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The best cloud storage in 2022: free up disk space and keep data safe

The best cloud storage: a picture of the end of light wires
(Image credit: Weiquan Lin on Getty Images)

The best cloud storage services are a must-have in 2022. With everyone's files getting bigger and bigger, particularly images and videos as resolutions rocket, you don't want to be clogging up your phones, tablets and laptops with data, slowing them down and leading to constant crashes. Not to mention the fear of losing everything if your device gets damaged or stolen. 

Instead, you want a secure, fast and reliable way to store everything in the cloud. And the best cloud storage services can provide that, and more. Some, for example, will offer 24/7 customer support, multiple redundancies to ensure your data is never at risk, and tools to help you organise everything. But each has something slightly different to offer. 

To help you choose, we've curated the very best cloud storage options available today and give you the facts and figures you need to choose between them. (If you're struggling to follow any of this, by the way, our jargon-busting guide: what is cloud storage? should help.) Meanwhile, if you need storage for something specific, check out our guides to the best cloud storage for business, and the best cloud backup for Mac

Today's 3 best cloud storage deals

01. EXCLUSIVE: One-year 10TB plan:  $79.50

01. EXCLUSIVE: One-year 10TB plan: $79.50 $3.98
Get 95% off:
This IDrive deal saves you big money! Creative Bloq readers can get an exclusive offer of 10TB (previously 5TB) for only $3.48, for a whole year. That's cheaper than buying a Starbucks!

Lifetime subscription, or £3.59 a month

02. pCloud: Lifetime subscription, or £3.59 a month
Low cost storage:
Want a guaranteed low price over the long term? With pCloud you'll get a generous 500GB of storage from just £3.59 a month, or you can opt for the very reasonably priced lifetime subscription.

03. Backblaze: Unlimited storage + free ExpressVPN

03. Backblaze: Unlimited storage + free ExpressVPN
Backblaze B2 allows you to store and protect large amounts of data in the cloud. And you can get a full year of Backblaze unlimited storage for free, when you sign up with ExpressVPN. Don't miss this offer!

The best cloud storage services of 2022

IDrive logo on laptop in home office

(Image credit: 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 customer support
Reasons to avoid
-
Some free services offer more space

Nothing to do with Apple despite its name, IDrive is the best cloud storage solution overall. It gives you everything you need, at a very good price – right now, Creative Bloq readers can get 10TB of storage for just $3.98, for a whole year!

You can try it out by using the free plan, which gives 5GB of storage. If you like it, take out a subscription to access either 5TB, 10TB or 12.5TB, depending on how much you pay.

But we're not just recommending it because it's cheap. It's also a great service. For a start, IDrive lets you back up and sync all types of files from an unlimited number of devices. So if all your stuff is spread out over phones, tablets, computers and hard drives, it's a great way of keeping track of it. You can also set IDrive to automatically back up your files from an external hard drive whenever it's connected.

IDrive also allows you to share synced files and projects with others through an easy-to-use interface. It uses mapped network drives, so it's possible to back up an entire system if you so desire. And the two-factor authentication and end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption help keep your data safe from hackers. 

Customer support is also excellent. It's available by phone five days a week, or by email and live online chat 24/7, so you'll always be able to get hold of someone. For more details, read our IDrive review.

There are two other related services from IDrive that are worth mentioning. If you only need to store photos and videos, there's a cloud backup app for iOS and Android called IDrive Photos. This offers you unlimited storage for $9.95 a year, though there's currently a first-year offer that costs just 99 cents.

There's also IDrive Express. This allows you, one to three times per year (depending on your plan), to physically mail in a hard drive, and they'll add the files on it to your cloud account. 

pcloud interface on smartphone and desktop screens

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

The best cloud storage service for long-term value

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

The main thing that people don't like about cloud services is the ongoing cost. While $10 per month or so might not seem like too much, that really adds to a lot over time. So pCloud gives you the option of making a one-off payment for lifetime storage. Pay $175 for 500GB, or $350 for 2TB, and it's yours forever.

That said, you can always pay monthly or annually if you prefer that, and for pretty reasonable prices. There's even a free option that comes with 10GB, double the storage offered on iDrive's free plan.

pCloud makes great efforts to keep data secure, with 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication. You can also choose if you want your data stored in the EU or the US; pCloud itself is based in Switzerland. 

It also makes it easy to manage your files in real-time across devices. There are no limits on individual file sizes, and backups of deleted or altered files are stored for up to 30 days. You also get media management tools to compress your storage as much as possible. The pCloud Backup service is handy too, working in the background to automatically back up every file and folder from your computer to your account. It's a service you can basically set up and then never think about again – provided you don't need more than 2TB. 

On the negaitive side, customer support is more limited than iDrive's. There's no phone or live chat, so if you have a problem, you have to email or fill in a form, and then wait for a reply. For more details, read our pCloud review.

Backblaze homepage featuring cartoon of a cloud

(Image credit: Backblaze/Ingram Publishing on Getty)

The best cloud storage provider 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

Got massive amounts of data you need to store. Backblaze offers you unlimited space for your files, and can be set to automatically back up everything on your system. You can set backups to be continuous or at regular intervals, or just manually when you set them off.  And so overall, it's a great choice for any organisation with large amounts of data that they need to archive. 

I's compatible with Amazon S3, making it easy to migrate any files you have on that platform. And it promises a data durability rate of 99.999999999 per cent. In their own words, "If you store one million objects in B2 for 10 million years, you would expect to lose one file. There’s a higher likelihood of an asteroid destroying Earth within a million years."

The files aren't encrypted, though, so it's maybe not the best choice if you're very worried about data security. It's also lacks the collaboration features of rivals like Google Drive or IDrive.

The free plan gets you 10GB, with a limit of 1GB a day. The paid plans, meanwhile, offers you unlimited storage at very low prices. Handily, Backblaze makes it easy to set caps and alerts, so you don't spend more than you intend to. 

Even better, 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 for absolutely nothing, plus you get three free months of ExpressVPN too. For more details, see our Backblaze review.

Cheapest cloud storage

(Image credit: 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 been sent a Dropbox link by someone else at some time or other. In which case, you'll know exactly how easy Dropbox makes file sharing in practice.

It's also packed with features that make it easy to work on files collaboratively, including team folders, editing tools, secure file transfers and commenting. To push this even further, it's recently launched a standalone product in beta. Dropbox Spaces brings the most popular collaboration features from across Dropbox into a single surface to help teams manage projects together.

Other standout features of Dropbox proper include an intuitive interface, real-time syncing across multiple devices, 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication. You can access 180 days of file history, and even add watermarks and smart permission options to your files. 

The free version of Dropbox offers a limited 2GB of storage, while if you pay you can boost this to 3TB, 5TB or unlimited, depending on your plan. Paid tiers also unlock advanced features such as device approvals, audit logging, centralised admin consoles and networking controls. Be aware, though, that these options are pretty expensive. For more details, read our Dropbox review, and our comparison of ICloud vs Dropbox.

bigmind by zoolz screenshot featuring the interface on multiple devices

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

05. BigMIND by Zoolz

A great cloud storage service with smart AI features

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 has long been geared towards businesses with long-term data archiving needs. Although having said that, it offers a cheap plan called Zoolz Home for individuals, which includes a 1GB free version.

There's no free option for the business plans, although there is a free trial. The paid options get you up to 1TB storage, along with automatic backups, uploads and syncing to a variety of devices, and smart AI that groups together objects, faces, documents and text for easier organisation. 

Zoolz also offers file versioning, photo recognition, and a range of search options with smart filters. And 256-bit AES encryption and multi-factor authentication helps keep your data secure. Overall, then, Zoolz is a great storage option for long-term business archiving. 

Degoo cloud storage on a mobile device

(Image credit: Degoo)

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

Degoo Cloud is designed specifically for photographers. And what do photographers need? Lots of storage! With that in mind, you can access 100GB of space on the free option. More broadly Degoo Cloud offers 256-bit end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, automatic uploading, cross-device support and real-time syncing. 

You can upload files via any desktop web browser, Android and iOS app, and special apps for Huawei phones (the latter is particularly handy given new Huawei phones are banned from the Google Play Store). 

We also love the option to duplicate every one of your backups if you choose. Plus Degoo has the most beautiful interface of all our best cloud storage providers. Beautifully designed, with elegant typography and fun illustrations, this helps make uploading your files just that bit more pleasurable.

So where's the catch? Well, with the free plan you'll get served a lot of ads, you can only use it on three devices, and your account gets cancelled if you don't use it for 90 days. Those issues disappear when you upgrade to the paid plan. 

You'll also get either 500GB or 10TB storage, support for either 10 or unlimited devices, and access to pro 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)

The best cloud storage service for security

Specifications
Storage: 3GB-2TB
Free storage: 3GB
Paid plans: Free or premium
Reasons to buy
+
Powerful security 
+
Free version
+
Mobile apps
Reasons to avoid
-
No phone support

Is protecting your privacy and data security your top priority? Then NordLocker is the best cloud storage service for you. Not only does it offer very powerful encryption, 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 too. 

NordLocker has nicely designed interface that's easy to use. You get 3GB on the free plan, and 500GB or 2TB on the paid one. Until recently it was only available on Windows or Mac, but since last November it's also been offering iOS and Android wrapper apps that feature end-to-end encryption. The company is currently working on native apps for both mobile platforms, which are promised soon. 

The main downside with NordLocker is that, while online and email support is good, there's no phone support. For full details, see our Nordlocker review.

Man using cloud storage on tablet and phone

(Image credit: Microsoft)

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
-
Not supported on Chromebooks

If you have Windows 10, you already have OneDrive, which includes 5GB of cloud storage for free. However, if you take out an Office 365 subscription, that gets bumped up to 1TB, with the option to pay for more. Alternatively you can pay for 100GB of monthly storage without Office 365 at a surprisingly low price.

The service 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. As well as using it on a Windows computer, there are apps for Android, iOS and macOS. It's not, however, supported on Chromebooks.

OneDrive may lack some the advanced features of its business-focused rivals, but it’s solid, reliable, easy to use and nicely integrated into Microsoft's other business software. And that means OneDrive is constantly improving. For example in January 2022, Microsoft has been rolling out a new feature for Teams that allows you to automatically delete recording files stored in OneDrive after a pre-set time.

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

iCloud on multiple devices

(Image credit: Apple)

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

If you have an Apple device, you already have access to iCloud and its 5GB of free storage. The service integrates smoothly with both macOS and iOS, making it easy to access your files across multiple devices. To see how it works in practice, follow our tutorial How to Use iCloud, and our article How to free up space in iCloud.

iCloud boasts the kind of clear and uncluttered visual organisation Apple is famed for, and two-factor authentication for security. This is a product centred on consumers, and business users won't find the kind of specialist security or advanced features available in other tools. Plus, while you can access iCloud on Windows and Android, if you're not an Apple user it seems kind of pointless. 

For more information, read our iCloud review, and our comparison articles iCloud vs IDrive and iCloud vs Google Drive.

In 2021, Apple also launched a paid version of iCloud called iCloud+, which includes advanced features such as Hide My Email, Private Relay (which encrypts your browser data so no one can see it, even Apple), custom iCloud Mail domains, and expanded HomeKit Secure Video storage.

Google Drive screenshot

(Image credit: Google)

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

If you've ever used Google's search engine (and let's face it, who hasn't), you'll know that Google is very good at making apps that are easy and intuitive to use. And Google Drive, its cloud storage, fits right into that bracket. 

To access Google Drive you just need a Google account, and you'll get 15GB of storage for free. With paid plans, you can get up to 10TB. Everything is nicely integrated with other Google apps such 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. For more information, read our Google Drive review, and our comparison of iCloud vs Google Drive.

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, in December it announced that multi-location files will be automatically migrated to shortcuts. 

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, 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 Box is also supported by more than more than 1,500 third-party apps. 

To be frank, 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. Plus 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)

Open and transparent cloud storage

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.

Why is cloud storage useful?

Cloud storage is an alternative to storing all your data (your documents, images, videos etc) on your own phone, tablet computer or external hard drive. Instead, you upload them to a cloud storage service which stores them for you. This allows you to access them anywhere you have an internet connection, on pretty much any device. It also means that if your devices are lost, damaged or stolen, you'll still be able to retrieve your data.

These services often offer extra features to tempt you to buy. These may include automatic backup of your files, facial recognition to make sorting your photos easier, and security features to keep your data safe.

How does cloud storage work?

Cloud storage involves sending your files to a remote database rather than storing them locally. Typically, your data will be spread across multiple servers, sometimes in multiple locations. The cloud storage company will take responsibility for keeping your data safe from loss or theft, and making it available and accessible to you at all times. This service is usually available as a paid subscription, although most companies also offer a free service with limited storage as a way of luring you in.

What's the best cloud storage provider in 2022?

IDrive is our pick as the best cloud storage provider in 2022. For a start, it's excellent value: with this deal you can get 10TB of storage for just $3.98, for a whole year. It also boasts great collaboration features, strong security protections, and excellent customer support, via phone five days a week, or by email and live online chat 24/7. 

What's the best free cloud storage provider?

Most cloud storage providers offer a free plan, but the amount of storage you get is limited. Google Drive is our pick as the best free cloud storage provider. It offers a generous 15GB of storage, and the interface is easy to use and connects beautifully with other apps and services. 

That said, if you're a creative professional, such as a photographer, who needs more than 15GB, then check out Degoo Cloud, which offers an incredible 100GB for free. What’s more, for each friend you invite to Degoo, you receive an additional 5GB of space, up to a maximum of 500GB.

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.