It’s true. Not all clouds are created equal.
There are many cloud storage providers available, but the best one for you depends on your needs. Some providers offer a lot of free storage space, while others have more features. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular cloud storage solutions.
Dropbox is always going to be one of the best cloud storage options because cloud storage is basically all they do. That level of focus means Dropbox can dedicate all of its resources to building the best service that it can make. Dropbox now has over 700 million people subscribing to its service.
Dropbox will store and sync your files on any device. It lets you share files with a link, even if the person you are sharing with does not have a Dropbox account. It has bank levels of security to protect your data and offers versions history and file recovery for a minimum of 30 days after deletion.
How Much Does Dropbox Cost?
The free plan gives you 2GB for free and lets you sync between three devices. That’s not very much space, but you can earn up to 16GB more for free with the Dropbox Referral Program. If you get someone to sign up for Dropbox with an affiliate link like this one, you (and the person you refer) will get an extra 500MB added to their account.
For more storage, $9.99 a month gives you 2TB of space and the option to sync as many devices as you need. Families can get the same amount of storage and divide it up between six family members for $16.99 a month.
Microsoft’s OneDrive is another useful cloud storage option worthy of your consideration. You can buy standalone storage for OneDrive or purchase cloud storage as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription.
In my experience, OneDrive isn’t always as fast at syncing as Dropbox, but it’s fast enough that you probably won’t notice much of a difference. The free plan comes with 5GB of storage and there is no limit on the number of devices where you can access your files.
If the 5GB free plan is not enough for your needs, a mere $1.99 a month will buy you 100GB of cloud storage. However, neither the free nor the 100GB plan come with the 30-day file recovery you get with Dropbox. For that, you need Microsoft 365.
How Much Does Microsoft 365 Cost?
Although you can buy standalone storage, what Microsoft really wants is to sign you up for a Microsoft 365 plan. $69.99 per year gives you 1TB of storage and access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more for one person on multiple devices.
Upgrading to the Family Plan at $99.99 per year gives you 6TB of storage that you can distribute between six family members (up to 1TB per person). All Microsoft 365 Family members also get access to the desktop Office apps.
If 1TB doesn’t meet your storage needs, Microsoft 365 subscribers can upgrade their storage for an additional monthly fee.
3. Google One
If you’ve used Google’s Workspace apps before, you are probably familiar with the existence of Google Drive, an online file storage app. You can access it on the web at drive.google.com, with the Google Drive for Desktop app on your computer, or on a mobile device with the iOS and Android apps.
You can store any type of file that you can think of in Google Drive, including photos, videos, PDFs, and even Microsoft Office files. It’s a convenient catch-all bucket, and if you already use Gmail and Google Calendar, it is certainly a convenient option.
A free Google account comes with 15GB of storage. That’s a lot of free storage space, but it is not without limitations. The 15GB of space is shared between Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos, and Android phone backups. So, depending on your usage or how long you have had your Google account, you may find that allowance rather limiting.
How Much is Google One?
To buy more storage for your Google account, you need a Google One subscription. 100GB of storage will cost you $1.99 a month, or $19.99 a year, and Google allows you to share this space with up to 5 other users.
200GB is $2.99 a month ($29.99 a year), including a 3% discount on all purchases at the Google Store. Need even more storage space? Premium plans come with 2TB for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year. They also include a free VPN for Android phones and a 10% discount at the Google Store.
Apple’s answer to the best cloud storage solution should really only be on your shortlist if you mostly use Apple devices. There is an iCloud app for Windows computers that lets you access all your files, but not everything you save to iCloud can easily be opened on a Windows PC.
iCloud is used to back up devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but it also backs up and syncs data from apps like iMessage, Photos, Reminders, Notes, iCloud Drive, and more.
Apple gives you 5GB of iCloud storage for free. However, the more Apple devices you have, the quicker that allowance will be spent. There are definitely ways you can maximize your iCloud storage, but most people buy iCloud+ to meet their storage needs.
How Much Does iCloud+ Storage Cost?
For 99c a month, you can enroll in the 50GB plan and share that space with up to five family members. $2.99 a month will increase that allowance to 200GB. After that, the only remaining option is to go all the way out to 2TB for $9.99 a month.
iCloud+ comes with benefits that other cloud providers don’t provide. For instance, iCloud Private Relay will hide your IP address and let you browse the web more securely on Apple devices. Hide My Email lets you generate random email addresses that you can use to sign up for services where you don’t want to give your real email address.
You can also customize the domain name of your iCloud email address and connect your home security cameras to view the footage from anywhere via the Home app.
iCloud+ is available to purchase separately or as part of an Apple One subscription.
Last but not least, there is Box. It’s an interesting app and one that you will often see in lists like this that are trying to figure out which cloud storage is best for you.
However, although it can be used by anyone, Box has a strong focus on the enterprise market. For that reason, consumers are mostly better off with one of the options above.
That said, Box does give you 10Gb of free storage to get started. It comes with a 250Mb file upload limit, but it’s still twice as much storage as the free OneDrive account and five times what Dropbox gives you.
How Much Does Box Personal Pro Cost?
If you outgrow your 10Gb of free storage, the next level up is the Personal Pro plan which currently costs $10 a month. For that, you get 100GB of cloud storage, built-in integrations with Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, access to ten versions of every file you create, and anytime access on every device you own.
However, this is where the math breaks down. If you give Dropbox, Google, or Apple $10 a month, you get 2TB of storage, and that’s why I tend to steer clear of Box. It has some fantastic enterprise options, but in my opinion, it doesn’t make much sense for consumers.
What is the Best Cloud Storage Provider?
Dropbox is hard to beat. If you want something you can rely on 100% of the time, then Dropbox is the way to go. It is fast, efficient, and easy to access on any device. They are a company that puts all its focus on cloud storage, so they are always likely to be up there with the best of them.
However, the extra features from Microsoft, Google, and Apple are tempting. Microsoft gives you an entire desktop office suite and fun extras for writers like Microsoft Editor. If you use Android or Apple devices, Google One and iCloud+ are compelling choices that are hard to ignore.
All of this means there really is no bad option if you pick one of the cloud providers on this list, with one exception. Sorry, Box!
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