Cloud storage has seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years as technology continues to develop and innovations make their way to the market.
This is a great way to ensure that your valuable documents are saved and accessible and that you have a backup of any information you need.
Choosing the best cloud storage services can be a challenge, however — this is a crowded market, and each option claims to offer the best service, reliability, and additional features designed to make your life as easy as possible.
So just, which do you pick?
Table of Contents:
Choosing The Best Cloud Storage Option
To help you make an intelligent choice, we have put together the ultimate guide to help you select the best cloud storage service for you whilst avoiding those fancy mumbo jumbo names, and past marketing tricks used to confuse and sell.
Oh, the cloud... It’s easy enough to understand correctly. Can’t promise you’ll find this stuff suddenly cool, but you’ll be confidently using it soon! Keep it simple. We’re on the case. Let’s add some muscles to your setup.
Best Cloud Storage Services (UK 🇬🇧) in 2023
Alright, let’s get to it. Below, we’ve reviewed 8 of the best storage solutions in today's market. We’ve covered all the most noteworthy bases:
- The safest storage solutions
- The best free solutions
- The best to broaden your options
Without further ado, here are some of the best cloud storage services to explore.
|Cloud Storage||Free Plan Storage||Maximum Storage (Premium)||RATING|
|1. Sync.com||5 GB||10 TB per User||★★★★★|
|2. pCloud||10 GB||2 TB||★★★★★|
|3. IDrive||5 GB||12.5 TB per User||★★★★★|
|4. IceDrive||10 GB||5 TB||★★★★★|
|5. Google Drive||15 GB||2 TB||★★★★★|
|6. Dropbox||2 GB||5 TB||★★★★★|
|7. OneDrive||5 GB||1 TB||★★★★★|
|8. Mega||50 GB||8 TB||★★★★★|
|9. Amazon Drive||5 GB||30 TB||★★★★★|
1. Sync.com: All-Around Best Cloud Storage
If you’re seeking out top-quality cloud storage with top-notch security — try Sync.com.
If you are looking for super-secure cloud storage services, Sync.com is a perfect choice. This platform has been compared to fan favourite Dropbox, but with the bonus of built-in GDPR compliance, making them the best cloud storage services for UK-based individual businesses looking to store, sync or share their files in the cloud!
Sync.com is feature-packed and checks all the right boxes regarding business cloud storage features, collaboration, pricing, speed, ease of use, and enterprise-grade security. These features make Sync a perfect contender for best cloud storage services.
Secure and GDPR Compliant
UK-based businesses can use Sync to share and collaborate securely with anyone, anywhere in the world, and always maintain GDPR compliance. The cloud storage service also offers enhanced link-sharing privacy, which allows users to send encrypted end-to-end links. If you send somebody a link that needs to remain private, this is how to do it.
You can even set passwords for the link upon opening. If you want to delete the link, you can do it from the Syn.com web interface.
Great Storage Options
This is a platform that offers flexibility and convenience to customers with a range of plans and options to choose from. For example, Sync Pro plans offer storage options ranging from 1TB to Unlimited GB, and top-tier plans include features like custom branding and phone support.
Another great feature is zero-knowledge syncing, and this is important for security. Encryption is done client-side, meaning that it will be encrypted and unreadable as soon as you upload to the cloud.
Sync.com will never know the contents of that file, image or video. This is similar to pCloud in some ways, which is an excellent option for top-level privacy.
This feature allows users to copy files to your Sync.com cloud without them existing on any actual hard drive space, ensuring a secure storage option that means that your files are not accessible from computers other than those that have been pre-authorised; no need to worry about accidentally syncing files to a personal computer or sharing them with the whole team.
This offers the extra peace of mind and security you need and expect from a quality cloud storage service.
Live Sync Folders
Sync.com also has a live syncing folder, so you don't have to mess around with manual uploads. Anything you drop into this folder will automatically be uploaded to your storage space across all your devices. There is no limit on file size uploads, so you can use the cloud until your heart's content (or storage runs out).
Onto the pricing. Sync.com stand toe to toe with pCloud for product value. They offer a decent 5GB of free storage and then two further options to pick from and business options.
For the personal accounts, you can choose from a free option, which offers you 5GB of secure storage and access to essential sharing. The next plan up, known as Solo Bacic, is $8 per month, and this offers 2TB of secure storage and access to more Advanced sharing. The top plan in the personal range, Solo Professional, costs $20 per month and offers access to 6TB of storage, Advanced storage and access to custom branding.
When it comes to Business users, there are once again three accounts to choose from — Teams Standard starts at $6 per month and offers 1Tb of secure storage and an Administrator account.
The next tier, Teams Unlimited, offers two payment options — you will be charged $15 per user per month if you pay annually and $18 per user per month if you pay monthly With this tier, users get access to unlimited storage, custom branding and phone support, as well as an Administrator account. The top tier is the Enterprise account, designed for businesses with over 100 employees, allowing you to access a large-scale cloud storage service to keep data secure.
Sync.com is not the faster cloud storage service on the market, but they’re not the slowest either. It seems that the unlimited bandwidth offered to users and the high level of encryption can slow down the server.
In practice, however, this is not a big issue. For users in the UK, speeds are more than enough, even though the servers are located in Canada.
2. pCloud: Best Value Cloud Storage
Inexpensive cloud storage services with modest pricing. 🙏
pCloud has been around since 2013 and already racked up some serious experience, landing big clients along the way. pCloud is popular because of its ease of use, high level of security and value for money. Luckily for people based in the UK, they have opened their services to Europe after only operating in the US for quite some time.
Learn more about some vital cloud computing statistics.
pCloud has fewer unique features than the other giants do. However, it's more than enough for hundreds of thousands of people. Take a peek.
An area to store files for total encryption. Even pCloud server staff will not be able to see these files in any form. It’s a no-knowledge encryption service from the user’s side.
This is an option to consider if you’re looking for high-level encryption and safety on your documents.
However, be warned. If you lose your password, then there is nothing that the pCloud customer service can do to help you. That’s when you know it’s safe! And if you want even more security, glance at our guide on how secure the cloud is for a step-by-step review.
With such a wide range of music streaming services available, only a few people put too much weight towards audio file storage.
Most cloud-based storage companies need to pay more attention to the need for media compatibility, but no pCloud. Their excellent interface lets users preview their photos and play videos.
Back-Up from Other Services (Social Media)
Like your data to be spread across multiple sources? Bit of a nightmare to manage... pCloud offer an easy solution by letting you use them as a backup service.
You can back up your Google Drive, Dropbox etc. all directly to your pCloud interface. Not only that but social media sites like Facebook and Instagram too. A handy little feature to save you bags of time doing it all manually.
The pricing with pCloud is relatively straightforward. You’ve got two options, Premium or Premium plus — no real big decisions to make here. pCloud is not free cloud storage provider — so you'll not be able to access their desktop and mobile apps without opening your wallet, first.
One of the options is 500GB, and the other is 2TB. Just consider what your requirements are, such as the number of devices you wish to include, and then choose accordingly.
As far as value goes, pCloud stands up pretty well. They are competing against some tech giants in this space, so it makes sense for them to be affordable compared to their rivals.
If you want to make savings and aren’t the type to have commitment issues, you can opt for the lifetime plan.
If that sounds like you, you’re looking at £160 for the 500GB package and £320 for the 2TB. Not bad.
pCloud has its servers in the U.S., but users worldwide usually report very high upload speeds for file sharing and mobile apps, so there should be no issues in this department.
Security / HIPAA-Compliant?
Another feature called Crypto lets you store and encrypt files at the user end. This means that the pCloud team will have no access to the files. In theory, they shouldn’t even know they exist.
pCloud is no different from any other cloud storage service about HIPAA. They are compliant, but only if the users comply too.
3. IDrive: Cheapest Cloud Storage
Best cloud storage services for affordability and service quality. 😐
IDrive is a very highly rated online cloud storage solution. It does everything you would want from a cloud storage provider.
It’s priced relatively cheap when compared with the others. And fast, with decent security and some pretty exciting features that we will look into below:
Backup Unlimited Devices
One of the main selling points is the backup of unlimited devices to a single account. If you have a lot of different devices, back up all of your files directly to iDrive.
You can even back up your external hard drives.
An excellent feature for those who need to upload lots of information quickly. It can be a big hassle to upload things manually. If you have 1TB+ of data to upload, it can take a long time. Slowing down your PC, consuming your data and your whole load bandwidth.
IDrive solves this issue. When you opt for this feature, you will receive a physical storage device in the post. Simply transfer to the device and send it back in the prepaid package.
The IDrive team will transfer all your data, saving you your valuable bandwidth.
Online File Sync
A handy little feature that works very well when using multiple devices. It allows users to have a particular folder. You’ll see these on your devices. The content will automatically be uploaded to your IDrive account.
Ever accidentally deleted something you needed? Yeah, us too. It’s a sinking feeling when you realise it's gone forever. With iDrive, when you delete something from your device, it won’t be genuinely deleted until it is removed from the cloud, giving you a second chance to salvage those files.
Looking at IDrive’s basic plan, we can see that they offer 5GB of free storage. This reasonably generous offer of free storage will see you through if you don’t have an extensive library of photos and videos to store.
If you need more storage or plan to start an online business, then the Personal and Business plans will be your preferred options.
The Personal options are 2TB (£39.75) or 5TB (£56.90). Business rates work out slightly more complicated as they are based on a per-user quota, so you'll need to consider the number of devices you'll be using desktop and mobile apps with. These also start at (£56.90).
This is one of the areas where IDrive falls slightly compared to the rest. Initial backup times can take quite some time, with many users reporting slow upload speeds.
The servers are based in the USA, so the further away you are, the slower it will be. For UK users, you can expect moderate speeds most of the time.
If this is an issue, don’t forget the IDrive Express™ option to increase bandwidth and upload times for file sharing.
Security / HIPAA-Compliant?
Interestingly, there is no two-factor authentication on IDrive, which seems unusual. We’d feel more comfortable if they had it. Two-factor authentications are a simple feature that drastically prevents the likelihood of users' accounts becoming compromised.
On top of that, when you create your account, you can make a very weak password, which is every hacker’s dream. Although, at the end of the day, this is down to the user who creates the account, not IDrive.
As far as HIPAA goes, IDrive makes an obvious statement on its website, saying that they do everything it can to help its users remain HIPAA-compliant. You can read more about it here.
4. IceDrive: Affordable with Great Security
Best cloud storage services for generous service quality. ✌️
The new kid on the block, IceDrive doesn’t necessarily have the pedigree or history of older services, and that does show a little in its lack of features.
Nonetheless, it’s an excellent service with competitive pricing, as they are young and hungry. The best thing? They have a 10GB free account you can try out before you take the plunge to buy.
The user interface of IceDrive is a bit like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you actually have a ton of great productivity features, such as file previous, even in encrypted folders, which can help with pipelining.
On the other hand, there isn’t much of a sharing or collaborative system, so it's great if you’re working on your own, but can require a bit of a workaround if you’re working with a team.
Besides that, it has some great features, like file versioning, which goes quite far back and allows you to fix any foundational mistakes.
That being said, there are rumblings that the file versioning might be restricted to a shorter period, 10-30 days. Don’t let that put you off, though, because until then, you get basically unlimited versioning (and even at 10-30 days, it's not too bad)
We need to commend IceDrive on the fact that their UI is an absolute peach to use.
For starters, things like encrypted folders have their tabs, so you won’t have to worry about figuring out your file structure.
Another great thing is that everything is laid out intuitively, similar to File Explorer on Windows, so you should have an easy time getting around. Likewise, the web app looks the same as the desktop app, so familiarity means you won’t have to figure out two different interfaces.
Pricing is surprisingly good, starting at £20/year for 150GB of storage and 250GB of bandwidth and going up to £180/year for 5TB of storage and 8TB of bandwidth. Now we generally prefer having unlimited bandwidth plans, but the plans are actually quite generous, so we’ll give it a pass.
There is a free 10GB account you can get, although it doesn’t have client-side encryption, so just be aware of that.
5. Google Drive: Great Free Alternative
Big G should always be included in the best cloud storage options! ⛰️
You probably won’t be surprised to see Google on our list. The internet tech behemoth is a massive player in the cloud storage industry, with around 1 billion users.
You read that right, 1 billion. Launched in 2012, it has gone from strength to strength and now offers a plethora of hard-to-pass-by, unique features and services.
It’s a fantastic option for people looking super easy-to-use platform that makes it simple to collaborate with others. Sharing your files and having co-editors on documents is as uncomplicated and straightforward as can be. Let’s look deeper into the features on offer and some other essential things to consider.
This is where Google Drive shines and is arguably its best-selling point. We’re looking at a long list.
If you want an excellent cloud storage solution, Google will probably be your best bet. Especially if you are already using Google services or are an android user.
Set up an account for your personal cloud storage and simply log in to Google Drive using your existing Google account. Enter your details, and you’re already up and running. Simple stuff.
Google Office Suite
The ace up their sleeve. They offer a superb web-based office suite: view, edit, create and share documents. It’s a great platform for collaboration and real-time co-editing. Google Workspace offers seamless integration with other tools, too. Allowing you to use their storage space for other things.
Store ANY File
Upload any file type to their secure system. As for Google’s office suite, you’ll find Microsoft Office’s standard options, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
View on Multiple Devices
Enjoy the features of Google Drive from your web browser, desktop application, mobile phone application, and tablet devices. Very easily accessible.
Simply generate a unique link for your document, then send it to the person you’re sharing with. Choose public or private access. There are social sharing options too.
Those you share with can edit these documents, as well as add comments and annotations. This all depends on the level of access that you give to them.
Chances are you’ve used Google Drive or Google Workspace before. That’s because so many already do, due to its low, low entry costs-Zilch. GD offers one of the best free cloud storage options known to men — up to 15GB per user, which is pretty impressive when it comes to cloud storage deals. This will be enough for the vast majority of users.
If you know you will use more data than that, then you can choose from 6 more options, each with varying price levels.
You can buy as little as 100 GB (£1.59/month) up to 30TB (£239.99/month). Savings are offered on annual payments. You cannot access unlimited storage with Google Drive, you can only purchase a set amount — like most cloud storage services.
Google is really fast when you upload files. Being the internet giant that it is, there are servers all over the world. Also, connectivity and speed are never an issue.
Security / HIPAA-Compliant?
As you would expect, Google does an excellent job of security. However, it certainly doesn’t tick all the boxes.
All the data is encrypted, protected, and in line with GDPR, but it could do more in this department.
Your data is encrypted at AES128-bit, which is not the strongest on our list. But, Google Drive is HIPAA-compliant.
Note: There are some extra steps that you must take to be fully HIPAA-compliant. More information.
6. Dropbox: THE Premium Cloud Storage
Best cloud storage provider for features — but a little pricey! 💸
One of the most recognisable cloud storage solutions in the industry, Dropbox has been around for over 12+ years and is one of the original pioneers. They have some great features for you to choose from and offer unlimited cloud storage options.
If you’re looking for one of the best on the market right now, you should consider this one seriously.
While it’s not the cheapest provider for file sharing in the market, they still offer excellent service and are competitive with its rivals.
As it was with Google Drive, Dropbox also has a plethora of interesting features to offer; behold:
Integration with Office Online
Most cloud storage providers usually integrate with an office suite. In this case: Microsoft Office Online. View, edit, share and create documents online.
A simple yet useful application that allows users to collaborate via notes and media files — great for quick movers and creatives.
Much more storage than personal options allow. Get unlimited cloud storage, though you must pay per user — a 30-day free trial option is available for this.
This handy little feature saves space on your hard drive by syncing your Dropbox folder to the cloud. You need an internet connection to access it.
Set up a smart-looking page to “showcase” your projects and work with others. It’s a simple app and looks great. Quickly generate professional-standard documents.
Dropbox doesn’t offer the most attractive pricing plans. They are pretty pricey compared to others and only provide a meagre 2GB of storage for the free plan. Not a great deal when you compare that with Google’s 15GB.
Showcase and smart sync will only work with a professional account (or better). This starts at £19.99 per month.
Note: You can earn more storage space for free by referring your friends (500 MB per new user).
Overall, reports for Dropbox’s speed when you share files are excellent. Their servers are based in the United States, but that doesn’t hinder the download speeds over in the UK.
If you’re looking for the best cloud storage UK with high speeds, Dropbox has you covered.
Security / HIPAA-Compliant?
They were the subject of an attack back in 2012 which left them red-faced, and have since struggled to regain trust with some users. The breach saw the cloud backup services lose almost 70 million of their user’s passwords. Ever since, they’ve been great, running a much tighter ship.
They run encryption at 256-bit AES which is better than Google Drive. Dropbox also covers HIPAA compliance.
7. OneDrive: Best App Integration
Best cloud storage services for speed — but too expensive?💷
Each list would be complete including Microsoft's very own version of cloud storage. This one was a slow burner for them. It’s taken a while for Microsoft to secure a foothold in this space and cement itself as one of the big players in cloud storage.
They are now pulling out all the stops to compete with the rest and offering bundles with their storage plans that include all sorts of advanced features, including Office 365.
Windows users will find some excellent integration features that will make their life much easier. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
They’re offering a brand-new feature on all of the OneDrive plans. It acts as an extra layer of zero-knowledge encryption security for your stored files — a protected area with added encryption for your cloud backup.
It requires 2FA (two-factor authentication) every time you access files, which can be done by email, app or text.
The vault will automatically be locked after a certain period of inactivity; the user can define this.
The only drawback is their cap on the number of files you can store in the Personal Vault.
Basic Users can only store a meagre three files in there! That’s not much, so you better make them count!
Syncing Files Across All Devices
As we mentioned with a few of the other competitors, you can easily sync your files across all of your devices, even those that aren’t running on Windows.
For example, if you take a picture on your iPhone, you can set it up so it automatically uploads to your OneDrive account and can view it online immediately. Pretty handy.
As you would expect, OneDrive integrates seamlessly with Office 365. It’s a great upsell tactic from Microsoft, and they hit the nail on the head with this one.
Office Online is free, regardless of your plan, so you can create, edit and collaborate on your office documents there and then save them to your cloud storage.
Productivity and Collaboration with Key Apps
One area that OneDrive excels. If you use Microsoft's leading applications, and the chances are you do, you’ll benefit from easy-to-access, built-in integration.
Some Microsoft products that sync well include Office Online, Outlook, Skype, and Office 365 applications. This benefits Mac users as well as Windows.
We are presented with four options when we arrive at the OneDrive page. Two are bundled with Office 365; the others are just storage options.
If you want more than 100GB of storage, then I’m afraid you'll have to take the Office 365 bundle, whether you like it or not!
You can get 5GB with the Basic account if you want a free account. Simply register with Microsoft if you don’t already have an account, and away you go.
Note: If you have ever had a Hotmail, Live or Outlook account, you already have your Microsoft account.
So let’s look at the prices. The cheapest paid option gets you 100GB for £1.99 per month with no option of an annual discount. The two bundled options offer 1TB and 6TB total storage. However, the 6TB is simply 6x1TB per user in the Office 365 Home Plan.
The Office 365 Personal option (1TB) will set you back £5.99 per month or £59.99 if you opt for annual billing.
This isn’t the best value for money on our list, but it's still not a million miles away from the others.
The question: are you willing to pay a premium for some nice Windows 10 integration or not? You can always give the free option a go and see how that stacks up to the rest.
As you can imagine, Microsoft has servers just about everywhere. In the EU, they have Data centres in Austria, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands. Great news for people living in the UK!
Users generally report fast speeds with OneDrive and uploading and downloading. They have block-level sync for Office files only.
Security / HIPAA-Compliant?
OneDrive has a pretty shaky history with security, which is why some people suspect the personal vault in addition to being compensated for their past slip-ups.
They used to be seriously lacking in the encryption department, but the ship has now been steadied.
8. Mega: Most Secure Cloud Storage
Best cloud storage services for security! 🛡️
Mega has been around since 2013 and is another company trying to outcompete the oligopoly of tech giants in this space. To be fair, they are doing a great job. Mega is quickly coming into contention for one of the best cloud storage providers.
They advertise themselves as “the privacy company”, so you can see their priorities.
Their claim is that all the data is entirely encrypted before it even reaches their servers, which is peace of mind for those of you looking for high levels of security.
They take your privacy seriously, but that's not all. They offer a generous free programme of 50GB, which is pretty insane compared to the rest.
However, don’t celebrate just yet. The 35GB of the 50GB expires after half a year, after which you’ll have no option but to upgrade. Pretty clever pricing tactics if you ask me!
Mega offers some of the best unique features on this list, security-wise:
Software for All Your Devices
Software is available for almost every type of device. Mega even has a desktop application that works with Linux.
Public Source Code
They are so confident in their syncing privacy and security that they have released their source code. This means that experts can look over this and scrutinise any weaknesses and offer any feedback.
It’s good to see the high level of transparency here and only adds to their credibility. View the source code here for yourself if you’re into that kind of thing.
The web interface is designed particularly well and is very easy to use. You’ll find a user-friendly and intuitive setup.
Use Chrome or Firefox? Just download their extensions and enjoy even quicker storage access.
A nice little option that enables users to communicate with others using a totally encrypted platform. Text messages, voice and video calls are all included.
Other than the very generous yet slightly misleading free offer, MEGA has some good options for you to choose from.
The Personal account option starts at £4.23 per month, up to £26 per month for the 8TB option.
Conversely, the Business Account option is fixed at £8.48 per user monthly.
It’s slightly more expensive than options such as pCloud, but it makes up for it with its added level of security.
Even though the servers are located in Europe, MEGA speeds aren't quite up to scratch with the other services.
This could be due to the lack of a block-level sync feature. You may have to look elsewhere if you’re looking for the best speeds. One important thing to note regarding the free plans is the bandwidth cap MEGA enforces for no-paying accounts. The cap is dynamic, meaning it is different for everyone based on their server's monthly load.
They monitor how much you download and upload and will completely halt your service when you reach that quota. This shouldn't be an issue for most of you, though.
Security / HIPAA-Compliant?
This is one of the most secure cloud storage companies out there. It’s their main selling point.
The zero-knowledge, client-side encryption is just what you need if you’re looking for security.
They follow all GDPR rules, and They are HIPAA-compliant too.
9. Amazon Drive: Best Cloud Storage for Beginners
Ideal cloud storage service for Amazon Users 🛒
To say Amazon Drive has mixed reviews is an understatement.
I think the problem could be attributed to people having lofty expectations when a tech colossus such as Amazon enters the fray. One of the chief complaints Amazon Drive receives is its lack of features and somewhat lack of security features.
However, if you are already an Amazon customer, it is super easy to set up your account, and you can bag a free 5GB in minutes. It’s far from the most sophisticated cloud storage providers on the market, but hey, it’s Amazon, so we better take a look!
Like a few others on this list, Amazon has joined the crowd and added live syncing folders. Anything you add to the folder will automatically be added to your cloud storage without you having to do any manual uploading.
If you already have an Amazon account, which I’m sure 99% of people reading this most likely do, then you just log in to your account, and away you go.
No need to set anything up or enter any more details. Note: You may want to strengthen your password and add 2FA to your Amazon account if you will be using the storage features
Block-Level File Copying
Great way to save on your bandwidth/increase speeds. When you alter a new file, it simply replaces the part that has been edited and no more, skipping unnecessary work.
Simple but effective.
Prime Members Get Unlimited Photo Storage
If you are already an Amazon Prime member, you can enjoy unlimited full-resolution photo storage the whole time you remain a member.
Prime is a great deal, with video streaming, music streaming and free next-day delivery on Amazon purchases. All that for £7.99 per month. If you are just storing photos, then that’s an excellent option for getting a whole bunch of services in one payment.
You’ll also be able to use the 5GB of free storage for any other files you need too, such as videos and documents.
Looking at that list, I think it’s safe to say that Amazon has the most storage options for you.
That’s 13 options, 14 if you include the free option. Wait… 15 if you have the Prime membership offer.
The free option is 5GB of storage for you to use how you see fit. If you’re looking for more storage, take your pick from any of the options listed above.
You can choose from as little as 100GB to 30TB. It’s not the cheapest cloud storage option out there.
Apparently, it’s cheaper for American citizens, so you have to pay a bitter-tasting premium for people over in the UK. For example, the 2TB plan is $120 for US customers or £160 for UK customers.
Nice one. The free option is still good, especially if you’re already on Prime.
The speed with Amazon is great, as you would expect from a company of this size. Block-level copying helps, too. If you find that the uploads are affecting your computer's performance, you can manually slow down the speeds or even turn off the automated syncing.
Security / HIPAA-Compliant?
There is room for improvement; they have pretty weak encryption and don’t seem too concerned with helping customers protect their own accounts.
There needs to be more encryption, especially on the client side. Tread with caution if security is your priority; there are better options.
They have a full page dedicated to HIPAA that you can read here. They align their policies with HIPAA, which makes them compliant. You will need to take some steps to ensure you are doing your part, though.
What is the Cloud?
Let’s explore some information about the cloud — if you’re still unclear on what exactly the elusive ‘Cloud’ really is.
How Does the “Cloud” Work?
Good question! The “Cloud” is one of those buzzwords that is often misused and subsequently develops a certain ambiguity.
You're not alone if you haven’t gotten this far without knowing what the cloud is. Let me try to break it down for you.
You are uploading to the cloud whenever you upload something online, whether to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, emailing your friends or anything of that sort. When you use Apple devices, your operating system will store your data in the cloud and upload files to a secure location to provide unlimited storage on your phone.
Where is the Data Stored?
However, whatever you upload doesn’t just end up floating around the ether like some people would have you believe. They are stored in massive data centres full of rows and rows of giant storage computers.
These hold vast amounts of information from users all over the world. They are processed, organised and stored here and can be retrieved by people with the appropriate access. Or that’s the idea, at least. The best way to think of the cloud is to picture it as a giant global network of servers that act together as one super ecosystem.
Instead of accessing the files from your computer, you’re viewing them from this massive ecosystem of data centres. The internet simply wouldn’t function without it. There is absolutely no way that any computer would have sufficient power or space to hold such vast quantities of data.
At least not in this century… Yeah, it’s kind of like a big SkyNet thing, despite what I promised in the intro. But don't worry; every cloud has a silver lining (sorry).
Are There Different Types of Clouds?
Yes, there are. We have the public cloud, which is open to anybody with a device connected to the internet. Second is the private cloud, which is what you would imagine it is, a closed, private network. Only people who have access can get to the data within the cloud. Lastly, we have the hybrid, a mixture of public and private.
For our cloud storage providers, we are, of course, dealing with a private cloud. Our data is confined only within that network. It should only be accessed by the user or the provider. This depends on the level of encryption that the provider offers.
Why Use Cloud Storage?
The biggest and best advantage of the cloud is that you can access your files online anywhere. You can access your files as long as you can get internet access and remember your login details.
Back then, we would all carry these things called Floppy Disks. The storage size was tiny. They were very oddly shaped and looked pretty weird. Although, they’re pretty cool now, looking back in hindsight.
Okay, dodgy technology nostalgia aside, this was a significant inconvenience and a somewhat troubling bottleneck for people and companies who wanted to access their data easily.
The cloud solves this issue. You don’t need to hold the data locally on your own device physically. These data centres keep hold of everything for you, just waiting for you to access them.
You can edit a document in your office using Google Docs and continue working when you get home without moving anything physically. On top of that, you can collaborate with people all around the world simultaneously and in real-time. Pretty cool.
The only downsides to cloud storage are that you need an internet connection, which is only sometimes possible. The second and often most concerning notion is that your data is all held on to by somebody else. If information is living online somewhere, just how safe is it?
Is Cloud Storage Safe?
The answer to this is entirely subjective. You can take great strides towards improving secure file sharing and offering advanced security features for your online storage, but at the end of the day, it is online and out there. No matter how encrypted it is.
If you really want to be totally safe, you would need to have your files saved on cold storage, a device that isn’t connected to the internet. Security is one of the key features you should look for in any cloud storage service.
No internet, no attackers.
Of course, that’s pretty pointless as we lose all of our functionality, as I mentioned previously. So what can we do about it?
Pay close attention to the encryption levels of your cloud storage provider. Some are more robust than others.
If privacy is your main concern, then forget about the features and opt for a provider with end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge syncing. The provider will never have access to your files and won't be able to view them or even hand them over to anybody asking, even the government. pCloud and Sync.com offer this service.
Dangers of Cloud Storage
Have we hit a snag already? Clouds store stuff, sure. They spill more, too, mostly on Scottish folk. Why, just think of all the past news scandals concerning leaks. Gov docs, bank-customer docs, celeb nude docs.
Don’t let the name “cloud” scare you off. It’s just that: a name and can be a beneficial storage solution. Scroll to the supporting section to read what it says on the tin. There, we discuss security pros/cons compared to other methods. But first, a few definitions.
What is a Cloud Leak Exactly?
A cloud leak is sensitive data leaving a cloud system in an unapproved way — perhaps going to someone without permission. The healthcare industry’s been badly hit by breaches. Goes without saying: patient data should be confidential.
Healthcare companies find themselves in seriously hot water for breaching privacy laws. Proper expected due diligence includes the pick of a service provider.
For this reason, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was implemented. It sets industry-standard legislations healthcare companies must adhere to.
What is HIPAA Compliance, and Why Is It Important?
First rule: always opt for a well-known, reputable cloud storage provider to ensure HIPAA compliance.
With leaks being such a hot topic, most have a detailed statement on HIPAA and how they are approaching compliance. However, some companies don’t. They have policies that conflict with the recommended best practice. Best to avoid those if you want to keep your data safe and locked away.
If this all sounds like too much to take on, fear not!
We have only included trusted and reliable providers. All are HIPAA-compliant. So if you pick any from this list, your data will be as safe as can be. Failing that, if you still don’t feel safe, you can permanently hide your documents under the old mattress. Gone are the days, surely not?
Cloud Storage: Buying Guide
Let’s consider some features when deciding upon a cloud storage provider.
Most users don’t need a massive amount of cloud storage space to store their data. Unless you are using it for a complete and total backup of all your files, images, and videos, many of the free storage options on this list will suffice.
If you're looking for a great all-around option with tons of free storage, go for Google Drive.
Google has hit the nail on the head with this one and has excellent features and functionality, especially with Google Docs. They offer a whopping 15GB free just for registering.
Some things to look out for with free offers include bandwidth restrictions that will slow down your speeds. Free periods also end and automatically begin charging you to reaccess your cloud.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so double-check to see if you’ll not be left red-faced later down the line.
As with anything in life, money talks. It’s essential to consider your value for money when choosing your provider.
Weigh up the pros and cons and decide which service suits you best. Hopefully, this article helps you make up your mind.
More important for some people than others. I guess it all depends on how sensitive the data you’re storing.
Each company will have their stance on security and privacy, and it will also be held accountable under different laws depending on the country in which they are situated.
Things to look out for are GDPR compliance, levels of encryption, zero-knowledge syncing and, of course, HIPAA compliance if you are in the healthcare profession.
Large Business Needs
Two of the best benefits of cloud storage are data accessibility and the enablement of scaling. The latter is a crucial game-changer for large businesses. The same could apply to high-quality VPS hosting, replacing regular options.
It removes the need for businesses to develop large on-site data centres that are costly to build and maintain. This eliminates enormous costs and saves a lot of wasted energy.
With the cloud, workers can access the exact data they need anytime.
Any product is only as good as its customer service. If something goes wrong, you better hope somebody will help you pick up the pieces and resolve the problem.
This can be an issue if you go with some of the smaller providers who have limited resources. They can’t all afford massive call centres and 24/7 live chat/email support. Luckily, the options on our list all do pretty well with customer service, so you don’t need to worry if you stick with one of them.
Best Cloud Storage (UK): FAQs
Customers often have specific questions and doubts when deciding on a cloud storage provider. We'll address the most common ones right away:
What is the Most Secure Cloud Service?
Also, the “Crypto Folder” feature from pCloud is as secure as possible, so go for that if you want absolute peace of mind.
If you want Fort Knox Esque cloud storage, then make sure you add 2FA, enter super-strong passwords consistently make sure your computer is free from viruses.
Is iCloud Better Than Google Drive?
Google Drive beats iCloud, hands down, and in almost every department. Even if you are an iPhone user, you can still benefit from having Google Drive instead of iCloud.
Right off the bat, you get 15GB of free storage compared to 5GB, which is a massive difference. You also get a huge amount of features with Google Docs that you don't have on iCloud, mainly Google’s Office suits.
There is a reason why iCloud has been omitted from this list, and Google Drive is there.
Is Dropbox Safer Than Google Drive?
Marginally, yes. Dropbox runs better encryption than Google Drive. 128-bit AES vs 256-bit AES. Your files will be less likely to be compromised with Dropbox than with Google Drive.
One notable difference is that Dropbox has five stars out of 5 on the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), whilst Google only has 4. Both are pretty good, but Dropbox just edges it.
Is it Safe to Store Passwords in the Cloud?
This is something slightly different to cloud-based storage. You can find providers that offer cloud-based password management online that provide end-end encryption.
They will remember your passwords and store them safely in an encrypted format on the cloud. You won't have to bother writing out your passwords each time; they will be autofilled after you have verified yourself to the cloud.
You can access them across all your devices, and it's a very safe way to store your passwords. It’s impossible to be the victim of keylogging if you aren’t typing any keys!
Cloud Storage: Technical Jargon 💤
In this industry, there can be a lot of jargon that could confuse any newcomers to the space.
Don’t worry; we have all been there. Below is a quick list of the most common terms and what they stand for:
- Data Centre — The virtual or physical location of the data that is maintained on a server. Usually in big buildings.
- 2FA — This stands for two-factor authentication. It’s an added level of security when logging into your account.
- Encryption — The act of encrypting data designed to be unreadable to anybody without the encryption key.
- Scalability — The ability for a company/person, to increase their workload without reducing quality or service.
- Cloud Computing — The transfer and delivery of information over a network, typically the internet.
- Linux — An open-source operating system. An alternative to Windows and Mac OSX. They’re all friends.
- UI — User Interface - This is the screen/view that the user sees.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) — These services you pay to use as you go, like cloud storage.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) — Hardware and software available online.
- Software as a Service (Saas) — This software is available over the internet. It is usually created and designed by a third party. Examples include things like Microsoft 365 and Google apps. That’s the last of them.
Okay, so there you have it, our comprehensive guide to the best cloud storage providers today. We hope that you find something to suit your needs from this list.
Though it can initially seem overwhelming with all the technical jargon thrown around, don’t worry.
Think about what problem you are trying to solve with your cloud storage provider, and then work from there.
If you are looking for the cheapest cloud storage, opt for Google Drive or pCloud.
Here are a few takeaways from this post:
What is the Best Free Cloud Storage?
Then Google Drive has your back with a whooping 15GB that you can take advantage of immediately.
What is the Most Secure Cloud Storage?
What is the Best Hosting Service for Website Setup?
If you're (naturally) using WP, get the best WordPress hosting for your site to avoid hitting a wall later on. Alright, tea’s all gone now. Time for coffee. Then we’ll look into calling the grandmother for a quick update on life and a bit of grub.
Thanks for reading!