Yandex Disk is a cloud storage service that belongs to the Yandex Group, which is often referred to as the “Russian Google.” The service launched in 2012, which makes it younger than veteran cloud storage services. That doesn’t mean it’s deficient, but it has a lot of room for improvement before catching up to the services on our best cloud storage comparison.
If you don’t know much about cloud storage and you don’t know where to start, take a peek at our cloud storage library.
While Yandex Disk offers a good user experience and decent premium plans, it lacks critical features, has weak security and adheres to Russian privacy laws. Stick with us because we’re going to talk more about the service in this Yandex Disk review.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Office Online
- Decent pricing plans
- Online-only files
- User experience
- No content control options
- Not zero-knowledge
- Weak security
- Russian privacy laws
Alternatives for Yandex Disk
Yandex Disk’s main feature is storing content in the cloud. That will help you avoid hard drive malfunctions and enable you to sync and share your files across devices. To do so, you can use the desktop, mobile or web app to upload files. We’ll talk more about syncing files in the “file sharing and syncing” section.
Yandex Disk used to lack versioning, but now the feature is even available to users with free accounts. Versioning helps you when you need to roll back unwanted changes, and Yandex Disk keeps versions from the last 90 days without taking additional space. That said, if you don’t subscribe to a paid plan, you only have access to the previous two weeks.
Consult our best cloud storage for versioning article for alternative services that let you rewind time and restore your files.
Yandex Disk integrates with Microsoft Office Online, so users who need to collaborate on documents will be pleased. You can use it to open, edit and create Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. That didn’t help Yandex Disk make our best cloud storage for collaboration list, though. Dropbox Business is the top pick there. Read more about it in our Dropbox Business review.
Yandex Disk’s web app lets you play music and video files. The players are bare-bones, though, so if you need more you can consult our best cloud storage for music and best cloud storage for photos and videos articles. That said, its photo options are better because you can create albums and download photos in their original size.
It also lets you preview .pdf files and even .zip archives. When you preview an archive, there’s an option to extract individual files.
Power users will be happy to know that the service supports WebDAV access. If you’re unfamiliar with this protocol, read our WebDAV explanation.
Yandex Disk’s desktop app lets you access your files from the cloud without storing them on your computer. That’s useful if you need to save space, but note that you won’t be able to access your files if you’re offline. When you install the desktop app, a companion app called Yandex Notes is also installed. You can access it via a desktop icon or by pressing ctrl + alt + b.
If you’d like an app that integrates with the web client, read our best note-taking apps guide. Microsoft OneNote is a good example of one. Read more about the service behind it in our OneDrive review.
Yandex Disk has a list of apps that are available to Yandex users besides Disk. It includes Calendar, Maps and more. The apps don’t integrate with Yandex Disk directly, but they’re available when you register with the storage app.
Yandex Disk Features Overview
|Sync Any Folder|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Live Chat Support|
When you register for Yandex Disk, you get 10GB of free storage. That beats Dropbox, but not Google Drive, which offers 15GB of free storage. To learn more about that service, read our Google Drive review. For more services with good free storage plans, read our best free cloud storage article.
Both plans remove the ads that border the bottom of the web client. They also add enhanced changelog for file, priority support that responds within three hours and unlimited downloads from public links.
The +100GB plan is a fine deal because many users won’t need more storage and it’s only $2 per month. There’s a discount if you pay for the year, too. The costs are in line with Google Drive, which also has a 100GB for $2 and a Yandex Disk. Yandex Disk doesn’t match Google Drive’s plan flexibility, though, and it didn’t make our best deals in cloud storage list.
Sync.com has a much better deal with a 2TB plan that costs $99.60 per year. That’s $3 cheaper than Yandex Disk’s 1TB plan. If you’re interested to learn more about Sync.com, read our Sync.com review.
Ease of Use
You can access Yandex Disk using a web, desktop or mobile app. The web app is attractive, clear and easy to navigate, so you won’t have trouble finding what you need. The menu on the left helps you navigate your files, while the right side contains your account menu. You can search for files using the search bar at the top. It’s intuitive and fast.
The most prominent feature is the upload button, which opens an upload dialog, but you can upload files or folders by dragging and dropping them anywhere on the page. Beneath that button is a “create” button that lets you create Office Online files, albums or folders. The “files” area can show your files in a small or big grid or as a list.
The desktop app follows the common model of sync, which means it has a system tray icon and a sync folder. It’s available for Windows, macOS and Linux. Clicking the tray icon will open the app. Its design is clear but not eye-catching, and the app is simple and easy to use. Quick access shows your frequent folders and recent files, so you’ll find what you need fast.
You can edit individual files by right-clicking them or selecting them and using the menu that appears at the top of the window.
To upload files, you can use the upload button, drag and drop a file in the app window or copy and paste it in the sync folder. If you’re not satisfied with the default disk location, you can change it in the settings menu. The settings menu also lets you tweak how you capture screenshots on your desktop, lets you enable unlimited photo uploads on mobile and more.
Besides unlimited photo uploads, the mobile app lets you store files for offline access, view your actions in the “feed” tab and preview photos from your phone. You can secure the app by setting up a PIN or fingerprint lock. The app has a minimal design and it’s easy to use.
Files Sharing & Sync
The web client lets you share files or folders by right-clicking them and selecting “share.” A menu will open showing you your link, which you can copy and paste or send directly to Facebook or Twitter. You can send it by email, too, using the Yandex email client. There’s an option to generate a QR code, as well.
That said, there are no content control options. Services on our best cloud storage for sharing list have options such as password protection, link expiry dates, link download limits and more.
You can share a folder by inviting others via email and granting “view” or “full access” rights. You can do the same when you create a shared folder from scratch.
The desktop app lets you share by right-clicking a file and choosing “copy link to yandex.disk,” which will copy the link to clipboard so you can paste it. You can do the same with folders or files outside of the sync folder, which means the app will first copy the content to the sync folder and then create a link.
You can share using the mobile app, too. It lets you create a link and send it via the apps you have installed on your phone. You can share by sending the file, too.
Syncing lets you work with files on your devices and get the changes reflected in the cloud. Yandex Disk lets you choose which folders and files you want to sync from the cloud. That’s called selective sync and Yandex Disk’s version even lets you preview files from the cloud in the desktop app. You can’t sync folders to the cloud, though.
The overall sync process is smooth and we didn’t have issues during our testing.
Yandex Disk keeps its servers in data centers in Russia and Finland, so your speed will depend on how close you are to them. We did our tests using an Ethernet connection in Belgrade, Serbia, with an upload speed of 6 megabits per second and a download speed of 100 Mbps.
The average upload time of 23 minutes and 10 seconds was close to what we’d expect given our upload speed, so Yandex Disk isn’t among the slower services we’ve tested. The download time averaged one minute and 47 seconds, so it was on the mark, too.
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
Yandex Disk doesn’t use a block-level sync algorithm, which would speed up the transfer of files that have already been uploaded by only uploading the changed portions. You can’t throttle your bandwidth like you can with most services, either.
Figuring out which methods Yandex uses to protect your content proved to be a difficult task. The company doesn’t provide information about whether it encrypts files at-rest on its servers. We tried to get information from Yandex about it, but we didn’t get a response.
That being the case, it’s best to assume that your files aren’t encrypted while stored in the cloud. It’s uncommon for cloud storage services not do encrypt files at-rest, but Amazon Drive do it, either. You can read more about that service in our Amazon Drive review.
That doesn’t make it acceptable, though, especially given the rise in cybercrime in recent years and the fact that much of that cybercrime originates from Russia, Yandex’s home base.
Yandex Disk mentions in an FAQ that files are encrypted in-transit, but doesn’t detail what methods are used. The good news is that it’s compatible with Boxcryptor, so you can take control of your privacy. Read more about that useful add-on in our Boxcryptor review.
Yandex Disk also doesn’t give you the option to enable two-factor authentication, which provides a means of protection in the event that your password is stolen.
We found mention that Yandex Disk scans all files up to 1GB in size for viruses, so that’s a plus. That said, it’s the only one. Until Yandex becomes more transparent about what’s does to protect your files, we advise going with a more secure cloud storage option such as one on our best zero-knowledge cloud storage review.
If having zero-knowledge isn’t your primary concern, read our most secure cloud storage services article for an overall ranking.
Russia isn’t among the countries that have the best privacy laws in the world. The government there has the ability to block content thanks to laws it has implemented to allow it. In 2017, many websites were blocked because they were “undesirable.” The same year, local internet service providers were ordered to block 8,000 pirate websites.
Then there’s the Yarovaya Law, Russia’s counter-terrorism law, which gives authorities access to user data. Any website or platform that is added to the Registry of Information-Dissemination Organizers must collect, store and provide users’ metadata to the Russian authorities.
If this has you on the edge of your seat, you should use a VPN to protect your privacy and our best VPN for Russia article has a ranking that will help you choose one.
That said, for users in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, Yandex is represented by its Finnish entity, Yandex Oy, a company incorporated under Finnish law with an office registered in Finland. That means the personal information of EU citizens is handled according to applicable EU data protection rules.
Yandex Disk collects your personal data when you register with the service and also the data that represents your usage of the service. The approach is common among cloud storage services. Yandex Disk doesn’t collect sensitive personal data, such as race, political opinions, health or biometrics.
That said, it’ll use your personal information, preferences, search history and other available data to provide personalized advertisements and commercial offers. That means Yandex Disk may transfer personal information to third parties outside the Yandex Group, which might include advertising networks, media publishers and other partners.
Personal information is processed automatically and Yandex’s staff doesn’t have access to it. Yandex employees can access your information if necessary, though. They must comply with internal rules and follow protocols for processing that information, but that doesn’t mean they can’t break them.
That’s still not private encryption and you have to take Yandex’s word for it, which can come back to bite you.
Yandex agrees to store your personal data for as long as it’s necessary and no longer. If you wish, you can request that the service delete it.
You also have the right to:
- Access and modify your personal information.
- Request the restriction of the processing of your personal information.
- Request a copy of the Standard Contractual Clauses enabling the transfer of your personal information to Russia.
- Object to the processing of your personal information if it is provided by applicable law.
Yandex isn’t a stronghold of privacy. It lacks zero-knowledge encryption and has to comply with questionable Russian privacy laws. If you want a service that takes a stronger approach when protecting privacy, you should try Sync.com or Tresorit. Read more about the latter in our Tresorit review.
The help center is divided into categories which link to the solution for most common issues. If you can’t find the answer to your question that way, you can use the search bar at the top.
If that doesn’t help, you can contact the support service using a button located at the end of each article. A better approach would be to place it on the homepage of the help center. Once you click the button, you’re going to see a form that asks you to describe your issue, but, strangely, it’s in Russian while the rest of the help center is in English.
After you send the request, a message appears that thanks you for your participation in the survey, which makes it even more confusing. You won’t be able to contact the customer service any other way, though, because there’s no chat or telephone support. We tried to contact support using the contact form, but we didn’t get a response.
We like Yandex Disks’ user experience across all devices, as well as the option to keep your files online only. Plus, it has pricing plans that aren’t expensive and integrates with Office Online to increase your productivity and collaboration options.
That said, it has many downsides, too. There’s no private encryption to protect your privacy and we have to assume other security options are missing, too. That includes security options for your shares. Yandex Disk must also adhere to Russian privacy laws.
If you’d like a different service, consult our best cloud storage for a list of alternatives.
What do you think about Yandex Disk? Would you use it despite its weak security? Do you live in Russia and use another service? Let us know what you think in the comments below. Thank you for reading.