- Best Cloud Storage for iPhone 2021
- What Makes the Best Cloud Storage for iPhone
- 1. Sync.com: Best Cloud Storage for iPhone
- Other Reasons We Like Sync.com
Out of the box, the iPhone is capable of taking photos, shooting videos and creating documents. It doesn’t take long to fill up a device’s internal space, though, which highlights the need for supplemental cloud storage. That said, adding storage isn’t enough. The files saved need to be easily accessible and secure, too.
Often confused with online backup, cloud storage doesn’t create a duplicate of everything stored on the iPhone but adds more to what already exists. Instead of taking precious limited space on the iPhone, cloud storage resides on a provider’s servers.
For more on how they differ, check out our online storage vs. online backup comparison. Plus, if it’s online backup you want, check out our list of the best iPhone backup providers.
We tested five of the best cloud storage providers for iPhone and ranked them by how well they performed under our criteria. Our top pick is Sync.com, which works well with iOS and offers robust security without charging a dime.
The cloud storage that’s best depends on what you’re using it for. Photo junkies need look no further than the best online storage for photos. Likewise, videographers will find the best cloud storage for video useful. We even have frugal users covered with our best free cloud storage article.
Best Cloud Storage for iPhone 2021
What Makes the Best Cloud Storage for iPhone
The first area we’ll cover is how well each provider integrates with iOS. The more an app takes advantage of the iPhone’s built-in features, the faster and easier it’ll be to perform tasks, such as sharing files with others.
Next, data saved in cloud storage needs to stay in sync, regardless of the device users make changes from. When a user finds that photos on their iPhone aren’t showing up in their cloud storage, it forces them to dig into how far back the issue started. Updates made to photos, videos or documents should reflect automatically in real-time across connected devices.
- Sync.com — The best overall cloud storage
- pCloud — Highly secure and private cloud storage
- Icedrive — A newcomer with a design that fits right in on iOS
- Dropbox — The grandfather of all cloud storage, and still a decent option for iOS
- Google Drive — Easy-to-use cloud storage that sacrifices privacy for collaboration
Sharing is another important benchmark we’ll look at because users will want to be able to send data that isn’t saved directly on their iPhones. It needs to be easy, uncomplicated and provide a set of custom options for each circumstance and recipient. For example, you might want to make a document view-only before sharing it to prevent others from editing it.
When users upload to a cloud storage, they entrust another company with their personal data. That’s why the physical location of its servers and the security measures it offers are also considerations. Learn more about how storage services protect your data with our overview on cloud security.
Finally, the amount of storage space a service offers can make or break one’s decision about which service to go with. We’ll take a look at how much space each service offers for free and what’s included for users who pay extra.
1. Sync.com: Best Cloud Storage for iPhone
Apple products are simple, easy to learn and have a reputation for being secure. Sync.com shares those traits, making it a natural choice for iPhone users’ cloud storage needs.
Files are accessible from any Apple device thanks to a web panel for Mac computers and an app that works for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. What makes Sync.com stand out is its security features that ensure users’ data remains protected and private, which is why it takes our top spot. Check out our Sync.com review for a complete rundown of what the service has to offer.
Syncing reflects on the iPhone instantly and vice versa from a Mac. The iPhone app works differently from the web panel by making files available on demand. That means it’ll only take a few seconds to load an image or video from the iPhone app and it won’t take space in the process.
With the flick of a switch in the settings, users can also make their photos automatically upload to their Sync.com account, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Not only does Sync.com make it easy to share files, but it also offers ways to control others’ access to them. The higher-tier plans, called Sync Pro and Business, even let users send links with expiration dates as an extra security measure.
Files are shareable with other Sync.com users or others outside the network with view-only links. More custom preferences are available between Sync.com users, such as shareable team folders with the ability to add or remove others at any time, limit their editing rights and make files previewable to prevent them from downloading it.
Other Reasons We Like Sync.com
Sync.com is our favorite cloud storage service here at Cloudwards because of its security. Its data servers reside in Ontario, where they’re subject to Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. If you don’t know what that is or how it works, we cover it in our article on cloud storage in Canada.
Sync.com uses zero-knowledge encryption, so only the user has access to their data, making them the sole steward of their private key. For more details on how that encryption works, see the link above on cloud security.
The basic Sync Starter plan gives users 5GB of storage for free. The next one up, dubbed Personal Pro, starts at $49 per year for 500GB. Those suffering from buyer’s remorse can take advantage of a 30-day refund for paid plans.
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Lots of customizable sharing options
- Fast uploads
- Costly upgrade plans
Not only does pCloud come highly-rated here at Cloudwards.net, but its app works seamlessly with iOS features, too. Whether it’s sharing files through AirDrop or printing with AirPrint, pCloud taps into iPhone features. That, combined with its security features, puts pCloud in second place. If only its security features didn’t cost extra, it’d be closer if not equal with Sync.com.
Read our pCloud review for more on why it’s one of our favorite cloud storage services.
Boasting what pCloud calls “instant file synchronization,” files match in real-time across Mac computers, iPhones and iPads. Users get two ways to upload files to their online storage from the app: manually or by turning on automatic upload. That feature saves users time and trouble by sending photos and videos up to storage as soon as they’re snapped.
Based in Switzerland, where there are stringent privacy laws, users can find peace of mind in having their data stored on its servers. Read our piece on the best cloud privacy laws to learn more about the intricacies of Switzerland’s laws.
Among pCloud’s selling points for security, the service makes five copies of files on its servers. For an additional monthly fee, it offers pCloud Crypto. The mobile app has a section built-in for the stronger encryption option, which makes users’ data private and accessible only by them. It works with iPhone security features, such as TouchID and FaceID for personalized safety.
pCloud’s free plan offers up to 10GB of storage and up to 50GB of download link traffic per month. The next plan, Premium, comes with 500GB of storage for $4.99 per month. Beyond that is Premium Plus, which provides 2TB of storage for $9.99 per month. An additional $39 option for either plan offers a year of file versioning and trash history.
Discounted rates are available with an annual commitment.
Other Reasons We Like pCloud
With limited storage space, the iPhone forces users to constantly clear data. The “free up device storage” feature automatically moves files to the trash once they’re saved on pCloud’s servers. Users can turn it on as long as they enable the automatic upload option for photos and videos.
pCloud offers several flexible payment plans and a lifetime option that enables users to pay a one-time fee and never have to worry about making regular payments again.
- Deep integration with iOS
- Automatic storage cleanup
- Flexible payment plans
- Free plan only offers 2GB of storage
- Optimal security costs extra
More details about Icedrive:
- Pricing: 10GB for free, 1TB for $4.99 per month
- Provider website: www.icedrive.net
- Great security & privacy
- Gorgeous interface
- Few collaboration features
- No productivity integrations
- No block-level sync
Icedrive is a relatively recent addition to the cloud storage lineup, but it’s quickly cemented itself as one of the best providers out there. It ranks third on our overall best cloud storage list, and it lands the same position here. In terms of features, there’s not a lot missing, and security is also very strong.
Like some other entries on this list (looking at you Google), Icedrive comes out great in terms of privacy as well. There’s an encrypted storage section available to paid users that’s protected with zero-knowledge encryption, and Icedrive plans to roll this out for all their storage later in 2021.
Seamless User Experience With Icedrive
An added bonus of using Icedrive as your iPhone cloud storage is that its look and feel fits right in with the overall design mentality of iOS. Everything is sleek and minimalistic, with an easy-on-the-eyes blue and white color scheme to make it all pop.
As noted in our Icedrive review, pricing is one of Icedrive’s greatest strengths, with 1TB of storage on offer for as little as $4.99 per month. There are also lifetime plans available, which is a rarity in the cloud storage space, and these are priced so that they start to pay off within three years.
- Bandwidth limit: 3GB
- : 10 GB
- Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- : 150 GB
- Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- : 1000 GB
Icedrive is an excellent choice for cloud storage overall, and that holds just as true for iOS. With strong security, a gorgeous design, low prices and lots of features, there’s a lot to like. In fact, only a few missing things — like block-level transfers or collaboration options — hold it back from the top two spots.
Launched in September 2008, Dropbox is one of the longest running cloud storage providers. Its veteran status doesn’t make it the best option, though, especially when it comes to security. Despite its shortcomings, it’s easy to use and works great on iOS. That’s why it lands in the middle. Check out our Dropbox review for more details.
Users can upload files from their iPhone to Dropbox manually or send photos and videos automatically using the “camera uploads” feature. It’s prone to delays and drops, though, so Dropbox support recommends having location services on when enabling the feature.
Sharing files is a quick tap away thanks to a chain icon that automatically generates links. Dropbox also supports other methods, such as email and iMessage.
Dropbox works with several built-in iOS features, such as AirPrint and TouchID. It also works with the Files app, where users can access files with many of the same functions they’d get from the Dropbox folder. Dropbox integrates with third-party apps that work well on iPhone, too, such as 1Password, which you can learn more about in our best password manager roundup.
One of its downsides is not being able to edit certain file types while in the Dropbox folder. For example, if there’s a Word document saved that you want to make changes to, tapping the button that looks like a pencil and paper to edit it will prompt users to open it in the Microsoft Office app. Once they make the changes there, though, it’s easy to save it to Dropbox again.
Security may not be Dropbox’s strong point, but it adds protection with in-transit and at-rest encryption. Head to our comparison of Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive for an in-depth explanation.
Dropbox’s Basic plan comes with 2GB of free storage. Users can refer others to gain an additional 500MB, with the potential of getting up to 16 GB more.
The Plus plan is the first paid plan and costs $9.99 per month for 1TB. The next level up is Professional, which is $19.99 per month for 2TB. There’s a discount for year-long commitments, and paid users get 1GB of additional storage for every referral, with potential for up to 32GB more.
Other Reasons We Like Dropbox
There’s a practical feature on the iOS app that converts a photo containing text into a document. Aptly called “document scanning,” it can save users valuable time from manually typing the text. It’s even on the free version.
We like how Dropbox is present in areas of our iPhone where other services aren’t. The “widgets” page, which users can access by swiping right on their home screen, has a plugin that scans and uploads files. There’s also a quick access button for Dropbox in iMessage, so shareable files are just a tap away during chats.
- Deep integration with iOS & third-party apps
- Document scanner
- Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
- Free plan only offers 2GB of storage
5. Google Drive
As one of Apple’s top competitors, Google Drive might seem like a long shot to iPhone loyalists. It’s a solid option Apple die-hards ought to consider, though, despite its security issues.
Plus, it works with collaborative apps in G Suite, such as Gmail and Google Docs, making it an appealing package. Still, its lack of security options and privacy is enough to land it in fourth. Read our Google Drive review to see how we ranked it in all categories.
As is standard, the app on iOS lets users edit and view files. If users upload files to someone else’s folder, it still takes space out of their storage. Thankfully, the free version gives users a whopping 15GB to play with, though keep in mind that space is shared by all Google apps. From the iPhone, users can save files manually or enable automatic uploads for their photos.
The default sharing option opens a draft window where users can choose their recipients and file parameters. There are three ways to choose how others use the file: “view,” “edit” or “comment.” “View” lets others see it, “edit” gives them revising and sharing privileges and “comment” is view-only but creates a thread for others to post messages.
Google is in the U.S., where laws don’t favor cloud storage privacy. For an in-depth look at that, read our article on cloud storage outside the U.S.
Google Drive lacks zero-knowledge encryption, but Boxcryptor works as an alternative, as we recommend in our best cloud storage for Android guide. For more information about encrypting files outside of cloud storage apps, read our Boxcryptor review.
Without paying anything, users get 15GB of free storage. Users can upgrade to 100GB for $1.99 per month, 1TB for $9.99 per month or 2TB for $19.99 per month. There are even larger storage plans beyond those, too.
Other Reasons We Like Google Drive
Google Drive’s best features have less to do with cloud storage and more to do with productivity. If you already use Gmail and Google Docs on the iPhone, adding Google Drive into the mix makes sense because of how well they work together.
Google Drive’s technical support is also a good resource to lean on when in a bind. The Google Drive help center makes it easy to find solutions and offers a comprehensive database with step-by-step instructions.
- Useful productivity apps
- Generous 15GB of free storage
- Affordable upgrade plans
- Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
- Privacy isn’t guaranteed
We would be remiss not to mention iCloud Drive, iPhone’s built-in cloud storage. In the wake of the iCloud Drive hack that compromised high-profile celebrities’ data, faith in the iPhone’s security and cloud storage was on shaky ground. Then, reports emerged that Apple’s cloud and security had remained intact and that the incident was a result of phishing, not a data breach.
That said, despite its trustworthy security and Apple’s stellar customer service, iCloud Drive offers less than the providers above. Read our iCloud Drive review for more.
Microsoft also throws its hat into the cloud storage ring with OneDrive, which is available on iOS. Like Google Drive, it doesn’t make users’ privacy a priority, but it comes with fully-loaded features, such as document scanning. Read our review of Microsoft OneDrive to see where it succeeds and falters.
The five providers we covered differ widely from one another. Each provider has its own specialty, forcing users to go all in on a cloud storage service that’s best tailored to their needs.
We ranked Sync.com first for its security methods and quicker upload times.
The ones that integrate best with iPhone are pCloud and Dropbox, which also offer convenient features such as document scanning. Google Drive won’t give users peace of mind with its lackluster security, but it offers great productivity apps, such as Google Docs. Tresorit offers better security, but only in its paid plans, otherwise it’d rank higher.
Be sure to explore how you can add more protection by reading the best VPN services for iPhone. Check out our best cloud storage roundup to see which services we like best overall.