Best Cloud Storage for Families in 2021: Storage, the Kids and You

With everything going cloudwards, it’s time to get a family cloud storage account. Read this list to find the best cloud for your family.

Robert CullAleksandar Kochovski
By Robert Cull & Aleksandar Kochovski (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-02-15T15:38:48+00:00

As our lives are moving steadily toward the cloud, it might be time to get your family on the bandwagon. Just think about it: a family cloud storage account is the perfect way to store your loved ones’ important moments, from the video of little Timmy’s first steps to his college acceptance email. Everything is there, accessible from anywhere, and it can easily be shared.

Key Takeaways:

  • When it comes to finding a family-friendly cloud storage service, pickings are slim, but there are some good quality services that offer family plans.
  • The best cloud storage for families is easily pCloud, which strikes the perfect balance between price, features and security.
  • Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox all offer family plans and are chock-full of features, but you sacrifice some privacy in using them, which isn’t ideal for a family.
  • Sync.com is our final recommendation. Although it doesn’t have a family plan, it’s a secure service that lets you share one account on five devices.

There are quite a few decent cloud storage options out there, but only a handful offer family plans. We wrangled up all the reputable services that offer cloud storage for the whole family so you don’t have to scour the internet for a place to store your family’s fondest memories. All the services we chose are on our best cloud storage list, so you can rest assured they’re all top-notch.

That said, we have to pick a favorite, and our top choice is pCloud. It has everything your family needs: a cheap family plan, great security and excellent media features for your family photos and home videos. Read on for more details about pCloud and to discover the other entries on our list.

  • Sharing cloud storage with your family is easy. Simply find a cloud service that offers a family plan. We list five services in this article, but pCloud is the best cloud service for families, hands down.

  • While there are many contenders for the best cloud storage crown, we believe Sync.com is the best cloud storage for personal use. It offers the absolute best in security and it’s very affordable.

  • If you want to save money in the long run, pCloud’s 2TB lifetime family plan can’t be beat. However, if you’d rather pay a monthly subscription, OneDrive is the next best thing, offering 1TB for each family member at $9.99 per month.

  1. 1
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
    5 GB - 10 TB
    $ 500
  2. 2
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
    10-2000 GB
    $ 399
    Save 20 %
  3. 3
    • Sync Folder: No
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
    10 GB - 5 TB
    $ 164
  4. 4
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
    5-Unlimited GB
    $ 199
  5. 5
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
    15 GB - 30 TB
    $ 167
    Save 16 %

What Makes the Best Family Cloud Storage

When adding anything new to your family dynamic, it’s nice when it doesn’t cause problems. Cloud storage is no different. Your family is going to be storing photos, videos and other files, so your cloud storage should be secure, fast, easy to use and give you a lot of storage for the price. Here are our top five suggestions.

  1. pCloud — Secure, fast and affordable cloud storage for families
  2. Google Drive — Flexible features with many third-party app integrations
  3. OneDrive — Comes preinstalled on all Windows 10 devices
  4. Dropbox — Established cloud storage provider with a few privacy hiccups
  5. Sync.com — The most secure cloud storage 

When it comes to security, zero-knowledge encryption is as secure as it gets. Also known as client-side encryption, it gives you sole access to your encryption code, so even the service’s employees can’t unlock your files. Two-factor-authentication (or 2FA for short) requires you to verify your identity each time you log in to your account, making it essential for storing sensitive personal data.

Families have a ton of photos and videos, so cloud storage services with advanced media features are always welcome. However, it’s not all about the features — the right cloud service needs to be easy to use for every member of the family. Of course, all of this has to come at a price that won’t break the bank, preferably with a dedicated family plan.

1. pCloud

pCloud Browser Interface
The best family cloud service is pCloud, thanks to its excellent privacy and media playback features.

More details about pCloud:

  • Pricing: 10GB free, one-time payment of $500 for a 2TB lifetime family plan
  • Provider website: www.pcloud.com

Pros:

  • Client-side encryption
  • Integrated media player
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • No productivity features

Taking the top spot is pCloud, a Swiss company focused on the privacy of its users, making it ideal for your family. On top of that, pCloud has an advanced music player and can even convert videos to different formats, making it the best cloud storage for video. pCloud also offers a family plan in the form of a 2TB lifetime subscription, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

If you need to share files with people outside the family, pCloud has an option called pCloud Transfer, which doesn’t require anyone to have a pCloud account. Simply go to the web client, select the file (up to 5GB) you want to share, add a recipient, then press “send files.” The recipient will receive an email with the link that allows them to download the file.

pCloud uses 2FA for security, and files are encrypted by industry standard AES 256-bit encryption. Client-side encryption is on offer as well, though that feature requires an additional fee of $3.99 per month (or a one-time payment for the lifetime plan). Once you pay for the zero-knowledge Crypto folder, anything you save there can only be accessed by you.

pCloud family plan
pCloud’s lifetime family plan offers a secure and private service at a low price.

The family plan gives you 2TB of storage and can be accessed by up to five users. It’s a pCloud lifetime plan, which comes as a one-time payment of $500. It seems like a lot at first glance, but it ends up saving you a fortune in the long run. If you don’t feel like ponying up for cloud storage, pCloud also has the best free cloud storage plan, though each family member will need a separate account.

Free
  • Details: Free plan
  • Storage: 10 GB
Premium
  • Storage: 500 GB
1-year plan $ 3.99/ month
$47.88 billed every year
Save 20 %
Lifetime plan $ 4.86/ month
$175.00 one time payment,
Monthly price for 3 years of use
Premium Plus
  • Storage: 2000 GB
1-year plan $ 7.99/ month
$95.88 billed every year
Save 20 %
Lifetime plan $ 9.72/ month
$350.00 one time payment,
Monthly price for 3 years of use
Business
  • Details: Price per user
  • Storage: 1000 GB
1-year plan $ 23.97/ month
$287.64 billed every year

pCloud is one of those cloud storage services that does it all: privacy, security and entertainment. It has a ton of practical and easy-to-use features, and its interface is easily digestible, even for those that aren’t tech-savvy. Its family plan is a steal, too, which helps cement its number-one spot on this list.

2. Google Drive

Google Drive cloud storage
Google Drive offers integration with Google’s apps and adds parental controls for children’s accounts.

More details about Google Drive:

Pros:

  • Google Docs integration
  • Multiple family plans

Cons:

  • Poor privacy policy
  • No client-side encryption

Google Drive is the runner-up on our list, thanks to its affordable cloud storage and many productivity features. To simplify its pricing structure, Google has gathered its storage plans under the Google One brand, which aims to provide clear storage options for users and families, as well as other benefits. Give our Google Drive review a look for more information.

Drive stores all data created in Google’s apps, including Gmail emails and Google Docs files. Speaking of Docs, Google Drive lets you create new Docs, Slides or Sheets right within its interface. This might not seem like the biggest advantage for a family, but it makes schoolwork a breeze for the kids. Its sharing features are a big plus, since they let others leave comments on your photos and videos.

Google Drive uses 2FA to keep your family’s logins safe. Unfortunately, Drive doesn’t provide zero-knowledge encryption, and its privacy policy lets it collect quite a bit of personal data. This means that you will have to seek third-party support for the additional security. Uniquely, Drive lets parents manage their children’s accounts for added parental control.

Google Drive family plan
All Google One plans can be shared with up to five other family members.

Google Drive has four standard plans that range from the free 15GB plan all the way up to 2TB. All of the paid plans advertise the ability to add up to five additional family members, who share the same storage space. Google One also includes member benefits with all of its paid plans. Bizarrely, this includes discounts on select hotels, but not much else.

15GB
  • Details: Free plan
  • Storage: 15 GB
100GB
  • Storage: 100 GB
1-year plan $ 1.67/ month
$19.99 billed every year
Save 16 %
200GB
  • Storage: 200 GB
1-year plan $ 2.50/ month
$29.99 billed every year
Save 16 %
2TB
  • Storage: 2000 GB
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.99 billed every year
Save 17 %
10TB
  • Storage: 10000 GB
20TB
  • Storage: 20000 GB
30TB
  • Storage: 30000 GB

Its central position in Google’s app ecosystem means that if your family is invested in the Googleverse, it’ll make for an easy transition to using Google Drive. So, if you’re all using Androids and your home is hooked up to Google Home, by all means, get Drive for your family. If not, Google’s data harvesting might make it a hard sell, and you may prefer an alternative to Google Drive.

3. OneDrive

onedrive browser interface
OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, and it’s tightly integrated with the Windows 10 operating system.

More details about OneDrive:

  • Pricing: 5GB free, $9.99 per month for 1TB per user 
  • Provider website: onedrive.live.com

Pros:

  • Microsoft Office 365 access
  • Affordable family plan with lots of storage
  • Support for up to 6 people

Cons:

  • Poor privacy policy
  • No zero-knowledge encryption

OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution (as you can read in this explanation of what OneDrive is). It has an inexpensive storage plan built for families that can accommodate up to six people. It comes as part of Microsoft 365, which includes the Office suite, making OneDrive a perfect fit for college and high school students and business professionals.

Similarly to Google Drive, OneDrive comes with an entire productivity suite attached (you can see how the two services stack up in this article). If that’s not something your family needs, deep integration with Windows 10 might be enough to tip the scales. Sharing is another thing OneDrive pulls off well, letting you set passwords and expiration dates for sharing links.

In terms of security, OneDrive offers 2FA and not much beyond. Until recently, it had no form of encryption whatsoever, though it uses the standard AES 256-bit nowadays. There’s also something called a “vault,” which is meant to be more secure storage, but it doesn’t include zero-knowledge encryption. Microsoft’s privacy policy is just as intrusive as Google’s, so things aren’t looking up on that front, either.

onedrive family plan
The Microsoft 365 Family plan covers up to six people with 1TB of storage each.

OneDrive’s family plan is sold under the Microsoft 365 Family banner and offers 1TB each for up to six users and a total of 6TB. The plan is $99 per year or $9.99 per month, depending on how you want to pay. For your money you also get online access to the Office 365 suite, which includes productivity staples Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

OneDrive Basic 5GB
  • Storage: 5 GB
OneDrive 100GB
  • Storage: 100 GB
Microsoft 365 Personal
  • Details: Comes with Office 365 Personal
  • Storage: 1000 GB
1-year plan $ 5.83/ month
$69.99 billed every year
Save 17 %
Microsoft 365 Family
  • Details: Comes with Office 365 Home
  • Storage: 5000 GB
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.99 billed every year
Save 17 %
OneDrive for Business Plan 1
  • Details: Price per user
  • Storage: 1000 GB
1-year plan $ 5.00/ month
$60.00 billed every year
OneDrive for Business Plan 2
  • Details: Price per user
  • Storage: Unlimited GB
1-year plan $ 10.00/ month
$120.00 billed every year
Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Details: Price per user
  • Storage: 1000 GB
1-year plan $ 12.50/ month
$150.00 billed every year
Save 17 %

Not many cloud storage providers can claim such integration with Windows 10 and Microsoft’s apps as OneDrive can. Its family plan seems very generous when looking at storage space strictly from a cost perspective, but you’re also paying a privacy toll to use it. However, if Microsoft’s privacy policy leaves you unfazed, OneDrive is a cheap cloud service worth your attention.

4. Dropbox

dropbox desktop interface
The cloud service that started it all, Dropbox offers a tried and tested experience, but has numerous privacy failures.

More details about Dropbox:

  • Pricing: 2GB free, $16.99 per month for 2TB
  • Provider website: www.dropbox.com

Pros:

  • Supports Microsoft Office & Google Workspace
  • Many third-party app integrations
  • Support for 6 people

Cons:

  • Family plan is pricey
  • History of security & privacy failures
  • No zero-knowledge encryption

The granddaddy of cloud storage, Dropbox takes the penultimate spot on our list. As the first commercial cloud service, Dropbox has definitely been around the block and it shows. It offers a slew of features for both families and professionals, including integration with both Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365.

Dropbox has quite a few useful features, including a nifty note-taking app called Dropbox Paper. Its sharing features are nothing to scoff at, and Dropbox Smart Sync lets you free up space on your hard drive. Besides its own features, Dropbox lets you customize your experience by installing third-party add-ons, much like Google Drive does.

However, Dropbox’s security is sorely lacking, so much so that there’s a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to the many hacks and leaks Dropbox has had over the years (we have an article on the topic, as well). It does offer AES 256-bit encryption and it has 2FA, but its past doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

dropbox family plan
Dropbox’s family plan is less than affordable, even though it offers a nice smattering of features.

Dropbox offers a family plan, but like its single-user plans, it’s a little on the expensive side. It works for up to six users, which is plenty for a nuclear family. It comes with 2TB of storage, but even though each user has their own private space, everyone shares the same storage quota. Dropbox also has a free plan, but it’s a measly 2GB and it’s only useful to try out the service.

Dropbox Plus
  • Storage: 2000 GB
1-year plan $ 9.99/ month
$119.88 billed every year
Dropbox Family
  • Storage: 2000 GB
1-year plan $ 16.99/ month
$203.88 billed every year
Dropbox Professional
  • Storage: 3000 GB
1-year plan $ 16.58/ month
$198.96 billed every year
Save 17 %

Although Dropbox’s features and third-party app integrations might make it an attractive choice, its privacy and security let it down. If you value your family’s privacy, you might be better off going with an alternative.

5. Sync.com

Sync.com browser interface
Sync.com is the most secure cloud storage provider on the scene.

More details about Sync.com:

  • Pricing: 5GB free, $8 per month for 2TB, billed annually
  • Provider website: www.sync.com

Pros:

  • Zero-knowledge encryption out of the box
  • Advanced sharing link management

Cons:

  • No family plan
  • Everyone needs to share one account
  • No monthly payment option

Sync.com might not offer a true family plan, but it more than makes up for that in its secure zero-knowledge approach to cloud storage. It’s easily the most secure cloud service on this list, and we rank it as the best of the best among zero-knowledge cloud storage services. You can find out why it’s one of our favorite cloud services in our full Sync.com review.

Sync.com supports 2FA, and zero-knowledge encryption is enabled out of the box at no extra charge — even for free users, unlike pCloud. Read our pCloud vs Sync.com piece for all the differences between the two cloud services. Sync.com is HIPAA compliant, which means it’s so secure that it’s even qualified to hold sensitive medical data.

Sharing links are as secure as they can be. You can set passwords and expiration dates for them, like you can with most cloud storage services, but Sync.com also lets you set download limits, gives you download stats and much more. You can see why we think it’s the best cloud storage service for sharing.

Sync.com homepage
Even though it doesn’t offer a family plan, you can share your personal Sync.com account with up to four other people.

Sync.com offers a free plan which comes with 5GB of storage, but that might not be enough to store your family’s data. Although Sync.com doesn’t technically offer a family plan, the 2TB Basic plan is affordable and lets you connect up to five devices. The downside is that the whole family has to use one account and you don’t get individual spaces.

Free
  • Details: Free
  • Storage: 5 GB
Personal Mini
  • Storage: 200 GB
1-year plan $ 5.00/ month
$60.00 billed every year
Pro Solo Basic
  • Storage: 2000 GB
1-year plan $ 8.00/ month
$96.00 billed every year
Pro Solo Standard
  • Storage: 3000 GB
1-year plan $ 12.00/ month
$144.00 billed every year
Pro Solo Plus
  • Storage: 4000 GB
1-year plan $ 15.00/ month
$180.00 billed every year
Pro Teams Standard
  • Details: Price per user
  • Storage: 1000 GB
1-year plan $ 5.00/ month
$60.00 billed every year
Pro Teams Plus
  • Details: Price per user
  • Storage: 4000 GB
1-year plan $ 8.00/ month
$96.00 billed every year
Pro Teams Advanced
  • Details: Price per user
  • Storage: 10000 GB
1-year plan $ 15.00/ month
$180.00 billed every year

Sync.com may not have a lot of additional features because of its zero-knowledge encryption, but if your family values privacy and security above all else, you can’t beat Sync.com. However, if you need private storage space for each family member, Sync.com might not be the best cloud storage service for you.

Honorable Mention: iCloud

If you’re using an iPhone or Mac, chances are that you already use iCloud in some capacity. iCloud powers your iOS devices’ backups and photo storage, and it manages them seamlessly across your other Apple devices.

Apple’s pricing is pretty straightforward with four plans, two of which have family sharing: the 200GB and the 2TB plans. Although iCloud is simple to set up and use, it’s been the target of numerous hacks and it had a notorious data leak in 2014. Unfortunately, this lack of security means it’s not suitable for families and therefore doesn’t make it onto our list.

Final Thoughts

Cloud storage is something that most people don’t think about. Although some are certainly better than others, all cloud storage software serves essentially the same purpose. However, when looking for a good cloud storage option for your family, there are very few that offer well-priced storage for multiple users, along with good security and features.

pCloud takes an easy win in this roundup, thanks to its balance of security and features. Because its family plan comes in the form of a lifetime subscription, it’s the most affordable in the long run. Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox offer great functionality, but they all suffer from poor privacy, which is why we included the super-secure Sync.com to round out this list.

Finally, if cloud storage for your whole family isn’t quite what you are looking for, but you still want to share files with your family and friends, this guide will walk you through how to share files online the easy way.

Do you agree with our picks? Would you rather see another service up there? Let us know your thoughts about our top picks for the best cloud storage for families in the comments below. Thank you for reading.