Cloud storage can help your business, but it can also make your leisure time more enjoyable. You can use it to create notes about that pet project of yours, make a shared calendar, share photos with your partner and more. Plus, it’ll protect you against data loss. To help you choose the best service, we made a list of the best cloud storage for home.
You may rely on hard drives, external drives, DVDs and flash drives, but they can malfunction or get stolen. Solid-state drives aren’t a sure bet, either, because they experience more data errors, even if they have a failure rate less than 1 percent. All these can also be destroyed in a fire, flood or other acts of nature.
Cloud storage services aren’t immune to those mishaps, but they build their data centers to protect against them. Their main means of safeguarding your data is redundancy, which means they keep multiple copies of your data in separate locations, similar to how RAID works. Data centers also protect against natural disasters and theft.
Thanks to that, and the continual need for more storage space, cloud storage traffic is predicted to reach 43 exabytes by 2020. The providers we’ve chosen from among the best cloud storage services will help you get with the times. They’ll also enable you to share your files and feel safe about your data. Before we get to the list, though, let’s define our ranking criteria.
Best Cloud Storage for Home 2019
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit pCloudpCloud Review
- Sync.com★★★ Best Cloud Storage ★★★
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Sync.comSync.com Review
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit OneDriveOneDrive Review
- Google Drive
- Sync Folder
- File Link Sharing
- Folder Sharing
- Visit Google DriveGoogle Drive Review
What Makes the Best Cloud Storage for Home
First, we’ll look at the subscription plans to see how much they cost, how much space they offer and if they support multiple users. It’s best if a service has more plans because that makes it easier to find a suitable match for your home setup. If you need a lot of storage space, though, read our best unlimited online storage providers guide.
Most people looking for a cloud service for their home are probably mainstream users who don’t want to mess with the service. Given that, the service should be user-friendly. A straightforward and enjoyable user experience will help with that. Its clients should work on most operating systems and make it easy to backup and restore files, too.
It should provide strong security to protect your files. That depends on the level of file encryption, protocols that protect your files in transit, how safe the data centers are and more. It’s best if it has private encryption because that ensures the privacy of your files. Two-factor authentication will help, too, if someone steals your credentials.
Last, but not least, is the transfer speed, which determines how fast you can move your files to the cloud. The faster the better because nobody likes to grow gray hair while waiting for an upload to finish. Your upload speed is will depend on your internet service provider, how close you are to a server and your connection.
Now that we have our criteria out of the way, let’s start with our top pick, pCloud.
Best Cloud Storage for Home: pCloud
pCloud is a Switzerland-based company launched in 2013. It ranks near the top of our best cloud storage comparison list. A big part of why it occupies such a high place is that it has some of the most competitive pricing plans on the market. It also has a plan tailored to families.
Before we get to it, though, let’s talk about the personal plans because you might be the sole cloud storage user in your home. There are two personal plans: Premium 500GB and Premium Plus 2TB.
The first is $4.99 per month, and the second is $9.99 per month. If you pay for a year in advance the prices are discounted to $47.88 and $95.88 per year, respectively. If you decide that pCloud is all you need, buying a lifetime subscription will save money in the long run. In that case, Premium 500GB is $175 and Premium 2TB is $350.
If you need to accommodate multiple users, the Family plan is your best bet. You don’t subscribe to it on a monthly or yearly basis. Instead, you need to pay a one-time fee that makes the account available for life. The plan gets you 2TB, which you can share with up to four users. It’s $565.40, which isn’t cheap, but considering it’s a lifetime subscription, it’s good value.
Before reaching for your credit card, you can test pCloud using its free plan which gives you up to 10GB of storage space. That’s generous, and it helped pCloud make our best cloud companies with large free plans list.
pCloud’s desktop client is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. It’s not difficult to use. You can access it using the system tray icon or the pCloud Drive in your files manager. The interface isn’t among the most attractive we’ve seen, but it’s clear and intuitive.
The web interface doesn’t have great looks, either, but it has more features, it’s fast and provides a straightforward user experience. It can’t transfer large files well, though, so use the desktop client if you want to do that.
The mobile app is a capable companion if you need to access your files while you’re on the move. You can also use it to upload new files, share files and access them. Plus, it can automatically upload your photos and videos. It’s available for Android and iOS.
Other Reasons We Like pCloud
pCloud uses the TLS protocol to protect files in transit against man-in-the-middle attacks and AES 256-bit to encrypt your files. Once your files reach a pCloud data center, they’re replicated across at least five servers. The data centers are secured and monitored 24/7.
Private, end-to-end encryption is available, but only if you buy the pCloud Crypto add-on for $3.99 per month. The add-on gives you a folder protected by a password that only you know. Note that if you forget your password, pCloud won’t be able to reset it for you. The best password managers can help you remember it, though.
Those measures of protection won’t work if someone steals your password but two-factor authentication will and pCloud provides it, too. Still, you should make a strong password from the start.
pCloud doesn’t have a distributed, global network of servers. Instead, it keeps them in the U.S.. That didn’t slow our transfer speeds, though, as our tests showed speeds comparable to other services. If transfers take too much of your bandwidth, you can limit them. Block-level transfer will help with subsequent uploads.
We’ve placed pCloud at the top of this list thanks to its good speeds, excellent value, strong security and straightforward user experience. Read our pCloud review to learn the details about these categories.
- Excellent value
- Strong security
- Family plan
- Private encryption is a paid add-on
Sync.com is based in Canada and has a reputation for strong security and privacy. There are two plans fit for home users: Personal Pro 500GB for $49 per year and Personal Pro 2TB for $96 per year. You can’t pay per month or add more users, though.
If you need to give access to more users, your best option is to subscribe to the Business Pro plan for $5 per user per month billed annually. The minimum is two users, so the price starts at $120 per year. Each user gets 1TB of storage space which isn’t shared with the other users.
It’s a great offer considering business plans tend to be more expensive, but it’s still not cheap if you just need to share a small amount of storage space between home users.
Before paying, you can use Sync.com’s free plan to get 5GB of free storage and test the service. You can add 1GB of storage to it if you complete a several-steps-long process. You get another gigabyte for every friend you refer up to 20GB, too.
Sync.com is easy to use whether you use its desktop, web or mobile clients. The desktop client works on Windows and macOS, but not Linux. If you want Linux support read our best cloud storage for Linux comparison. You can access the desktop client via the taskbar icon and the rest is straightforward.
You can use the same features if you’re on a different computer via the web client. Its interface makes it easy to spot what you need.
The smartphone app is streamlined and works on Android and iOS. You can use it to access your cloud files, make them available offline and automatically upload photos and videos to the cloud.
Other Reasons We Like Sync.com
Sync.com uses AES 256-bit encryption to scramble your data at rest and the TLS protocol to protect files during transfers to data centers. It uses RAID architecture to prevent server malfunctions from damaging your files. It’s also SOC 1-certified. Sync.com also provides private encryption, and two-factor authentication is available to protect your credentials.
Sync.com’s transfer speeds are slower than average. Like pCloud, it only has servers in one country, Canada, but it performed slower in our speed tests. That said, you should expect to get faster speeds the closer you are to Sync.com’s servers.
You can throttle transfers if they use too much of your system resources. Plus, you can limit monthly uploads and downloads if you have a limited data plan. Sync.com doesn’t use block-level sync because it doesn’t work well with private encryption.
We’ve placed Sync.com behind pCloud in this comparison because it lacks pCloud’s Family offer, monthly payment options and fast speeds. That said, Sync.com is our overall top choice for cloud storage. You can learn why in our Sync.com review.
- Excellent security
- Great value
- No block-level file copying
- No monthly plans
Microsoft OneDrive is one of the most popular services besides Google Drive and Dropbox. It has several plans that are good for home use: 50GB, Office 365 Personal, Office 365 Home and a free plan.
The 50GB plan is only $1.99 per month, which is a decent deal, but it doesn’t provide much storage space. You can fix that by subscribing to the Office 365 Personal plan for $6.99 a month or $69.99 if you pay for the year. It gets you 1TB of storage.
If you want multiple users, Office 365 Home is the way to go. It gives access to six users, and each gets 1TB of storage space. It’s $9.99 a month or $99.99 per year. That’s one of the best deals for multiple users on the cloud storage market because services usually make users share the space between them or pay for every user.
The desktop app consists of a sync folder and a system tray icon. It’s simple, and you won’t have issues using it. It only works on Windows and macOS, though.
The web app is easy to navigate and lets you manipulate your files in the cloud. The interface has clear lines, lots of negative space and colors that highlight what’s important.
The mobile app is similar to apps from other cloud services, which means it’s easy to use and works with Android and iOS. You can also use it to clear space on your phone, make files available offline and automatically upload photos and videos to the cloud.
Other Reasons We Like OneDrive
OneDrive used to lack strong security measures, but now it includes at-rest encryption with two components: BitLocker disk-level encryption and per-file encryption of customer content. The level of encryption is AES 256-bit.
Plus, OneDrive uses the TLS protocol to secure files during transfer. Private encryption is missing, though. Both Office 365 plans can detect ransomware attacks and help you restore your files in OneDrive. When OneDrive detects an attack, you’ll get an alert via email or mobile or desktop notifications and be guided through the recovery process.
OneDrive’s transfer time is similar to what other services’. That said, OneDrive has a global network of servers, which increases the chances of you reaching your optimal speeds. If OneDrive affects your system resources, you can manually limit your upload and download speeds. Block-level sync is available, but only for Office files.
If you’d like to learn the details about OneDrive, read our OneDrive review.
- Great family plan
- Office 365
- No private encryption
- No Linux client
Google Drive is popular with home users. It has 800 million users, in fact, but a large part of that is thanks to it being bundled with Gmail accounts and Android phones.
Google recently changed its subscription scheme and named it “Google One.” It doesn’t change Google Drive, but it increases its value. Paid subscriptions start at 100GB and end at 30TB.
All plans let you invite up to five family members. The first plan is $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year for 100GB of space. The next plan raises the space to 200GB for a dollar more per month or $10 more per year.
The best value plan, though, is the one that provides 2TB for $9.99 a month. If you pay for a year in advance, the price comes down to $99.99. There’s also a free plan that gives you a huge 15GB of storage space.
Like many others, the Google Drive desktop client has a system tray icon and a sync folder. It’s simple and intuitive, but it doesn’t work on Linux.
The web interface is similar to other Google apps, which means it’s streamlined and pleasant. It’s also fast and easy to navigate so you’ll probably use it more than the desktop client.
The mobile app comes preinstalled on Android phones. It lets you access your files, make them available for offline use and edit them without downloading first.
Other Reasons We Like Google Drive
Google Drive isn’t a top service in terms of privacy because it has been connected to the PRISM project and sharing data with the U.S. National Security Agency. We recommend using Boxcryptor, a private encryption add-on, to protect your privacy.
Security is much better, though, because Google Drive uses AES 128-bit encryption to protect your files at rest on its servers. It’s not as strong as AES 256-bit, but it hasn’t been cracked. Two-factor authentication is available to protect your account, too.
Google Drive has a network of servers around the world, which helps it reach fast speeds. The average upload time was close to what we’d expect considering our bandwidth, but download took twice as long as it should have. Block-level sync isn’t available. You can use the bandwidth throttle to limit the speed if it affects your work.
You can see how fast Google Drive is and learn more about it in our Google Drive review.
- Many third-party apps
- 15GB free storage
- All plans can be multi-user
- No private encryption
- Not privacy-oriented
- Security could be stronger
MEGA was created by the controversial Kim Dotcom in 2013. It offers multiple subscription plans, but they can’t compete with the best deals in cloud storage.
The first plan, PRO LITE, costs $5.69 a month for 200GB of storage. That’s almost double the price of Google Drive for the same amount of space. You can get a better deal if you subscribe to the PRO II plan. It’s $11.38 per month and gets you 2TB of space. If you pay for a year in advance, you get two months for free. The other plans aren’t much better.
MEGA does make them more enticing by offering two months for free if you pay for a year in advance with them, too. The free plan starts you off with 50GB and ultimately leaves you with 15GB, which is still great.
MEGA’s desktop client is good-looking and straightforward. It works on Windows, macOS and Linux. The web interface is clear, user-friendly, fast and lets you drag-and-drop almost anywhere to upload your files.
The smartphone app is available for Android and iOS. They’re easy to use and let you access your files, chat, camera upload, shared folders and offline files. They can also upload your photos and videos automatically.
Other Reasons We Like MEGA
MEGA uses AES 128-bit encryption to scramble your files at rest and the TLS protocol during transfer. The encryption is private, so you don’t have to worry about anyone else taking a peek at your files. Two-factor authentication is available to help protect your account, too.
MEGA was slower than the average cloud storage service, even though it has servers in Europe, Canada and New Zealand. That should’ve, in theory, helped it reach faster speeds. Instead, we’ve received a lot of reports of slow speeds from users in our MEGA review.
- Private encryption
- Private sharing
- Speeds can vary
- Prices could be better
We rank the above services among the best cloud storage services, but they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Depending on what you need for your home you can go with any of them. Overall, though, pCloud is our top choice thanks to its great value, strong security, fast speeds and decent user experience.
It’s fine to go the Sync.com route, especially because it offers private encryption for free. OneDrive and Google Drive don’t offer it, but both have great value offers. OneDrive is the obvious choice if you need to include multiple users. MEGA is last because its plans aren’t competitive and its speed isn’t reliable.
What do you think about our picks for home use? Did we miss a service? Leave your response in the comments below. Thank you for reading.