Keeping your important files, photos, videos, music and notes in the cloud is a great way to ensure that you always have easy access everything you need without filling up the local storage on your smartphone, tablet, or PC.
With so many different services now available, it can be hard deciding which one is the best for your particular needs. Rest assured though, we’ve done the hard work of sifting through the options, all to see which cloud storage services is right for you.
Most services have a free trial or tier, so you can give them a test drive before making a commitment.
What’s the best Cloud Storage service?
- Our favourite: Google Drive
- Best paid service: pCloud
- Most free storage: Mega
- Best for security: Tresorit
- Best for business: Dropbox
- 15GB free storage
- Unlimited Google Photo storage
- Share storage with family members
If you have a Google account, which includes Gmail and YouTube, then you already have 15GB of free storage available to you in Google Drive. This can be used to backup documents, photos, videos, and anything else you want to keep safe.
Drive’s interface is simple, clean, and takes about two minutes to master. That’s not to say it’s basic, as Drive has useful features such as sharing links to folders (while setting the level of control the recipient has), accessing a file even if it’s opened on another device, plus apps for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Drive also seamlessly works with Google’s free suite of office apps.
Download the free Google Photos app to your phone and you’ll also be given unlimited storage space for pictures and videos (so long as they are under 16MP or up to 1080p quality), all of which can be accessed from Google Drive.
If 15GB isn’t enough space then you can opt for the new Google One service which has tiers for 100GB (£1.49 / $1.99 per month), 200GB (£2.49 / $2.99 per month), 2TB (£7.99 / $9.99 per month), right up to 30TB for a princely sum of £239.99 / $299.99 per month. The best part is that this storage can be shared by up to five family members, sparing you the cost of individual plans.
Bottom line: Google Drive is an excellent, reliable, and affordable service that should be very high on everyone’s list.
- 5GB Free storage
- 1TB free with Office 365 subscription
- Files On-Demand reduces space taken up on devices
Another cloud storage service that comes with added benefits is Microsoft’s OneDrive. Although the initial free tier of 5GB will quickly fill up, it’s still on par with many others. Features include automatic photo backups, advanced search facilities, mobile and web access to OneDrive, plus the Files On-Demand settings that can keep files stored solely online rather than taking up space on your device.
Stepping up to 50GB of storage costs £1.99 / $1.99 per month, but where OneDrive really comes into its own, and provides excellent value for money, is if you sign up for Office 365. This monthly subscription gives you all of the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, etc.) plus 1TB of OneDrive storage for either £5.99 / $6.99 per month (one user) or £7.99 / $9.99 (six users).
This brings with it a number of premium capabilities such as restoring the entire drive back to any point in the past 30 days, Ransomeware detection (again back 30 days), password protection on shared files, expiration dates on shared links, offline folders on mobile devices, and ten times the allowed amount of content that can be shared each day.
Bottom Line: If you already use Office, or want to, then OneDrive is the obvious choice.
- 10GB free storage
- One-off lifetime payment for premium tiers
- 256-bit AES encryption for all files
pCloud is a traditional cloud storage service that doesn’t have the office suites or TV content offered by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Instead the Swiss company sticks to what it knows best: keeping your files safe, secure, and available across all your devices.
The free tier comes with 10GB of storage, although 3GB needs to be unlocked by completing tasks such as downloading the mobile app, uploading a file, or sharing the service with friends.
There are no file size restrictions, so you can upload anything that your storage space allows, and versioning means files can be restored back as far as 30 days. Security is strong on the service with pCloud stating that it keeps five copies of each files, distributed to different servers, with 256-bit AES encryption applied on the servers. An additional client-side encryption is also on offer (meaning your data is encrypted before it leaves your device) for a fee of £4.49 / $4.99 per month or for a lifetime fee of £115 / $125.
Pricing is unusual, in that there are standard options of 500GB (£4.49 / $4.99 per month) or 2TB (£8.99 / $9.99 per month) that can also be paid for a year up-front or for a lifetime! The latter costs £160 / $175 for 500GB or £320 / $350 for 2TB.
Bottom Line: pCloud is a stable, fast storage service with plenty of features, making it an easy one to recommend.
- 5GB of free storage
- Unlimited full-resolution photo storage included with Prime
Amazon’s Drive has seen wholesale improvements in the last few years. Gone is the confusing setup that left users unsure of what it could actually store, and now it’s a standard cloud service with web, desktop and mobile apps that allow you to keep all your files securely online and synced between devices.
The free tier grants 5GB of storage, which is the same as OneDrive, but the most notable feature is reserved for Amazon Prime members. If you’re already signed up to the service, which includes free next day delivery on many items, plus access to Amazon’s Music, Film and TV streaming content, then you’ll also receive unlimited storage for all your photos and 5GB for videos.
It’s worth considering that the photos are at full resolution, which is different to the 16MB limit Google imposes on its unlimited storage, although to be fair many smartphone images are still way below that bar.
If you need additional space, then there’s a 100GB tier that costs £16.99 / $11.99 per year (or around £1.40 / $1 per month) and multiple higher capacity options that top out at 30TB.
Bottom Line: Just like OneDrive, Amazon Drive makes the most sense if you combine it with the other subscription services on offer. For £7.99 / $12.99 per month you get 5GB of storage, unlimited space for photos, plus all the additional benefits of Amazon Prime. Not bad at all.
- 15GB free storage with additional space offered for ‘Achievements’
- End-to-end encryption
- Mega can't access your data
New Zealand based Mega used to offer a generous 50GB to new users, but that’s now changed to 15GB with additional capacity rewarded for something Mega calls ‘achievements’. These include validating your account, installing the Mega apps, and inviting friends to the service. This is complicated further by the fact that the bonus storage is different for each achievement and only temporary, with a range of expiration dates from 30 days to a year.
That being said, you still get 15GB free, which is as much as any other service, and there are premium tariffs that include 200GB (€4.99 / £4.29 per month), 1TB (€9.99 / £8.59 per month), 4TB (€19.99 / £17.19 per month), and 8TB (€29.99 / £25.79 per month).
Mega’s main selling point is security, with end-to-end encryption protecting your files even when in transit between your device and its servers. The key to the encryption is your password, meaning even Mega can’t access your data, although if you lose it you’ll be in trouble.
The service also has extensions for Chrome and Firefox, secure chat with other Mega users, plus a mail add-on for Thunderbird so you can easily and securely exchange large files.
Bottom Line: Fast, easy to use, with security as a priority.
- 2GB free storage
- Works with pretty much everything
- Excellent features for businesses
Dropbox has been one of the leading lights in cloud storage, helping popularise the concept during its early years. Today it has grown into a business-orientated service with powerful tools such being able to collaborate on PowerPoint and Photoshop files in real-time, create mood boards and team-based plans on its own Paper platform, plus the usual online file storage options.
Massive third-party app support, plus integration with Windows and macOS, means that if you’re looking for a service you can rely on and know that works with pretty much everything, then Dropbox is a solid choice.
Individual users face more of a dilemma, with the free tier being a lowly 2GB of space, restricted to three devices, and hampered by a lack of even the most basic features such as setting the permissions someone can have to a shared file.
Moving up to the paid tiers improves matter, but with prices of £7.99 / $9.99 (1TB) or £19.99 / $19.99 (2TB), it’s expensive and the 1TB plan still doesn’t include share permissions.
Bottom Line: For small teams and businesses Dropbox has a lot to offer, but individuals should look elsewhere for better value.
- 5GB free storage
- Fully integrated with iPhones, iPads, and Macs
- Can automatically backup data from apps
Apple’s iCloud works a little differently to other cloud storage services in that its deeply built-into both macOS and iOS. This means that it not only holds files that you drag to the drive or automatically sync photos and videos from your iPhone or iPad, but also backs up your messages, calendars, contacts, and various other data.
The advantage of this is that so much of it is happening behind the scenes, that you’ll never need to fiddle with it once the service is up and running. But, when you come to move to a new Apple device, you’ll instantly be able to sync all the information from your old one in a few minutes.
Of course, the 5GB that comes free with iCloud is not going to achieve much of this, especially if you like to take photos and videos, but for a change Apple actually offers some reasonable prices on its premium tiers. These are as follows, 50GB (£0.79 / $0.99 per month), 200GB (£2.49 / $2.99 per month), and 2TB (£6.99 / $9.99 per month), with the latter two options also eligible for inclusion in Apple’s Family Sharing feature.
Bottom Line: If you use only Apple products, then iCloud is well worth your attention.
- 10GB of free storage (limited to 250mb files sizes)
- Strong business focus
- Wide range of platforms supported
While Box offers personal storage options, it’s primarily aimed at businesses. Nevertheless, the free package still gives you 10GB of free space, although there is a limit of 250MB for file sizes. This is fine for most documents, spreadsheets, and even hi-res photos, but not video.
The free account doesn’t support versioning either (being able to restore previous versions of a file) and neither, as far as we can tell, does upgrading to the Personal Pro plan that costs £8 / $10 per month for 100GB of storage and a file size limit of 5GB.
On the business side there’s a range of options, kicking off with the Starter plan for £4 / $5 per month, which also offers 100GB, a slightly lower 2GB file size, works with teams of 3-10 people, supports document encryption, granular permissions and stores previous versions of any file.
Functionally, Box is very good. The interfaces on the desktop and mobile apps (available on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, & Blackberry) are slick and well designed, with plenty of options for creating, uploading and sorting files.
Bottom Line: For documents and photos it’s a good service, but the best experience is the one for business users.
- 14-day free trial
- Top-notch security features
- EU-based servers
Swiss-based Tresorit takes security and privacy very seriously indeed. With end-to-end encryption as standard, zero-knowledge authentication (meaning Tresorit doesn’t know your password and can’t access your data), multiple copies of files kept on multiple servers for backups, 2-factor authentication security, and its servers based in the EU so that they benefit from rigorous privacy laws, it’s quite a compelling package if you want to be assured that no-one will be prying into your business.
All of these precautions cost money though, and while Tresorit does offer a 14-day free trial, there’s no free tier available (at least not visible on its site anyway). The Premium package costs £8 / $12.50 per month for 200GB or there’s the Solo platform aimed at freelancers and professionals the costs £20 / $30 per month and includes 2TB of storage plus password protected files sharing, granular permissions, Outlook integration, and unlimited file versions (as opposed to the 10 on the Premium tier).
Desktop and mobile apps are available on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and Blackberry.
Bottom Line: While more costly than some other services, will appeal to those who put a premium on security and privacy.
- 10GB free storage (expandable through various bonuses)
- Expiration dates for share links
- Share files directly to social media sites
Mediafire is a solid, easy-to-use service that gives new users 10GB of free storage to begin with. This can be expanded up to a whopping 50GB by completing bonus tasks such as friend referrals and connecting your social media accounts. The latter can also prove useful, as Mediafire allows files to be shared directly to sites like Facebook or Twitter.
The service promotes the fact that its users will not be subject to bandwidth or download restrictions, which is made possible through Mediafire being ad-supported. Should you prefer that to not be the case, or just want to boost your storage capabilities, then there’s the Pro tier that includes 1TB of space, the ability to upload files directly from a website by pasting in the link, bulk downloads, and One-Time Links to prevent people sharing files you’ve made available to them.
At the time of writing Pro will set you back $3.75 per month (approx. £2.88), or there’s a Business tier with up to 100TB for $40 (approx £30.70).
Bottom Line: A good cloud storage option for most people, with plenty of free space on offer.