These days, managing your life online is rather common. Many of us bank online, communicate on social media, and work remotely. In fact, if you lost your smartphone and laptop tomorrow, you might have a tough time managing your daily responsibilities.
The reality is, we’re digital creatures. It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital nomad or work an office job; we use technology to organize many aspects of our lives.
Considering how deeply we depend on technology, it’s important to protect your online data and documents. Plus, you want to ensure file sharing and collaborating online with others is as simple as possible.
Thankfully, one way to make your data more secure and accessible to you online is to use a cloud storage service in addition to physical hard drives.
You also don’t need to drain your wallet to benefit from cloud storage. In fact, there are numerous affordable cloud storage platforms you can use to safeguard and share your most important digital assets.
What Are Cloud Storage Platforms?
In the past, you usually stored digital documents on your computer’s hard drive. If you wanted a backup copy in case you lost your files, you would use an external hard drive.
Although external hard drives are still a viable way to back up data, they aren’t always reliable. After all, both your computer’s hard drive and an external hard drive can break or become corrupted, destroying whatever information you stored on them.
Thankfully, cloud storage providers now offer a secure, convenient alternative to making physical copies for file storage.
Cloud computing providers have their own data centers, security protocols, and pricing for storing files on their servers. The advantage of cloud storage is that you don’t have to worry about managing your own server or hardware. Plus, you can download documents from the cloud and share them with other people as long as you’re connected to the Internet.
Cloud computing isn’t invulnerable, and providers have been hacked before. Additionally, storage providers typically charge a monthly price for their service, which is an ongoing cost.
However, online storage is generally incredibly secure. Plus, the convenience of cloud storage over a physical hard drive is certainly worth the cost for many users.
The Best Cloud Storage Services
If you’re on a tight budget, you’re in luck: the top cloud storage companies have a variety of affordable plans to help you back up your data.
However, it’s also important to find a provider that has everything you need. Cloud storage is only beneficial if you use it, and storage plans have varying data limits and collaborative features that you need to consider.
Out of all cloud storage platforms, Dropbox is probably one of the best known. Additionally, Dropbox has grown from a simple cloud storage option to a robust platform that caters to individuals and teams looking to securely store and share data.
For individuals, Dropbox has two plans:
- Plus. Includes 2 terabytes (TB) of storage; 30 days of file recovery and version history; send up to 2 gigabytes (GB) per transfer; priority email support; $9.99 per month
- Professional. Includes 3TB of storage; 180 days of file recovery and version history; send up to 100GB per transfer; document watermarking; file locking; priority email and live chat support; $19.99 per month
It’s worth noting that these are just a few of the features Dropbox offers. In fact, Dropbox users can also remotely wipe a device, request files from other people, and use HelloSign to electronically sign and send documents.
Plus, Dropbox helps you collaborate with team members and is highly user-friendly. Dropbox users can create Spaces, which are folders where multiple teammates can collaborate and upload documents to work on. Similarly, Dropbox Paper lets multiple people work on a document simultaneously. You can use Paper to create meeting notes, assign tasks, give feedback, and write without overriding each other’s work.
Dropbox’s web interface is ideal for managing your personal cloud during the workday. Additionally, the Android and iOS mobile apps are useful for downloading files and managing user access while on the go.
If you want more team functionality, Dropbox offers two team plans:
- Standard. Includes 5TB of storage; 180 days of file recovery and version history; send up to 2GB per transfer; document watermarking; multi-team admin login; API access to Dropbox security and productivity platform partners; priority email, live chat, and phone support; $15 per user per month
- Advanced. Unlimited storage; 180 days of file recovery and version history; send up to 100GB per transfer; includes the same watermarking, admin, and API features as the standard plan; audit logs with file-level tracking; create tiered admin roles; priority email, live chat, and phone support; $25 per user per month
The main difference between individual and team plans is the number of collaborative features and third-party integrations. For example, team plans can connect dozens of services to enhance communication, sign-in security, marketing efforts, and financial reporting.
For casual users, the Plus individual plan is enough to back up important photos and documents. If you’re on a small team, the Standard plan offers enough storage and functionality.
2. Google One
Google One is Google’s affordable cloud storage solution that you might be familiar with. After all, if you use Gmail, you already sync your files, calendar, and emails across a single Google account.
Familiarity aside, a major advantage of Google One is that you get 15GB of free storage. If you only back up small files like PDFs and Word documents, this amount of storage is perfect. Additionally, if you need more storage capacity, Google has three plans:
- 100GB. $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year
- 200GB. $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year; 3% cash back from the Google Store
- 2TB. $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year; 10% cash back from the Google Store
All plans let you add up to five family members. Plus, you gain extra member benefits. For example, you can save money on hotels when you book through Google if you find hotels marked with Google One Member prices.
Perks aside, Google One is undeniably one of the cheapest cloud storage options, especially if you pay annually. If you’re already using services like Google Docs and Google Calendar, it’s also hard to find a platform that’s so intuitive. As long as you’re signed into your Google account, you have access to everything, regardless of what device you’re on or where you’re traveling.
If you’re a small-business owner, you can also use Google Workspace — formerly known as G Suite — to power your team. These plans provide more cloud storage capacity and several features that make online teamwork more seamless:
- Business Starter. 30GB of storage per user; 100 participant video meetings; $6 per user per month
- Business Standard. 2TB of storage per user; 150 participant video meetings with recording function; $12 per user per month
- Business Plus. 5TB of storage per user; 250 participant video meetings plus recording and attendance tracking; $18 per user per month
- Enterprise. Unlimited storage; all same meeting capabilities as Business Plus but with more security features; custom monthly pricing
All business plans let you use your own business email addresses and use other Google products like Sheets and Calendar to increase productivity. The Enterprise plan has enhanced support, whereas the other three plans come with standard support.
If you already use Google to organize your business and life, sticking with the Google ecosystem is a straightforward, affordable choice.
3. Amazon Drive
If there’s one thing Amazon does well, it’s expanding into new markets. From grocery delivery to streaming movies, Amazon consistently moves into new industries to expand its services to loyal Amazon customers.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon has also gotten involved with cloud storage through Amazon Drive. Although you might be unaware of this feature, Amazon Drive is available for every Amazon account. With Amazon Drive, you can upload documents, pictures, and videos to your Amazon account. You can then share files through email or text, and as long as you’re signed into Amazon, you can access your drive from any device.
The platform feels antiquated, but for free cloud storage, the basic functionality is enough to get by. Somewhat confusingly, Amazon Drive is gradually merging with Amazon Photos, another Amazon cloud storage product.
As the name suggests, Amazon Photos focuses on photo storage for Amazon customers. You can also upload video files and, like Amazon Drive, you manage everything through your Amazon account.
All users get 5GB of free storage, which covers Amazon Drive and Photos. Luckily, Amazon Prime Members get unlimited storage for photos, which is an easy way to save more with Amazon if you’re currently paying for photo storage elsewhere. Plus, you can buy additional storage space if you’re not interested in a Prime membership or want more than 5GB of video storage.
In terms of pricing, Amazon is affordable. A 100GB plan is $1.66 per month. The next options are 1TB and 2TB plans for $13.99 and $27.99 per month, respectively. Amazon offers plans ranging up to 30TB, although if you need serious storage capacity, cloud storage enterprise plans with other providers are potentially cheaper.
Ultimately, Amazon Photos is useful for backing up photos and videos while keeping files under a single Amazon account. Another nifty perk is that you can schedule backup times to automatically upload your latest photos and videos to your Amazon account, ensuring you never forget.
If you need to collaborate with colleagues or integrate third-party platforms, this isn’t the right cloud storage option. However, for a cheap photo and video backup solution, Amazon holds its own.
4. Apple iCloud
If you’re an Apple user, you’re probably familiar with iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage platform. Although iCloud is an Apple product, you can download iCloud for both Windows and Apple devices, making it just as flexible as other cloud storage options.
Like Amazon, iCloud syncs information across your Apple account so you can access files from any device. You need to create an Apple ID to use any Apple service, but this is free and only requires your email address and phone number.
Every iCloud user gets 5GB of free storage. There are three plans for extra storage:
- 50GB. $0.99 per month
- 200GB. $2.99 per month
- 2TB. $9.99 per month
For single users, the 50GB and 200GB plans are an affordable way to back up your most important files. A lack of a 1TB option is a downside, but iCloud is more versatile than meets the eye.
You can enable family sharing to iCloud storage with up to six people in the same household. Family Sharing also lets you share subscriptions and purchases. This means that your household can enjoy the same Apple Music, Apple Books, and Apple TV account even if you have separate Apple accounts.
Sharing iCloud storage is only available for the 200GB and 2TB plans. However, if you split monthly pricing with several family members, it’s hard to find a cheaper cloud storage option. Plus, you can save money on books, movies, and music through sharing.
If you’re a serious Apple household, you can also consider Apple One. With Apple One, you unlock six different Apple products under a single subscription:
- Apple Music
- Apple TV
- Apple Arcade
- Apple News+
- Apple Fitness+
You can pay for an individual or family Apple One account. An individual plan is $14.95 per month, whereas the family plan is $19.95 per month. Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+ require the premier plan, which is $29.95 per month.
The bottom line is that iCloud is just one part of Apple’s ecosystem. This certainly isn’t the best business cloud storage option because there aren’t any collaborative tools for workplaces. However, if you organize your life with Apple products and want to split the cost of popular Apple subscriptions with your family, Apple’s ease of use and sharing features are hard to match.
5. Microsoft OneDrive
Like Apple, Microsoft has its own cloud backup and collaboration platform that’s known as OneDrive. Out of all cloud storage options, OneDrive is probably most similar to Google One. With OneDrive, you can access your files from any device through your Microsoft account. OneDrive also lets you back up and protect your most important files and to collaborate on documents in real time.
Like Google, Microsoft pushes you toward various Microsoft Office products to keep you in its ecosystem. If you currently use Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for business, this seamless integration is worth keeping in mind.
OneDrive includes 5GB of free storage. Microsoft also offers some of the most affordable plans for individuals and families:
- OneDrive Standalone. 100GB of storage; OneDrive only; $1.99 per month
- Microsoft 365 Personal. 1TB of storage; OneDrive, Skype, and Microsoft Office apps included; $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month
- Microsoft 365 Family. 1TB per person, up to six people; OneDrive, Skype, and Office apps; $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month
Microsoft 365 plans also come with more security features. For example, both plans let you store files in your personal vault, which protects them through identity verification via fingerprint, two-factor authentication, or face verification.
However, where OneDrive shines is its syncing abilities. All plans have a PC folder backup option that automatically saves your desktop and documents to OneDrive. Because you can access OneDrive from the web, this means you have access to all your most important files, regardless of the device you’re on. OneDrive also saves document version history for up to 30 days with all plans.
If you want enhanced security and more collaborative capabilities, OneDrive has several business plans ranging from $5 to $12.50 per user per month. Like individual plans, you can stick with OneDrive if you’re mostly interested in buying cloud storage for your workplace.
Alternatively, Microsoft 365 for business offers enhanced support, business email hosting, and HD video conference capabilities for up to 250 people. Microsoft Teams and its planner tool also help organizations schedule meetings and delegate tasks.
If you currently use Google’s software suite for everything, making the change to Microsoft might cause headaches. However, if you already use Microsoft products, OneDrive is the easiest cloud storage solution to integrate.
If you’re looking for affordable cloud storage and don’t care about extensive collaboration tools and business features, MediaFire is one of the cheapest providers.
Free MediaFire users get 10GB of storage, making this one of the best free cloud storage plans in terms of capacity next to Google Drive. The platform displays ads for free users, but this is a small inconvenience to pay. Plus, if you want to upgrade, MediaFire regularly has sales for events like Black Friday that make their individual and business plans tough to compete with.
Currently, Mediafire offers two paid plans:
- Pro. 1TB of data for $7.50 per month, or as low as $3.75 per month when on sale.
- Business. Up to 100TB of data for $80 per month, or as low as $40 per month when on sale.
Admittedly, you don’t have much plan variety, which is unfortunate if you don’t need 1TB of data. However, for the price, it’s hard to complain.
MediaFire also helps you share files through direct-download links, so you can send content to non-MediaFire members. Additionally, you can create one-time links so the person who downloads your files can’t share the download with other people.
If you want a simple cloud storage option and find a sale, MediaFire might be the most cost-effective choice.
Out of all cloud storage providers, pCloud is one of the few that has the option to buy lifetime access. Plus, unlike MediaFire, pCloud is more than just a simple storage solution.
In fact, pCloud has robust plans for individuals, families, and businesses:
- Premium. 500GB for a one-time payment of $480, or as low as $175 when on sale
- Premium Plus. 2TB for a one-time payment of $980, or as low as $350 when on sale
- Family. 2TB for a one-time payment of $1,400, or as low as $500 when on sale; up to five users
- Business. 1TB per user; $7.99 per user per month when billed annually
The one-time payment structure is steep if you don’t find sales. However, with occasional sales of up to 65% off, pCloud becomes one of the most cost-effective cloud storage solutions.
The business plan also lets you monitor file activity, create shared folders, and comment directly on documents. Overall, the platform feels similar to Dropbox. If you want more collaboration tools, the Google or Microsoft platforms are better options. However, if you’re looking for a bargain, keep an eye out for pCloud sales.
You can also use Rakuten to find pCloud coupons and earn cash-back rewards. Rakuten is a free rewards platform and shopping browser extension that pays you for shopping at thousands of stores. If you’re shopping for cloud storage or anything else, it’s worth creating a Rakuten account first to potentially save big.
Popular cloud storage platforms let you securely store your data so it’s only accessible to you and users you give access to. After all, storing information in the cloud wouldn’t be useful if anyone on the internet could download and alter your files.
However, when it comes to security and privacy, Sync attempts to separate itself from other cloud storage competitors. According to Sync, its platform protects your privacy with end-to-end encryption, making it impossible for anyone other than you or permitted users to read your files. This doesn’t sound different from standard cloud security protocols you’ll find with other companies, but most cloud storage providers can actually scan and read whatever you upload. With Sync, your data is yours alone, and privacy is the name of the game.
Privacy aside, Sync has several features that let you securely store data, share information, and collaborate with teammates.
For starters, Sync lets you share files and folders with anyone, even if they aren’t a Sync user. You can also control download access, create passwords, add expiration dates to access levels, and change viewing and editing permissions for other users. You manage your data through your Sync account, meaning you can access your files from any device. Sync also creates backups automatically and syncs documents in real-time so you won’t lose your work if you lose your Internet connection.
Additionally, Sync integrates with software suites like Adobe and Microsoft Office. Plus, there isn’t a user limit or data sharing limit, meaning you can transfer an unlimited amount of data to as many people as you want.
Overall, the platform has a similar level of functionality to Dropbox, and with fairly competitive pricing.
For individuals, Sync has three plans that bill annually:
- Basic. 2TB of storage; 180-day file history and recovery; $8 per month ($96 per year)
- Standard. 3TB of storage; 365-day file history and recovery; $12 per month ($144 per year)
- Plus. 4TB of storage; 365-day file history and recovery; $15 per month ($180 per year)
Individual plans have every Sync feature except for administrative tools for teams, like multi-user admin controls and central billing. If you want multiple users under the same Sync account and need more administrative control, Sync has three business plans that also bill annually:
- Standard. 1TB per user; two to 100 user limit; $5 per month per user
- Plus. 4TB per user; two to 100 user limit; $8 per month per user
- Advanced. 10TB per user; two to 1,000 user limit; $15 per month per user
All business plans also have 365-day file history and recovery. Annual billing is a downside because you risk overpaying for user access you might not use. To avoid overpaying, start slowly with Sync or use its free personal version that includes 5GB of storage to test the platform before committing.
Icedrive uses client-side encryption to ensure that you’re the only person who can access your data. Client-side encryption means that when you upload information to Icedrive, it encrypts the information before reaching Icedrive’s servers. Because your device holds the encryption key, you’re the only one who can ever access your data.
This might sound complicated, but it’s Icedrive’s stance on privacy rights and dedication to security that makes it stand out. Icedrive also differentiates itself by creating a virtual drive on your computer where you can access your encrypted information. So, rather than signing into a cloud storage website, your information is already available on your computer, almost as though you had a USB drive plugged in.
Icedrive’s mobile app for Android and iOS also let you upload and manage your files while on the go. You can share files with other users by sending them a link from your smartphone or desktop.
Free Icedrive users have a generous 10GB storage limit. Paid plans are also incredibly affordable:
- Lite. 150GB of storage; 250GB monthly bandwidth; $1.67 per month or $19.99 yearly
- Pro. 1TB of storage; 2TB monthly bandwidth; $4.17 per month or $49.99 yearly
- Pro+. 5TB of storage; 8TB monthly bandwidth; $15 per month or $179.99 yearly
The Lite plan is one of the cheapest starter cloud storage plans on the market. Pro and Pro+ plans are also cheaper than comparable options like Sync or Mediafire.
However, Icedrive doesn’t let you create password-protected links, expiration dates, or manage user permissions at a granular level. There’s also no in-app collaboration on documents or integration with third-party software like Microsoft Office.
Ultimately, the lack of collaborative features means Icedrive isn’t ideal if you have a team and need to work on documents together in real-time. Rather, Icedrive is an affordable cloud storage option that stresses data security and privacy above all else.
Most cloud storage companies offer storage plans for individuals and businesses. Although Zoolz is available for single users, this cloud storage provider caters mainly to small and medium businesses with competitive pricing and a range of plans.
For starters, Zoolz offers a simple yet affordable encrypted cloud backup service with unlimited users and file sizes to give you complete control over how you store your data. Cloud backup plans include:
- 1TB. $14.99 per month or $99 per year
- 2TB. $29.99 per month or $199.99 per year
- 5TB. $74.99 per month or $499.99 per year
Zoolz also provides automatic backups and file change monitoring, and you can schedule automatic backups to protect your data. A simple dashboard lets you view your files, manage backups, and set different user permissions.
However, Zoolz doesn’t compete on pricing with providers like Icedrive or Sync when it comes to basic cloud storage. In reality, Zoolz’s best features support large operations with massive amounts of data.
For starters, Zoolz has a 100TB plan where you purchase storage capacity for a one-, three-, or five-year term. You speak to a Zoolz cloud specialist to find a solution that works for your organization, and this plan aims to keep unlimited users and massive amounts of data more affordable.
Zoolz works with Amazon AWS infrastructure to provide this service. According to Zoolz, this $30,000 plan is 50% cheaper than big data solutions with Google Cloud.
If this isn’t enough to tempt enterprise users, Zoolz also has a new BigMind cloud backup storage for businesses. This AI-powered backup solution adds a range of features like:
- Search engine functionality to find the right file in a sea of data
- Character recognition software that lets you search for PDF documents and extract any text from a JPEG or TIFF image
- Buffer-free video streaming capabilities right from the cloud
- Object detection that’s powered by AI; search for specific objects and Zoolz presents photos in your drive that contain that object
- Automatic video and audio file transcription
- An Android and iOS app to let team members access data on the go
If your business works extensively with audio, video, and image content, this AI-powered search functionality helps save time and organize files. If your business only collaborates with basic text-based documents and uses another software suite like Microsoft Office, BigMind is overkill.
Currently, BigMind has three plans:
- Starter. 100GB of storage; 10 users; $15 per month
- Standard. 250GB of storage; 100 users; $20 per month; buy extra storage for $8 per 100GB
- Premium. 250GB of storage; 500 users; more AI-powered search tools; $37.50 per month; buy extra storage for $15 per 100GB
BigMind plans also let you purchase additional monthly backups for $10 per backup and add mobile devices to the plan for $1 per month for each device you add.
Finally, Zoolz also has a cold storage option that costs $40 per month per 1TB of data you store. Cold storage is a cheaper way to store data that isn’t frequently used, which could be ideal if your business stores data for compliance purposes or record keeping.
Ultimately, you should choose another cloud storage option if you’re an individual user or want extensive collaboration features. However, if your business handles media-rich content like videos and photos or needs cold storage, Zoolz is an excellent choice.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re backing up family photos or working remotely; protecting your digital life and having easy access to your files is important. After all, if your computer breaks, you want to have a reliable backup waiting for you in the cloud.
If you’re currently storing everything on an old hard drive, that’s a great first step. However, to maximize security and convenience, it’s definitely worth storing information online.
If you’re trying to save as much money as possible, rely on free accounts and complimentary storage limits to get started. When you’re ready to upgrade, search for sales and make sure you only buy as much storage capacity as you realistically need.
Thankfully, cloud storage is more affordable than ever before. Besides, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your online files.