if you need to back up entire systems. You’ll get activity reports, smartphone backup options and two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption. On top of that, businesses will be pleased to see bare-metal disaster recovery and new data stamp standards for the medical, accounting, and legal sectors. You can even post physical media to iDrive and have it backed up.
iDrive’s desktop client is packed with features and works diligently in the background, and its mobile apps are intuitive. Across all devices it’s fast, and the decent 5GB free option is paired with pricing that offers 5TB, 10TB and 12.5TB options across personal and business accounts.
IDrive 2TB plan:
$69.50 $13.90 for 1 year
80% off: For a limited time, you can get a massive 80% off a 2TB IDrive cloud storage plan for the first year. So instead of coughing up just under $70, you'll pay just $13.90, which is an absurdly cheap price for that amount of cloud storage.
One of the best cloud storage options, pCloud offers lifetime subscriptions that provide 500GB and 2TB storage capacities for reasonable prices – handy if you want to buy some storage and not worry about monthly charges. Annual payments are available if you’d prefer, and the 10GB of free storage is generous.
All of pCloud’s payment plans include solid features. It ticks every box when it comes to core functionality, with realtime syncing, uploading and management across all devices, support for unlimited file sizes and backups of deleted and altered files kept for up to thirty days. Photos can be backed-up automatically, and there’s automatic backups from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive. Security is covered by 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication, and Switzerland-based pCloud stores your files in a minimum of three different physical locations – although not all of the app’s best features are available in the free version.
This app doesn’t have as many high-end business features as some rivals, and its 2TB maximum capacity is bettered elsewhere, but it’s great if you want solid, long-term backup without fuss.
Zoolz doesn’t have a free option aside from its time-limited trials, but it does have a good selection of affordable payment plans and a solid 10TB of maximum storage – along with the option of ‘cold storage’ – that lets you store files for archival, which is handy if you don’t need to access them often.
This app offers automatic backups, sensible software design, uploads and syncing across any kind of device and smart data analysis that pics out objects, faces, documents and text for easier organisation. Search is smarter here thanks to AI, and file versioning improves archiving. There’s intelligent filtering, 256-bit AES encryption and multi-factor authentication. At its core this is an effective and versatile cloud storage app, and it’s one of the best cloud storage options worth exploring if you need long-term storage too.
Degoo Cloud offers one of the best free cloud storage options in the business. If you need a lot of free storage, then look no further than this service – this app serves up a whopping 100GB of free space. That’s partnered with welcome features like 256-bit end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication, and Degoo serves up automatic uploading, support for all of your devices and real-time syncing.
The free service is ad-supported, and it doesn’t include zero-knowledge encryption and a photo-storage maximisers. These options are restricted to Degoo’s Pro and Ultimate options, which serve up 500GB and 10TB respectively for very affordable prices. Elsewhere, the backup options are a little basic, but usable, and there’s no desktop client – you need to use your browser.
Degoo Cloud is focused on photography, which makes it a great option for creatives – and it means it includes extra tools for managing your images. It has basic features elsewhere, but it really shines when working with photography and images.
Livedrive is another service that only offers free trials rather than entirely free options. If you’re willing to pay for online storage, though, there are loads of features here: easy restoration options, support for your computing and mobile devices, 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication are included, with sturdier encryption available on business accounts. Your deleted files are stored for thirty days, and Livedrive places big emphasis on its business and collaboration features – you can opt for on-the-go editing, team folders and slick file sharing.
Livedrive is available in solid capacities, and the service is divided into Briefcase and Backup portions – the former is conventional cloud storage that can be synced and dynamically used across multiple devices, while the latter functions as a mirror of your PC’s files that you can restore should the worst happen. You can choose to pay for Backup or Briefcase accounts depending on the features you need or pay for the Pro Suite for both. Happily, free trials of all the different services are available.
NordLocker places a big emphasis on security, and the features back up the claims: this service has more powerful encryption than most providers, and all data is automatically encrypted before upload so NordLocker can’t see it. Secure file-sharing, two-factor authentication and master password support are all included.
Elsewhere, NordLocker offers easy, drag-and-drop file upload and management, syncing between devices and a free service that provides 3GB of space alongside cheap payment plans that range up to 500GB. Business options can be larger, but you’ll need to talk to NordLocker directly, and bear in mind that this service doesn’t have dedicated smartphone apps and that you need to use the dedicated desktop app on your PC, not your browser.
When it comes to security and privacy, though, there’s no better service than NordLocker – its security and encryption options are superb, effective and easy to use.
Microsoft’s OneDrive is one of the easiest options when it comes to the best cloud storage – if you’ve got Windows 10, it’s built right into the OS and includes 5GB of free space. If you’d like more space, then you’ll find 1TB of capacity included with an Office 365 subscription, and more can be added for additional charges. It’s also possible to pay a tiny fee for 100GB of monthly storage without Office 365 and pay more for OneDrive business plans.
OneDrive has apps for Android, iOS and macOS, and it has good features – great integration with Windows, real-time syncing, thirty days of file restoration, ransomware detection and a personal vault that protects key files with identity verification. There’s also support for multipage scanning, offline folders, automatic photo saving and editing on any device.
OneDrive doesn’t offer the specialisation of some of its rivals, but it’s a slick, intuitive product that offers every key feature and superb Windows integration – and its free option and addition to Office 365 make it versatile and affordable.
Dropbox is one of the most venerable cloud storage services on the market, and there’s no doubting the versatility and feature set of this old name. Dropbox has unlimited storage available in some of its payment tiers, and core features include real-time syncing across any and all devices, intuitive software, 256-bit encryption, two-factor authentication and easy, secure sharing.
It’s got 180-day file history preservation, which is more than most providers, and it’s got watermarking, smart permission options, advanced sharing options and a huge range of collaboration tools, including team folders, editing tools, secure file transfers and a commenting system. Pay for the higher tiers and you’ll get additions like device approvals, audit logging, centralized admin consoles and networking controls. In a creative business with employees collaborating and working across different devices and locations, that’s vital.
Dropbox does have a 2GB free service, and its paid options are perhaps a little more expensive than many others – but there’s no denying how many features are available and how slick it is to use. It’s an excellent product and you certainly get what you pay for.
Apple’s iCloud storage service gives you 5GB of free space, which is enough to store key files and folders, and its integration with macOS and iOS is unrivalled – which is unsurprising. There’s a Windows client, too, and the mobile website works well on Android devices.
Apple’s service offers seamless storage and synchronization of all your key files and, in typical Apple fashion, browsing and navigation are slick. There are good sharing options, plenty of visual organisation aids and integration with all the key Apple software. Two-factor authentication is included, the upgrade storage plans are reasonably priced.
The downside is that Apple’s service doesn’t have the specialist security or business features available elsewhere, and it’s difficult to use outside of Apple’s bubble – it’s great if you and your family are fully invested in iOS and macOS, but less useful if you want to share and collaborate with a wider group.
Subscribe to iCloud: Paid plans from $0.99/£0.79 a month (5GB free)
As with OneDrive and iCloud, Google’s cloud storage service is built into Google’s own services – it’s included if you’ve got a Google account, an Android phone or a Chromebook. The service’s free storage allocation of 15GB is very generous, and you can use Google’s G Suite of online apps to edit, collaborate, manage, and share your files.
G Suite is a boon for business, with loads of file-sharing, security, and collaboration tools – in this regard it’s better than iCloud. Drive includes desktop apps for Windows and Mac, and it includes all the features you’d expect from a modern cloud storage service – real-time syncing, encryption, offline working and document scanning are all on offer. You can also restore files from up to thirty days in the past and store photos with no compression.
Drive can be upgraded to a maximum of 20TB and Drive also ties in with the Google One service, which can also provide store discounts and support for the whole family. Google Drive is impressive if you’re already committed to Google’s ecosystem.
Subscribe to Google Drive:
- Basic (30GB): $6 /£4.60 a month
- Business (unlimited): $12 / £9.20 a month
- Enterprise (unlimited): $25 / £20 a month
If you need literally all the cloud storage for your business then Box is a very attractive prospect. With the exception of its starter plan, all of its Business plans offer unlimited storage, which beats every other service in this round-up. Naturally there are strings attached; you're limited to a 5GB maximum file size, so it might not be a great option if you're working with vast 4K videos.
Box also provides some strong security options as well as data loss protection, and it's supported by plenty of mainstream apps such as Office 365 and Google Docs, and there's direct integration with other apps such as G-Suite and AutoCAD. There's also a Box Sync client for Mac and Windows as well as an Android client.
The only real downside is that it's not so hot for personal use. The free option gives you just 10GB storage with a 250MB maximum file size, while its Personal Pro plan gets you 100GB (with a 5GB file upload limit) will set you back £8 per month; many better options are available elsewhere.
Mega is one of the best cloud storage options around for free storage – you can get 50GB of free space here, which is more than most of rivals offer. Its other payment plans are generous, with options that range from 1TB to 16TB of space for low prices.
Mega has basic-but-usable desktop and mobile apps and browser extensions, and it makes a big play of its security features – Mega has user-controlled end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and endpoint encryption. Its chat and file-sharing options are encrypted, and Mega also provides seamless syncing and uploading across its apps and extensions.
Mega’s sturdy security credentials are bolstered by the organisation publishing its own source code and cryptographic architecture, which is ideal for security-conscious users and for eliminating vulnerabilities. It’s not be the most intuitive option, but Mega is transparent, versatile, and secure.