For the Apple enthusiast, it’s very easy to sink into the company’s ecosystem. That means Macs, iPads, iPhones, iWatches and, when it comes to cloud storage for all the content created and accumulated on those devices, iCloud.
However, just because you’ve got an unshakable affection for Apple doesn’t mean you need to let the company keep watch over your files. There’s plenty of competition for iCloud, which is good because the company’s cloud storage solution has been historically slow to implement key features like sharing and versioning (read our iCloud review).
Meanwhile, there’s a whole world of companies that specialize in cloud storage alone, a business strategy that requires staying ahead of the game in order to survive. That’s good news for Mac fans since most of the best cloud storage solutions today feature software for MacOS and iOS.
Coming up, we’ll run down which of those services we think are best suited to the Mac crowd. For those looking for backup, we also have a best online backup for Mac article for your consideration.
Best Cloud Storage for Mac 2018
What Makes a Cloud Storage Service Best for Mac?
Modern Macs, particularly MacBooks, tend to have low storage capacities due to the move to the more stable and much faster, but also more expensive, solid-state drives (SSD) over hard-disk drives (HDDs) (read our history of the hard drive). With SSD capacities often around 250GB, the average user will likely run out of file space fast.
Cloud storage, unlike online backup, is designed to extend the capacity of your hard drive by letting you store files remotely. Due to the space issues posed by modern content creation rates and computer hard-drive capacities, one of the first things we looked for in putting together this review was just how many gigabytes you’ll be getting and how much it’ll cost.
We also considered security. With online privacy in the headlines as much as ever, you’ll no doubt want to know your documents, videos and photos are safe from prying eyes, such as those belonging to marketeers or government creeps sorting through your selfies under the protection of the Patriot Act.
Finally, because Mac fans are used to living uncomplicated technical lives (unlike Linux users), we considered user experience. That means a well-designed interface and well-implemented features. In each case below, the downloaded client will integrate with Finder, in fact, letting you drag-and-drop files just as if you were using iCloud.
Let’s get onto our list, starting with our top overall pick, Sync.com.
Best Cloud Storage for Mac: Sync.com
Sync.com is a Canadian cloud storage provider that offers zero-knowledge encryption for free. Zero-knowledge encryption means private, end-to-end encryption: only you know the encryption key so only you can read your files.
The protocol used by Sync.com for encrypting content is 256-bit AES, which is not known to be crackable by brute force (unless you have a few billion years to spare). The private keys are encrypted using 2048-bit RSA, too, meaning nobody — NSA or otherwise — will be unscrambling those, either, without your password.
To help protect that password, Sync.com offers optional two-factor encryption. With this security feature on, should someone steal or crack your user password, they would still have difficulty logging in as a third credential (a code sent to your phone) is required for logging in from an unfamiliar machine.
Using Sync.com is easy, too. Installing the client creates a sync folder in the Finder sidebar where you can add and access files. Files can also be shared with others, and true to form, Sync.com provides some of the most secure sharing of any cloud storage service thanks to expiry dates, passwords and other features designed to protect file links that you can read about in our Sync.com review.
Aside from perhaps being the most secure cloud storage pick, maybe the second-best reason to go with Sync.com is that it ranks among the best deals in cloud storage today. A personal plan costs just $8 per month and gets you 2TB of cloud storage.
Other Reasons Why We Like Sync.com
Sync.com isn’t just for Macs, of course, with apps for Windows and Android as well. You can download the client on as many machines as you want, making syncing files between multiple machines with different operating systems all very easy. You can check that out for yourself with a 5GB free version.
- Inexpensive storage
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Secure file sharing
- Can’t preview or edit files
- Can’t stream music
pCloud is another Cloudwards.net favorite. Like Sync.com, the service has zero-knowledge encryption. However, unlike Sync.com, you have to pay for that security in the form of an add-on called Crypto. The cost of Crypto is around $5 if you go month-to-month but cheaper annually.
pCloud uses similar encryption protocols to Sync.com, including the same 256-bit AES for files and an even more secure 4096-bit RSA algorithm to safeguard your private keys.
pCloud has excellent file-sharing features, too, as detailed in our pCloud review. You can share files via email or over a link. If you opt for the link, you can set a password and expiry date to limit the chance for unauthorized access.
While Crypto costs extra, the cost of storage with pCloud is the same as Sync.com: $8 a month for 2TB of storage. There’s also a 10GB free version that ranks pCloud among the best free cloud storage picks.
Other Reasons Why We Like pCloud
pCloud has both a sync folder and a network-drive client, both of which mount in Finder for easy access. One of the advantages of pCloud over Sync.com is that you don’t have to download files to view them, either, unless stored in your Crypto folder. You can even stream music and video in the pCloud browser, making it one of our favorite cloud storage picks for media.
- Excellent security features
- 10GB of free storage
- Stream music & video
- Zero-knowledge costs extra
Tresorit is a Switzerland-based cloud storage company that, like pCloud and Sync.com, takes security seriously. Like Sync.com, zero-knowledge encryption is included in the cost of service, meaning you get end-to-end protection for your files.
The service currently uses 256-bit AES encryption and offers a two-factor authentication feature to lessen the chance a weak password will come back to bite you (though we’d still recommend taking steps to set up a strong password).
Further, Tresorit has a great Mac app. While you can access files from a sync folder in Finder, Tresorit has a separate app that you can use to manage file content and setup secure folders that the company calls “tresors.”
Unfortunately, Tresorit isn’t cheap, which is the biggest reason it lands third on our list. Its Premium plan costs $10.42 per month and is billed annually. This includes just 200GB of encrypted cloud storage. 2TB of storage, like you get with Sync.com for $8 a month, costs $24 a month with Tresorit.
Other Reasons Why We Like Tresorit
In addition to a sync folder, Tresorit also has a network drive feature. The advantage of such a drive over a sync folder is that sync, by default, stores files both in the cloud and on your hard drive, which obviously doesn’t help to clear up disk space.
While you can turn sync off for folders in your sync folder, storing them only in the cloud, doing so means you can no longer see them in Finder: you have to login into your storage via your browser to access them.
With a network drive like Tresorit Drive, files are only stored in the cloud but you can still see and access them via Finder. That makes finding files later much more convenient than the traditional approach taken by most cloud storage solutions. Read our Tresorit review for more information on the drive and other features, like Tresorit’s secure approach to file sharing.
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Secure file sharing
- Network drive feature
- Expensive storage
SugarSync’s biggest advantage is flexibility rather than security. That advantage comes from the fact that the SugarSync client lets you sync any folder in your Mac file system to the cloud rather than having to use a dedicated sync folder. Those folders will also become available on other devices connected to your cloud storage account.
If that’s all too much for you to manage, SugarSync also creates a “My SugarSync” folder when you install the Mac client that works as a central sync folder. See our complete SugarSync review for more details on setting up sync folders.
SugarSync doesn’t offer zero-knowledge security but does encrypt all files with 256-bit AES encryption. The service is owned by Los Angeles-based j2 Technologies, so your files are subject to U.S.privacy laws, however.
Maybe a bigger issue with SugarSync is that its pricing is actually even less attractive than that of Tresorit. There’s no free tier and 250GB is $10.00 per month. The most you can get on an individual plan is 500GB for around $19 a month. Beyond that, you’ll need to consider business plans. We suggest giving the 30-day free trial a whirl before buying.
Other Reasons Why We Like SugarSync
One advantage that SugarSync does have over the preceding entries on this list is that it can be used to backup your Mac’s existing file structure to the cloud. In offering that feature, SugarSync is one of the few cloud services available today that offers both storage and backup capabilities.
That said, we think there are better backup options out there for Mac users, namely Backblaze. Read our Backblaze review to find out why.
- File sync & backup
- Easy to share files
- File versioning included
- Expensive storage
- No free tier
- No zero-knowledge security
Our final pick is arguably the most well-known cloud storage service available. After all, everyone with a Google account has automatic access to 15GB of free Google Drive storage, as well as access to the company’s integrated office suite, Google Docs.
When it comes to productivity, in fact, Google Drive is easily one of the best options out there for personal storage solutions, with only OneDrive’s Office Online and Apple’s own iWork suite in its class.
Despite its many integrated apps (including hundreds of third-party tools), Google Drive remains intuitively simple, too, fitting the Mac lifestyle well despite the rivalry between iPhone and Android. The Google Drive Mac app lives in your Finder sidebar as a sync folder, just like the other picks on this list, allowing for easy access.
In addition to one of the more generous free storage offers, Google Drive also has a range of price plans to pick from, including a 100GB plan for just $1.99.
Unfortunately, as we document in our Google Drive review, all that good is somewhat undone by a history of suspect privacy practices. Not only has the company been previously tied to the NSA such as with the PRISM surveillance program, Google retains the right to scan user data stored on its servers in order to feed its targeted marketing efforts, just like it does with search.
It probably goes without saying that zero-knowledge encryption isn’t an option with Google Drive, though the company does at least encrypt files on its servers and gives you the option to turn on two-factor authentication.
If you do use Google to supplement your Mac’s hard drive, consider also investing in an encryption service like Boxcryptor to privately encrypt files before uploading. Read our Boxcryptor review for more information.
Other Reasons Why We Like Google Drive
Google Drive ranks as one of the best cloud storage for collaboration solutions. That makes it the perfect cloud storage companion for those looking to take their Mac on the road and keep working at the same time. If that applies to you, we have a handy guide for making your remote work life easier.
- 15GB free storage
- Great productivity features
- Flexible storage plans
- No zero-knowledge encryption
- Questionable privacy history
Though there’s a chance you’ll find a better fit for your Mac storage needs in our cloud storage reviews library, we think the five picks above offer the best alternatives to iCloud. Sync.com and pCloud provide a perfect combination of security and value, while Tresorit provides tremendous security but at a rather high cost.
SugarSync, meanwhile, while pricey like Tresorit and without the zero-knowledge encryption, provides both cloud storage and backup features, making it in some ways the most flexible solution on this list. Finally, for those looking to stay productive, Google Drive provides a perfect iWork replacement in Google Docs.
Are you an iCloud devotee or have you jumped ship to another cloud storage solution? Let us know your thoughts below, and thanks for reading.