Are you looking for the greatest cloud storage service right now? We’ve got you covered with the most comprehensive, well-researched, and comprehensive buying guide available, with as little jargon as possible.
Above all, no one has tried and reviewed more of the top cloud storage services online in 2021 than us. We looked into roughly 50 services, ranging from personal cloud storage to enterprise-grade safe cloud storage, that store files in the cloud – and much more – in order to compile a curated list that ranks them based on capacity, pricing, file size, security, and simplicity of use.
What is a cloud storage service?
- What is a cloud storage service?
- Best Cloud Storage Services of 2021
- How does cloud storage work?
- What’s happening in cloud storage in 2021?
To comprehend what cloud storage entails, you must first comprehend what the cloud is. In a nutshell, it’s a resource (typically processing power or storage) that you may get online for free or for a price.
Consider it similar to self-storage services, which are popular among house movers and renters, except instead of boxes, you fill cloud storage accounts with your own files.
Many users commonly refer to cloud backup, online storage, online drives, online backup, file hosting, file storage, and other services that fall under the umbrella term (cloud storage).
It is, at its most basic level, a protected virtual place that you enter through your browser or a desktop application (or mobile app). Your files are most likely stored in a data center, on a server, or on a hard drive or solid-state drive.
Our specialists have compiled a list of our top recommendations for the most secure cloud storage: Most provide a free trial period so you can determine if they’re right for you before investing any money. Just make sure to read the terms and conditions before proceeding.
We have something for everyone, whether you need to save a few files, an operating system, or vast collections of photographs, images, or videos.
If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, check out our roundups of the best free cloud storage, best photo storage, and best corporate cloud storage.
Best Cloud Storage Services of 2021
We’ve looked at a lot of the finest cloud storage options, but which one is the best?
1. IDrive is the best cloud storage provider
IDrive, a trusted cloud storage provider, offers a huge amount of storage for a very low price. The offer of 5TB for $3.48 for the first year, as well as support for limitless devices and a robust file versioning system, is unrivaled.
IDrive allows you to sync all of your data, including those on network drives, in real time. Email, Facebook, and Twitter are all supported via the online interface for file sharing.
Users who are cautious or click-happy may be relieved to learn that files removed from your computer are not automatically wiped from the server, reducing the risk of accidentally deleting something crucial.
All files backed up to your account can have up to 30 prior versions saved. IT admins also get access to the IDrive Thin Client application, which allows them to backup/restore, manage settings, and more for all of their linked machines from a single dashboard.
You have a nice facial recognition tool for images that lets you automatically arrange them and sync them across all of your connected devices.
IDrive Express is a service that delivers you a real hard disk drive if you lose all of your data, allowing you to quickly restore all of your backed up files.
IDrive Business, an improved version that includes priority support, single sign-on, unlimited users, and server backup, is available. While IDrive Personal gives 5TB or 10TB per user, the professional counterparts get between 250GB and 50TB of online storage.
2. Get BackBlaze Cloud Backup FREE
BackBlaze is our second-best cloud backup service, with unlimited data transfer, storage capacity, and file size. Normally, it costs $6 per month.
You can receive your first year of BackBlaze for free if you sign up for the #1 ranked VPN provider, ExpressVPN, for $6.67 per month.
Backblaze is a cloud storage behemoth and a stalwart in the market, catering to both personal and large-scale enterprise backup requirements.
The essential phrase here is ‘backup,’ because there is no file syncing or sophisticated collaborative capabilities — Backblaze does just what it says on the tin. It is the only service on this list that provides actual unlimited cloud storage with no restrictions.
The monthly, annual, or two-year membership price for personal backups is reasonable ($60 for a year), especially considering the unlimited capacity.
But it gets even better when you learn that if you sign up for award-winning VPN provider ExpressVPN, you can receive Backblaze for free for a year.
Not only is Express our #1 recommended service for online privacy, anonymity, and geo-spoofing, but you also get 15 months for the price of 12 – plus a free year of Backblaze!
Backblaze, on the other hand, is a fairly enticing prospect on a number of fronts if all you need is a backup solution. For starters, Backblaze makes the process of backing up and securing your files extremely simple; even effortless.
Simply install the software, and it will automatically back up all vital data (basically anything that isn’t a system file or equivalent) without requiring any human intervention. You can simply ignore the fact that it is installed and not be concerned about your files.
The catch is that one account only covers one computer, so while there are no data limits, you’ll need to purchase a new membership for any computer you want to back up.
Backup speeds are quick, your data is encrypted for security, and you may have a physical hard disk or flash drive transported over for a fee in the event that a restoration is required.
Backblaze will rely on your specific demands when it comes to secure cloud storage, but those who only need a backup system with no other features or frills will find it to be a fantastic service – and a fantastic value proposition, given the unlimited data support. A 15-day free trial (no credit card information required) is also available to try before you buy.
3. pCloud provides a lifetime cloud storage subscription
Although the Swiss-based company is more expensive than the competition, the one-time purchase eliminates the need to worry about pricey renewal costs. For ten years, $350 is less than $3 per month.
pCloud is one of the few cloud services that offers lifetime subscriptions, basically turning your computer into a virtual, permanent hard drive.
It bills itself as a “personal cloud area where you can store all of your files and folders [with] a user-friendly interface that clearly shows where everything is situated and what it does,” according to its website.
pCloud offers a 30-day trash history and unlimited remote upload traffic (you only need the file’s URL); however, download link traffic is limited to 500GB for the Premium package and 2TB for the Premium Plus package every month, as expected.
While there are some bandwidth restrictions, the size of files you can upload appears to be unrestricted, thus feel free to sync huge media files. The service is available on all desktop and mobile devices, and users can even access it using a web browser.
It’s worth noting that, starting of August 2020, pCloud customers can choose whether their data is stored in the EU or the US.
The company is based in Switzerland, which has strict privacy rules, and you can pay an extra $4.99 per month for pCloud Crypto, which allows you to password-protect individual files.
There’s also a family option, which lets you share your space with up to four other family members, and a premium option, pCloud Business, which gives you 1TB per user and includes pCloud Crypto.
4. IceDrive cloud storage
Although IceDrive has only been in the cloud storage business for a few years, the company offers a compelling offering that is distinct from the standard cloud locker.
The main distinction is that IceDrive’s online storage may be presented on your (Windows) machine as a regular drive, much like your hard drive, with the goal of making it easier and more intuitive to use.
It’s essentially the same as accessing a local drive, and you can utilize activities like opening or editing files with near to the same speed you’d receive with a local operation – as we saw in our evaluation, there’s almost no slowdown noticeable.
Although there is a nifty program for other platforms – Windows, Mac, or Linux, as well as a web app – with a simplified and well-thought-out UI, it is a Windows-only feature.
IceDrive’s servers use super-safe twofish encryption, and the data leaving your machine is encrypted client-side as well, making things even safer. IceDrive’s main flaw is that it lacks any of the collaboration capabilities and techniques that OneDrive, for example, offers.
IceDrive subscription tiers are reasonably priced, with the Lite tier, which provides 150GB of storage for $20 per year ($1.67 per month), being the most affordable. A Pro+ plan with 5TB of storage costs $15 per month, and lifetime plan options, which range from $59 to $499, could be excellent value.
5. NordLocker cloud storage
NordLocker may be recognizable to you because it comes from the same people who brought you NordVPN, one of our favorite VPN services. It’s a simple but efficient tool that gives you a cloud storage locker or, alternatively, allows you to construct a local file vault on your device for secure storage, all while encrypting your data.
NordLocker is free to use locally on your own machine, and with that free version comes a tiny amount of online storage – 3GB to be exact.
If you want a workable amount of secure cloud storage, however, you’ll need to pay for a subscription, with one available plan that provides 500GB of space. This costs $3.99 per month for an annual subscription or $7.99 per month if you pay month to month.
NordLocker lets you sync all of your data in the cloud across all of your devices, and it’s a snap to use — simply drag and drop your files into the program, and they’ll be immediately encrypted and uploaded. Sharing files with others is possible, but they must also have a NordLocker account and be using the program.
As you might assume, NordLocker’s security is top-notch, featuring Argon2, AES256, and ECC encryption algorithms, as well as a “zero knowledge” policy that means your data can only be decrypted by you (and not the company, even if it wanted to).
NordLocker may not have enough capabilities for specialists or more demanding customers, but it’s a good basic service that’s also quite user-friendly, and if that’s all you need, it’s a good deal.
6. Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage
OneDrive will be a fantastic fit for anyone who is committed to using Microsoft’s services, enabling smooth integration with Outlook.com, the company’s popular email platform, for example, similar to how Google Drive appeals to Google users.
OneDrive also works well with Windows 10, and there are a number of good mobile apps to let you access your files on the go. It also works with non-Microsoft services like AutoCAD, the design behemoth.
Even if they aren’t OneDrive subscribers, you can share files with them (with customisable permissions), and the option to modify files online without downloading them is a nice touch.
It’s a little frustrating that OneDrive doesn’t provide more free space, especially because Microsoft is a corporation with a lot of money to spend at the cloud. Users with a free account are limited to 5GB of storage, though upgrading to 100GB is quite inexpensive.
If you have Microsoft 365 (previously known as Office 365) through your employer, educational institution, or personal purchase, you’ll get 1TB of free storage per user with the option to upgrade. Keep in mind that this is secure cloud storage at its most basic level, with few sophisticated capabilities.
Dark mode and greater connection with Microsoft Teams are included in the Pro edition. The upload file size limit on OneDrive has been increased from 100GB to 250GB by Microsoft.
7. Google Drive cloud storage
Users of Android devices will find Google Drive to be a natural choice because it is already integrated, while users of other systems may benefit from the substantial free storage.
You can also use Google’s own office suite and keep unlimited high-definition photographs on your phone with the companion app Google Photos (now known as G Workspace). Individuals who upgrade to a paying Google Drive plan will also be enrolled in Google One.
Google Drive via One, which is linked to Google’s Cloud infrastructure, offers a confusing assortment of capabilities that is always evolving. Google engineers were bringing out the option to request approvals for Drive items and lock approved versions at the time of writing.
The 2TB tier, which costs $99.99 a year and includes 10% back in Google Store credits, allows the main account holder to join up to five other members.
The web interface isn’t particularly user-friendly, but Windows and Mac users may download a desktop software to drag-and-drop files with ease. Drive also incorporates Google’s cutting-edge AI and search technologies, which is widely regarded as among the finest in the world.
How does cloud storage work?
The concept of cloud storage has been around for a long time, believe it or not. The concept was popularized by Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service) in 2006, however the ability to upload and store files remotely on a service provider’s disk drive can be traced back to Compuserve’s offer in 1983.
At the end of the day, you’re merely storing your data on someone else’s resources (a portion of a hard disk, a solid state drive, or even tape).
That resource is usually (but not always) housed on a server in a data center, among hundreds of others. The procedure is carried out over the internet using a secure connection, either through a dedicated app or a web browser.
Almost everyone with a smartphone or an email address has some form of cloud storage account. It’s even possible that Facebook may give a limited version of cloud storage to its users, as movies and photographs can be uploaded to its servers for free.
What’s happening in cloud storage in 2021?
When it comes to storage, there’s something suspicious going on in the cloud right now. Remember that Google has announced that it will reduce the size of its previously unlimited Google Photos, has confirmed that it will begin destroying items in Google Drive after only 30 days, and has now announced that it will delete dormant Google accounts in the near future.
The common thread running across these three announcements is safe cloud storage, which is a lot of bits and bytes given that there are probably more than three billion Android accounts, each with at least 15GB of data.
The number of hard disk drives delivered was free dropping in February 2021, according to research firm Trendfocus, with shipments down 18 percent year over year, most notably in the consumer sector.
On the other side, enterprise witnessed a 2% increase, which could signal that cloud storage providers and hyperscalers like Google are buying as many hard drives as they can.
3.5-inch enterprise hard drives, which are the lifeblood of cloud storage companies, accounted for 62 percent of total capacity supplied but just 23% of units, despite a staggering 12 percent increase. In other words, it appears like the three remaining hard drive manufacturers, Seagate, WDC, and Toshiba, are sending as many big capacity enterprise hard drives as they can.