Best cloud storage of 2019 online: free, paid and business options

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Best cloud storage of 2019

Businesses and consumers are increasingly reliant on cloud based storage solutions instead of in-house, on-premise local storage hardware.

Your files are stored in the cloud, which is a simplified view of what is essentially someone else’s infrastructure (data center, server, hard drive, connectivity etc).

Ever since Amazon popularised storage online with S3 (Simple Storage Service), 13 years ago, Google data shows that interest for “Cloud Storage” alone has increased by 40x over the past decade. So much so that people less frequently refer to it as “online storage”.

Given the multitude of cloud storage providers out there, one has to wisely choose 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 picks for cloud storage: most offer a free tier allowing you to see if they’re right for you before handing over any hard-earned cash. 

Business users will need to consider carefully what their needs are as terms and conditions as well as quality of service is likely to differ significantly from their consumer alter ego.

Go straight to your desired option through the jump links below:

1. IDrive cloud storage

Storage solution which extends to cover network drives

Fast

Easy to use

Good Security

IDrive Express service is handy if disaster strikes

No two-factor authentication

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 by accident. Up to 30 previous versions of all files backed to your account are retained.

Another thing to note is that IT admins have access to IDrive Thin Client application, which allows them to backup/restore, manage settings, and more for all their connected computers via a centralized dashboard.

For photos, you have a neat facial recognition feature that helps you to automatically organize them as well as syncing them across all your lined devices. IDrive also offers IDrive Express which sends you a physical hard disk drive if you lose all your data, allowing for the swift restoration of all your backed up files. That applies to the newly introduced disk image backup feature.

A business version exists and offers priority support, single sign-on as well as unlimited users and server backup.

EXCLUSIVE iDrive 2TB plan | $69.50 $13.90 for 1-year (80% off)
As an exclusive to TechRadar readers, IDrive is offering the chance to save a huge 80% on the cost of a 2TB backup plan for the first year. Normally, this would cost $69.50 for the year, but you can now pick up the 2TB plan for only $13.90. That’s an unbelievably cheap price for that amount of cloud storage. Here are IDrive’s personal plans and prices in full:

2. pCloud cloud storage

Ideal for those storing large media files

Affordable

Elegant, intuitive interface

Simple to use

No collaboration tools

While some bandwidth limits apply, there seems to be no limit to the size of files you can upload, so feel free to sync large media files with pCloud. 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 for pCloud Crypto to lock (and unlock) individual files with passwords.

Note that it is one of the very few cloud services that offer lifetime subscriptions. The latter come with 30 days trash history and unlimited remote upload traffic (you only need the URL of the file); you are – as expected – limited on the download link traffic: 500GB for the Premium package and 2TB for the Premium Plus package.

3. Zoolz cloud storage

An established cloud player with a strong pedigree

Hybrid backup

File versioning

Very affordable

No live backup

Lacks 2FA

There are lots of things to like about Zoolz Cloud Backup for both personal use and business deployment. It offers an easy to follow interface with excellent web management options, and the ability to combine cloud operations with local external storage.

This UK-based company leverages Amazon’s Glacier infrastructure to deliver a compelling price/performance ratio, with prices far cheaper than the competition. With 20PB of data stored for three million users for more than a decade, Zoolz is also not as ephemeral as some of its rivals.

Exclusive Zoolz 5TB cold storage backup | $124.99 $49.95 for 1-year (60% off)
Zoolz has teamed up with TechRadar to deliver one of the best cloud storage packages ever. Get 1TB of cold storage on AWS for only $19.95 per year. This offer is limited to one user and includes file versioning and unlimited external drives. That’s a saving of more than 53%. Need more storage? Then grab 5TB of cold storage for a mere $49.95. Unlike the competition, these prices stay low even after the promotional period.

4. Degoo cloud storage

A newcomer that packs a lot of punch

Good mobile apps

Very affordable

2FA only available via Google

Desktop utility needs improving

Swedish outfit Degoo is not a household name, and therefore it comes as a surprise that it has managed to carve itself a niche inside the ultra-competitive cloud storage market.

With only two offerings, this outfit has managed to attract more than 15 million users globally since its inception earlier in 2019 – an estimated 20,000 people join Degoo every day. It is one of the few cloud storage companies worldwide that encrypts stored files and disperses them across four different continents. It also supports two-factor authentication via the Google sign-in.

Exclusive Degoo 10TB cloud storage backup | $239.76 $99.99 for 2-years (58% off)
TechRadar and Degoo have partnered to provide a one-off exclusive. You can get a staggering 10TB of storage for just $99.99 for two years. That’s a 58% saving compared to the standard price of $9.99 per month, and is exclusive to TechRadar. It’s a price that’s far less than the cloud storage competition. That price is a locked-down one as well and will not change.

5. Mega cloud storage

Puts a premium on security

Easy-to-use UI

Extremely generous free offering

Sync client is open source

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. The company also has business tailored plans.

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).

6. OneDrive cloud storage

Backed by Microsoft and ideal for Windows users

Integrated directly into Windows

File restoration features

Free storage is only 5GB

OneDrive 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. As of late March, Autodesk AutoCAD has been integrated with OneDrive which is good news for anyone using the software’s drafting tools. 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. 100GB for $3 a month (£1.99, around AU$4). 1TB for $7 a month (£5.99, around AU$11). Unlimited (as part of Onedrive for Business) for $10 a month (£7.99, around AU$14)

7. iCloud cloud storage

Apple’s competitively priced cloud storage locker

Reasonable pricing

Tight integration with Apple’s platforms

Only 5GB storage for free

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)

8. Google Drive cloud storage

A smart option for Google fans and G Suite users

Generous amount of free storage

Integrated with Android devices

Web interface isn’t the best

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). 20TB for $199.99 a month (£148, around AU$260). 30TB for $299.99 a month (£236, around AU$426).   

9. Box cloud storage

Well-known service with some powerful business options

Supported by many apps

Business plans with advanced security

Free account file upload limit of 250MB

Box’s website currently seems to be pushing its Business plans as clicking ‘sign up’ takes you to the pricing page where for $15 per user (£11, around AU$19) you can benefit from advanced collaboration options and unlimited storage. But there is a 10GB free option, too.

As Box has been around for a while, it is supported by a number of mainstream apps such as Google Docs and Office 365. It’s also integrated with G-Suite, which means Docs, Sheets and Slides are automatically saved and managed in Box. Additionally, like OneDrive, it’s also been integrated with AutoCAD. The Box Sync client is available from the Downloads page for Mac and Windows, plus there’s also an official Android client.

Price: 10GB free. 100GB for around $10 a month (£7.50, around AU$13)

10. NextCloud cloud storage

DIY cloud storage solution

Innovative self-hosting solution

Tailor your cloud locker to your needs

Preconfigured setups available

NextCloud isn’t an online cloud storage provider itself, but offers free software to download and install a cloud storage service on your own server. Using a server on your home network for cloud storage is much faster. You can also enable encryption and make sure the information never leaves your home network, which is far safer. 

If you’ve no server or IT experience, you can even purchase a preconfigured NextCloud Box (if you can find one) which comes with a 1TB hard drive and will work with an inexpensive Raspberry Pi board to keep your data synced. Unfortunately, NextCloud Box is sold out but you can check out the alternatives on their website

Price: Free to install and use. Self-hosting so storage costs vary.

11. SpiderOak

A ‘zero knowledge’ cloud storage provider

Tight security

Plenty of native clients

Limited free offering

SpiderOak is part of a new trend of zero knowledge cloud storage providers. The website claims that after installing the client your data is encrypted before syncing. Unfortunately since SpiderOak hasn’t made the client source code public, there’s no way to confirm this. 

The SpiderOakOne client is available for Windows, Mac and Linux as well as Android and iOS (although, both Android and iOS are read-only apps, meaning you can only view files, and can’t upload or sync anything). You can also log in via the web interface but privacy lovers may prefer not to as it exposes your password to SpiderOak employees. 

Price: 21-day free trial. 150GB for $6 a month (around £4.5, AU$8.25). 400GB for $11 a month (around £8.4, AU$15). 2TB for $14 a month (around £10.7, AU$19.25). 5TB for $29 a month (around £22.1, AU$39.9)

How to choose a cloud storage service?

Florian Malecki, International Product Marketing Senior Director at StorageCraft gives us his thoughts

Organisations are often unclear about the best way to keep their files and systems safe, but there are plenty of preventative measures that can be taken to avoid the costly risk of downtime. Arguably the most important factor is backing up and recovering data quickly and efficiently. That is where cloud storage comes in.

With most cloud services providers, companies can tailor coverage to meet unique recovery and budget requirements while enjoying access to data anytime, anywhere, with instant failover in a cloud built specifically for disaster recovery.

The cloud combines low setup, management and overhead costs with high flexibility. The important thing is protecting and securing backups offsite and giving businesses peace of mind knowing that data is safe and secure.

Key factors organisations should consider when moving to the cloud are:

● Keep backups on-site and off-site. With any data, redundancy is the key. Data copies should be kept both on-site and off-site. Off-site could be in the cloud, but it could also be backup images stored on a hot-swappable hard drive that you can take to a secondary location (i.e. a “poor man’s cloud”).

● Choose a cloud with recovery options. If it’s not possible to recover data locally, organisations need to have a backup strategy in place. Some cloud services will allow you to spin up a Virtual Machine (VM), even if local recovery is impossible. For systems that have zero tolerance for downtime, a cloud-based recovery option is the best option.

● Mirror critical data. 99.999% uptime is exceptional, but nothing is infallible. It is important to remember that, while uptime is great, errors do occur, and data can be accidentally deleted or somehow corrupted. For extra critical data, it’s wise to not only backup data in the cloud, but to mirror it to a geographically disparate region for extra assurance.

Best free cloud storage

Google Drive

1. Google Drive

Heavyweight cloud storage offering tied in with G suite apps

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