When it comes to looking for a personal cloud storage option, the selection variety is truly immense. Most popular operating systems and smartphones will actually bundle a cloud storage option with their hardware, such as Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud. But these three have privacy limitations.
To save you the effort of digging through numerous cloud storage options and getting burned via crappy services, we’ve scoured the net for the five best cloud storage services for personal use. Storing files online is more convenient, affordable, and securer than ever before.
There are also more choices than ever, so we will be examining the top five cloud storage services in this article. Since personal storage varies from person to person, we decided to select a wide array of services, all of which have unique features to offer. But before we dive into today’s article fully, let’s first take a closer look at what personal cloud storage actually is.
Personal Cloud Storage and How it Works
Well, as the name suggests, personal cloud storage is all about finding a space to store:
- Personal information
However, simply finding a space to store digital data isn’t particularly difficult or expensive, and neither is it conducive towards utilizing cloud storage to its full capacity. A good personal cloud storage service can be used to share, collaborate and secure information. It should provide an easy way to work on projects, both private and otherwise, across the globe with various people. Then of course, we have the security issue to discuss.
Securing The Cloud
Personal data info such as login details, Facebook details and credit card numbers, are all considered gold mines by hackers and snoopers. Apart from providing space and other features, cloud storage should also be a place where you can securely keep encrypted information.
This means, even if a hacker does get your data or the NSA manages to demand it from the provider, all they’ll get is jumbled up code that isn’t of any use. In conclusion, instead of thinking of personal cloud storage as just a place to dump files, consider thinking of it as a place where you can store, secure and share information.
Before diving in headfirst, let’s take a second to check out how exactly this article is setup. This is not a review of each of the five services. Rather, what were presenting here is a general summary of each one, a snippet about why we liked them and a list of pros and cons. We highly recommend you check out our full in-depth reviews of each service, by simply clicking the “Read review” button under every summary.
Best Cloud Storage for Personal Use 2017
$ 4.08 per month 500 GBStorage All Plans
|Visit Sync.comSync.com Review|
$ 7.49 per month 100 GBStorage All Plans
|Visit SugarSyncSugarSync Review|
$ 4.34 per month 2000 GBStorage All Plans
|Visit IDriveIDrive Review|
$ 8.00 per month Unlimited GBStorage All Plans
|Visit LivedriveLivedrive Review|
$ 13.25 per month 1024 GBStorage All Plans
|Visit DropboxDropbox Review|
A relative newcomer to the cloud storage market, Sync.com is a Canada based company that’s garnered publicity due to its high-grade security and very user-friendly interface. The desktop software creates a folder on the computer, which will automatically sync files with the cloud and other apps. Sync.com is a zero-knowledge service, files are secured using an encryption key and password, created by the user during signup.
The password can only be changed if you have access to a trusted device (already logged in) and know the existing password. But it’s not just security Sync.com is good at, sharing works via right clicking a file in File Explorer/Finder, or clicking the web app’s large share button. Sync.com is a simple, straightforward and intuitive service to use, plus, its security and sharing features are very well designed
Why We Like Sync.com:
Sync.com is available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. The web app sports a clean, simple, and easy to navigate interface, uploading files through which is a simple drag and drop affair. Sync.com also keeps folders synced across multiple devices. And it’s priced very competitively, considering the feature set it has to offer.
- Strong security
- Simple file sharing
- Easy file syncing
- Easy-to-use interface
- Mobile client lacks file sharing
- No document editing
- Lacks photo gallery & media player
- Syncing limited to 5MB/s
SugarSync is a great personal cloud storage option for users who want excellent multi-device syncing. It works across multiple smartphones and tablets, and can also sync data on multiple PCs. SugarSync has been around since November 2009, its software is a mix of cloud based backup and syncing, complimented by a ton of extra features that feel somewhat unpolished.
It offers a wide variety of pricing tiers, five in total in fact, each with a different set of features, a system that can be confusing without some prior research. The software can choose which specific folders to sync, and works alongside a general folder (named “My SugarSync”) that works in a similar manner to other cloud storage services. However, all that functionality comes at the cost of configuration, since SugarSync is designed to be something a user can tweak and tinker with basically to their heart’s content.
To the privacy conscious, please note that SugarSync is not a zero-knowledge company and your data can be accessed by the company itself, or anyone who’s lawfully gained access to their servers. In terms of general security, files are protected during transfers using Transport Layer Security, and encrypted using 256-bit AES — the same level of protection used by banks and PayPal.
Why We Like SugarSync:
SugarSync does file sharing via links or through shared folders, this is where the software’s unique hybrid nature comes in handy. For syncing files, SugarSync is a quick and straight forward solution. Because any folder can be synced, it works well for backing up folders that can’t be move to a general “sync” folder.
Apart from syncing, we also found the service a good medium for online collaboration. Plus, it has well made and easy-to-use mobile apps, though a Windows Phone app would have been nice. SugarSync is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS — but there’s been no word about any official Linux support so far.
- Combines backup & sync
- Good collaboration features
- Any folder syncing
- Great mobile & PC apps
- Slow online backup
- Lacks private encryption keys
- Difficult to cancel accounts
- Can be expensive
IDrive comes with a lot of bells and whistles. The software is well designed and features a scheduling option, and just to sweeten the deal further, the company’s Express service will ship HDDs to you; which can be used to backup data. IDrive’s software is simple and well designed. Moreover, not only do they offer the usual fare of Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android apps; they’re one of the few cloud services with an app for Windows Phone as well.
But that’s not all they can do, the service also backs up social media accounts, like Facebook and Instagram. IDrive has quick configuration and backup scheduling options, after which, the user is free to essentially leave them to run automatically. They’ll also ship a physical drive with your data on it, should you need to restore a large backup quickly. Security wise, IDrive is a better option than SugarSync, since it does provide private encryption keys.
Data is encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption on transfers and during storage. We strongly advise pro-privacy users to opt for the encryption keys, since IDrive’s data centers are unfortunately located within the U.S.
Why We Like IDrive:
Despite primarily not being a file syncing service, IDrive does offer this option. It synchronizes files and offers plenty of options to secure synced data. IDrive is at its best when the service is being used to backup files. You can access them on the go or restore backups to other devices. Pricing wise, IDrive is competitive with other backup services, and competes well with cloud storage services as well.
- Unlimited file types/sizes
- Great file-sharing
- User set encryption key
- Military-grade encryption
- Cannot share files if encrypted
- File saving is temperamental
- No unlimited storage options
- No monthly payment plans
Livedrive is a clunky service that’s rather expensive, but comes with unique media streaming features and standard protocols like FTP and WebDav. And it’s an unlimited service, so data heavy users should consider it. Livedrive’s software feels like a product from the early years of cloud storage, featuring unfriendly and unhelpful navigation.
Which will leave you looking for a printed user manual.
The software hasn’t been updated in years, featuring screenshots of Windows 8, an old Blackberry, and the iPhone 4 in their promotion shots. Despite its crappy interface and generally outdated mobile apps, there are a few legitimate reasons Livedrive is on our list. Security is taken care of via encrypted real time backups, file syncing is on board as well, plus users can stream music and videos via the software.
Why We Like Livedrive:
Like SugarSync, Livedrive’s software is a mixed bag of file syncing and cloud backup. And its unlimited backup utility also makes it a good option for heavy data users The desktop app also integrates very well within Windows and Mac OS X.
- Unlimited storage
- Good desktop integration
- File encryption
- Real-time backups
- Can be slow
- Dated mobile apps
- Comparatively expensive
- Generally bad interface
Despite Dropbox‘s serious shortcomings in terms of privacy and security, it does everything else almost perfectly. Though, it isn’t a very good backup option and it’s not light on the wallet either. Dropbox is the market leader of the cloud storage and syncing game, everyone has heard of it, and almost everyone has used it at some point. Its pricing isn’t very competitive, nor are its features, but it’s very easy to use and ubiquitous across virtually every platform and third-party application.
Unlike Sync.com, Dropbox is not a zero-knowledge service, and everything stored on their servers is known to them and shared with the NSA. Dropbox can access your data, as could anyone else who lawfully gains access to their servers, including FBI agents, who can prevent Dropbox from notifying customers to obtain legal council. On the other hand, Dropbox has a strong interest in maintaining industry leading security. It has proven itself generally secure against hackers and their ilk (there have been a few security issues, but they were quickly fixed).
Dropbox offers genuine two-factor authentication on all it apps (web app included), which makes it more difficult for hackers to steal your password. Speaking of apps, Dropbox’s software is simple to install and use, and is available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android and even Linux! The desktop app installs a Dropbox folder in File Explorer and Finder, where files are synced quickly behind the scenes. Dropbox’s features are easy to access and simple to use, and unlike Sync.com, a forgotten password can be reset via a simple email request.
Why We Like Dropbox:
Sharing with Dropbox is as simple as it gets, simply create a public link via a file browser or the web interface. The service also offers shared folders, that synchronize across multiple accounts. Unfortunately, Dropbox has begun adding advertisements in public links, so we’ve docked them a few brownie points.
And no one has better integration than Dropbox, it’s a developer’s favorite choice for third-party integration.
The service can sync data on an unlimited number of devices without a problem and quickly. If two devices are on the same LAN network, they will sync extremely quickly — bypassing the need to use an Internet connection entirely. Better yet, Dropbox offers a comprehensives set of features and almost all-encompassing integration across third-party apps.
- Great syncing features
- Fast speeds
- Good desktop/mobile integration
- Can be expensive
- Hostile to privacy
- Lackluster backup features
- NSA friendly
So, here we have the best cloud storage for personal use, but all we’ve done here is scratch the surface. There are plenty of other good cloud storage services out there, which offer different pricing schemes and unique features.
To check them out, visit our cloud storage review page. Keep in mind though, before buying into any of the above mentioned services, first test out their free plans or free trial periods. Don’t forget to let us know which one piqued your fancy, in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading!