We highlight the best cloud providers for consumers and businesses
It’s pretty clear that people and businesses will continue the trend of reducing their need to rely on costly hardware and infrastructure by placing files and applications in the cloud.
Given the multitude of cloud storage providers out there, you must take care in choosing a provider who will offer the maximum amount of low-cost storage and bandwidth, while still keeping your data safe.
This list represents our top 10 picks for cloud storage. All offer a free tier allowing you to see if they’re right for you before handing over any hard-earned cash.
The Granddaddy of cloud storage, Dropbox offers a rather measly 2GB of free storage, but this can be increased up to 16GB free of charge by linking your Dropbox to social media and referring friends to join the service.
Dropbox Business subscriptions allow users to collaborate on work as well as giving each person unlimited space in a personal Dropbox account. There are also enhanced features for file recovery and versioning, and an add-on for Gmail. Business pricing starts from around $12.50 per user per month (£10, around AU$16.50), or you can give it a go for free with a 30-day trial.
Price: 2GB free. 1TB for $10 a month (£6.58, around AU$11) with Dropbox Plus or 2TB for $19.99 a month (£15, around AU$27) with Dropbox Professional, which has some added extras.
Google Drive is a natural choice for owners of Android devices as it’s already integrated, but users of other platforms may appreciate the generous free storage too. You can also store high definition photos on your mobile phone with companion app Google Photos, and make use of Google’s own office suite (now known as G Suite). Also, upgrading to paid Google Drive plans is now called Google One (although it might not yet be available, depending on the region).
Downsides include the fact that the web interface isn’t very easy-to-use, although Windows and Mac users can download a desktop app to drag-and-drop files easily.
Price: 15GB free. 100GB for $1.99 a month (£1.59, around AU$2.50). 200GB for $2.99 a month (£2.35, around AU$4.10). 2TB for $9.99 a month (£8, around AU$13). 10TB for $99.99 a month (£74, around AU$130).
Puts a premium on security
With an insanely generous free tier and a simple drag-and-drop interface, New Zealand-based Mega is one of the cloud storage heavyweights. There’s a handy mobile app to allow you to upload files and photos, as well as sync clients with desktop machines.
Mega claims that all data stored in its cloud is encrypted on your device before it reaches the firm’s servers. As the company has released the source code to its sync client, experts can check that there are no vulnerabilities.
Price: 50GB free. 200GB for $6 a month (£4.50, €4.99, around AU$7.50). 1TB for $12 a month (£9, €9.99, around AU$16). 4TB for $23 a month (£17, €19.99, around AU$30). 8TB for $35 a month (£26, €29.99, around AU$46).
Backed by Microsoft and ideal for Windows users
OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) is integrated into Windows 10’s file explorer. You don’t have to download an additional app – it’s there to use out of the box, which is obviously very convenient for those who have made the jump to Microsoft’s newest operating system.
Microsoft’s Photos app can also use OneDrive to sync pictures across all your devices. There’s an app for Android and iOS devices, and there’s even one in the App Store for Mac users (although it has received mixed reviews).
Price: 5GB free. 50GB for $3 a month (£1.99, around AU$4). 1TB for $8 a month (£5.99, around AU$11). 5TB for $11 a month (£7.99, around AU$14)
Apple’s competitively priced cloud storage locker
If you want to back up your iPhone to iCloud, you’ll need more than the free 5GB allowance Apple gives you, but compared to rivals iCloud prices are very reasonable.
The Mac Finder app integrates iCloud Drive, where you can store any files you wish. Documents created in the iWork office suite are also saved to iCloud and can sync across your devices. Windows users can also sync their files with iCloud Drive using the official client, and access the iWork apps on the iCloud website.
Price: 5GB free. 50GB for $0.99 a month (£0.79, AU$1.49). 200GB for $2.99 (£2.24, AU$4). 2TB for $9.99 (£8, AU$13)
IDrive offers continuous syncing of your files, even those on network drives. The web interface supports sharing files by email, Facebook and Twitter. Cautious or click-happy users will be pleased to hear that files deleted from your computer are not automatically deleted from the server, so there’s less danger of removing something important accidentally. For photos, you have a neat facial recognition feature that helps you automatically organize them.
IDrive also offers IDrive Express – a service whereby if you lose all your data they will ship a physical hard drive out to you, allowing for the swift restoration of all your backed up files.
Price: 5GB free. Personal: 2TB for $52 a year (around £40, AU$66). Business: 250GB for $74.62 a year (around £56, AU$98)
Ideal for those storing large media files
The service is available for all desktop and mobile platforms – users can also log in via the website. The company itself is registered in Switzerland which has strong privacy laws, and you can also pay a premium of $4.99 a month (around £3.75, AU$7) for pCloud Crypto to lock (and unlock) individual files with passwords.
Price: Up to 20GB free (You start with 10GB and can increase that by referring people). 500GB for $3.99 a month (around £3, AU$5). 2TB for $7.99 a month (around £6, AU$10). Lifetime plans are also available: 500GB for 175$ (around £131, AU$230). 2TB for 350$ (around £262, AU$460).