The Best Cloud Storage Providers

We recently wrote about the decision to choose whether to backup your data on an external hard drive or to use a cloud storage provider. As computer and laptop manufacturers are moving increasing away from mechanical hard disk drives in favour of solid state drives, cloud storage is becoming more important than ever. There are literally dozens of cloud storage platforms out there, but here are a few standouts.

So what is cloud storage? Essentially, your data is stored on a hard drive on the internet rather than locally. These days, pretty much everyone who uses a computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet uses some form of cloud storage, even if it’s simply a small, free amount for contacts and calendars. Indeed, as you’ll discover, all of the cloud storage platforms we’ll be looking at have a free option to entice you into upgrading. All you need is an internet connection, and all your files are at your fingertips.

Dropbox is one of the few cloud storage providers to offer not only clients for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, but for Linux and Blackberry, too. When you sign up to Dropbox, you get a measly 2GB of storage. This might be fine for some people; contacts, calendars and documents take up a tiny amount of storage. But if you’re looking to store media like photos, music and video, you’re going to need to fork out for the paid option. It’s probably the simplest to use – on a computer or laptop, Dropbox creates a folder, and everything in it is synced with all your devices. It also allows you to create download links to share files you have with other people, and you can create shared folders, too. Unfortunately, there’s no middle option between the free version (2GB) and the paid, ‘Pro’ version (a whopping 2TB). It’s £10 a month, so won’t break the bank, and there’s also an ‘Advanced’ version for £15 a month that gives you unlimited storage. However, unlike other cloud storage providers, Dropbox simply offers file storage, and no data syncing.

Google Drive
Google Drive is, in many respects, exactly like Dropbox; it creates a folder on your computer where you can add files to be accessed from anywhere. It’s available on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and gives you a little more free storage than Dropbox, although at 15GB, it’s not going to be enough for most people. But unlike Dropbox, there is a halfway storage plan – you don’t have to jump straight to 2TB. You can get 100GB for just £1.59 a month, and then 1TB for £7.99 a month. After that, there’s a pretty big leap to a mind-blowing 10TB for £79.99 a month. You can store any file – document, video, photos – anything. The files in your Google Drive can be reached from anywhere, including your tablet and smartphone. And like Dropbox, you can also share files and folders with other people.

Amazon Drive
Amazon Drive presents itself as your own person hard drive in the cloud, and its functionality is essentially the same as other cloud storage providers. However, Amazon have decided to distinguish themselves from their competitors by putting a particular focus on media. Amazon Prime members get unlimited storage for photos, and a paltry 5GB for other media files like videos and songs. For just £55 a year, you get unlimited storage, which is by far the most cost-effective of the cloud storage providers we’ve looked at. Amazon Drive also includes a music storage service known as Cloud Player, where users can store 250 songs online, totally free of charge, and then access by the Amazon MP3 app on iOS, Android, as well as Windows and Mac.

iCloud Drive
If you’re a Mac and/or iOS user, you have a built-in cloud storage system at your fingertips with iCloud Drive. It’s built into macOS, and downloading the ‘Files’ app on your iPhone or iPad gives you instant access to all your files. It’s important to note, however, that this storage is shared with every other iCloud-compatible app – this includes your iCloud Photo Library as well as your iOS device backups. iCloud are a little better when it comes to pricing and increments, so you can work your way up from the free 5GB, to 50GB (£0.79p), 200GB (£2.49) and then a bit of a jump to 2TB (£6.99).For Apple users, this is a great cloud storage solution, but for others, it might be better to opt for
Cloud Storage