The Best Cloud Storage

After evaluating more than 45 different options, interviewing power users across the nation, and testing the top apps, we are confident that our picks are the best, most reliable cloud storage providers on the market today. All four will provide you with roughly the same lineup of features, and each has a version that'll let you take advantage of the cloud without paying a dime. The right cloud storage option will offer the space you need on the operating system you love at a price you’re ready to pay.

The 4 Best Cloud Storage Services

Best for Light Data Users
Dropbox
Dropbox
Streamlined features across operating systems and a new collaborative tool make Dropbox intuitive to use — but a low data limit for the free account make it a no-go for super users.
Pros
Ease of use
Camera Upload feature
Cons
Low storage amount for free users

Why we chose it

Ease of use

Dropbox is easy to use, so if you’re new to online file storage, this is a great place to start. The file management is intuitive, and all the apps (including the browser client) are built around a minimalistic theme that offers the same fluid experience on all major operating systems and devices — which is something we can’t say about all of its competitors. Whether you’re on an iPhone or a Galaxy, the operating system integration is tight, and you’ll feel right at home.

Camera upload feature

One of Dropbox’s handiest features is Camera Upload — especially because there’s no file size limit on mobile. Enable it from the Photos menu on your phone or tablet, and any photo you take will automatically be uploaded to your Dropbox account the next time your device connects to a WiFi network.

Points to consider

Low storage amount for free users

Dropbox is very basic, and its collaborative features are a bit behind other services like Google Drive — although it did release a more synergistic tool, Dropbox Paper, in 2017. The one underlying issue is that, unlike the more classically collaborative Google Drive’s 15GB of free storage space, you’ll have to pay $10 per month if you want anything more than 2GB with Dropbox. And if you want to utilize the handy Camera Upload feature, note that photos pile up and can burn through 2GB pretty quickly. However, if you do want extra space, we suggest paying outright for a full year (you’ll end up paying less per month).

Best for Teams and Collaboration
Google Drive
Google
If you’re buddy-buddy with Google already, using Drive is an easy-to-use no-brainer. But if you’re tentative about signing up for an account, you’ll have some thinking to do.
Pros
Collaborative file sharing
Search functionality
Cons
Google-centric (works best on Google products)
15GB for all Google services

Why we chose it

Collaborative file sharing

Drive is more than a cloud storage service; it’s a powerful, collaborative office suite that wraps all of Google’s services into a neat little package — we considered it one of the best file sharing and storage sites. You can create spreadsheets, documents, presentations, Google Forms and connect to a whole slew of third-party apps — everything you do syncs conveniently into your account as long as you have an internet connection. And if you don’t have a connection -- all you have to do is enable offline access and use the Google Drive extension for Chrome.

Like most file-sharing interfaces, Google lets you specify the people you want viewing or editing your work at any given time, and you can easily grant or deny access requests. You can also opt for Google’s Backup and Sync feature, which lets you connect your Drive to your personal computer and any other files you choose outside the existing data in your cloud storage.

Search functionality

Another seriously powerful aspect of Drive is its search functionality, which uses Google’s image-recognition technology, or optical character recognition (OCR), to surface photos that are relevant to your search keywords. For example, when we searched for “cat,” it found documents that included the word “cat” and photos of one of our team member’s yorkiepoo (who apparently could pass for a cat).

Points to consider

Google-centric

Google Drive works best on Google-fied devices (although we were truly happy with how smoothly the iOS apps run). Drive also requires a Google account, which means you’ll have to create one whether you like it or not in order to use the cloud services. It might also be worthwhile to consider how this tight-knit Google circle affects your life. The company has a history of breaching user privacy and even admitted to gathering unsolicited information.

15GB for all Google services

Because all of the company’s services are integrated with Drive, they dip from the same 15GB pot you get with the free account. For us, that’s not enough; one of our testers had amassed almost 10GB just in archived emails in his personal account over the past five years, which would leave him with only 5GB of space for everything else. If he were a photo-fanatic, that wouldn’t be a whole lot of space.

Best for Devoted Windows Users
Microsoft OneDrive
Microsoft
An intuitive user experience, at its best within the Windows ecosystem. The free version has a low data limit, and the user experience isn’t quite as smooth as its competition.
Pros
Ease of use
Photo storage
Cons
Security history
Low data limit for free users

Why we chose it

Ease of use

Previously known as SkyDrive, OneDrive is Microsoft’s own combo of a cloud storage solution and an Office suite. If you’re primarily a Windows or Microsoft Office user, taking advantage of this cloud is almost effortless. OneDrive is deeply integrated with Windows 10 and Windows Phone and best serves those already invested in the ecosystem. However, outside the Windows system, it’s a bit more difficult to navigate. We also had to go through the verification process several times before it stuck on all the devices that we used throughout the week.

As far as the user experience goes, we’re legitimately impressed with its clean (albeit Dropbox-esque) interface on iOS devices. OneDrive also performed well and actually logged the fastest times during our upload test.

Photo storage

Like its competitors, OneDrive offers an automatic photo-backup feature — and it’s actually pretty great. The Photo menu does a good job of automatically grouping your image files according to some predefined tags. For example, one of our testers went pond fishing this past spring, and the pictures of him in a boat were tagged “#Outdoor” and the landscape photos of the lake were tagged “#Waterfront.” OneDrive’s browser client even lets you ship image files directly to the nearest Walgreens for prints when you want them.

Points to consider

Security history

Microsoft doesn’t offer encryption services for personal OneDrive accounts; business and SharePoint online are the company’s only encrypted online storage platforms. This means if you want to use your own personal account through Microsoft’s cloud and not have to deal with potentially compromised information, you might have to encrypt your own data to ensure your files are secure. In addition, the company’s history of battling “privacy concerns” goes hand-in-hand with its reputation for tracking users without transparent disclosure.

Low data limit for free users

If you don’t want to shell out extra money for storage, Microsoft OneDrive only gives you five GB, which is on the lower end of our free options. So if you’re a heavy photo-user, this won’t give you much leeway.

Best for Enterprise Solutions
Box
Box
Box
We can only recommend Box to businesses — but its capabilities for that audience made it hard to ignore.
Pros
Business-oriented features
Expanded privacy controls
Cons
Upload limit

Why we chose it

Business-oriented features

Really, it’s a lightweight business toolkit — as long as you’re using the browser client, that is. Although the mobile apps only have basic functionality, one huge benefit to using Box is that it can be integrated with a ton of third-party apps and services, including Asana, Facebook, and IFTTT. So if you’re working with a small team, Box is a great choice. It’s also efficient for those who want the basic Business features but don’t want to pay for the Enterprise option. And even if you aren’t ready to upgrade at all, Box still gives 10 GB of storage to free users.

Expanded privacy controls

Box’s privacy controls are independently analyzed by third-party auditors, and every file you store is encrypted using AES-256 bit encryption. Box also offers built-in FTP support and gives you full disclosure of the information it tracks from your data.

Points to consider

Upload and data limitations

Box didn’t fare as well as our other contenders in our upload speed test. It wasn’t always last, but it wasn’t always first, either. It’s important to note that you only get 250MB per file for a free and personal account, and 5GB for business/enterprise accounts.

Guide to Cloud Storage

How to choose the best cloud storage

Figure out how much file storage you actually need

To know how to tailor your cloud storage search, you’ll need to know how much available data you want at your fingertips. Are you sharing files all the time? Are you uploading photos (which are bigger files than documents) constantly and wanting to maintain their resolution? Once you have a decent idea of what you use on a daily basis, you’ll be able to narrow your search based on data storage availability and price.

Look for more than a backup service

The best cloud storage options will offer more than just a backup service. They should also facilitate easy file sharing, collaboration options and ways to manage your data in both business and personal settings. All of our top picks offer these options.

Make sure your data is secure

It’s a good idea to look at what types of encryption (in-transit and at-rest are customary now) and authentication methods are offered, and it also wouldn’t hurt to look into the company’s history with handling user data. Also, it’s important to check whose handling your data. Some companies have their own data centers to store user data, while others toss information to third-parties. Because of this, we suggest rummaging the service level agreements to see where and how your data is being stored — your cloud company’s reputation might not be the only one you need to evaluate.

Consider customer satisfaction

One of the best ways to gauge user-friendliness before trying a product is to look at the customer satisfaction ratings. We suggest looking for an average of 3.5 stars or higher from users on the App Store and Google Play Store to make sure your pick is (generally) well-liked and offers a good mobile experience.

Cloud storage cost

Whether you’re looking for a personal or business account, it’s in the best interest of any cloud storage service to offer a free version (hello, roping in new users), but it’s also a win for us consumers, especially when it comes to free encrypted cloud storage (hello, security). Many personal users won’t need the space provided in a premium plan, and plenty of services offer a free version that’ll more than satisfy — why pay when you don’t have to?

Cloud Storage FAQ

What does secure cloud storage look like?

Yes, there are a lot of things that could go wrong (take the Yahoo and Equifax data breaches, for example), but that doesn’t mean you have to live in fear of the cloud — just be smart with your data. Our top recommendations offer cutting-edge protection: two-factor authentication, facilities that are protected with 24-hour monitoring, and data that’s encrypted in “transit” (SSL and TLS) and “at rest” (128-bit AES and on).

What shouldn’t you store in the cloud?

At Reviews.com, we use cloud storage every day and just recommend healthy caution when it comes to the cloud: It’s important to consider the risks before uploading sensitive information, like tax documents or bank statements, especially with a service that isn’t a well-known and trusted authority in the cloud world.

How can cloud storage be used for collaboration?

“Slow Wide Turns operates and communicates between multiple systems and cities scattered throughout the U.S., and file sharing and system backing is crucial to our success and overall company organization. Our design department is constantly submitting artwork files to be reviewed by directors and owners who operate in cities 500 miles apart. Uploading files to a well-organized, shared Google Drive account allows for a swift review process and has nearly eliminated the shortcomings related to file sharing and storage we had previously experienced.”

Chad Woody, co-founder and product designer of Slow Wide Turns

“Dropbox has saved my business from the blue screen of death. Now anyone in my company can access critical documents from anywhere. We pay for Dropbox for business so that we can have extra room to store 16 years of data about our company and clients. We have team member folders and we use it to store a repository of graphics and images that we use on the blog and to promote the brand as well. I really love how easy it is to use.”

Melinda Emerson, author, speaker and host of #Smallbizchat

The Best Cloud Storage: Summed Up

Dropbox - CTA
Google Drive - CTA
Microsoft OneDrive - CTA
Box - CTA
Best for Light Data Users
Best for Teams and Collaboration
Best for Devoted Windows Users
Best for Enterprise Solutions
Data Limit for Free Version
2 GB
15 GB
5 GB
10 GB
Cheapest Premium Option
$8.25/month for 1TB
$1.99/month for 100GB
$1.99/month for 50GB
$10/month for 100GB
24/7 Customer Support
App Store Rating
4.8
4.8
4.7
3.1
Google Play App Rating
4.4
4.4
4.4
4.2

Our Other Cloud Storage Reviews

One size doesn’t fit all — the storage you need might not even be in this review. That’s why we’ve listed similar reviews here.