Best Cloud Storage for Personal Use in 2023: File Syncing, Pricing, Free Storage & Key Features
When looking at the best cloud storage for personal use, things like advanced features and airtight privacy, though still important, take a back seat to pricing, ease of use and convenience. Keep reading to find out our top cloud storage pick for regular daily use.
If you’re looking for a robust but simple cloud storage service to help you organize and store personal files, there are a lot of providers that would be overkill, with advanced features and complicated pricing structures. This list of the best cloud storage for personal use looks past all that to help you find something dependable and easy to use that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
- Sync.com, pCloud and Icedrive are the top three cloud storage providers for personal use as they offer affordable plans and accessible software without compromising on security or privacy
- Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud are all very convenient and integrate with an array of other software, but their usefulness depends on your operating system and whether or not you use integrated services like Google Docs
- MEGA offers more free storage than any other serious cloud storage provider and is another service that provides end-to-end encryption for your files
There are a few different angles to look at when considering cloud storage options for personal use. What’s best for personal use can mean a lot of different things, whether it’s affordable prices, advanced sharing and syncing features, or a wide range of apps for different types of devices. Stick with us as we go over the five best cloud storage options for personal use.
Cloud storage is absolutely safe for personal use, but if you’re particularly concerned with security and privacy, pick a service that offers end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication.
That depends on how much storage you need. MEGA offers the most free storage at 20GB, Icedrive has the best deal for a 1TB plan ($49.99 per year), while Sync.com is among the cheapest for a 2TB plan at $96 per year. Read our cheapest cloud storage guide to learn more.
Dropbox and Google Drive are relatively similar cloud storage solutions, as both are geared toward collaboration, sharing and ease of use. If you need something that integrates with Microsoft Office, Dropbox is the obvious choice, but otherwise Google Drive is a better deal.
Top Cloud Storage Services for Personal Use
1TB - Unlimited GB$6 / month(All Plans)
500GB - Unlimited GB$4.17 / month(save 24%)(All Plans)
150GB - 10TB$1.67 / month(save 39%)(All Plans) 14-days money-back guarantee
100GB - 30TB$1.67 / month(save 16%)(All Plans)
2TB - Unlimited GB$9.06 / month(save 16%)(All Plans)
What Makes the Best Cloud Storage for Personal Use?
Given that “personal use” is a pretty vague and broad classification, the criteria are mostly the same as those you would use to judge any other cloud storage service. Features, speed, security and privacy are all obvious factors, but things like pricing and ease of use take on special importance in this ranking.
A decent cloud storage service should offer good value for the money — meaning, the amount of storage you get for the price. The service should also be easy to use and set up, and offer multiple ways of interacting with your stored files, such as desktop and mobile apps or a web interface. Features useful for daily use — like sharing controls and collaboration options — are also important.
In terms of security and privacy, look for zero-knowledge encryption. This means that the encryption key used to unlock your files is stored on your device only, so that not even the provider itself could decrypt — and thus access — your files. With that in mind, here are the top five best cloud storage service options for personal use.
- Sync.com — Easy-to-use, secure cloud storage with a very affordable 2TB plan
- pCloud — Advanced media features and great security with lifetime plans
- Icedrive — Cheap cloud storage with a well-designed user experience
- Google Drive — Cloud storage that integrates with other Google products and services
- MEGA — The most generous free cloud storage plan on the market
Sync.com and pCloud top the list for the same reasons they usually do: robust feature sets, affordable plans, and excellent security and privacy. Icedrive similarly offers great privacy with zero-knowledge encryption as well as budget-friendly monthly, yearly and even lifetime subscriptions.
Google Drive makes it to fourth place — higher than usual — because pricing and ease of use are both areas where it excels. However, it’s the only provider without zero-knowledge encryption on this list, so bear that in mind if you’re concerned about your digital privacy.
Then there’s MEGA, which has the most generous free plan on the market, though its paid plans are the most expensive on the list.
Finally, there are two honorable mentions at the end, which we don’t think can quite stand toe to toe with our top five, but have unique integrations with operating systems.
The 5 Best Cloud Storage Services for Personal Use
Now that we’ve covered a quick rundown of the criteria as well as the top five picks, let’s dive into the list itself, starting with Sync.com.
More information about Sync.com
- Pricing: 5GB free, 2TB for $96 per year ($8 per month)
- Website: sync.com
- Cheap 2TB & 6TB plans
- Great security, privacy & file-versioning
- Advanced sharing & collaboration features
- Mediocre transfer speeds
Sync.com routinely tops our lists of the best cloud storage for various use cases, and there are many reasons to go with this tried-and-true option. Like most of the entries on this list, it offers zero-knowledge 256-bit AES encryption and airtight security, but what sets it apart is that it doesn’t use that as an excuse to compromise on features.
A good example of this is Office 365 integration. Where most services with end-to-end encryption sacrifice this kind of functionality for better security, Sync.com lets you plug your cloud storage directly into Office 365 and create, edit and share documents.
Secure File Sharing
Another area where Sync.com offers an impressive set of features is file sharing. You can set expiry dates and download limits on your links, receive notifications about recent activity, enable preview-only mode on an individual basis and monitor download statistics.
File sharing with Sync.com also goes two ways, as you can send a file request or upload link to another person, which will then let them upload a file directly to your storage without actually having access to it.
At just $8 per month, Sync.com has one of the best bang-for-your-buck 2TB cloud storage plans out there. If you need a lot of storage, the 6TB plan is also a great deal at $20 per month, but the same can’t be said for the smaller 200GB plan as it’s much more expensive than you’d expect.
Keep in mind most of the plans are billed per year, though.
Sync.com is also the only provider on the list that offers unlimited storage, though this is on one of its business plans known as Sync.com for Teams. For all the details about pricing and more, check out our full Sync.com review.
- Price per user
- Price per user
- Unlimited GB
More information about pCloud:
- Pricing: 10GB free, 2TB for $99.99 per year or $8.33 per month
- Website: pcloud.com
- Advanced media features
- Automatic cloud backup
- Affordable 2TB plan
- Zero-knowledge encryption sold separately
- No document integration or collaboration features
pCloud — the best free cloud storage — comes in second on our list, but it’s a close call. In terms of usability, pCloud isn’t the prettiest cloud storage service out there, but all its apps are easy enough to navigate and get used to.
Like Sync.com, it offers a wide range of features as well as uncompromising security and privacy. It lacks the Office 365 integration, but offers automatic backup functionality and advanced media file features instead, which lets it compete with other hybrid cloud storage like IDrive and SpiderOak One (read our IDrive review and SpiderOak One review).
Advanced Music, Photo & Video File Features
With the possible exception of Google Drive, pCloud is the best choice on this list for anyone who wants to store a lot of media files such as videos, photos or music. The service is one of the best cloud storage for music for good reasons. It comes with a built-in music player, as well as tools for organizing music files, converting video files and resizing images.
You can even back up photos and videos directly from social media accounts, and the mobile app also supports automatic photo uploads. It’s also the best cloud storage service for Linux, in case this is your preferred operating system.
Though not quite as cheap as Sync.com, pCloud comes very close with its 2TB of storage for $99.99 per year. That said, there’s a significant caveat with this price in that zero-knowledge encryption is sold separately — as pCloud Crypto — for $4.99 per month. To get a better idea of how this works, make sure to check out our full pCloud review.
More information about Icedrive:
- Pricing: 10GB free, 1TB for $4.17 per month (annually)
- Website: icedrive.net
- Good user experience
- Great security & privacy
- Budget-friendly plans
- Not as many advanced features as other cloud storage services
Icedrive is the youngest cloud storage service on this list, having launched as recently as 2019. That said, it has quickly established itself as one of the best services out there by offering zero-knowledge encryption and affordable prices right out of the gate.
We also think Icedrive has the best looking interface of any cloud storage desktop app out there, and the user experience is incredibly pleasant, partially because of this attention to design. Its great file syncing ability makes it one of the best cloud storage with sync.
Free Up Disk Space With a Virtual Drive
Whereas most cloud storage providers exclusively use a sync folder model to manage your storage, Icedrive also provides an alternative — namely, the virtual drive. In addition to being able to designate individual folders already on your computer for sync, you can also set up a completely separate drive that you can access as long as you have an internet connection.
This allows you to easily access your cloud files directly from within your operating system without them taking up any of your local storage space. If you need access to anything in the drive while you’re offline, you can designate individual files and folders for offline use.
Perhaps the biggest thing Icedrive has got going for it is its price. If 1TB of storage sounds like the right amount to you, then you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal than $4.17 per month for the annual plan. Learn more in our Icedrive pricing guide.
Icedrive also offers lifetime subscriptions, which can be a great option if you know you’ll be using your storage for years to come, so check out our full Icedrive review to learn more about those.
- Bandwidth limit: 3GB
- Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- Bandwidth limit: 8TB
4. Google Drive
More information about Google Drive:
- Pricing: 15GB free, 2TB for $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month
- Website: google.com/drive
- Integrates seamlessly with Google services
- Affordable plans & options
- Great speed
- Terrible privacy
- Clunky desktop client
Although Google Drive doesn’t crack our top five overall favorite cloud storage providers — largely due to its terrible stance on user privacy — its focus on usability and integration makes it an obvious choice here. Out of any service on this list, Google Drive is the one that’s probably the easiest to get started with, especially since you probably already have a free account.
It bears repeating, though, that anything you store with Google Drive is almost certainly something that Google itself can access and read, should it want to. That said, if you don’t care about Google using your files to personalize the ads you see or comply with requests from the authorities, then there’s really no reason you shouldn’t use Google Drive.
Seamless Integration With Google Workspace
If you use any of the Google Workspace apps — such as Google Photos (a free cloud storage for photos), Docs or Sheets — then Google Drive is a no-brainer and you probably already use it to some extent. This type of direct integration doesn’t just extend to software either, as mobile devices running Android often have their backup functionality and media storage directly linked to Google Drive.
Aside from its integrations and ease of use, pricing is the other major reason why Google Drive ranks higher than usual on this list. Beyond the 15GB free storage, there are a lot of options in terms of how much storage you get, ranging from 100GB for just $19.99 per year ($1.66 each month) to 2TB for $99.99 per year ($8.33 each month).
There are some plans with even more storage than this, but they’re not as easy to access, so check out our Google Drive review if you need this much storage.
- Free plan
More information about MEGA:
- Pricing: 20GB free, 2TB for around $11 per month (9.99 euros)
- Website: mega.io
- Very generous free plan
- Great security & privacy
- No collaboration or document integration
- Expensive paid plans
Clinching the final spot on our list is MEGA, mostly because it’s the go-to option if you’re looking to maximize the amount of free cloud storage you have. Aside from its 20GB free tier though, it’s still one of the better services out there, with key features such as file sharing and syncing, zero-knowledge encryption, two factor authentication and other security measures.
MEGA is also fairly unique in that it offers several unusual extras, such as an encrypted chat client and a command-line tool that supports WebDAV. How useful these are depends on how into the weeds you want to get, but it definitely opens up a lot of possibilities such as automatic scheduling of backups and media server management.
Get More Free Storage With MEGA
As we mentioned, MEGA is incredibly generous with its free version. Free users start with 20GB of free space just for signing up, which can be increased by completing certain actions. Installing the desktop and mobile apps will get you 5GB each for a total of 30GB, and verifying your phone number bumps this up an additional 5GB to a total of 35GB. This additional storage only lasts for 365 days, but it’s still a nice bonus.
Unfortunately, MEGA’s paid plans aren’t as generous as its free tier. Its 2TB plan costs around $110 per year (99.99 euros) or roughly $9 per month.
If you’re looking for huge amounts of storage though, MEGA becomes more interesting. Its Pro III plan offers a humongous 16TB for around $33 per month (29.99 euros), which is pretty good value. You can read more about all of the plans in our full MEGA review.
- File transfer: 2TB (Monthly plan) 24TB (yearly plan)
- File transfer: (monthly plan) 96TB (yearly plan)
- File transfer: 16TB (monthly plan) 192TB (yearly plan)
- Price per user (minimum 3)
- Unlimited GB
Honorable Mentions: Personal Storage Options
Finally, we have two more services that are worth mentioning in the context of personal use, even if they’re not ones that would normally crack the top five. These two honorable mentions — Microsoft’s OneDrive and Apple’s iCloud — are highly specific as they depend on what operating system you use, but can be incredibly convenient in the right situation.
More information about OneDrive:
- Pricing: 5GB free, 1TB for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year (includes Office 365)
- Website: onedrive.live.com
If you’re like most people, your desktop computer or laptop probably runs Windows. If that’s the case, OneDrive will already be installed on your computer the first time you use it and integrates well with the operating system itself. It’s also designed specifically to work with Microsoft Office, so if you use this suite of software, OneDrive becomes even more attractive.
Although not one of the best cloud storage deals, OneDrive isn’t terrible when it comes to price either. While you can only get a 100GB plan for $1.99 per month when purchasing OneDrive on its own, it comes bundled with Office 365.
For 1TB of storage you’ll have to pay $69.99 per year, which is a bit more than most of the other services on this list, but when you consider that it includes a license to the full suite of Microsoft Office apps, it becomes a lot more attractive. For more information, check out our OneDrive review.
- Comes with Office 365 Personal
- Comes with Office 365 Home
- Price per user
- Price per user
- Unlimited GB
- Price per user
More information about iCloud Drive:
- Pricing: 5GB for free, 50GB for $0.99 per month
- Website: icloud.com
If on the other hand you’re in the Apple ecosystem of devices, meaning macOS for desktop and iOS for mobile, then it’s impossible to completely ignore the benefits of iCloud Drive — one of the best cloud storage for Mac.
Although it doesn’t have anywhere near the level of polish that our other picks do, its direct integration with all your devices can save a lot of time and effort when compared to using a third-party service.
iCloud’s pricing isn’t bad either, as it offers 50GB for just $0.99 per month, or 2TB for $9.99 per month. Unfortunately there are no yearly plans to save you some money and you only get 5GB for free. That said, you’ll be missing out on a lot of the goodies that most cloud storage services on this list provide, so check out our iCloud Drive review first to learn more.
There you have it, our list of the best cloud storage services for basic personal use. No matter which cloud storage provider you pick off this list, you’ll get an intuitive user experience, solid features and great value for your money. Sync.com took the top spot, but both pCloud and Icedrive are very close.
Google Drive and the two honorable mentions — OneDrive and iCloud — got onto the list for their integrations with a wider suite of software, while MEGA offers more free storage than anyone else.
What did you think of our list of the best personal cloud storage? Did we hit the nail on the head or are we missing your favorite cloud storage service for personal use? Have you used any of the cloud storage providers we listed? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below and as always, thank you for reading.