Pretty much everyone is familiar with some form of cloud storage. It lets you easily store and access your files over the internet. Aside from just storing your content online, many providers also let you sync content directly between your desktop and cloud storage service. This lets you keep exact copies of your files both in the cloud and on your device.
Although this handy feature can boost your productivity, unfortunately not all cloud storage providers offer the best security or sync features. Finding the best cloud storage with sync can be daunting, so we’ve tested them all and put together this guide.
Best Cloud Storage With Desktop Sync
- Dropbox — Easy to use, block-level sync, “smart sync”
- Egnyte Connect — Multi-user plans, block-level sync, good security
- pCloud — Easy to use, block-level sync, lifetime plans
- Sync.com — Easy to use, good security
- Tresorit — Best-in-class security, compatible with Linux
- Google Drive — Collaboration, third-party support, good free plan
It’s no surprise that Dropbox leads the pack when it comes to desktop sync. In our comprehensive guide to the best cloud storage, Dropbox is listed largely because of its sync features. With tools like block-level sync and “smart sync,” Dropbox makes it easy to backup and view your files in the cloud (Read our What Is Dropbox Smart Sync? Guide).
Dropbox’s desktop client is straightforward to install and log in to. Once it’s installed, you can view files you’ve saved in the cloud through your folder. One feature that sets Dropbox apart is block-level sync. Most cloud storage providers rewrite an entire file when you make a change to it. With block-level sync, Dropbox only syncs the changes.
Along with block-level sync, Dropbox has a feature called “smart sync,” which lets you view all of the files you’ve uploaded by making them online-only. This will allow you to see your documents without them taking up space on your hard drive. Although “smart sync” isn’t a free feature, it’s available on all of Dropbox’s paid plans.
For users who are still enjoying the free plan, Dropbox offers “selective sync.” While “smart sync” allows your online-only files to be viewed from your desktop, “selective sync” requires your files to be downloaded to your hard drive for you to view them.
Dropbox’s free plan starts you off with 2GB of storage to try out the software. Although 2GB isn’t a lot, Dropbox also offers two individual plans. The 2TB plan starts at $11.99 per month and the 3TB plan starts at $19.99 per month.
For security, Dropbox offers AES 256-bit to protect your files at rest. When in transit, Dropbox uses SSL/TLS to protect your files as they move between Dropbox apps and servers. Sadly, Dropbox doesn’t use end-to-end encryption. Thankfully, Boxcryptor can add end-to-end encryption to Dropbox. To learn more about Boxcryptor, check out our Boxcryptor review.
Other Reasons We Like Dropbox
There’s a lot to like about Dropbox. It has a simple learning curve, sync features that put it ahead of the game and a good selection of storage plans. Dropbox also has pretty good security, and although it lacks end-to-end encryption — also known as zero-knowledge encryption — Dropbox is compatible with Boxcryptor, making zero knowledge a non-issue.
If you are on the fence about Dropbox, you can find out more in our comprehensive Dropbox review.
- Easy to use
- “Smart sync”
- Block-level sync
- Good storage plans
- No zero-knowledge encryption
Egnyte Connect comes in at a close second to Dropbox. It’s an EFSS provider that is designed with teams in mind. That being said, it employs some of the same sync features as Dropbox and has excellent security.
Egnyte Connect offers a sync folder as well as a network drive. A network drive stores your files in the cloud and allows you to access them via a drive on your desktop, sort of like “smart sync” with Dropbox. You can also select folders for offline use, which will download them to your hard drive. Similar to Dropbox, Egnyte Connect also offers block-level sync.
Egnyte Connect doesn’t have a free plan, though you can sign up for a 15-day trial. If you decide that you like Egnyte Connect, you have the option of the Office plan, Business plan or the Enterprise plan.
The Office plan starts at $40 per month and includes 5TB of storage. Keep in mind that this plan also requires a minimum of five users and costs $8 per month for each user.
The Business plan starts at $20 per user per month with a minimum of 25 users, and it includes 10TB of storage. The Enterprise plan includes customizable storage options and support for more than 100 employees. This plan requires you to contact Egnyte Connect directly for a quote.
For those who require three or fewer users, there’s also the Team plan, which offers 1TB of storage for $10 per user per month.
Egnyte Connect offers great security with AES 256-bit encryption at rest, in-transit encryption, multi-factor authentication and — if you have the Enterprise plan — zero-knowledge encryption. If you don’t have the Enterprise plan, you can still have zero-knowledge encryption with Boxcryptor.
Other Reasons We Like Egnyte Connect
Egnyte Connect isn’t for everyone. It’s designed to be an enterprise or multi-user solution to cloud storage, and the service does it really well. Although there isn’t a free plan, Egnyte Connect offers several plans to suit any number of users, and it has great security and sync options.
- Good security
- Great sync features
- Multi-user plans
- Rough learning curve
- No free plan
- No individual plans
pCloud is another really good all-around service that offers a range of extras along with a decent desktop client. pCloud supports block-level sync, which allows for faster sync times. It also offers lifetime plans and good security so you can backup and access your files with confidence.
Instead of a sync folder, pCloud uses a network drive, which allows you to access your files from your desktop while online. pCloud also allows you to sync folders for offline use by attaching them to a local folder.
pCloud protects your files at rest and in transit. It uses AES 256-bit encryption as well as zero-knowledge encryption and multi-factor authentication. Unlike most cloud storage providers, pCloud includes much of its security in a separate plan called Crypto, which can be added for an additional $47.88 per year or a one-time fee of $125.
pCloud’s lifetime subscription model extends beyond the Crypto package. Both of pCloud’s storage plans can be purchased monthly, annually or once for life. The 500GB Premium plan starts at $47.88 for the year or $175 for life. The 2TB Premium Plus plan starts at $95.88 for the year or $350 for life.
If you aren’t totally committed to one of pCloud’s premium plans but are curious about it, pCloud also has a 2GB free plan that you can grow to 10GB by completing certain tasks. It’s an interesting approach, but 10GB isn’t a small amount of data and it should give you a good idea of how you’ll like the service.
Other Reasons We Like pCloud
pCloud’s easy interface and lifetime plans make it well worth the investment. Aside from that, pCloud also offers native media playback, making it one of the best online storage for photos. Overall, pCloud is a great solution for desktop sync and is only slightly hampered by the additional costs for security. For more about pCloud, check out our full pCloud review.
- Block-level sync
- Lifetime plans
- Great security
- Music & video playback
- Security costs extra
Sync.com is a really good cloud storage service that’s easy to learn and simple to use. It also provides great security, offering zero-knowledge encryption with all of its plans. Although the desktop client is lacking in options, your files are easy to access via the sync folder.
Sync.com is a fairly basic service when it comes to sync functionality, but it really shines when it comes to its storage plans. Sync.com offers a free plan that starts at 5GB, but you can add an extra 1GB by completing various tasks.
Individual users also have the option of three different Pro Solo plans. There are no monthly options, but the annual plans are incredibly competitive and the monthly equivalent is $8 per month for 2TB, $10 per month for 3TB and $15 per month for 4TB.
Along with the great storage plans, Sync.com also has great security. Sync.com offers AES 256-bit encryption, multi-factor authentication, in-transit encryption and zero-knowledge encryption.
Other Reasons We Like Sync.com
Sync.com is one of the best cloud storage providers for all-around use. It has good sharing features, great plans and awesome security. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to rank it up there with Dropbox because of how simplistic the desktop client is. Still, Sync.com is a great cloud storage service with a lot to offer, and it is definitely worth considering for your storage needs.
If you’re curious how Sync.com compares with Dropbox, you should check out our Sync.com vs Dropbox breakdown, where we compare the two head to head. You can also take a look at our Sync.com review for more about Sync.com’s security, pricing and more.
- Easy to use
- Great security
- Very competitive plans
- Lacking desktop client
- No block-level sync
Tresorit is a secure cloud storage service that has a steeper learning curve than other services. Tresorit stores your files in encrypted folders, called “tresors,” that you have to sync individually. Once you have it set up, though, Tresorit is a great service that puts most of its focus on protecting your files.
Tresorit’s desktop client is robust in comparison to many other cloud storage services. It takes a little getting used to, but once you do, most of what you can do with Tresorit can be done from the actual desktop program. If you want to use Tresorit like any other drive, you can access the network drive like you would a local drive.
Tresorit’s free plan starts you off with 3GB, with the option of upgrading to two premium plans. The premium plans are pricey, starting at only 200GB for $10.42 per month when billed annually. For comparison, pCloud’s 2TB plan starts at $7.99 per month when you break up the annual cost.
The Solo plan ups your storage to 2TB, which will run you $24 per month when billed annually. Although the storage plans are expensive, one place where Tresorit excels is in its security.
Tresorit protects your files at rest and in transit. It also uses AES 256-bit encryption, zero-knowledge encryption and multi-factor authentication, plus each “tresor” is its own encrypted folder. For more about “tresors” and Tresorit’s security, check out our Tresorit review.
Other Reasons We Like Tresorit
Tresorit is a very secure storage service that’s hampered by its high costs and learning curve. If your primary concern is security or you need your cloud storage to have Linux capabilities, Tresorit is still a great storage solution to consider. If you don’t want to use Tresorit but still need compatibility with Linux, check out our guide to the best cloud storage for Linux.
- Best-in-class security
- Free plan
- Compatible with Linux
- No block-level encryption
6. Google Drive
Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud services around. With great storage options and collaboration features, the only thing keeping it from being higher on the list is its security and lack of block-level sync.
Using Google Drive is a breeze. Its interface is simple and easy to navigate, and the sync folder is pretty much what you’d expect. Collaboration is easy thanks to its integration with Google Docs. However, Google Drive lacks block-level sync, lengthening the time it takes to update files between your desktop and the cloud. While not a dealbreaker, it’s something to consider.
Simply having a Google account gives you 15GB of free storage, which is why it’s one of the best free cloud storage providers. If you outgrow your storage, Google has several individual plans.
Google has a 100GB plan for $1.99 per month, a 200GB plan for $2.99 per month and finally a 2TB plan for $9.99 per month. Google also has several high-storage plans for users who need it.
Google protects your files at rest and in transit. It uses AES 128-bit encryption, which is not as great as many other services, but it’s still going to protect your files in nearly all cases.
Other Reasons We Like Google Drive
Aside from storing documents, Google Photos allows you to upload unlimited photos and videos on compatible devices, making it one of the best cloud storage for photos. Google also has robust third-party app support, which gives you almost limitless ways to interact with Google Drive, the Google Drive app and Google’s other range of software.
- Great collaboration
- Easy to use
- Google Docs compatibility
- Unlimited photo & video storage
- No block-level sync
- No zero-knowledge encryption
- Lacking security
When selecting the best cloud storage sync service, we want to make sure that you can confidently choose a software that is secure, relatively easy to learn and has good storage options. We gave bonus points to cloud services that had extra goodies, such as lifetime plans or unlimited photo storage. You can also check out our best online backup services for even more options.
We also gave high marks to services with block-level sync. Block-level sync boosts transfer times when syncing files because it only syncs the changes instead of the entire file. In the end, “smart sync” and block-level sync put Dropbox in first place. We also liked its storage options and simplicity.
Egnyte Connect and pCloud offer similar features, as well, landing them in second and third place. Still, all of the storage solutions on this list are great services that you won’t regret trying out. Which one do you think is the best service? Let us know in the comments and check out our piece on the best DIY cloud storage tools. As always, thanks for reading.