The Best Google Drive Alternatives for 2021: Ditching Big Brother

If you’re worried about Google collecting your data, you should be. The tech giant runs a massive data farming operation, but there is a way out. Check out these Google Drive alternatives to find the best cloud storage for you.

Aleksandar Kochovski
By Aleksandar Kochovski (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-07-06T20:49:59+00:00

You’ve probably seen the headlines about Google’s iffy privacy practices, from listening in on private conversations to tracking your online activity. Google Drive is by far the most used cloud storage service in the world, but if Google’s privacy issues seem scary, don’t worry, you’re not stuck using it. There are plenty of Google Drive alternatives out there, and we’ve rounded up the best ones for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Google Drive isn’t a perfect service; it’s great for collaboration, but you lose some privacy for using it.
  • The ideal Google Drive alternative should offer enhanced security, be easy to use and have lots of free cloud storage space.
  • Sync.com is the best alternative to Google Drive, though pCloud comes close.
  • If security is why you’re moving away from Drive, don’t go for Dropbox or OneDrive, as they have similar privacy issues. If that doesn’t concern you, they have similar cloud collaboration features.

Sync.com is our top choice as the best Google Drive alternative, thanks to its unmatched security, even though it nixes productivity features for added privacy. It’s a perennial favorite here at Cloudwards, and even tops our best cloud storage list. However, if you’re looking for more collaboration-oriented Drive alternatives, this article has you covered.

  • OneDrive is a cloud file storage service that’s very similar to Google Drive, but it’s run by Microsoft instead of Google. OneDrive integrates with Microsoft Office the way Drive integrates with Workspace, though OneDrive also comes with the same privacy pitfalls as Google Drive, so it’s not the best alternative.

  • Google has its own note-taking app called Google Keep, which is integrated into Drive. On top of that, Google Drive can integrate with plenty of third-party apps, some of which can be used for taking notes.

What Makes the Best Google Drive Alternatives

Although Google Drive is a decent cloud storage solution, it’s got a few problems (which we’ll talk about after the list), chief of which is privacy. That’s why we’re putting privacy first in our ranking. We’ve separated the wheat from the chaff and came up with five great choices, plus two honorable mentions for a total of seven Google Drive alternatives. Here’s the short list:

  1. Sync.com — The most secure Google Drive alternative
  2. pCloud — Lots of free storage and excellent media playback
  3. Icedrive — Zero-knowledge security and a tight privacy policy
  4. MEGA — Secure cloud storage service with a generous free plan
  5. Koofr — European privacy and cloud management capabilities

As we mentioned, privacy was our main concern when making this list, but we take security into account as a top priority as well (and no, they’re not the same thing). Zero-knowledge encryption (or client-side encryption) scrambles your files with an encryption key that only you can access, and it’s the only way to stay 100 percent safe in the cloud.

One thing Google Drive is famous for is its 15GB free plan. If all you care about is free storage without any privacy strings attached, we have some great Google Drive alternatives for you. However, if you need more storage space than a free plan can offer, you shouldn’t need to put out a mortgage on your place just to afford a cloud storage subscription (trust us, some cloud services can get expensive).

Lastly, we looked at collaboration and productivity capabilities. Google Drive offers a slew of productivity solutions, including its in-house Google Workspace suite (which includes Google Docs, Sheets and Slides). However, most people don’t make use of these things, which is why collaboration is low on our priority list, but still something to take into account.

The Top 5 Google Drive Alternatives

Now that we’ve seen what it takes to make a good alternative to Google Drive, let’s look at our top choices. Our number one is Sync.com, so let’s dive right into it.

1. Sync.com

sync.com web interface
Sync.com packs sharing and security features into an easy-to-use package.

More details about Sync.com:

  • Pricing: 5GB free, $8 per month for 2TB on the yearly plan
  • Provider website: www.sync.com

Pros:

  • Zero-knowledge encryption
  • Very affordable
  • Excellent file sharing options

Cons:

  • Limited collaboration features
  • Only yearly payments available

Easily the most secure service on this list, Sync.com is the best Google Drive alternative if you want to keep your data safe from prying eyes. It offers client-side encryption for a price that can’t be beat and even bests Google in terms of file sharing. You can find out more about Sync.com in our full Sync.com review.

Sync.com offers zero-knowledge encryption and gives you full control of the encryption key. This goes for all of your files, even if you’re just a free user. Two-factor authentication keeps your login safe even if someone discovers your password. Plus, it’s located in Canada, which has much better privacy laws than the U.S., where Google is headquartered.

File Sharing Made Easy

Sharing files is a staple of cloud storage and it’s something Google Drive does very well. However, Sync.com’s multitude of sharing options blows even Drive’s file sharing out of the water. Offering the standard passwords and expiry dates for sharing links, it goes several steps further by giving you download limits and stats, upload links and preview-only mode (no downloads).

sync.com home page
Sync.com has some of the best deals in cloud storage.

Sync.com only offers 5GB of free storage space, but it’s enough to try the service out. The free version comes with zero-knowledge encryption, though advanced sharing options are locked behind a paywall. Thankfully, Sync.com is one of the most affordable cloud services, offering 2TB of storage for only $8 per month.

Sync.com may not have the collaboration chops of Google Drive, but it more than makes up for it with airtight security, excellent sharing options and unbeatable pricing. Needless to say, it easily takes the top spot as the best alternative to Google Drive.

2. pCloud

pcloud web Interface
pCloud is a privacy-focused option for people looking to switch from Google Drive.

More details about pCloud:

  • Pricing: 10GB free, $7.99 per month for 2TB on the yearly plan
  • Provider website: www.pcloud.com

Pros:

  • Generous free plan
  • Protected by Swiss privacy laws
  • Client-side encryption

Cons:

  • Zero-knowledge is a paid add-on
  • Lacks collaboration options

The second spot on our list goes to pCloud, a Swiss cloud storage service with a dedication to privacy. With servers in the EU and headquarters in Switzerland, it’s an obvious choice when it comes to privacy. Plus, it has a free plan that beats Google Drive in all but storage space and a best-in-class media player. See our full pCloud review for all the details.

As we mentioned, pCloud’s location means it’s covered by some of the best privacy laws in the world, including the EU’s GDPR. Although it does offer client-side encryption, you’ll have to pay an extra $3.99 a month for it. pCloud’s zero-knowledge solution is called pCloud Crypto and it takes the form of a special folder on your account where the contents are kept under lock and key.

All Your Music in the Cloud

pCloud is the best cloud storage for music, thanks to its fantastic music player. Unlike most cloud file storage platforms, it has a fully featured music player that can be minimized while you search through your files. The “audio” tab shows all your music and can group your songs by artist or album, letting you create playlists easily.

pcloud home page
Although pCloud’s cloud storage is relatively cheap, you have to pay extra for client-side encryption.

pCloud has the best free storage plan out there, offering 10GB of storage. The free version initially comes as 5GB, but the rest can be unlocked by doing things you’d end up doing anyway, like downloading the desktop and mobile apps. In terms of pricing, pCloud offers a similar deal to Sync.com, at $7.99 per month for 2TB, but you can save even more by going for a lifetime deal.

With its spacious free plan, pCloud is a top contender as one of the most private Google Drive alternatives, and it throws in some nice media features, to boot. Although a paid subscription is far from expensive, it works out to be a bit pricier than Sync.com after factoring in a Crypto subscription, which is why it only gets second place on this list.

3. Icedrive

icedrive desktop interface
Icedrive has one of the most attractive cloud storage user interfaces we’ve seen.

More details about Icedrive:

  • Pricing: 10GB free, $4.17 per month for 1TB on the yearly plan
  • Provider website: www.icedrive.net

Pros:

  • 10GB free plan
  • Zero-knowledge encryption
  • Beautiful, easy-to-use interface

Cons:

  • Lacks extra features

A UK-based newcomer, Icedrive takes the bronze on this list. It’s a fairly young service, having been established in early 2019, but it’s already one of the best cloud storage services. With its 10GB free storage plan and zero-knowledge encryption for all users, it makes a great alternative to Google Drive. Our Icedrive review goes into all the details, so check it out if you’re interested.

Icedrive gives you a separate folder where everything is encrypted client-side, but unlike pCloud’s Crypto folder, it doesn’t cost a penny. Like our top two choices, Icedrive doesn’t offer any collaboration options, but if it’s security and free storage you’re after, you can’t go wrong with Icedrive.

A Stunning User Experience

Icedrive’s user interface is simply gorgeous. Everything from the color scheme to the font choices let you know that this is a youthful, yet serious service and it’s a joy to use. Plus, its desktop client is a full-fledged application that lets you handle your cloud files, unlike most of today’s cloud services which relegate the desktop experience to an icon in the system tray.

icedrive home page
Icedrive’s 1TB plan is a steal and it’s available as a lifetime subscription, too.

As we mentioned, Icedrive boasts a 10GB free storage plan with zero-knowledge encryption included. Its paid plans are super affordable, too, with the 1TB plan costing a mere $4.17 per month if you pay yearly — around the same price as just a pCloud Crypto subscription. You can also make a one-time payment for a lifetime subscription, if you’re ready for that kind of commitment.

Icedrive looks like a promising young service with a bright future, and it’s an excellent Google Drive alternative if you only need a more secure free storage option. However, it’s no match for seasoned cloud veterans like Sync.com and pCloud, and only manages a respectable third place on this list.

4. MEGA

mega web interface
MEGA is a cloud service known for its enormous free plan.

More details about MEGA:

  • Pricing: 20GB free, around $10 per month for 2TB on the yearly plan
  • Provider website: www.mega.io

Pros:

  • 20GB free storage (first month)
  • Zero-knowledge encryption
  • Encrypted chat & sharing

Cons:

  • Free cloud storage reverts to 20GB after a month
  • Limited collaboration options
  • Cluttered user interface

MEGA had a controversial start as a successor to Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload. However, it’s been wildly popular since its inception because of its massive free cloud storage plan and its focus on privacy and security. Everything on MEGA is encrypted, from files to sharing links to its own built-in chat. See our full MEGA review for an in-depth look at this secure cloud storage solution.

MEGA is a zero-knowledge cloud storage platform and that shows in nearly every aspect of the service. It even has its own chat that is encrypted end to end, though MEGA can still see the email address of the person you’re chatting with. MEGA is located in New Zealand, with servers all over the world, and it is fully GDPR compliant, so you know your data is kept safe.

Share Files Securely With MEGA

File sharing is very secure for a cloud service. MEGA encrypts every sharing link you create with its own encryption key generated on your device. You can choose to share the key automatically with the person you’re sharing the file with (this would let MEGA see the key), or you can choose to copy it and send it separately via a secure channel.

mega home page
MEGA might not be the cheapest cloud storage solution, but it’s one of the most secure.

MEGA offers 20GB of cloud storage space for free, and it also has an excellent referral and rewards program that allows you to greatly expand your storage for 365 days. Unfortunately, its paid plans aren’t quite as cheap as our top three, though its 2TB plan is still affordable at $10 per month if paid annually.

MEGA is a very secure cloud storage service, and its 20GB free cloud storage free beats Google’s 15GB. If you’re a free Google user looking to switch to a cloud storage provider with tighter security, then MEGA could be for you. However, speed is a concern with MEGA and paid plans are a little more expensive than our other choices, which is why MEGA gets fourth place on this list.

5. Koofr

koofr manage multiple clouds
Koofr lets you manage multiple cloud accounts.

More details about Koofr:

  • Pricing: 2GB free, around $12 per month for 1TB
  • Provider website: www.koofr.eu

Pros:

  • Protected by European privacy laws
  • Collaboration via Microsoft Office 365
  • Connects to other cloud accounts

Cons:

  • Free plan is only 2GB
  • Expensive
  • No zero-knowledge encryption

At number four we have Koofr, a relatively small cloud provider from Slovenia. If you mostly use Google Drive free storage, then look away, as Koofr offers a paltry 2GB of storage. However, if you use Drive for collaboration, you’ll be happy to know that Koofr offers integration with Microsoft Office 365. Read our full Koofr review for more info on this alpine cloud service.

Although Koofr isn’t a zero-knowledge service, it has a solid privacy policy. Thanks to its EU headquarters, your data is covered by the GDPR, so there’s no need to worry. Recently, Koofr has added collaboration via Microsoft Office 365, letting you create Word documents from within Koofr, though editing them is only available for paid accounts.

Manage All Your Clouds in One Place

Koofr acts as a sort of cloud-to-cloud manager, letting you connect the big-name cloud services to it and manage files from other cloud storage accounts. You can link Koofr to Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox, which covers the three biggest cloud storage providers (read on to see why we can’t quite recommend the latter two services as alternatives to Google Drive).

koofr free space
Koofr offers collaboration and cloud management features, but its pricing leaves something to be desired.

As we mentioned, free storage space isn’t really Koofr’s forte, as it offers a mere 2GB for free. While we wouldn’t call Koofr’s paid plans a ripoff, they’re still quite pricey, with its 1TB plan being around three times more expensive than Icedrive’s. Koofr doesn’t officially offer a lifetime plan on its website, but you can get one from special deals on the internet.

Starter
  • : 2 GB
L
  • : 100 GB
XL
  • : 250 GB
XXL
  • : 1000 GB
XXXL
  • : 2500 GB
10XL
  • : 10000 GB

Overall, Koofr is a very good cloud storage service as a private alternative to Google Drive. However, if you’re transitioning from a free Drive account to Koofr, you’ll be disappointed by the lack of free storage, and if you’re used to paying a bit for a Google One subscription, you’ll find Koofr’s price tag a bit steep. That’s why Koofr takes last place on this list.

Google Drive Alternatives: Honorable Mentions

Now that we’ve gone through the best, let’s take a look at the rest. These are the data storage services that could be fine Google Drive alternatives, but just miss the cut.

Dropbox

dropbox desktop interface
Dropbox is the cloud service that started it all and it’s still one of the most popular cloud services today.

Dropbox is the OG cloud storage platform. As the cloud service that started it all, it offers one of the most polished and user-friendly experiences, as well as integration with both Office 365 and Google Workspace. However, it gives you only 2GB of free file storage, and a Dropbox subscription isn’t cheap, though the extra features might make it worth it.

Unfortunately, Dropbox has had its fair share of privacy faux pas, including massive login data leaks. It has upped its security since, but it’s still lacking zero-knowledge encryption, and its location in the U.S. means it’s subject to government surveillance programs like PRISM. That’s why Dropbox ekes by with an honorable mention.

OneDrive

onedrive web interface
OneDrive is Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive, though privacy isn’t its strong suit.

Microsoft OneDrive is similar to Google Drive in many ways. It’s a cloud storage platform created by a tech giant with a vast data collection scheme. Its free plan is only 5GB, but it has some of the most affordable paid plans. As a Microsoft product, it integrates fully with the Office 365 platform, comes preinstalled with Windows 10 and is great for collaboration.

However, if you’re trying to get away from Google because they collect your personal data, OneDrive is not the way to go. Microsoft is no better than Google in terms of data mining and won’t save you from Big Brother’s eye, which is why it doesn’t quite make the main list. If you’re looking for a non-Google alternative for collaboration though, it might be your bag.

Why You Need an Alternative to Google Drive

google drive web interface
Google Drive is a good cloud service if you don’t mind Google intruding on your privacy.

If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need us to tell you why you’re switching. Though if you do need some reassurance, here are a few reasons why you might want to switch from Google Drive as your main cloud storage provider.

1. Escape Google’s file scanning

Google isn’t shy about letting you know that it can scan every file and document you upload — it’s right there in its privacy policy, along with a provision that lets it copy, manipulate and distribute your data. Yikes!

2. Increased privacy

Google isn’t exactly known for caring about its users’ privacy. In fact, it runs its entire business on collecting and selling your personal data. What’s worse, Google is a U.S.-based company, which means that not only can it sell your data to the highest bidder, but it can also give it to the U.S. government if they ask for it.

3. Better security features

Google is not a zero-knowledge data storage service, so you can be sure from the get-go that it’s not the best choice for keeping your data secure.

4. More control over file sharing

Sharing with Google is…OK. You can set permissions and things like that, but once you’ve shared a file, you can’t unshare it. It’s there for the internet to access, so long as someone keeps distributing the link.

5. Faster speeds

Google’s speeds aren’t bad per se, but they’re very inconsistent. It’s the most popular cloud data storage service after all, and its billion-plus users sometimes put a strain on its servers. This in turn affects speeds, and you never know when a slowdown is going to happen.

Final Thoughts

Google Drive isn’t the most secure cloud storage solution. If you want more security for your files, you need an alternative to Google Drive. Our top pick is Sync.com, but any of the Google Drive alternatives on this list will make a great choice.

Are you ready to delete your Google account (and maybe stop using Google Search and Google Photos altogether)? What do you think is the best Google Drive alternative? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.