Top 6 Personal Cloud Storage Providers

It's never been easier to store large amounts of data in the cloud

If your computer doesn't have enough disk space to store your files, or your phone or tablet didn't come with enough storage to hold all of your images and videos, then a cloud storage provider might be what you need.

Online (cloud) file storage is just what it sounds like: a way to upload your files online to store your data somewhere other than your local storage devices. This is one of the best ways to offload data without actually deleting it.

Most cloud storage services let you store massive amounts of data and upload huge files, often multiples at a time. The services below also let you share your uploaded files and provide access to your data from a variety of devices like your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or any computer through their website.

Cloud Storage Is Not the Same As a Backup Service

Online storage services are simply online repositories for your files. Some of them might automatically upload your files to your account but that's not the primary function, so they don't work in the same way as a backup service.

In other words, while online storage definitely doesn't function the same as local backup where the backup program backs up files to an external hard drive (or some other device), neither do they necessarily automatically keep all your files backed up online like how an online backup service works.

Why Use a Cloud Storage Service?

A cloud storage solution is more of a manual method to archive your files online; use one to store all of your vacation photos or your home videos, for example. Or maybe you want to keep your work files online so that you can get them at work or at home and avoid using a flash drive to transfer them.

An online file storage solution is also helpful when you're sharing large (or small) files with others because you can upload them online first and then control who has access to them from your online account.

In fact, some of these cloud storage providers lets you copy files from someone else's online account directly into yours so that you don't have to download anything; the data is simply put into your account without any effort on your part.

Storing your files online is also useful if you're planning on collaborating with others. Some of the online storage services below are great for live editing with your team, friends, or anyone.

Dropbox offers both personal and business cloud storage options. There's a small starting package available for free but users who have larger storage needs can purchase bigger capacity subscriptions.  

You can share whole folders or specific files using Dropbox, and non-Dropbox users can access either. There's also two-step verification that you can enable, offline file access, remote device wipe, text searching, file version history support, and lots of third-party apps and services that integrate Dropbox into their software for easy use.

Dropbox provides access to your online files through a number of platforms, including the web, mobile devices, and desktop programs.

Important: It was reported in 2016 that Dropbox was hacked and 68 million users' account data was stolen in 2012.

Sign up for Dropbox

Free plans include 2 GB of storage but for a cost you can grab additional space (up to over 2 TB) and more features with the Plus or Professional plan. For even more cloud storage and business-related features are Dropbox's business plans. More »

Box (formerly Box.net) is another cloud storage service that lets you choose between a free or paid account, depending on how much space you need and what your feature requirements are.

Box lets you preview all sorts of files so that you don't have to download them to view what you need. It also includes desktop, mobile, and web access; SSL for tighter security; custom share links; file editing; all sorts of templated notes that you can store in your account; and the option for two-factor authentication. 

Sign up for Box

Box lets you store up to 10 GB of data online for free, with the ability to upload files that 2 GB each in size. To increase the storage to 100 GB (and per-file size limit to 5 GB) will cost you every month.

They also have business plans with different storage limits and features, like file versioning and multiple user access. More »

Google is a huge name when it comes to technology products, and Google Drive is the name of their online storage service. It supports all file types and lets you share data and collaborate live with others even if they don't have an account.

This cloud storage provider is closely compatible with Google's other products like their Sheets, Slides, and Docs online apps, as well as Gmail, their email service.

You can use Google Drive from your web browser on any computer but it's also supported from mobile devices and from your desktop on a computer.

Sign up for Google Drive

Google Drive can be had for free if you only need 15 GB of space. Otherwise, you can grab 1 TB, 10 TB, 20 TB, or 30 TB if willing to pay for it. More »

Cloud over businessman's head
Junophoto/Getty Images

As more iOS apps and devices become interconnected, Apple's iCloud provides users with space where data can be stored and accessed by multiple devices, including computers.

Sign up for iCloud

iCloud storage service offers free and paid subscriptions. Users with an Apple ID have access to the base, free level of iCloud storage that includes 5 GB of online storage.

At a price, you can upgrade iCloud to have more than 5 GB of space, all the way up to 2 TB.

Tip: See our iCloud FAQs for more information on Apple's online storage service. More »

Sync is available for Mac and Windows, mobile devices, and on the web. It supports end-to-end zero-knowledge encryption and includes two personal plan tiers.

The Personal plan includes unlimited bandwidth, no file size limit, the ability for non-users to send you files through Sync, advanced sharing features like download limits and stats,  unlimited file recovery and versioning, and more.

Sign up for Sync

Sync is free for the first 5 GB but if you need 500 GB or 2 TB, you can buy the Personal plan. Sync also has a Business plan that's available for 1-2 TB but has different features than the personal cloud storage system. More »

MEGA is a robust online file storage service that provides end-to-end encryption, collaboration, and tons of storage depending on your needs.

You also get access to shared links that you can set to expire, password protected shared files, and more.

For example, one of the most unique features available with MEGA is that when you share a file, you have the option of copying a link that doesn't include the decryption key, with the idea that you'll send the key to the recipient using some other means. That way, if someone were to get the download link or the key, but not both, they cannot download the file you've shared.

Each plan MEGA offers is split up into not only how much data you can store but also how much data you can upload/download to/from your account every month.

MEGA works with all the popular mobile platforms but also includes a text-based command-line version called MEGAcmd that you can use your account through. MEGA also works in the Thunderbird email client so that you can send large files straight from your account through that email program.

Sign up for MEGA

MEGA is a free online storage provider if you only require 50 GB of space, but will cost you if you want to purchase one of their Pro accounts that offer anywhere from 200 GB of storage to 8 TB, and 1 TB of monthly data transfers up to 16 TB.

The maximum amount of storage space you can buy with MEGA isn't clearly defined because you can ask for more if you contact them. More »