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Best Cloud Storage for 2016

Comparison of the best personal cloud storage providers

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Cloud Storage Reviews

With our increasing use of technology, keeping backups of your files and data on the best cloud storage is more important today than it has ever been. When data is lost, it is no longer a minor inconvenience - it could do some serious damage.

You have several options when it comes to backing up important files, but few offer as much ease and convenience as cloud storage.

A quality cloud storage provider allows you to store data offsite in the cloud, a network of servers which are combined to store and process data. This means you don't need to use a hard drive or other physical devices to store your data on you own. Some of the best cloud storage services allow you to set up automatic backups so files can be saved directly to the cloud.

Best Cloud Storage: What to Consider

As you look over your cloud service provider options, there are several key factors to consider. It gets down to how you use your tablet, smartphone, and laptop and what you wish to save. The best data storage solutions work smoothly with other apps and services and of course on all your devices. Ideally, working with a data storage service is a seamless experience; keep this in mind as you research the options.

1. Security is Your First Concern

First and foremost, look for a company with a strong reputation for air-tight security. Does the company have robust encryptions to protect your data? Conduct a due diligence check on data storage companies you are seriously considering. Have there been reports of incidents where their security was breached? Most of the data storage providers I recommend are known for their top-notch security.

Also consider how you will use the cloud. For example, be careful about connecting your social media accounts like Facebook to your cloud service. If your password to a social media account becomes compromised, hackers can gain access to your cloud storage via your social media account. Another possible leak situation can occur when you upload files from your smartphone to the cloud. Strong passwords are helpful, but what security measures are in place from the data storage provider? Be aware of which apps automatically work with your cloud storage. You must also be vigilant against uploading malicious files to your cloud storage.

2. How Much Data Are You Storing?

If your data storage needs are small, services like Microsoft OneDrive offer a limited amount of storage for free. Some cloud storage services offer a free version, with a limit on the amount of storage you can get at no cost.

Take a look at what type of data you work with, and prioritize which files are most important to you. Create a spreadsheet to calculate how much cloud storage you actually need. Tally up how much data you have on hand that you'd like to put on the cloud. As a rule of thumb, go ahead and double the total amount of storage required when you sign up for a personal cloud data storage service, as you'll have ongoing storage needs. Some services offer unlimited storage, but price can be a deterrent for you.

3. What Are the Accessibility Options Offered?

Does the service allow you to access your files from multiple devices and computers or only from a single computer? The best data storage services allow access, filing sharing, and archiving from all your digital devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. As mentioned in the benefits section, it's very convenient to create a file on a tablet and instantly have it available on your laptop or phone. You could start a file over coffee with friends for example, and open it up later at home and work with it on a different device.

Data storage is a relatively new industry, driven by innovations in service. This works in the consumer's favor, as accessibility options like file sharing and syncing become the norm. For those in the cloud storage game, they must keep up, or they will be out of business quickly.

4. What Are You Storing?

There are services geared to a specific type of file, such as music or photos. That's when you want to keep in mind of the services that suit your needs - for instance, you might want to seek out services that offer the best online photo storage. If you want to store a range of file types, be sure you sign on with a service that can handle all of them. If you have a lot of large files, you should consider a service that offers unlimited storage and no file size cap such as Zip Cloud or Carbonite.

Before backing up all of your documents, photos, music and videos to a cloud service, take the time to look at what you have and edit it. Musical taste changes and we all take plenty of bad photos. Why pay good money to store files you don't need? Interestingly, financial documents and information, some of your most important files, may be quite small in actual file size. Videos and PDFs are often enormous in size and end up devouring space.

5. How Good Is the Customer Service?

Cloud storage is intended to solve your data backup problems, putting your precious digital files in a secure place in case your laptop has a meltdown or your two year old spills a bottle of coke onto it. But things can and do go wrong with cloud storage, so it's good to have a hedge against this possibility. First of all, many cloud storage services offer either a free trial or a free account for a small amount of space. Go ahead and use a service on this basis with a sub-set of your digital files and get the hang of it before you commit to placing all of your data in an unproven cloud.

When you do commit to paying for cloud storage, look carefully at the customer support options of each service. Should something go wrong, it's great to have access to help, especially if the company offers multiple channels of contact such as phone, chat, and email. Check independent customer service reviews, off the company website, to see what actual customers have to say about each provider's customer support.

6. What Are the Fees, Terms, and Conditions?

An important part of shopping for a monthly service is to get the best deal on good terms. Bottom line, you can get a heck of a lot of storage for just a few dollars per month from a good cloud storage service. Typically, there are incentives such as a free month for paying for a year or more up front. The basic data storage plans are in the $4 to $6 per month range if you are willing to pay for at least a year at a time.

The Best Cloud Storage

By 2017, the public cloud services market is expected to exceed beyond $244 billion. That number is expected to grow to $173 billion in 2026. This stat strongly indicates that cloud storage is here to stay and that people should take advantage of these services. I've evaluated the data storage industry and can recommend these top providers of cloud storage with confidence.

Keep in mind which type of files and devices you work with and choose a provider that will be able to best provide you with smooth service as you move files back and forth.

ZipCloud Backup Review

  • Pros
  • Zip Cloud provides unlimited storage, no file size cap
  • Offers multi-device backup
  • Built in file organizer
  • File archiving and sharing
  • Desktop client
  • Cons
  • No telephone support
  • Inability to search for files
  • Limited mobile access

Zip Cloud leads the way in online backup services with great features like unlimited storage and no file size cap, multi-device backup and file archiving and sharing. The service includes a program that intuitively organizes files for you.

It does have a great FAQ page on its website but does not offer phone support, although you can refer to a phone for billing questions. Technical support is available via email.

JustCloud Backup Review

  • Pros
  • Automatic backups
  • Access files from anywhere
  • High-end security
  • 24/7 customer support via email
  • FAQs section
  • Cons
  • Limited to email support
  • Non-competing price

JustCloud is a renowned for their high-end security, delivering peace of mind along with data storage. You can access your files from anywhere and your files are automatically backed up. This cloud provider offers 24/7 customer support via email, but sometimes the response time lags.

JustCloud offers unlimited data storage but at a price that is considered high end for this service.

Carbonite Backup Review

  • Pros
  • High-end security
  • Password protected data
  • Great customer support
  • Various ways to backup data
  • Unlimited storage
  • Cons
  • Does not support file sharing or archiving
  • Some bothersome features

Carbonite offers a bundle of great features with its data storage service. Your data is password protected of course, as its security is among the best in the cloud storage business. It also offers unlimited storage and excellent customer support. It boasts a 93% customer satisfaction and has even received customer care awards.

However, it's been a little late to offer file sharing and syncing, but it has recently begun offering these industry standard features, moving it up a notch in my ratings.

Livedrive Backup Review

  • Pros
  • High security standards
  • Access files online and on mobile devices
  • Sync with multiple computers
  • Share files easily
  • Cons
  • Slightly more expensive that similar services

Livedrive offers unlimited data backup and an abundance of data storage service plans to choose from, alongside a 14-day free trial. You receive all the standard features, like access from all your digital devices, file sharing, and syncing.

The company maintains high security standards, keeping your data safe. That being said, Livedrive charges a bit more than comparable services.

iDrive Backup Review

  • Pros
  • Affordable mid-range plans
  • Set bandwidth limits
  • Live chat available
  • File sharing ability
  • Secure encryption and data transferring
  • Cons
  • Pricey top tier plans

iDrive backs up all your digital devices with one account, offers top-notch security and good customer support via phone or live chat. It does not offer unlimited backup, but overall it's very good, featuring clever features such as Facebook and Instagram backup.

5 Benefits of the Best Cloud Storage

According to the International Data Corporation official site:

"A new update to the Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows worldwide revenues from public cloud services reaching more than $195 billion in 2020."

This number makes absolute sense, as the best cloud storage services offer some fantastic advantages that can't be offered by other backup methods. Here are just a few benefits to consider if you're on the fence over adopting a cloud service as a backup method.

1. The best cloud backup services are user-friendly

Most cloud storage services carry the convenience of simply dragging and dropping files and folders from the user's local storage to the cloud storage.

2. Files are easily accessible, wherever you go

The beauty of cloud storage - and, in my opinion, one of the greatest advantages cloud storage has - is the idea that all files on the cloud server can be accessed from any device (smartphone, tablet, notebook, or desktop)! This is a huge convenience in comparison to simply backing up files to an external or thumb drive and lugging that around with you (though it's always a good idea to carry a physical backup, just in case).

3. Cloud storage is typically more secure compared to local storage

It's true - people may not have the skillset or the memory to lock down local files, which are often ripe for plucking. With the best online storage services, the data is encrypted at all times, so no unauthorized user can break in.

4. Cloud services typically offer the ability to sync your files automatically

Creating a document in a program like Windows Notepad can be a bit of a pain, as there is no way to automatically save the file. Instead, you need to manually save. Yet, what if your computer overheats and shuts down? What if you've neglected to save about an hour's worth of work? Cue rage and frustration.

The top cloud storage providers ensure that your files are automatically updated, so that you won't lose your data. Furthermore, services such as Google Docs can be your best friend in situations similar to the aforementioned happenstance.

5. Online storage services allow for collaboration and sharing

Say you would like to share a folder of images with a design crew who is producing an album cover. The top cloud storage services offer the ability to share files and folders in a user-friendly fashion. You can simply send the secure folder to the crew members, who can open the file without complaints (unless you forget to set it so they could access the folder in the first place).

Advice for Choosing the Best Cloud Storage

As you consider the pros and cons of each cloud storage provider, take the time to look over our advice guides to learn more on the subject. These articles are sure to be helpful in making a decision about the best data storage company for you. Here are several examples of articles in the advice guide:

  • How do you currently store and backup your data? Are you aware of the advantages of using a cloud storage service? If your files are on the hard drive of your laptop, you leave yourself vulnerable to a system crash and loss of your files. Or maybe you have a bunch of flash drives scattered about? It may be time to consider using a data storage service.
  • For those who own or operate a business, cloud storage can help your business. Your digital data is critical to every aspect of running a successful operation. All aspects of business activity from marketing to order processing generate an ongoing stream of digital information, which must be properly archived and accessible at a moment's notice. The most efficient choice for storing business data is to put it in the cloud. When looking for a cloud storage service for business, keep an eye out for their data organizing features, a must-have for backing up business files in a variety of categories.
  • Let's face it, 15GB of storage space at Google Drive is not enough. It's a great cloud service where you can store all of your digital files, and comes with 15GB of free space. You can access Google Drive from your tablet, smartphone and computer, with the files synced to all devices. Certainly you can pack a lot of stuff into 15GB, but things really open up for only $1.99 per month, their fee for storing up to 100 GB. If you need a truly huge amount of space, for $10/month you get 1 TB (1000GB).
  • Explore the best methods to store backup data. Our work, play, financial, educational, family and hobby activities all have a toe in the digital waters. It's become critical for most of us to have a secure home for our digital files. Take a close look at the options for backing up your data. External hard drives are handy, but you must manually add files, and like your laptop, they are vulnerable to crashes, spills, toddler tantrums and other hazards. Then there are online backup and cloud storage services, with cloud storage offering the easiest access from all of your digital devices.

How I Decided the Best Cloud Service

I was able to narrow down the list of best cloud services (which was no easy task) by performing the following evaluation:

  • I researched and gathered information on the top online storage services with a primary focus on value and features.
  • From there, I eliminated the services that were simply outside of MoneySavingPro's scope.
  • Finally, I narrowed down the selection, relying on factors such as storage size, accessibility, organization, security, customer support, reviews, BBB presence, and price. With that knowledge in mind, that is how I came up with the top five cloud storage services.

You Can Always Consider the Best Free Cloud Storage

If you can't exactly afford any of the best cloud storage services offered, you can always rely on the free yet reliable services such as Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. However, it is not recommended to approach Dropbox, as it was recently hacked.

Just a couple of months ago, 68 million user accounts were for sale over on the dark web. Not exactly a desired outcome for your data. Instead, it's best to adopt services like Google Drive and OneDrive and take full advantage of their authentication and encryption services. Typically, these services are free and contain a limited amount of storage.

As previously mentioned, Google Drive offers up to 15GB, whereas OneDrive allows free users to take advantage of up to 5GB. And it's better than nothing if you're running low on funds. Again, if you need more space, you can always upgrade for a reasonable fee.

Don't Just Rely on the Best Cloud Storage Services

You never know what can happen with a cloud service. A cloud storage service could end up hacked, as mentioned previously. Not only that, but an online storage service may shut down, and you may not receive the memo to backup your files before the service is gone forever. A cloud storage shutdown has happened before, and it will happen again.

"So make sure to also rely on on-site backup methods. Always have two to three backups on hand."

Go out and purchase a thumb drive or an external drive (both go for relatively cheap prices, depending on the size), and make sure your folders are safely copied over. Furthermore, add strong encryption to your drive to ensure that, if the drive is lost or stolen, it won't be broken into.

Cloud Storage Review Recap

By the end of this year, spending on public cloud Infrastructure as a Service hardware and software is forecast to reach $38 billion.

Cloud storage is rapidly growing, as it is a convenient way to backup files so that they can be accessed from anywhere. In a world where our online lives are increasingly connected to our real ones, this service is very important. Find one that has features and a price that works for you.

As you look over the options, keep in mind how you use your data and on what type of devices you use said data. Check each service carefully to ensure that you'll have a positive experience backing up and moving your digital information to the cloud.

Like cloud security, the level of antivirus security is a major factor in deciding what antivirus security software should be purchased. Perhaps you should take a moment to explore just what the best antivirus services are.

While cloud storage is great for hosting your folders and files, online backup services are a fantastic option for when disaster strikes. You never know when you would need an online backup service, so why not check out the best online backup providers?

Best Cloud Storage FAQs

How secure is cloud storage?

There is a lot of concern surrounding the security of cloud storage. The truth is that any time you are connected to the internet there is some risk that hackers may be able to steal your information. When you are transferring data to another location that is also connected to the internet the risk is always there. However, most cloud storage services pay careful attention to securing data as it is uploaded and as it sits in their servers.

Most services transfer data in robust encryptions that make it very difficult for hackers to access your data. Once it is on the hosting servers, your information is typically monitored by 24/7 security services to ensure no one gains access to the facility physically or remotely.

Different services have different levels of security. If you are shopping for a cloud storage service, make sure security is a major factor in your decision.

What exactly is cloud storage?

Cloud storage is a method of storing digital data on a remote server as opposed to a local hard drive. The remote servers are typically owned, managed and protected by a hosting service. With a cloud service users can access their own files on these servers via the internet. From the user's perspective, information is uploaded to the internet instead of a local hard drive. With most services, this allows the user to access files from any device in any location with an internet connection.

Cloud storage services also offer more than just simple data backups. You may also be able to sync several devices with uploaded files or share files with friends and family. When compared to conventional data backup, cloud storage offers more portability and ease of access.

What does cloud storage mean?

With our high-tech lives, we accumulate so much digital data that it's important to be able to access it and simultaneously know that it's safeguarded at all times. Cloud storage backs up your files on an external server so that they are safe and secure while not taking up space on your computer.

Does it take up space on my hard drive?

How the cloud storage works is that it stores your data, files and information in 'the cloud', so that your personal computer doesn't get bogged down from storage overload. What this means is that you do not necessarily need space on your computer hard drive in order to save data, nor do you need an external drive hooked up to your computer or laptop.

What do I consider when looking into cloud storage?

There are several cloud storage service providers that are offering great features for their services. You first have to determine which device is carrying the information and data you want to save on the cloud storage. It could be a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone. Then you must determine how much space you'll need on the cloud so that all your information can safely fit.

Is cloud storage secure and safe?

Cloud storage is the safest way to secure your data and files. Make sure to choose a company that has great customer reviews, high ratings and a reputation for high security. Note that you should be careful saving passwords and extremely private information on cloud storage. As with anything, having passwords available on cloud storage opens up the possibility of hackers accessing it. Make sure you choose a cloud stage company that has security measures in place in the event that your passwords compromised.

How do I know how much data I am storing?

You first have to determine how much data you plan on storing in the cloud. If you do not require a huge amount than first consider the free storage options which many of these providers advertise. Again, these free plans (i.e., Dropbox) will often suffice if your storage needs are low.

How much cloud storage do I need?

A great rule of thumb is always double the amount of storage you think you will need. Since you will likely be adding to your cloud, it is important to have ample space that will allow for adequate storage. Take a look at how much you will be storing on your cloud by creating a data sheet of what you currently have and what you anticipate you'll need in the future. This should give you a good approximation of the amount you'll likely use.

Can I access cloud storage anywhere?

Make sure to choose a cloud company that allows you to access your personal cloud from multiple devices whether it be a tablet, smartphone or computer. A transparent cloud storage service will allow you to access your cloud information from all of your devices, hassle free. File sharing and syncing are now relatively seamless with cloud storage programs.

What can I store in the cloud?

There are many things you can store in the cloud including photos, documents, videos and music, just to name a few. If you plan on storing a lot of data consider a service provider that allows unlimited storage and no file size cap like ZipCloud or Carbonite. It is a good idea to sift through all your files and delete the ones that are no longer serving you since they'll take up valuable space in the cloud.

What about troubleshooting issues?

The beauty about cloud storage is that it can resolve your data backup problems. Cloud storage also prioritizes files in an effort to put important accounts, records and files in the safest and most secure place. Make sure that the company you choose to go with comes with a customer support center that is accessible 24/7.

How much does cloud storage cost?

The cost of cloud storage varies between providers but the going rate is about $5 per month – obviously increasing with the more storage you purchase.

What are some cloud storage providers?

Some of the top cloud storage providers are Zipcloud, Carbonite, Just Cloud, iDrive and Livedrive. Each provide great customer service, high customer ratings and efficient service.

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Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.