The Best Cloud Storage Services

When it comes to cloud storage, there are a whole bunch of fluffy options up there in the proverbial sky. Maybe you need unlimited storage, or maybe you need it for free. Here's a list of the ones that are the best at what they do.

Best Beefy Free Service: MediaFire

There are a couple of big boys out there that offer a whopping 50GB for the low, low cost of zero dollars. Among them, MediaFire gives you the most for your complete lack of money. Along with its free 50GB, MediaFire has clients for PC, Mac and Linux, as well as apps for iOS and Android. The main downside is that your uploads will be limited to a mere 200MB. But if you can handle that, MediaFire is the biggest, best locker you can find for free.

Runners Up

Mega is another one with a free 50GB to get you hooked, but for now it's just a web app. Desktop and mobile apps are coming, and, when they do, your desktop upload size will be unlimited. Until then, you're stuck at 300MB and under. Otherwise, you could pay $US15/month for 500GB of storage. While the encryption is a bonus, hosting media on a site that the US government hates is kind of a downside; you remember what happened to MegaUpload. But once it gets its app/client situation together, Mega will be the king of this hill.

ADrive is another strong contender with it's "personal basic" option. You'll get your 50GB and a juicy max upload size of 2GB, but there's a bit of a price to pay, even if it's not in money. The personal basic option means no access to the PC, Mac or Linux clients, but you will have ad-supported iOS and Android apps. The real bummer is mandatory banner ads and marketing emails. Sure, you can get around most/all of those with a little skeevy ingenuity, but those downsides make it a little less appealing than the other options.


Best Unlimited Service: Carbonite

Sometimes you need a limitless black hole of storage, especially if you're backing all your devices. Carbonite is your best bet for saving everything. Unlimited space will cost you $US60 a year, but it comes with PC, Mac, iOS and Android functionality. Best of all, you can set up Carbonite to just back up all your stuff automatically, so all your crap will be stored in the unlimited cloud without a thought. The only real downside is a 4GB max for uploaded files, but that's still pretty generous, so you should be able to make it work.

Runners Up

Backblaze is the cheapest option out there at $US50 a year for unlimited storage, but it doesn't have any Android support. So if all your devices are iOS, Backblaze is definitely the way to go. If you have an Android, or might get one, you'll want to steer clear.

BitCasa is a little bit pricier than its competitors at $US70 a year, but it supports PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Your first 10GB are free, but if you're going unlimited, that doesn't mean much. It's main selling point is that it's the only one to have no max size for uploaded files, so if you need unlimited space specifically to back up your 4GB+ files, BitCasa is your winner.


Best Platform Hopper: SugarSync

Pretty much everybody has PC, Mac, iOS and Android on lock, but Blackberry, Kindle and Windows Phone 8 tend to get left out. If you've got one (or all) of those, SugarSync has the kind of coverage you want. With 5GB free and 30GB at $US5 a month ($US60 a year), SugarSyc will consolidate files across PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire and BlackBerry. There's no max file size for uploads either. No other service we found was able to cover more bases than SugarSync.

Runners Up

Insync puts up a good fight too with PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone, but it's not quite as versitile as Sugar. You'll get a better bang for your buck though: 25GB will cost you $US2.50 a month ($US30 a year), and there's a (large but still existent) 10GB limit on uploaded files.

Box comes close with PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry and webOS, but you're probably more likely to need Kindle Fire or Windows Phone. On the off chance you're using a webOS device, Box offers 5GB for free with an option for 20GB at $US40 a year. The max file size for free accounts is a scant 250MB though, and still only 1GB if you pay.


Best Overall: Google Drive

If you have no specific, weird criteria, and you just want something cheap-ish with room for growth, Google Drive has a good mix of the features you want. It's got the main bases covered with clients for PC and Mac, apps for iOS and Android, and a web manager. Its free 5GB isn't mindblowing, but it's still a fair bit, and only a few outliers offer more for free. It's upload size is limited to a huge 10GB, but that should cover most of your stuff. If you're shelling out some cash, Google Drive's 25GB for $US2.50 a month ($US30 a year) is about as low as dollar-per-GB prices go this side of several hundred. The 100GB for $US5 a month ($US60 a year) is pretty killer too.

Runners Up

SugarSync is a pretty good all-around bet with its 5GB free and hard-to-come-by unlimited upload size. If you're shelling out some cash, SugarSync's 30GB for $US5 a month ($US60 a year) isn't the best deal out there, but it's fair and more than worth it when you consider the plethora of platforms it supports and the unlimited upload sizes.

Mega isn't quite there yet, but it will be hard to beat once it gets up to speed. 50GB for free is a crazy deal, but the lack of apps and clients — which mean 300MB upload limits — make it a little bit of a tough pill to swallow as a primary service. Once those are fixed though, it will be a great deal.


Best Battle-Proven Standby: Dropbox

It's not quite a stand-out on paper, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Dropbox. It won't win on initial free offering (2GB) or price (50GB for $US100 a year) alone, but it's a fixture of the cloud storage world. It has widespread app integration, unlimited uploads from desktop and mobile apps, an intuitive interface and a proven track record. And you probably already have it. Then there's the added bonus of free space (up to 18GB) for referring friends (or yourself with fake emails on every device you can find) and the promise of some sort of magical Mailbox integration down the line. It's not the hottest deal out there, but it's tried, true and bullshit-free.


Picture: phloxii/Shutterstock


Comments

    I honestly have no idea why sugarsync is so high up here.
    It's mobile platforms will not let you manage files properly or upload non-photos.
    Google drive has the same problems. Terrible file management on mobile devices.
    Maybe that's only important to people who like to access their files from Everywhere. You know, like in the Cloud.

    By far the most important feature is the one you left out- file management.
    Dropbox is the clear winner here, allowing you complete access from any device, move, delete, alter files.
    The free 2gb goes strait up to 5gb if you upload photos from you mobile device.
    And if you are a university student (with space race) your data goes up massively again.
    I've got over 30Gb on my free dropbox account.
    (Although the free 50gb Box account is very much worth it too)

      Problem I've found with box is its sloowwww and i often hit the max file size limit. Dropbox is the winner for me hands down!

        Yeah their max file limit is awful- I just use it purely for backing up photos because it is way too restrictive.
        Dropbox all the way.

          The winner has to be Copy with 15GB on joining up and 5GB bonus for each referral. It is available on ios, android and windows desktop. Upload speed is great and it is planning to allow WebDAV which would enable you to map it as a network drive.

      I used Google Drive and Dropbox and I agree 100%. Dropbox is god tier.

      SugarSync's mobile file management is fine (at least on the Android app, that's what I use). You can move, copy and delete existing files and add photos or video directly through the app. You can't create other types of files through the app, but you can use the share intent to send any type of file to SugarSync.

      The key advantage of SugarSync for me is that you can select arbitrary folders to sync, none of this you-must-keep-everything-in-one-folder rubbish that most of the major providers have these days. I guess that's fine if you're one of those noobs who keep all their files in one folder on the desktop, but I can manage my own filesystem dammit!

      I have to agree, dropbox wins because it fits right in with how I use a computer already. In fact I rarely feel like i'm uploading files, it's just where I save them.

    what about skydrive?
    if you use the web client, you can open one note, or word docs in the webapp...
    25gb is massive, i have moved all my docs to skydrive and never looked at anything else.
    i used to use dropbox, and google drive (still have them)
    and with windows 8 and office 2013 intergration its amazing!

      Yes, I'm also very happy with Skydrive on my desktop and mobile devices.

      Yeah i'm very happy with it also. I've got the 25GB but i don't think they offer that free anymore. It has some create features and creating content with the Office Web Apps comes in handy too. It should have at least got a mention

        the extra 25gb was when they moved it from "mesh" to "skydrive" if you had anything stored on it, you got the extra space.
        given how it is so intwined with windows 8, and my phone, i would have no issues paying for more room once i run out

    I lucked out with dropbox.
    Got 48GB free space when I connected my samsung phone on a promo

    Amazon Glacier looks like a pretty awesome alternative for people with a *lot* of data to cloud (can we verb it yet?), but who don't need instantaneous retrieval.

    I have 0.5TB worth of photos which are 'backed up' via a USB HD at the office and a 3.5" drive in a safe dep box, but having them somewhere more accessible would be brilliant at the kind of price points that Backblaze or Carbonite are talking.

    Dropbox has always worked flawlessly for just saving/retrieving documents.

    Used Google Drive a few times to transfer files, but it's pretty clunky. Being Google, though, I am sure they will improve on that i future. Google Music is pretty sweet, though.

    Last edited 25/03/13 1:13 pm

    I found that a new cloud storage webside called copy is providing a really great service. They have a great desktop client app as well as mobile apps for iOs and Android. Also, 15 GB of storage space is free!

    If you like to check it out, sing in and receive 20 GB (instead of standard 15 GB) you can use the referral link:

    https://copy.com?r=wK6EjL

    I was using Dropbox (there is not enough free space for me), Sugarsync (same like Dropbox, and for me slow).

    Now I am using new service - Copy. They will give you 15GB for free.

    If you register on Copy by this link, and install their application to backup / sync your data, you will get 20GB for free!
    Here is the link: https://copy.com?r=zPku0e

    Bonus for you is, that if you will find some referral, you will get next 5GB for free per each! Like this, you can get unlimited space for free!

    Honestly, once you've chosen one cloud storage out of the lot and gotten used to it, the chances that you'll swap to another is very low! While a good article, probably only practical for new users.

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