Best Cloud Storage in 2021: Top 5 Most Secure Cloud Options

Storage unit inside of a cloud with a trophy on top of the door, presenting a best cloud storage of the year
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Best Cloud Storage in 2021: A Summary

Cloud storage is essential to keep your files secure and access them from anywhere. Popular providers like Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox serve their purpose well — but they’re not the most secure. These services often scan your files for marketing purposes.

To ensure your privacy, it’s wise to go for a secure cloud storage provider that uses zero-knowledge encryption and other security measures. Our top choices for the most secure and efficient cloud storage services are:

  1. MEGA — a secure service offering a generous 20 GB of free cloud storage
  2. iDrive — a feature-rich and affordable cloud service that’s especially good for storing photos.
  3. pCloud — a cloud storage service that offers lifetime plans that let you pay upfront rather than through an annual subscription
  4. Sync.com — the best cloud storage for businesses with adequate features and affordable pricing
  5. Backblaze — a cloud backup service that offers unlimited secure storage

You can get Backblaze free for one year when you sign up for ExpressVPN. This gives you robust all-around protection, from your online browsing to your file storage.

Read all the details about the best cloud storage services in our full article below.

As we become increasingly reliant on technology, the need for secure cloud data storage becomes more apparent.

You may already be familiar with popular and “free” online storage providers, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and more. However, using these options come with security risks, as your data can be scanned by cloud providers for marketing purposes.

In this article, we look at the best and most secure cloud storage options on the market, and then we detail why settling for “free” storage isn’t good enough. Keep reading to find out more.

Which is the Best Cloud Storage Service in 2021?

A cloud storage service offers you a secure virtual space to keep your files. It can be accessed via your browser, a computer program, or a smartphone app.

A cloud storage’s purpose is to keep your files safe while making sure you can access them from anywhere, using any device. Using a cloud storage service can free up space on your computer or phone because now you don’t need to store everything locally.

For a summary of the best secure cloud storage providers, see the table below.

CLOUD STORAGE SERVICEFREE STORAGEPERSONAL PLANSBUSINESS PLANS
MEGA20 GB$58.58/year for 400 GB
$117.18/year for 2 TB
$70.32 per user, 1 TB
iDrive5 GB$56.92/year for 5 TB$74.62 for 5 users, 1 TB each
pCloud10 GB$175.00 for 500 GB lifetime storage)
$350 for 2 TB lifetime storage)
$95.88 per user, 1 TB
Sync.com5 GB$96.00/year for 2 TB$60.00 per user, 1 TB
Backblaze10 GB$70.00 for unlimited backup$70.00 per computer, unlimited backup

1. MEGA: Best secure free cloud storage

mega_logo_200x200-min-138x138

  • Free cloud storage: 20 GB
  • Annual personal plans start at $58.58/ year for 400 GB, $117.18/year for 2TB
  • Annual business plans start at $70.32/year per user for 3 TB

MEGA is one of the best free cloud storage providers available. It offers you a generous 20 GB of free storage and uses zero-knowledge encryption so that nobody can get a hold of your data.

Moreover, all of its security features are available for free, so you only have to pay extra if you need more storage.

All your data is encrypted with a key derived from your password, meaning MEGA does not generate your encryption key and therefore doesn’t have access to it.

MEGA lets you set up a recovery key that you can use to regain access to your data in case you ever do lose your password. Furthermore, if your device is ever infected by ransomware, you can use MEGA’s file versioning and recovery features to revert your data to before the infection.

You can also create password-protected links when sharing files with others. Password-protected files can be downloaded without needing to sign up for a MEGA account. There are also some handy collaboration features that would be especially useful for businesses, such as private team messaging and secure video conferencing.

Screenshot of MEGA Cloud Storage Platform folders window on it's website

Although MEGA has a pretty generous free cloud storage plan, it has certain limits, such as a monthly file transfers quota. Also, the paid plans are pretty pricey when compared to some alternatives that are discussed below.

Another possible cause for concern is that a large portion of MEGA’s stock is owned by individuals under with connections to the Chinese government, which is notorious for its invasive privacy policies. This may make some users uneasy, but theoretically, it shouldn’t be a problem because of the end-to-end, zero-knowledge encryption at play. The security measures ensure that nobody can gain access to your sensitive information.

To sum up: MEGA offers user-controlled encryption and does not directly access your data. Compare that to Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive, where your files get scanned for information that could be of use to marketers. You can read more about this in our article about what Google knows about you.

If you want more details about MEGA, click the button below to go to its website.

Visit Mega

2. iDrive: Comprehensive cloud storage for individuals and businesses

iDrive Logo

  • Free cloud storage: 5 GB
  • Annual personal plans start at $56.92 for 5 TB ($79.50 from the second year onwards)
  • Annual business plans start at $74.62 for 5 users, 1 TB storage each

iDrive offers minimal free storage but is one of the cheapest security-focused cloud storage services available.

This service uses 256-bit AES encryption to transfer files and secures them with a user-defined key that isn’t stored anywhere on the service’s servers. So, nobody can access your data without your key. It’s an excellent online backup and sharing solution for individuals, small businesses, and enterprises.

iDrive features continuous file syncing, even those on network drives. Files deleted from your computer don’t automatically get deleted from the server, so there’s no chance of losing something important.

In fact, iDrive keeps up to 30 previous versions of all files added to your account. iDrive also offers iDrive Express, a service that sends you a physical drive containing all your data in case you lose it.

Whether you use personal or business plans, iDrive has easy-to-use apps and a straightforward web interface. It lets you share files by email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Moreover, there are several specialized features for businesses, such as the iDrive Thin Client application that lets IT admins backup, restore, and manage all their connected devices via a centralized dashboard.

Lastly, iDrive is one of the best cloud storage for photos, with a facial recognition feature similar to that of Google Photos and other popular services. This helps you automatically organize your memories and sync them across all your linked devices.

You can also opt for the separate iDrive Photos service that lets you back up all the photos and videos from your iOS or Android device in original quality.

iDrive subscriptions start at just $0.99 for unlimited storage for the first year, with a 7-day free trial. Pricing for the second year onwards is under $10, which is cheaper than both iCloud and Google Photos.

For more details and to sign up, visit the iDrive website by clicking the button below:

Visit iDrive

3. pCloud: Best value lifetime cloud storage with a one-time fee

Pcloud Logo

  • Free cloud storage: 10 GB
  • Lifetime personal plans at $175.00 for 500 GB, $350 for 2TB
  • Lifetime family plan at $500 for 2 TB for up to 5 users
  • Annual personal plans start at $49.99/year for 500 GB, $99.99/year for 2TB
  • Annual business plans start at $95.88 per user for 1 TB each

It can be difficult to keep up with different subscription payments monthly or annually. pCloud eases this problem by offering a lifetime cloud storage plan for one upfront fee. This works out affordable in the long term and offers great value for money.

pCloud has options for individuals, families, and businesses. All plans boast advanced collaboration and file-sharing features for convenience. Moreover, you can back up files from third-party platforms, including Dropbox, Facebook, OneDrive, Google Drive, and Google Photos.

pCloud supports all file formats and has built-in media players for video and audio. Plus, there are ample features for file sharing, syncing, and accessing across multiple devices, file versioning, and recovery.

pCloud uses AES 256-bit encryption and the TLS/SSL protocol during transfers to protect data. Once files reach a data center, five copies are made and distributed to at least three servers to maximize security. It also uses two-factor authentication to protect your account if someone steals your credentials.

You can get more details about pCloud by visiting their website. Just click the button below.

Visit pCloud

4. Sync.com: Best cloud storage for business

  • Free cloud storage: 5 GB
  • Annual personal plans start at $96.00/year for 2 TB
  • Annual business plans start at $60.00 per user for 1 TB

Sync.com is a cloud storage service that’s zero-knowledge compliant and an excellent option for both personal and business use.

Sync.com is a cloud storage service that’s zero-knowledge compliant and an excellent option for both personal and business use.

The service uses AES-256-bit encryption, TLS protocol to protect files in transit, and two-factor authentication to ward off hacking. Its apps are easy to use, and you can send files of any size to anyone, even those without a Sync account.

Additionally, features like file requests, expiry dates, password protection, notifications, and permissions ensure that you can always control who views your files.

Sync.com is a particularly good cloud storage option for businesses and teams thanks to its affordable pricing, high security, and wide range of features. For instance, each user on a team gets 1TB of space for only $5 each per month. If you need extra storage, the Advanced plan for 10TB per user is just $15 per month.

At the same time, you can benefit from excellent versioning features. Businesses can restore file versions dating back a year, which can prove incredibly nifty for data recovery. Furthermore, the Account Rewind feature helps you restore your full account from, say, a ransomware attack.

Sync.com also includes full support for Microsoft Office formats including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Visio, as well as Adobe PDF, PSD, virtually all photo formats, and more. So, it’s perfect for most types of businesses globally.

Lastly, admin tools make it easy to manage users and keep your cloud storage functioning effectively. Check out Sync.com by clicking the button below.

Visit Sync

5. Backblaze: Best cloud storage for backups

  • Free cloud backup: 10 GB
  • Annual personal plan at $70.00 for unlimited backup
  • Business plan pricing varies according to needs

There’s a subtle difference between cloud storage and online backups, even though the terms can be used interchangeably. Mainly, cloud storage is for files you are consistently using, editing, and sharing. It lets you easily sync your files across devices and share them with others.

Backups are more for making a copy of your files and folders to keep secure in the long term and recover in case of data loss. Backups are not necessarily something you access regularly, and many backup services often compress the data into readable files until you need to retrieve them.

One of the best cloud services for backups is Backblaze. It’s perfect for both personal and business backup needs — but be warned that there are no handy file syncing or collaboration features. It stands out by easing the process of backing up your files.

All you’ve got to do is install the app, and it will continuously back up all important data on your device with no additional intervention on your part. You can access your files through the web or the Backblaze mobile apps for iOS and Android. So, no matter where you are, your files will always be with you.

Further, your data is secured with AES 128-bit encryption both at rest and in transit. Although 256-bit would have been ideal, even 128-bit is adequate. If you want to learn more about the difference, check out our guide to encryption.

You can also set a private key to lock your files. But you will need to share this with Backblaze for file recovery, so it doesn’t qualify as zero-knowledge encryption. During recovery, you can either download files from the web or have Backblaze ship them to you on a flash or external drive.

Note that, while Backblaze offers unlimited storage at an unbeatable price, you can only backup one computer per account.

Visit Backblaze

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What is a Cloud Storage Service and Why Use it?

Server in Cloud

Cloud storage is known by many names, such as online storage, cloud backup, file storage, file hosting, and online drives. All of these terms refer to storing files such as documents, photos, and videos “on the cloud.”

The cloud is basically a server that you can access remotely online. That means you can access it from anywhere on almost any device via the internet. Cloud storage services can be free or paid and have different cloud storage tools for varying business and personal needs.

Some of the benefits of using cloud storage are that it allows you to:

  • Keep your files secure in case something happens to your physical device.
  • Access your files and folders from anywhere and on any device by logging into your account.
  • Collaborate with others on projects and keep track of changes made.
  • Automatically sync files between multiple devices so that changes made from one place are reflected on other devices.
  • Save space on your physical devices by archiving files you don’t need as much to the cloud.
  • Back up your data for easy recovery when needed. For instance, if you accidentally delete files or lose your data due to malware or ransomware attacks.

Why Pick Secure Cloud Storage

You’ve probably already used some of the most popular cloud storage services, like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud, and Dropbox.

Of these, the first three are owned by Big Tech companies (Google, Microsoft, and Apple, respectively), while Dropbox was started by two MIT students and grew to be one of the most valuable startups in the world.

All of these file-sharing services make it easy to store, manage, and edit your files. They have incredibly user-friendly apps across all platforms such as Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Moreover, they offer great integrations with other apps, adding to their convenience and functionality. They are also widely used as some of the best free cloud storage options.

However, what you might not know is that these well-known cloud services come with some security risks. Although they all use the highest encryption standards to store your data securely, that’s not enough to ensure complete security and privacy.

For instance, all the mainstream cloud storage services regularly scan your data to find information that may be useful for marketing products and services to you. They also expose your data to vulnerabilities during the transmission process.

Furthermore, these popular services lack zero-knowledge encryption. “Zero-knowledge” means that nobody except you can access your data, not even the cloud storage service provider. This is usually achieved by making you set a private key that’s needed to decrypt your data.

What to Look for When Choosing Secure Cloud Storage

Smartphone with a WiFi and Padlock iconSecurity is essential when choosing the best cloud storage — but so are program features and the specific functionality you need for your purposes. After all, it’s a service you will be using long-term, so it’s best to do your research beforehand.

Never believe any offers of free unlimited cloud storage. Cloud services require a lot of money for upkeep, so if a website is hosting your data for “free,” that’s a sign they may be making money off of you another way (such as selling your data to other companies).

In a nutshell, consider the following points when deciding which provider to go with:

1. Volume of storage vs. price

Is the storage offer sufficient to store all your files now and in the future? Can you upgrade later on if you need to? How much free storage is available?

For instance, on our list above, pCloud offers the best value with their lifetime plans, which cost more upfront but work out cheaper overall. However, there’s no way to upgrade if you want more storage than the maximum of 2 TB. So, if you expect that you’ll need more space down the line, you could go for something like iDrive, which offers up to 5 TB.

2. Availability

Does the cloud provider have apps for the platforms you use, whether it’s Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS? Is there an efficient web interface? Is the service available worldwide?

All of the cloud storage services we’ve mentioned above have an efficient desktop app and mobile app with availability in most countries. Moreover, they are also among the best free cloud storage providers.

3. Safety

Does the service use server-side and client-side encryption? Does it operate on zero-knowledge principles, or does the cloud storage provider have access to your private key? What are the privacy policies of the provider? Has it experienced data breaches in the past?

4. Sharing and collaboration features

Does the cloud service let you easily collaborate with others when you need to? Can you share files and set permissions to control access? Is it easy to use?

Most of the services we picked are feature-rich and suitable for both personal and business use.

5. Backup and recovery

Does the cloud storage solution automatically sync and backup files on your computer? Or does it need regular intervention from you? What happens if you lose your data? Does it have a versioning system that can help you roll back to earlier files?

These factors can be life-saving in case your device gets affected by threats like viruses or ransomware that corrupt your data.

Cloud Storage Solutions: Better Safe Than Sorry

To sum up, whether you go for free storage or paid storage, it’s essential to invest in secure cloud storage that protects your privacy while keeping your files safe.

The great news is that all of our top options also offer some of the best free cloud storage options, which you can first try out to see if it works well for you. You can test out the file-sharing features, ease of use, and customer service before deciding which paid plan to opt for.

It’s best to steer clear of the mainstream providers such as Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive because even though they may be cheaper, they use your data for marketing purposes and expose your files to vulnerabilities during the file transfer process.

Remember: the best cloud storage that money can buy is the one that keeps your files safe and secure.

Best Cloud Storage Services: Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions about cloud storage services? Check out our FAQ below. Just click a question to see the answer.

A cloud storage service offers you a secure virtual space to store your files. It can be accessed from anywhere on the web or through a desktop or mobile app.

There are several things to consider when choosing a cloud storage service such as security, the volume of storage, and pricing. One of the options we recommend is pCloud, which has a lifetime plan you can pay for with a lumpsum one-time fee. Other options include MEGA, iDrive, and Sync.com.

iDrive offers a secure and affordable way to store your photos. The iDrive Photos service lets you back up all the photos and videos from your iOS or Android device in original quality. It starts at just $0.99 for unlimited storage for the first year, with a 7-day free trial. Pricing for the second year onwards is under $10, which is cheaper than both iCloud and Google Photos.

Most cloud storage providers offer special plans for businesses. An excellent option is Sync.com. Each user on a team gets 1 TB of space for only $5 each per month.

At the same time, it offers advanced security, like AES-256-bit encryption, the secure TLS protocol to protect files in transit, and two-factor authentication. It’s zero-knowledge compliant so that nobody, including Sync.com, can access your data.

Mainstream cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive promise safety but do not actually ensure it. This is because they expose your files to vulnerabilities during transfer and routinely scan your files for marketing purposes.

But safe cloud storage services do exist. These do not access your data at all and secure it with the safest encryption and protocols. Good examples are MEGA, iDrive, pCloud, and Sync.com.

Cloud storage and online backup are similar, but each has distinct functions.

Cloud storage is primarily for keeping files that you access routinely and share with others.

Backup, on the other hand, is about long-term storage for the purpose of recovery in case of data loss. Backup services don’t usually have collaborative or file-sharing features. A great cloud backup provider is Backblaze that you can try for free for a year with an ExpressVPN subscription.

Tech journalist
Mehak has been writing for over a decade and is passionate about helping people have safer, healthier relationships with all things tech. She has a master’s degree in communication and is especially interested in the impact of technology and the internet on global communities.