Windows is the most prolific OS on the planet. It’s also the most prone to breakdowns, hacks, failures and all sorts of problems — one might say it’s infamous for its failures rather than famous for its successes.
To find a way around the privacy issues presented by OneDrive, and the inevitable failures of the system itself, we present the top 5 best cloud storage services for Windows 2017.
For decades, Microsoft ruled the PC world, though it seems the company is ending their line of Windows products with Windows 10. Let’s face it, Windows isn’t known for being the most stable, fastest or sleekest operating system. That description is more fitting of Macs.
After all, who hasn’t heard of the infamous and iconic blue screen of death? Windows code is notoriously buggy and prone to crashing, users would be hugely remiss not to make redundant copies of their data, by backing it up in the cloud.
Even with advancements in hard drive technology, users still need to offload their data to an external source. One problem Windows users face, is that the fuller their hard drive becomes, the slower Windows performs.
After a while, a Windows system with a bogged down hard drive will start taking extremely long times to complete basic operations. Most users agree that as long as they offload massive files, like music and video libraries (among other types of data) from their hard drives, the Windows experience becomes faster.
But before we take a look at the five best cloud storage for Windows, let’s take a moment to discuss the risks of using MS’s native cloud app — OneDrive.
Though it may be tempting to think that OneDrive is the best cloud service for Windows, since it was designed by the same company, we urge you to reconsider. The ugly truth is, Microsoft has earned a bad reputation and lost a lot of trust with the public, for several reasons.
Believe it or not, they have been collaborating and colluding with the NSA on a variety of projects for years now. Edward Snowden was the first to blow the whistle and reveal that there were back-doors into many Microsoft services via the PRISM program.
But things get worse.
Microsoft has also been caught handing over encryption keys and encrypted data over to the NSA. And even if you’re a Windows fan, be aware that Windows 8 and Windows 10 were designed to collect vast amount of information (via default settings) and to send that data back to Microsoft servers.
Data such as:
Touch and keyboard input
Is collected, harvested, and stored on their servers. Not only is this a massive breach of privacy, it also puts a strain on bandwidth.
Now, do you really want to use OneDrive? We would recommend using the service to backup inconsequential data, things like music backups or saved video game data, though doing so would still defeat the right to privacy.
Benefits of Platform Independent Cloud Storage
It should also come as no surprise that companies like Microsoft and Apple have been waging code wars for the past few decades. Their goal has been to make code as proprietary as possible, thereby forcing customers to use their operating systems, and only theirs.
Making it very difficult for users to gain the full benefits cross-platform services. Though OneDrive is platform independent, third-party services do a much better job of unifying their features across a variety of operating systems.
For example, some users have complained the OneDrive app for iOS is a little buggy. This complaint makes a lot of sense, because the code was originally written with the Microsoft platform in mind, and only then ported to other operating systems.
However, independent cloud storage services understand that they need to support as many the operating systems as they can, to the best of their abilities. One of the advantages of working with a third-party software provider, is cross-platform support, which is critical for file syncing and data sharing.
OneDrive and the infamous iCloud do work for multiple platforms, but they are very biased in their approach to software design. Furthermore, a lot of cloud storage services have a web interface that is independent of the operating system, only relying on a web browser to assimilate all its functions.
With that understanding about third-party software, let’s take a look at the five best cloud storage services for Windows.
Sync.com is a Canadian cloud storage and syncing company that pride itself on providing NSA free storage, great security, fast speeds and cheap prices.
Sync.com is becoming well-known in the cloud storage space and for good reason, the company is providing an almost perfect cloud storage package.
Sync carries the distinct advantage of being based outside of the US — it’s Canadian.
Despite the brand’s name, they provide more than syncing features. The automatic backup feature can provide continuous backups, so users don’t have to manually control the process.
If you want to try them before paying for the service, the company provides 5GB of free storage, with full functionality built-in. They’re also one of the more inexpensive providers on our list, as the service starts at a mere $4.08 per month.
Why We Like it
Because Sync.com is based in Canada, users won’t have to worry about the NSA, like they would need to with OneDrive.
In addition, Sync provides end-to-end encryption, so data can’t be intercepted and read by third-parties — such as hackers and ISPs. Lastly, they provide a file versioning feature to recover files, that were accidentally deleted or overwritten.
IDrive is really more of a backup service, rather than a cloud storage service. But the service does help ensure that Windows users won’t lose their data due to a system crash, blue screen of death or the other countless issues Windows is prone to having.
The sharing features leverage social media links, to make the sharing process effortless, which isn’t a feature many of IDrive’s competitors have.
That said, we would recommend that users opt for Sync.com when it comes to sharing and collaboration, because it is simply better at sharing.
Why We Like it
One of the great things about IDrive’s service is that it will actually send customers hard copies of their backups, to provide an extra layer of protection.
They also make it pretty darn easy to share data with friends, and to sync data across multiple devices.
SugarSync is our third best alternative for Windows users, as they provide a service more closely aligned with traditional cloud storage, as opposed to the previous backup-centric service.
To be completely honest, the mobile app could be refined to look sleeker and sexier, but it gets the job done right. As far as security is concerned, they only have industry standard features.
This means they do not provide zero-knowledge security, whereby the customer manages their own encryption keys. Though they do contain backup features, SugarSync also provides folder syncing (any kind of folder), along with collaboration features which are not platform restrictive.
Why We Like it
We did love the fact that users can sync data to an unlimited number of devices, and SugarSync’s mobile software is great with regards to usability.
SugarSync provides a decent service across all feature ranges, but does not specialize in any.
Dropbox allows Windows users to try them with 2GB of free storage, which can be used indefinitely, and expanded up to 16GB through a referral system.
Dropbox also sync data with an unlimited number of devices. However, that 2GB of free storage is pretty limiting for the average user, who usually has a lot more data that needs to be stored in the cloud.
Paid plan starts at $9.99 per month, and provides 1TB of storage space (which should accommodate most users). In addition to file syncing, file storage, and backups, they also keep redundant copies of files for 30 days – even if a user accidentally deletes them.
Why We Like it
Dropbox is probably the best collaboration cloud app on the market, and also provides one of the smoothest experiences across any platform –mobile or PC.
However, it does not provide zero-knowledge security, and has been a victim to multiple hacks and phishing scams.
A Norway based service, Jottacloud is an alternative to users who want a Google Drive or OneDrive like service, without risking intrusions by the NSA. Jottacloud also offers an unlimited cloud storage plan.
Though OneDrive is still a decent service with some obvious advantages, being native to Windows, users should take advantage of more secure and feature rich alternatives.
If you have sensitive information, such as:
We highly recommend forgoing OneDrive. Though the general public doesn’t have a completely transparent view into the inner workings of Microsoft’s agreements with the NSA, most would agree that it’s not worth the risk.
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If you’re a security nut and want to make sure that your data is 100% safe, use a zero-knowledge provider. That way, even employees of the cloud storage service can’t even get their hands on your data, let alone hackers, ISPs and government agencies.
Though local encryption does somewhat slow down uploads and downloads, it’s a reasonable price to pay for peace of mind, knowing that our private data is truly secure. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if Windows crashes completely (an inevitable fact), possibly the only way to recover local data is with expensive hard drive restoration services — which could cost hundreds of dollars.
In lieu of OneDrive, we recommend taking any one of the five services listed today out for a spin. Use the free plans to test and stress them, then all you have to do is pick which one best suits your needs.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave your comments below!