Cloud storage services offer more than space on a remote server for storing your files. Features such as collaboration, sharing and file preview are essential. Equally critical considerations include privacy and security. If your cloud service is in a country with questionable privacy laws, changing to an offshore cloud storage provider is something to consider.
- Several countries, including the U.S., have privacy laws that favor the government more than the individual, often in the name of national security.
- Cloud storage providers with servers in the EU follow GDPR policy, which protects user privacy.
To clarify what we mean by an offshore location, we are referring to non-U.S. cloud storage. Where you store your data (and in what country) is a big decision, especially if you prioritize your data’s privacy and security.
Several laws grant the U.S. government access to users’ private data. For example, two well-known laws are the Freedom Act and the Patriot Act. Without getting into the weeds of state laws vs federal law, the main takeaway is that your data stored on the cloud is accessible by U.S. government agencies if deemed in the interest of national security.
10/13/2022 Facts checked
Rewrote the article and updated the cloud storage list for 2022.
We think Sync.com is the best overall cloud storage provider, and a significant reason for that is its outstanding privacy and security.
Cloud storage is a service offered by several companies to anyone who wants to store their files (documents, pictures, videos, etc.) on a remote server instead of on their hard drive. Advantages include freeing up space on your hard drive and easily sharing your files.
Sync.com is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their servers are located in Toronto, ON, and Scarborough, ON.
The Top Offshore Cloud Storage Services
What Makes the Best Offshore Cloud Storage?
These storage providers have cloud servers outside the U.S., although a few do have servers in America. Additionally, since each cloud storage provider resides in another country, U.S. privacy laws do not apply to them.
- MEGA — Private and secure with servers in the EU, New Zealand and Canada
- Icedrive — Top marks for privacy and security; servers in Germany and the U.S.
- Koofr — Excellent privacy, with data centers in the EU
Sync.com offers what we feel is nearly the complete package, with excellent privacy. It’s reliable and secure, with servers located in Canada. pCloud provides a robust cloud storage experience backed by solid security and privacy practices; it has servers in the EU and the U.S.
MEGA hangs with our top two choices in terms of security and privacy, and has servers in Canada, the EU and New Zealand. Icedrive is one of the newer cloud storage providers on the market and offers one of the most secure user experiences. It has servers in Germany, but also the U.S.
The 5 Best Non-U.S. Cloud Storage Providers
More details about Sync.com:
- Pricing: 5GB free, $8 per month (one-year plan) for 2TB
- Provider website: sync.com
- Top marks for security
- Attractive pricing options
- Slower than competitors
- No block-level syncing
For any users based in Europe, although Sync.com didn’t make it to our list of best cloud storage for Europe, it complies with the GDPR. In addition, it uses zero-knowledge encryption — one of the best ways to protect your data. Even if it wanted to, Sync.com could not access your data or help you if you lost your password.
Its heavy focus on security and privacy makes Sync.com somewhat slower than its competitors. However, this is a fair trade-off in most cases, knowing your personal information and data are secure.
Advanced File Sharing
Storage space, speed and privacy are important features, but many users often want to share their files. Sync.com shines in this department, with an easy and hassle-free file-sharing experience.
Create a link to the file you want to share, copy the link or add email addresses, then send it. Paid accounts have a few more preference options to customize access to files. Free accounts can create a password for an added layer of security.
While Sync.com doesn’t offer as many third-party app integrations as its competitors, paid plans come with Office 365 and Slack. Using either of these features enhances your file-sharing capabilities. Considering the level of security and privacy Sync.com has, safely using Office 365 or Slack through the web interface or on the desktop or mobile app provides excellent value.
A free account with Sync.com comes with 5GB of storage. If this is not enough — or you want to take advantage of the full experience — the Solo Basic plan costs $8 per month for 2TB. However, this plan is only billed annually, at $96.
The Solo Professional plan, on the other hand, does allow monthly billing at $20 for 6TB. If you prefer to pay annually, the price drops to $24 per month. Teams with multiple users can choose from the Standard or Unlimited plan.
Sync.com rates highly in nearly every measure we use to evaluate cloud storage. To learn more about Sync.com, check out our extensive Sync.com review.
- Price per user
- Price per user
- Unlimited GB
More details about pCloud:
- Pricing: 10GB free, $9.99 per month (one-month plan) for 2TB
- Provider website: pcloud.com
- Fast sync speeds
- Lifetime plan options
- Best encryption costs extra
- No link download limits
When it comes to privacy, pCloud might be the best in its class. Based in Switzerland, pCloud follows perhaps the best privacy laws worldwide. While pCloud has servers in Luxembourg, it also has servers in the U.S. Learn more in our pCloud server locations guide.
Knowing which server your files are on determines the level of privacy you enjoy. Fortunately, you can choose which data region to use, and if you’re concerned about privacy, the EU option is the way to go. If you forget to do this when you sign up, you can change the data region in your account settings, although this change carries a one-time fee of $19.99.
pCloud has equally strong security features, including 256-bit AES data encryption, both in transit and at rest. However, if you want zero-knowledge encryption, you’ll need to purchase pCloud Crypto at $4.99 per month. This only applies to designated files, not your entire account.
Among its other services, pCloud offers some of the best file synchronization features with pCloud Drive, a virtual drive that you download to your computer and acts as an extension of your account. This means that data won’t take up space on your computer, but you’ll still have full access to your files.
Syncing your designated data directly from your computer happens seamlessly, thanks to pCloud’s block-level syncing. This works by only updating the parts of the file you altered, rather than the entire thing every time you make a change.
pCloud brings a lot to the table and is a worthy consideration for your cloud storage needs. Privacy and security are top-notch, although in some cases only with a paid account. A free account comes with a generous 10GB of storage.
Paid plan options include Individual, Business or Family, with the Individual plans starting at $4.99 per month for 500GB on the annual plan.
pCloud offers the option to purchase a lifetime plan starting at $49.99 for 500GB. That might be steep up front, but after three years, it’s basically free cloud storage for as long as you stick with the service. Check out our full pCloud review article to learn more.
- Price per user (minimum 3)
- Price per user (minimum 3)
More details about MEGA:
- Pricing: 20GB free, $10.86 per month (one-month plan) for 2TB
- Provider website: mega.io
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Generous free storage
- Not the best for collaboration
- Costlier than competitors
MEGA’s security features are some of the best offered by a cloud storage provider. The combination of end-to-end, zero-knowledge encryption and client-side encryption means only you can access your stored data. Despite a recent security flaw and a somewhat dubious history, your data is safe with MEGA.
However, MEGA has its servers in three locations: Canada, New Zealand and the EU, and it complies with the GDPR. MEGA protects your sensitive data with its stringent security features, with only you holding the private key.
Sticking with MEGA’s security features, sharing sensitive information comes with peace of mind, especially for paid accounts. Before you send a file, data protection comes built in. All data uploaded to MEGA is encrypted, meaning shared files need an encryption key to access. You can send the encryption key with the file link or separately.
Shared file encryption comes with every account. However, a Pro account has the option to not only set a password for access, but also an expiration date for the file link. Sharing your folders works similarly, with the added benefit of determining who can upload or edit them.
MEGA offers more than a secure cloud storage platform, as our MEGA review details. One such feature is the 20GB of free storage MEGA offers, with free ways to essentially double storage for a year. If you want to unlock all of MEGA’s security features and protection, paid plans start at around per month or around per year for .
- 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
More details about Icedrive:
- Pricing: 10GB free, $4.17 per month (one-year plan) for 1TB
- Provider website: icedrive.net
- Strong privacy & security
- Virtual drive
- Sleek user interface
- No block-level sync
- Fewer features than competitors
Also, clearly identified is Icedrive’s refusal to use third-party tracking. This means you don’t have to worry about your data or account activity being used for targeted advertising.
Based out of the U.K. with servers in Germany and the U.S., Icedrive adheres to U.K. privacy laws, which are GDPR-compliant. However, it’s worth noting that Icedrive also has servers located in Germany and the U.S.
Your geographic location determines your account’s servers both upon registration and whenever you log in. However, you can use a VPN if you’re in the U.S. (or closer to the U.S. than Europe) to get a German IP address to establish an account, so your data will save to the Germany servers.
Easy to Use
Although some might complain that Icedrive doesn’t have as many features as its competitors, there’s no denying that it’s easy to use. This ease comes from its clean and sleek user interface. Of course, this is subjective to the individual user, but for us, Icedrive wins the aesthetics competition.
Aside from the visuals, navigating your account isn’t a chore, with a straightforward sidebar menu and familiar icons to work with selected files. Another excellent feature of the UI is the file preview. It looks and functions like reading a PDF on a website, including when downloading a file.
A free Icedrive account comes with 10GB of storage but does not include client-side encryption. The entry-level paid plan increases the storage to 150GB; however, this is only available annually at $19.99.
The first monthly paid plan comes with 1TB for $4.99 per month. Icedrive offers lifetime plans, which could be a great value if you stick with the service. Check out our Icedrive review to learn more about this newer option in the competitive cloud storage market.
- Bandwidth limit: 3GB
- Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- Bandwidth limit: 8TB
More details about Koofr:
- Pricing: 10GB free, $12.37 per month (one-month plan) for 1TB
- Provider website: koofr.eu
- Great 3rd-party integration
- GDPR compliant
- No zero-knowledge security
- No block-level syncing
- Not a genuine cloud management service
Koofr offers good security for your files and data, promising not to track your activities. It uses secure socket layers during file transfers, protecting your data from potentially prying eyes. Additionally, unlike others on our list, Koofr uses server-side encryption protected by the industry-standard AES 256-bit protocol.
Security and privacy work well for Koofr customers. However, many security-minded users desire zero-knowledge encryption, but Koofr does not offer it. Implementing zero-knowledge encryption would hamper some of Koofr’s popular services; however, Koofr does allow third-party client-side encryption software such as rclone.
A unique feature that Koofr offers is the ability to manage other cloud accounts. There are only three options — Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive — but they are among the world’s most used cloud storage services. The convenience of having access to data from your different cloud accounts creates what feels like an all-in-one cloud interface.
Koofr isn’t a true cloud management service, but has some basic functionality, like moving files between your different accounts. However, you can’t sync your data from other cloud providers, which makes working on and editing them in Koofr impossible. Still, integration is a big part of Koofr’s appeal. These integrations include Microsoft Office, Facebook and popular browser extensions.
Koofr’s free account comes with 10GB of storage, including its security features and some popular integrations. Paid plan options read like clothing sizes and start at 10GB for $0.62 per month. The reason you might want to pay for the plan versus getting the same storage amount for free is that it adds some additional features.
The next size up comes with 25GB at $1.24 per month. Koofr is a secure service with strong privacy and some unique features. To learn more about Koofr, check out our Koofr review.
Where cloud providers are located in the world, or their server locations, determines the privacy laws governing them. Some countries have privacy laws that protect users and their data. Others, not so much. If you want the best privacy laws and policies to protect your data, choose one of the providers on our list with an offshore location — though Sync.com is our top choice.
What’s been your experience with privacy laws? Do you feel your data is safe with your current provider? Are a cloud service’s country and server location a consideration for you? How important are privacy and security for you regarding cloud storage? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by to read our article.