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Fly with us through cloud storage solutions No, the other way...
This guide will get your head out of the clouds, past the fancy mumbo jumbo names, past marketing tricks used to confuse and sell.
And into your gran’s living room. “Clouds, gossiping-on about our personal information?” you hear her saying. “Just isn’t natural.”
Can’t argue that. Where did the good old days go—the days of ring-binders and cranky librarians with moon spectacles?
Ordinary people can no longer keep up with us computer boffins and our mad creations. Is our future made of cyborgs?
Cloud shmoud... It’s easy enough to understand properly. Can’t promise you’ll find this stuff suddenly cool, but you’ll be confidently storing pronto. Keep it simple. We’re on the case. Let’s add some muscles to your setup.
Best Cloud Storage (UK 🇬🇧) in 2021
Alright, let’s get to it. Below, we’ve reviewed 8 of the very best storage solutions you can find on the market today. We’ve covered all the most noteworthy bases:
- the safest storage solutions
- generously free solutions
- unlimited options
- click here for website builder solutions, to promote your chosen info online
Without further ado
1. pCloud: All-Around Best Cloud Storage
Inexpensive With Modest Pricing 🙏
For an alternative to some of the big-hitters out there—and to avoid leaving all your eggs in one tech giant’s basket—consider pCloud. This cloud storage service ranked number two in our Dropbox alternatives list as well!
It may not be the first name that springs to mind when you think of the best cloud storage providers available, but you may be pleasantly surprised!
These guys have been around since 2013 and have already racked up some serious experience on their CV, landing big clients along their 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 important cloud computing statistics.
pCloud doesn't have nearly as many unique features as the aforementioned 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.
If you’re looking for some high-level encryption and safety on your documents, then this is an option to consider.
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!
With such a wide range of music streaming services available these days, not many people put too much weight towards audio file storage.
Most cloud-based storage companies neglect the need for media compatibility, but no pCloud. They have a great interface that 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.
One of the options is 500GB, and the other is 2TB. Just consider what your requirements are 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 really want to make savings and you aren’t the type to have commitment issues, then you can opt for the lifetime plan.
If that sounds like you, then 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 around the world usually report very high upload speeds, so there should be no issues in this department.
Security / HIPAA compliant?
An additional feature called Crypto lets you store files and encrypt them at the user end. This means that the pCloud team will have no access to the files at all. In theory, they shouldn’t even know they exist.
pCloud is no different from the rest with regard to HIPAA. They are compliant but only if the users comply too.
2. Sync.com – Best Value Cloud Storage
A Young Company Taking Over the Market 🚀
Last, but most definitely not least, we have Sync.com. These guys have been knocking around since 2011 and have done a great job in a relatively short period of time.
They have managed to capture a sizable share of the market and had just over 750,000 active users at the end of 2018. They almost doubled in size that year.
Met with overwhelmingly good reviews, our list wouldn't be complete without giving the people over at Sync.com a look in. So let’s see what all the fuss is about, shall we?
This feature allows users to copy files to your Syn.com cloud without them existing on any actual hard drive space.
A truly cloud way to keep your secure files safe by not having them accessible on multiple computers. The files in the vault will not be synced across all of your devices, giving you that extra peace of mind.
Live sync folders
Sync.com also has a live syncing folder available, 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 of your devices. There is no limit of file size uploads either, so you can use the cloud until your heart's content (or your storage runs out).
This is a big one for security. Encryption is done client-side, meaning that as soon as you upload to the cloud, it will be encrypted. Unreadable.
Sync.com will never know the contents of that file, image or video. This is similar to pCloud in some ways, both of which are great options for top-level privacy.
Enhanced link sharing privacy
Cool little feat that enables users to send encrypted end to end links. If you are sending somebody a link that needs to remain private, then this is the way to do it.
You can even set passwords for the link upon opening. If at any time you want to delete the link, you can do it from the Syn.com web interface.
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 $60 (£45) for 200GB or $96 (£73) for 2TB. These are both annual payments and no monthly options are available.
There are monthly options available for Business users that start at $10 (£7.60) per month. This comes with 3TB but has a few fewer features than the personal version. Still great for your basic storage needs. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee too, so if you don't like it, you can jump ship.
Not the fastest, but not the slowest either. It seems that the unlimited bandwidth offered to users and the high level of encryption can slow down the server.
But that’s not really a big issue. For users in the UK, speeds are more than enough, even though the servers are located in Canada.
Security / HIPAA compliant?
As you can probably tell, Sync.com really put a big emphasis on security and privacy. It doesn't come with a whole host of fancy features that you probably won't use.
Instead, they offer a streamlined, no thrills cloud storage that will keep away any prying eyes. No knowledge encryption is a great way to gain users trust, and you can further secure your own account by using 2FA if you wish.
They passed the GDPR compliance checklist, and a have a bunch of other compliances under their belt which just goes to show that they are confident in their security and privacy policies.
As far as HIPAA goes, they align their policies the same way the other providers do, but to be fully compliant, it requires some user responsibility. Click here to read more about HIPPA compliance on their website.
3. IDrive: Cheapest Cloud Storage
Extremely Cheap With Decent Service Quality 😐
IDrive is a very highly rated online cloud storage solution. It does pretty much everything you would want a cloud storage provider.
It’s priced relatively cheap when compared with the others. And fast, with decent security and some pretty interesting features that we will take a look into below.
Backup unlimited devices
One of the main selling points: backup unlimited devices to a single account. If you have a lot of different devices, backup all of your files directly to iDrive.
You can even back up your external hard drives.
An excellent feature for those who to 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.
All your data will be transferred by the IDrive team, saving you on your valuable bandwidth.
Online File Sync
Handy little feature that works very well when using multiple devices. It allows users to have a special folder. You’ll see these on your devices. The content will automatically be uploaded to your IDrive account.
Ever accidentally deleted something you really 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 truly 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 is a fairly generous offer and will see you through if you don’t have a large 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 either 2TB (£39.75) or 5TB (£56.90). Business rates work out slightly more complicated as they are based on a per-user quota. These also start at (£56.90).
This is one of the areas that IDrive falls down 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 the majority of the time.
If this is an issue for you, don’t forget the IDrive Express™ option that will increase bandwidth and upload times.
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 I'm sure is every hacker’s dream. Although, at the end of the day, this is down to the user who creates the account and not IDrive.
As far as HIPAA goes, IDrive makes a very clear statement on their website, saying that they do everything they can to help their users remain HIPAA compliant. You can read more about it here.
4. IceDrive: Affordable With Great Security
Very 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 a great service with competitive pricing, both of which are driven by the fact that 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 really help with pipelining.
On the other hand, there isn’t really much of a sharing or collaborative system and so its great if you’re working on your own, but can require a bit of a workaround if you’re working with a team.
Other than that, it does have some great features like file versioning, which goes quite far back and allows you to fix any foundational mistakes you might make.
That being said, there are rumblings that the file versioning might be restricted to a shorter period, maybe 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 its not too bad)
One thing we really need to commend IceDrive on is the fact that their UI is an absolute peach to use.
For starters, things like encrypted folders have their own tabs, so you won’t have to mess about trying to figure out your own file structure.
Another great thing is that everything is laid out in a very intuitive way, 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 the familiarity there 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 all the way up to $180/year for 5TB of storage and 8TB of bandwidth. Now personally, we generally prefer having unlimited bandwidth plans, but the plans are actually quite generous, so we’ll give it a pass.
There is of course the free 10GB account you can get too, although it doesn’t have client-side encryption, so just be aware of that.
5. Google Drive: Great Free Alternative
Big G Is Always a Great Option ⛰️
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 back in 2012, it has gone from strength to strength, and now offers a plethora of hard-to-pass-by, amazing features and services.
It’s a fantastic option for people who are looking super easy to use a 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 a little deeper into the features on offer, as well as some other important 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 all in one solution, Google will probably be your best bet. Especially if you are already using Google services or are an android user.
Set up a personal account and simply log in to Google Drive using your existing Google account. Enter in 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 or collaboration and real-time co-editing.
Store ANY file
Upload any file type to their secure system. As far the Google’s office suite goes, 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 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 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 amazing. This will be enough for the vast majority of users.
If you know you’re going to use more data than that, then you can choose from 6 more options, each with varying price levels.
You can buy as little as 100gb (£1.59/month) all the way up to 30TB (£239.99/month). Savings are offered on annual payments.
Google is fast, really fast. 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 a good job of security. However, it certainly doesn’t tick all the boxes.
All the data is encrypted and protected and is in line with GDPR, but it could definitely do more in this department.
Your data is encrypted at AES128-bit, which is not the strongest in our list. Google Drive is HIPPA complaint though, as it does not violate any of the HIPAA rules.
Note: There are some extra steps that you must take in order to be fully HIPAA compliant. More information.
6. Dropbox: THE Premium Cloud Storage
Expensive… But Worth It 💸
One of the most recognisable names 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 give this one serious consideration.
While it’s not the cheapest provider the market, they still offer great a service and are competitive with their rivals.
As it was with GoogleDrive, Dropbox also has a plethora of intersting features to offer; behold:
Integration with Office Online
With most cloud storage providers, they 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 with one another 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—there is a 30-day free trial option available for this.
This handy little feature allows you to save some space on your hard drive by syncing your Dropbox folder to the cloud. You need 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 offer 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 (500mb per new user).
Overall reports for Dropbox’s speed are excellent. They have their servers 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 some high speeds, Dropbox has got 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 them 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 compliances.
7. OneDrive: Best App Integration
Great Speed & Features… But Perhaps Overpriced? 💷
No list would be complete without including Microsoft's very own version of cloud storage. This one was definitely a slow burner for them. It’s taken a while for Microsoft to secure a foothold in this space and cement themselves as one of the big players in cloud storage.
They are now pulling out all the stops to compete with the rest and are offering bundles with their storage plans that include all sorts of features, including access to Office 365.
If you are a Windows 10 user, then you will find some nice integration features that will make your life much easier. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
A brand new feature that they’re offering on all of OneDrive plans. It basically acts as an extra layer of security for your stored files—a protected area with an added encryption.
It requires 2FA (two-factor authentication) every time you access it, which can be done by email, app or via text.
The vault will automatically be locked after a certain period of inactivity; this can be defined by the user.
The only drawback here is the cap they put 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 have it set up, so it automatically uploads to your OneDrive account, and you can view it online immediately. Pretty handy.
As you would expect, OneDrive integrates seamlessly with Office365. 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 what plan you are using, 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 really excels. If you use Microsoft's main applications, and the chances are you do, you’ll benefit from easy to access, built-in integration.
Some of the Microsoft products that sync well include Office Online, Outlook, Skype and the Office 365 applications. This benefits Mac users as well and Windows.
We are presented with four options when we arrive at the OneDrive page. Two are bundled with Office 365, while the others are just straight-up storage options.
If you want to have more than 100GB of storage, then I’m afraid you'll have to take the Office 365 bundle, whether you like it or not!
If you are looking for a free account, then you can get 5GB with the Basic 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, then 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.
Don’t be fooled!
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 addition to be compensation for their past slip-ups.
They used to be seriously lacking in the encryption department but it seems the ship has now been steadied.
8. Mega: Most Secure Cloud Storage
Ultimate Security Measures 🛡️
Mega has been around since 2013 and is another company that is 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 I think you can see where their priorities lie.
Their claim is that all of the data is entirely encrypted before it even reaches their servers, which is peace of mind for those of you that are 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 when you compare it 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 smart 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, anyway.
The 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.
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 pretty good options for you to choose from.
The Personal account option starts at £4.23 per month, all the way up to £26 per month for the 8TB option
On the other side, we have the Business Account option which 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 just aren't quite up to scratch with the other services.
This could be due to the lack of a block-level sync feature. If you’re looking for the best speeds, then you may have to look elsewhere. One important thing to note regarding the free plans is the bandwidth cap that MEGA enforce for no paying accounts. The cap is dynamic meaning it is different for everyone based on their server monthly load.
They monitor how much you are downloading and uploading 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. In fact, 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 for Amazon Users 🛒
To say Amazon Drive has mixed reviews would be somewhat of 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 that Amazon Drive receives is its lack of features and somewhat lacklustre security features.
However, if you are already an Amazon customer, then it is super easy to set up your account, and you can bag yourself a free 5GB in minutes. It’s far from the most sophisticated of cloud storage providers on the market, but hey, it’s Amazon, so we better take a look!
Similar to a few others on this list, Amazon has now 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, then you can enjoy unlimited full-resolution photo storage for the whole time that you remain a member.
Prime is a great deal all around, 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 that’s a great option for you to get 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.
Taking a look at that list, I think it’s safe to say that Amazon has by far the most storage options for you to choose from.
That’s 13 options right there, 14 if you include the free option. Wait.. 15 if you include 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, then take your pick from any of the options that are listed above.
You can choose from as little as 100GB to 30TB. It’s definitely not the cheapest cloud storage option out there.
Apparently, it’s cheaper for American citizens, so for people over in the UK, you have to pay a bitter-tasting premium. For example, the 2TB plan is $120 for US customers or £160 for UK customers.
Nice one. The free option is still good though, 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 definitely helps, too. If you find that the uploads are affecting your computer's performance, then you can slow down the speeds manually, or even turn off the automated syncing.
Security / HIPAA compliant?
There is room for improvement; they have pretty weak encryption and don’t seem to be too concerned with helping customers to protect their own accounts.
There is very little encryption, especially at the client-side. Tread with caution if security is your priority, there are better options to pick from.
They have a full page dedicated to HIPAA that you can read here. They align their policies with HIPAA, which makes them compliant. There are some steps you will need to take to ensure you are doing your part, though.
What Is the Cloud?
How Does the “Cloud” Work?
Good question! The “Cloud” is one of those buzzwords that is often misused and subsequently ends up developing a certain ambiguity.
I hope you haven't gotten this far without having any idea what the cloud actually is. If you did—or jumped ahead—then let me try and break it down for you.
Basically, whenever you upload something online, whether that's to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, emailing your friends or anything of that sort, you are uploading to the cloud.
Where Is the Data Stored?
However, whatever you uploaded doesn’t just end up floating around the ether like some people would have you believe. They are in fact stored in massive data centres that are full of rows and rows of giant storage computers.
These hold huge amounts of information from users all over the world. They are processed, organised and stored here and can be retrieved by people who have 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 own computer, you’re viewing them from this huge 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 kinda like a big SkyNet thing, I know, despite what I promised in the intro. But don't worry, every cloud has a silver lining (sorry).
Are There Different Types of Cloud?
Yes, there are. We have the public cloud, which is open to anybody who has a device that is 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, from anywhere in the world. As long as you can get internet access, and you remember your login details, you can access your files.
Back in the day, 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 major inconvenience and a rather 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 then carry on working when you get home without having to move 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 isn't always 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 security and protecting your data, but at the end of the day, it is online, and it is 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, which is a device that isn’t connected to the internet at all.
No internet, no attackers.
Of course, that’s pretty pointless as we lose all of our functionality that I just previously mentioned. 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 that has an end to end encryption and has 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 to do with 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 highly useful 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 serious hot water for breaching privacy laws. Proper expected due diligence includes the pick of 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 at the moment, 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 HIPPA 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 always hide your documents under the old mattress. Gone are the days, surely not?
Cloud Storage: Buying Guide
With that being said, let’s look into some features to consider when deciding upon a cloud storage provider.
For the vast majority of users, we don’t need a massive amount of cloud storage space to store our data.mUnless you are using it for a complete and total backup of all of your files, images, and videos, a lot of the free storage options on this list will suffice.
If you're looking for a great all-round option that has tons of free storage, then go for Google Drive.
Google has really hit the nail on the head with this one and has great 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. There’s also free periods that end and automatically begin charging you to access your cloud again.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so just have a double check to see you’re not going to be left red-faced later down the line.
As with anything in life, money talks. It’s important 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 goes some way to helping you make up your mind.
More important for some people than others. I guess it all depends on how sensitive the data is that you’re storing.
Each company will have their own stance on security and privacy, and they will also be held accountable under different laws depending on the country they are situated in.
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 is data accessibility and the enablement of scaling. The latter being crucial game-changer for large businesses. The same could apply for high-quality VPS hosting replacing regular options.
It removes the need for business to develop large on-site data centres that are costly to build and maintain. This eliminates huge costs and saves on a lot of wasted energy.
With the cloud, workers can access the exact data they need at any given time.
Any product is only as good as its customer service. If something goes wrong, then you better hope somebody is around to help you pick up the pieces and resolve the problem.
This can definitely 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
When deciding on a cloud storage provider, customers often have their specific questions and doubts. 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 it gets, so go for that if you want real peace of mind.
If you really want Fort Knox Esque cloud storage then make sure you add 2FA, enter in 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 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 at less risk of being compromised with Dropbox than 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 all of your passwords and store them safely on the cloud in an encrypted format. You won't have to bother writing out your passwords each time; they will be auto-filled after you have verified yourself to the cloud.
You can access them across all of your devices and its 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 an awful lot of jargon knocking about 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 are the services that you pay to use as you go, like cloud storage .
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) - Hardware and software available on the internet .
- Software as a Service (Saas) - This is software that is available to use 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 on the market today. We hope that you can find something to suit your needs from this list.
Though it can seem overwhelming at first with all the technical jargon being 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, then you may want to opt for Google Drive or pCloud.
Best Free Free Cloud Storage?
Then Google Drive has your back with a whooping 15GB that you can take advantage of right away.
Most Secure Cloud Storage?
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