It’s pretty clear that people and businesses will continue the trend of reducing their need to rely on costly hardware and infrastructure by placing files and applications in the cloud.
Given the multitude of cloud storage providers out there, you must take care in choosing a provider who will offer the maximum amount of low-cost storage and bandwidth, while still keeping your data safe.
This list represents our top 10 picks for cloud storage. All offer a free tier allowing you to see if they’re right for you before handing over any hard-earned cash.
Veteran cloud storage provider
The Granddaddy of cloud storage, Dropbox offers a rather measly 2GB of free storage, but this can be increased up to 16GB free of charge by linking your Dropbox to social media and referring friends to join the service.
Dropbox Business subscriptions allow users to collaborate on work as well as giving each person unlimited space in a personal Dropbox account. There are also enhanced features for file recovery and versioning. Business pricing starts from around $12.50 per user per month (£10, around AU$16.50), or you can give it a go for free with a 30-day trial.
Price: 2GB free. 1TB for $10 a month (£6.58, around AU$11) with Dropbox Plus or 1TB for $19.99 a month (£15, around AU$27) with Dropbox Professional, which has some added extras.
A smart option for Google fans and G Suite users
Google Drive is a natural choice for owners of Android devices as it’s already integrated, but users of other platforms may appreciate the generous free storage too. You can also store high definition photos on your mobile phone with companion app Google Photos, and make use of Google’s own office suite (now known as G Suite).
Downsides include the fact that the web interface isn’t very easy-to-use, although Windows and Mac users can download a desktop app to drag-and-drop files easily.
Price: 15GB free. 100GB for $1.99 a month (£1.59, around AU$2.50). 1TB for $9.99 a month (£8, around AU$13). 10TB for $99.99 a month (£74, around AU$130).
Puts a premium on security
With an insanely generous free tier and a simple drag-and-drop interface, New Zealand-based Mega is one of the cloud storage heavyweights. There’s a handy mobile app to allow you to upload files and photos, as well as sync clients with desktop machines.
Mega claims that all data stored in its cloud is encrypted on your device before it reaches the firm’s servers. As the company has released the source code to its sync client, experts can check that there are no vulnerabilities.
Price: 50GB free. 200GB for $6 a month (£4.50, €4.99, around AU$7.50). 1TB for $12 a month (£9, €9.99, around AU$16). 4TB for $23 a month (£17, €19.99, around AU$30). 8TB for $35 a month (£26, €29.99, around AU$46).
Backed by Microsoft and ideal for Windows users
OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) is integrated into Windows 10’s file explorer. You don’t have to download an additional app – it’s there to use out of the box, which is obviously very convenient for those who have made the jump to Microsoft’s newest operating system.
Microsoft’s Photos app can also use OneDrive to sync pictures across all your devices. There’s an app for Android and iOS devices, and there’s even one in the App Store for Mac users (although it has received mixed reviews).
Price: 5GB free. 50GB for $3 a month (£1.99, around AU$4). 1TB for $8 a month (£5.99, around AU$11). 5TB for $11 a month (£7.99, around AU$14)
Apple’s competitively priced cloud storage locker
If you want to back up your iPhone to iCloud, you’ll need more than the free 5GB allowance Apple gives you, but compared to rivals iCloud prices are very reasonable.
The Mac Finder app integrates iCloud Drive, where you can store any files you wish. Documents created in the iWork office suite are also saved to iCloud and can sync across your devices. Windows users can also sync their files with iCloud Drive using the official client, and access the iWork apps on the iCloud website.
Price: 5GB free. 50GB for $0.99 a month (£0.79, AU$1.49). 200GB for $2.99 (£2.24, AU$4). 2TB for $9.99 (£8, AU$13)
Well-known service with some powerful business options
Box’s website currently seems to be pushing its Business plans as clicking ‘sign up’ takes you to the pricing page where for $15 per user (£11, around AU$19) you can benefit from advanced collaboration options and unlimited storage. But there is a 10GB free option, too.
As Box has been around for a while, it is supported by a number of mainstream apps such as Google Docs and Office 365. The Box Sync client is available from the Downloads page for Mac and Windows, plus there’s also an official Android client.
Price: 10GB free. 100GB for around $10 a month (£7.50, around AU$13)
DIY cloud storage solution
NextCloud isn’t an online cloud storage provider itself, but offers free software to download and install a cloud storage service on your own server. Using a server on your home network for cloud storage is much faster. You can also enable encryption and make sure the information never leaves your home network, which is far safer.
If you’ve no server or IT experience, you can even purchase a preconfigured NextCloud Box from the website which comes with a 1TB hard drive and will work with an inexpensive Raspberry Pi board to keep your data synced.
Price: Free to install and use. Self-hosting so storage costs vary. NextCloud Box is $79.99 (around £60, around AU$100), although it sold out in most locations, but you might find some on their site.
A ‘zero knowledge’ cloud storage provider
SpiderOak is part of a new trend of zero knowledge cloud storage providers. The website claims that after installing the client your data is encrypted before syncing. Unfortunately since SpiderOak hasn’t made the client source code public, there’s no way to confirm this.
The SpiderOakOne client is available for Windows, Mac and Linux as well as Android and iOS (although, both Android and iOS are read-only apps, meaning you can only view files, and can’t upload or sync anything). You can also log in via the web interface but privacy lovers may prefer not to as it exposes your password to SpiderOak employees.
Price: 21-day free trial. 150GB for $5 a month (around £3.75, AU$7). 400GB for $9 a month (around £7, AU$11.50). 2TB for $12 a month (around £9, AU$15). 5TB for $25 a month (around £19, AU$33)
Storage solution which extends to cover network drives
IDrive offers continuous syncing of your files, even those on network drives. The web interface supports sharing files by email, Facebook and Twitter. Cautious or click-happy users will be pleased to hear that files deleted from your computer are not automatically deleted from the server, so there’s less danger of removing something important accidentally.
IDrive also offers IDrive Express – a service whereby if you lose all your data they will ship a physical hard drive out to you, allowing for the swift restoration of all your backed up files.
Price: 5GB free. Personal: 2TB for $52 a year (around £40, AU$66). Business: 250GB for $74.62 a year (around £56, AU$98)
Ideal for those storing large media files
While some bandwidth limits apply, there seems to be no limit to the size of files you can upload, so feel free to sync large media files with pCloud.
The service is available for all desktop and mobile platforms – users can also log in via the website. The company itself is registered in Switzerland which has strong privacy laws, and you can also pay a premium of $4.99 a month (around £3.75, AU$7) for pCloud Crypto to lock (and unlock) individual files with passwords.
Price: Up to 20GB free (You start with 10GB and can increase that by referring people). 500GB for $3.99 a month (around £3, AU$5). 2TB for $7.99 a month (around £6, AU$10). Lifetime plans are also available: 500GB for 175$ (around £131, AU$230). 2TB for 350$ (around £262, AU$460).