Mac users have the advantage of owning very high quality software that other platforms, such as Windows, often lack. But that doesn’t mean that Mac OS X is inherently secure, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Which is why we’ve gone through the trouble of picking out the five best cloud storage alternatives to iCloud.
Almost everyone with an Apple device uses iCloud without a second thought (it comes on every Mac device, so of course it’s the obvious choice), though astute and conscious technology users, understand the security concerns of using iCloud. Within the last decade, the U.S. government has been found to be tampering with data and coercing domestic firms into providing back-doors into their systems.
The NSA’s PRISM program was shown to be harvesting data from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter. Given that Apple and the NSA have their fair share of problems, Mac users will be more secure if they opt for a service that provides extremely strong encryption – or even one that isn’t based in the U.S.
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Why Online Storage Solutions Are Important for Your Mac
Mac software is proprietary. Though there are vendor neutral protocols that facilitate file sharing, Apple takes great measures to make data sharing super easy among Macs, but difficult between OS X and Windows or Linux.
Before online storage solutions became mainstream and affordable, Mac users really only had a few viable data sharing options, such as using flash drives (which are tedious) or NAS storage – which is only useful in LAN environments (unless the user hosts a file server). Fortunately, cloud storage solutions will enable Mac users to share their data with any number of devices, anywhere in the world, without resorting to archaic file transfer methods.
In addition, users need to consider things from a security perspective. It has become industry standard for cloud storage providers to encrypt user data end-to-end, and the better ones leave encryption key management up to the customer.
While there are plenty of secure cloud storage solutions based in the U.S., many people distrust U.S.-based information services because of the NSA. When Mac users opt for domestic storage services, they run the risk of interference from the federal government.
The good news is, there are many cloud storage services that are based overseas, where the NSA doesn’t have a strong wiretapping and data collection infrastructure. With that understanding, let’s take a closer look at the five best online storage for Mac users.
Our number one pick, Sync.com, packs security, ease-of-use, speed and transparency into one irresistible bundle. Plus, it’s kinda cheap, works natively on OS X and it’s Canadian — like Deadpool!
Sync.com is our first pick for Mac users, and as anyone would expect from a competent cloud storage provider, they encrypt user data end-to-end. Thereby eliminating the chance that hackers or a government can intercept and read your data during its transit through the Internet.
In addition, Sync.com doesn’t manage encryption keys. This means that there is nothing their employees can do to decrypt data, once it’s stored on the company’s servers, providing extremely strong security. Plus, the easy-to-use interface makes Sync.com a wonderful option for first time users, or people who love simplicity and security.
Other Reasons Why We Like Sync.com
Sync.com has a pretty useful automatic backup and sync mechanism. That will continuously backup data, freeing users from the tedium of backup management. Better yet, being Canadian, they are free from the NSA’s influence (as far as we know).
- Good syncing speeds
- Good attitude towards privacy
- 1h Email support response time
- No network drive
- Restarting interrupts downloads
- Slow image previews
Our runner up, SugarSync, has everything a Mac user needs to store, share and secure their files and folders. Plus a few nifty extra tricks up its sleeve as well. As a leader in the cloud storage industry, SugarSync is comparable to Sync in terms of service and features. Though limited to 90 days, they do offer 5GB of storage space for free and users have the ability to select any folder they wish to sync, with an unlimited number of devices.
Although, SugarSync’s security process is a little odd compared to other providers. As data leaves your computer to be stored on their servers, it is first encrypted with TLS (Transport Layer Security). Then, once it reaches their network, SugarSync uses AES-256 encryption to protect the stored data.
Unfortunately, SugarSync uses an auto-payment renewal system, that renews at normal rates, once the introductory offer is over.
Other Reasons Why We Like SugarSync
Notable ancillary features of SugarSync’s service include fast and reliable servers, good backup features and handy file-sharing mechanisms.
SugarSync also has apps for virtually every smartphone platform including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices.
- TLS /AES-256 encryption
- File sharing & collaboration
- Apps for all mobile platforms
- No backup scheduling
- Not HIPAA compliant
- Auto-payment renewal system
The reigning champ of online storage and sharing, Dropbox also has a Mac version, which works as smoothly as anyone could imagine.
However, its 2GB free plan and security breaches are something to keep in mind. The king of cloud storage, one could say. In addition to providing 2GB of free data (which we think is pretty miserly) to anyone who signs up, they also have a file synchronization feature.
Syncing uses the parent folder concept and any files deposited into that folder, are automatically synced to other devices that share access to the cloud folder – making it a snap to share data across any number of devices.
However, Dropbox has had security issues in the past, major ones in fact and it is a US based company, which retains all of its customers’ encryption keys. But, its storage and sharing features are second to none. Not to mention, iOS and OS X support is absolutely great.
Other Reasons Why We Like Dropbox
Dropbox is a simple, effective and very popular file hosting service. It’s very easy to use, with a simple interface that won’t confuse those of us who aren’t technically inclined.
While it is true that other services provide larger amounts of free storage, Dropbox is known for being reliable and having fast transfer speeds.
- Good file syncing
- Great 3rd-party integrations
- Works on all major operating systems
- Based in the U.S.
- “Hostile to privacy“
pCloud offers the highest amount of free storage of any provider here (10GB), plus it comes with a slew of other great features and a strong encryption suite. pCloud carries the dual distinction of being extremely easy-to-use and favorably priced. Not only does pCloud provide up to 10GB of storage absolutely free, but they also provide 500GB of data storage for just $3.99 per month.
Though, the pricing scheme (despite being cheap) is rather confusing. Making them an extremely attractive, low cost prospect, that provides immense value. Unfortunately, the file sharing & syncing features could do with some extra polish and further fine tuning, while pCloud’s pricing system should be more clearly defined.
Other Reasons Why We Like pCloud
You can create download and upload links, that allows other users to access and share data. pCloud is a great security choice as well.
Thanks to Crypto, which offers a security suite for the privacy conscious. As a whole package, pCloud’s a great option for Mac users on a budget.
- 20GB free storage
- 1GB referral bonus
- No file size limit
- Unclear file versioning
- No local encryption for the standard plans
- No FTP access
By far the most secure and private online storage provider on this list, SpiderOak is essentially one of the best options for any OS X user looking for a zero-knowledge security service. Spideroak ranges from $5.00 per month for 100GB of storage — all the way up to $25.00 per month for a staggering 5TB of storage.
And for those who consider themselves security nuts, you’ll be pleased to know the company’s employees won’t have any access to your files, once they are stored on SpiderOak’s servers. Thanks mainly to zero-knowledge security. Which works by ascertaining a fact is true between verifiers A and B, without the need to reveal how verifier A came by that verification.
Small word of caution, SpiderOak is an American company, though they are very pro privacy and stand by their zero-knowledge services.
Other Reasons Why We Like SpiderOak
Users enjoy the ability to backup unlimited computers, which is great for families or people with lots of smart-devices.
However, the software is slightly difficult to understand and lacks an easy-restore feature. Although, all in all, SpiderOak’s software is top-notch. After the service changed in 2015 and now has several different plans.
30-day free trial
Unlimited devices syncing
Not HIPAA compliant
2GB free storage
Difficult to understand security
Mainly due to the NSA’s scandals, people aren’t very trusting of Apple’s iCloud service. Mac users need to take online storage, backup and security very seriously. The key benefit to online storage, is of course data retention, in the case of an accident. Mac users can also look forward to freeing up HDD space, accessing files from any Internet-enabled location and securing their data.
Which is why Sync.com is easily one of the best providers in terms of not only security, but also usability, features and pricing. However, everyone has unique needs and goals, which is why our remaining four contenders are definitely worth a serious look. Don’t forget to share any comments or thoughts you may have! Thanks for reading.