Many people across the world work on documents using a variety of applications on different operating systems. This is fine and all, but can cause headaches when you’re trying to work together. To help with that, in this article we’ll take a look at the best cloud storage for documents (not necessarily to be confused with out article on the best cloud storage for collaboration).
Transferring files from one digital device to another can become complicated, and take up valuable time, not to mention create issues with multiple versions of the same document. Editing another document on one device will start the whole process all over again.
It doesn’t take long for that to turn into an organizational mess. On top of that, once you consider sharing those files using outdated methods like flash drives or email, the whole situation also becomes a security risk. Email can be hacked into, while a drive can be stolen.
There’s more than enough stress and anxiety on the job without these added headaches. To help with that, the tech wizards have (obviously) found a solution in cloud storage. With office productivity apps and third-party apps, most best cloud storage provides methods to share your files, keep them private and secure, and safe from loss and theft without any problems.
Before we start with the reviews of our best cloud storage for documents, let’s dive into the criteria.
Best Cloud Storage for Documents 2018
What Makes Cloud Storage Best For Documents
As mentioned, there are many applications available for working with documents. However, having them integrated with your storage service provides a much cleaner solution for collaboration purposes. In this article, we’ve focused on those that play nice with either Google Docs or Office Online.
Also, when you’re collaborating on documents you want your changes to be reflected as soon as possible, preferably in real-time. That’s where sync comes into play, and the best feature for that job is block-level sync. Block sync enables faster syncing times across devices because when you edit your file only the delta will be copied rather than the entire file.
You need to share documents in order to work with others, and that’s our next criterion. However, along with that, we’ve taken content control into consideration. By content control, we mean the ability to restrict unauthorized file access when sharing. Examples of that are password-protected links and permission settings.
All of your work could be for nothing if your files aren’t secure. Most services encrypt data at rest server-side, but a few don’t, so that’s one feature we look for. While none of the services below allow for native private encryption like the best zero-knowledge cloud storage services, the option to integrate with Boxcryptor (read our Boxcryptor review) provides another layer of encryption protection.
Another critical security feature is two-factor authentication (2FA), which helps lessen the impact of stolen passwords.
Last but not least, we’ve taken value into consideration. Almost all services offer some kind of a free plan or at least a trial. They vary on the number of subscription plans offered, and what they provide for the price (if you’re searching for a bargain, check out our article on the best deals in cloud storage.)
With all of this in mind, read on and find out which cloud storage service is our top pick for documents.
Best Cloud Storage for Documents: Egnyte Connect
Our first pick is a service that’s also one of the best EFSS providers out there, Egnyte Connect. Egnyte offers good task-management capabilities to oversee collaboration. Other services integrate with third-party applications but very few offer native features. However, in addition to built-in applications, Egnyte integrates well with third-party apps.
It is, actually, one of the few tools that integrate with both Microsoft and Google Drive (Box being the other). With Microsoft, users get the ability to integrate with the free version of its productivity suite, Office Online. If you prefer the desktop apps of Office 365, there’s an integration for that too. Having both Office and Google Drive is a nice benefit, as users can use whichever they prefer.
Initial sync upload speeds with Egnyte are a little slower than expected. However, here we’re more interested in sync speeds when collaborating on already uploaded files, not on uploading new ones. In that category, Egnyte really outshines all others, with the exception of Dropbox.
The reason for that is that Egnyte uses block-level transfers when syncing files.
When it comes to sharing, some services implement this feature better than others and Egnyte is in the better category. When sharing folders you can give four types of access (owner, full, editor and viewer) to both individuals and groups. You can also send out links for both files and folders.
To help you manage your link there are options to password protect your links, set expiry dates, restrict downloads and get notifications whenever the link is used. Egnyte also integrates with Boxcryptor, meaning you can add even more security if you want.
Other Reasons Why We Like Egnyte Connect
Nobody wants their files to fall victim to cybercrime. Thankfully, when it comes to security Egnyte uses AES 256-bit encryption before syncing or uploading your files. However, it doesn’t qualify as zero-knowledge because it decrypts your files to look at metadata before re-encrypting. Other security options include minimum password strength and 2FA.
When it comes to price, Egnyte doesn’t offer any kind of an individual plan. With the least expensive plan — Office — you can have a minimum of five users which comes down to $40 per month ($8 per user). Because it offers 5TB of space this plan is one of the better ones in terms of overall value.
Business plan offers 10TB of space, more advanced role customization and hybrid cloud storage if you want to store some data on a local server and some in the cloud.
Egnyte Connect offers a feature called Egnyte Drive, a network drive that lets you access files and folders in your cloud without them talking space on your hard drive. If you’re interested in Egnyte Connect be sure to read our in-depth Egnyte review or try it for yourself.
- Good integrations
- Fast block-level sync
- Affordable pricing
- No Linux support
- Can get pricey
Box focuses on business clients and it’s no surprise that it holds the trust of many big-league companies — it claims that it has Fortune 500 companies as clients, as well as 59,000 smaller businesses.
Box has one native application which integrates with cloud storage called Box Notes. It’s just the one, but it’s a among our best note-taking apps. To compensate for the lack of native applications, Box has a sizeable library of third-party applications. First and foremost of these are Google Docs and Office 365.
Box, like many others, follows the sync-folder model created by Dropbox. Sync speeds when uploading compare well with other solutions but not when syncing already uploaded files. That’s because Box doesn’t have block-level sync.
There’s no restriction on sharing files with other licensed users. Sharing with users outside your organization is also easy, if you have proper permissions. You can click the “shared” button to send an email invite, or you can generate a link.
Sharing links can be dangerous because it can be difficult to track who has access to that link and what links have been created. For that reason Box lets you set expiry dates and password protect links. OneDrive and Google Drive overlook those security measures.
Other Reasons Why We Like Box
Considering the nature of clients that use Box, it’s not surprising it has good security, including protection against man-in-the-middle attacks. While stored on the server, your data is protected with AES 256-bit encryption. Box also uses key wrapping, which means that even your key is encrypted with the same level of AES. 2FA is offered, too.
Box has decent price plans; Box Starter has a price of $5 per month per user (minimum of three). It’s cheaper than the Business plan but also limits your storage to 100GB. Box Business and Business Plus offer unlimited storage for $15 and $25, respectively. There’s also the option to test the service with a 15-day free trial or sign up for a free 10GB personal plan.
Despite having a lot of features that we like, slower syncs and less overall value compared to Egnyte places Box in second place. If you want a more in-depth look at Box to check out our Box review.
- Office Online & Google Docs
- Strong security
- Unlimited storage plan
- No block-level sync
- No annual discount
Dropbox was founded in 2007 and since then has become one of the most recognized names in technology. The service focuses more on personal users than Egnyte or Box, but there’s also a business option (read our Dropbox Business review).
Dropbox doesn’t develop its own productivity apps, there’s only a note-taking app called Dropbox Paper. What’s interesting is that despite being a competitor, Dropbox is partnered with Microsoft, integrating with Office Online (for free).
Other than that, for personal users, Dropbox doesn’t offer much document tools. Dropbox Business users do have access to many more applications including DocuSign and Adobe.
It was the first service to implement the sync-folder model that most services now use, and remains today the best cloud storage for sync overall with key features like block-level sync and Smart Sync, the option to unsync files and still see them in your sync folder.
You can share every folder and file stored, plus grant folder “editing” permissions to drive collaboration. When you share a file or a folder you generate a link which you can then email or share over social media.
Anybody can use that link to access your shared files and folders. Only business subscribers, who pay twice as much, can add password protection and expiry dates to links.
Unfortunately, there’s no zero-knowledge encryption, but the more standard, in-transit and at-rest encryption are present (both AES 256-bit). The service does decrypt your data when it arrives on the servers to pull your metadata for indexing. For those that want more privacy, Boxcryptor is, again, an option.
Other Reasons Why We Like Dropbox
When it comes to personal price plans, there’s two to choose from: Plus and Professional. Plus is decently priced at $10 for 1TB of storage. Professional offers more features for $20 a month but not more storage. There’s also a free Dropbox plan called Basic with 2GB of storage.
Though Dropbox sync capabilities are awesome, it trails our top picks for document use because it doesn’t offer both Google Docs and Microsoft Online. Read more in our Dropbox review.
- Very fast sync
- MS Office Online Integration
- Dropbox Paper
- Only up to 1TB
Google Drive is in first place when it comes to number of total users at 800 million. It has good productivity tools and it’s aimed at home users. Google’s full productivity suite, Google Docs, is naturally integrated with Google Drive.
Google Docs includes word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications. You can easily use the suite to collaborate with others in near real-time by suggesting edits and making comments. There’s also a way to rollback to the previous version and see what changes others have made. Drive also has a huge library of third-party applications.
File sync speed is key when it comes to collaboration and Google Drive is fast so it makes for an effective platform. However, there’s room for improvement as it doesn’t offer block-level copying. Selective sync is available if you need to save space.
While easy to share with Google Drive, we again find room for improvement. You can email access or set up an access link, but there are no expiry dates or link passwords features.
Google’s reputation when it comes to privacy is somewhat damaged as it’s been linked to the PRISM project. However, Google has denied giving NSA full access to private files. There’s also the matter of Google scanning personal files in order to give personalized ads, custom search results and relevant product features; if this is a concern, we again suggest Boxcryptor.
Other Reasons Why We Like Google Drive
When it comes plan variety, Google rules. You start with a nice 15GB of free storage, which ranks among the best free cloud storage offers. From there, you can upgrade your storage with plans ranging from 100GB to 30TB. The 100GB plan with a cost of $2 per month is particularly convenient.
We rank Google Drive fourth because it could do more in terms of security, syncing and sharing. If you want to know more, read our Google Drive review.
- Google Docs integration
- Many third-party apps
- Cost flexibility
- Weak file-sharing security
- No block-level sync
OneDrive comes from the Microsoft stable and because of that, unsurprisingly, offers integration with Microsoft Office. It works well, but it’s not amazing and it caters more to the business market. All the usual features are there but they can be tricky to access and there may be limitations.
One of the selling points is team collaboration with Microsoft Office documents. With a free account, you have access to Office Online, which is basically Office 365 with fewer features. That’s enough to satisfy the average user.
OneDrive’s sync client works much better than transferring files manually. It also incorporates block-level sync for Office files to speedup collaborative edits. Of course, it would be nice if it were available for all file types considering that some users don’t use Office.
Sharing is done much like the other services; you can generate a link to the file, share your file on social media, email a link to it from the OneDrive site and embed your file on a web page. If you get a paid plan you can set expiry dates, but there’s no password protection. Also, there’s no way to quickly see which content you’ve shared and with whom.
When you transfer content between your devices and OneDrive, it’s protected by AES 256-bit encryption, but it’s encrypted at rest only for business customers, making your data particularly vulnerable in case of a breach.
Other Reasons Why We Like OneDrive
The OneDrive free plan gives you a 5GB storage, while the lowest-cost subscription gives you 50GB for $2. However, the next plan gives you 1TB for just $6.99 per month and comes with Office 365. There’s also a family plan called Office 365 Home with both Office 365 and 5TB of space split between five users. For $10 a month, it’s good value.
OneDrive offers very good pricing plans and is ideal for editing Office documents, of course, but its security could be much better along with its file sharing capabilities. For more information read our OneDrive review.
- Low-cost pricing
- Bundled with Office 365
- Great for collaboration
- No at-rest encryption
- Manual uploads can stall
We’ve reached the end of our list for best cloud storage for documents. Egnyte is in the lead as it deserves, but hot on its heels are Box and Dropbox. In the rear, pretty close to each other, but a couple of steps behind the first three are Google Drive and OneDrive. As we’ve said, other factors — security, sharing, price — besides plain collaboration were also taken into account.
Do you think we missed something? Or do you have some thoughts to share? Let us know in the comment below. Thank you for reading.