Safe online storage has benefits that make it appealing to both private users and businesses. Renting extra space to store all kinds of files and documents protects your own hard drives and makes sure that your work or home PCs, smartphones, etc. have enough space for the operating system and programs you’ve installed. Also, unlike files on the hard drive of a desktop computer, files in a cloud storage can be accessed over the internet at any time, from anywhere, and on any device. In our large cloud storage test, you can find out what to look for in a service and which company has the best cloud package.
What makes a good online storage service like the cloud?
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the different storage services. Because of this, many people choose a service based on how much it costs. Even though this is one of the most important things to consider when looking for a place to store your files, it is not the only thing you should look at. As with other web services, how easy it is to use and how safe your own data is are also important. For businesses, it’s also important to know what features the cloud solution has for working together. Lastly, you should also think about how reliable each provider is and how good their customer service is.
In more detail, the criteria used to compare cloud storage have to do with the following:
- Costs: Online storage sounds great, but even the best cloud solution can’t cost more than what you can afford. Most of the time, the providers offer a variety of subscription models, which vary mainly in how much storage space they offer, but sometimes also in how many functions they offer. Because of this, you should think ahead of time about how much storage space you need and which features you can’t live without. With this information, you can compare the different offers in the best way. Most of the time, there is also a basic plan that is free to use.
- Usability: Another important part of a cloud service is how easy it is to use. So you should be able to easily upload and download your files, no matter what device you’re using. This also applies to all the ways the service lets people work together: If you want to share files with other people who use the cloud or work on documents together, the system should be easy to use. If sharing your cloud storage is very important to you, you should look for features like a change log and synchronization across devices. The best cloud storage services have clients and apps for each device that are made to be as easy to use as possible.
- Security: Cloud services are vulnerable in some ways, just like any other web app. A good provider’s job and duty, then, is to protect all files and user data as well as possible so that data doesn’t get lost or stolen. Modern data centers, advanced firewalls and back-up plans, and encryption of both the data being stored and the data being sent are all things to work toward. If data security is very important to you, you should also look at where the server is located. Does it store your data in Germany or at least in an EU country? If not, you can’t be sure that sensitive information will be handled in line with data protection laws.
- Dependability and help: With cloud storage, it’s even more important than with other Web services that the service is reliable and has good customer service. It’s important to always have access to your files and to know about new products, technical problems, and changes as soon as possible. It’s just as important that the service is always online as it is that it lasts for a long time. If your cloud storage stops working after six months, you’ll have to do a lot of extra work to find a new one. The longer a provider has been in business, the more professional it is, and the more help you should be able to get from them if you have any questions or problems about online storage.
Compare online storage services: What kinds of storage are there?
The perfect cloud storage would have a high level of security, be easy to use, and have little downtime. The package is complete with a lot of storage space that costs as little as possible. There are different ways to meet this need, depending on what the user wants to store in the cloud, how much they know, and how much money they have. We show you some of the best online storage services.
IONOS, a domain and hosting company, has a cloud storage service called HiDrive. Unlike its competitors, HiDrive is not free, but it does have a number of inexpensive subscription plans. For example, for only 1.50 euros per month, one person can already get 100 GB of storage space. Small businesses can also use the cloud service because it has business plans for up to 10 users and up to 2 TB of storage space for 10 euros per month. IONOS stores all data that is only sent encrypted (256-bit) in data centers that are among the safest in the world and are ISO 27001 certified.
You can use the web application or desktop apps and apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS to get to it. If you use one of the programs, you can also access your files when you’re not connected to the Internet, and the last synchronized status will be used. Using a sharing link, it’s also easy to send files you have stored in HiDrive to friends and other people you know.
With E-POST Cloud, Deutsche Post AG gives you free, secure online storage that you can use if you sign up. The cloud service is an addition to the E-POST digital mailbox, which lets you send and receive letters, emails, and faxes easily from your computer or smartphone over the Internet. For cloud storage to work, you also need an active E-POST account. You can always make one if you don’t have one. But in order to finish the registration, you must give a valid mobile phone number. By default, you only have 5 GB of storage space, but with a POSTID, you can increase that to 30 GB.
Unlike many other solutions, Deutsche Post AG’s online storage clearly puts security and data protection first. Both TÜV and the Federal Office for Security and Information Technology (BSI) have certified the mailbox and cloud, which doesn’t come as a surprise given the highest security standards (AES and TLS encryption, two-factor login, virus protection, etc. ), automatic backups, and state-of-the-art server in Germany. You can use the cross-platform web application, the Windows client E-POST MAILER, or the E-POST app to get to the cloud (for iOS and Android). Since E-POST accounts aren’t meant to be shared, the cloud service doesn’t have any ways for people to work together.
Google Drive, a cloud service, was released on April 24, 2012, by the search engine giant Google. At the time, the app grew and took the place of the Office solution Docs, which was already built into Drive. Five years later, at the Google I/O developer conference, the group announced that the storage service had reached 800 million users around the world. To use it, you need an active Google account, which you also need for other Google services like Gmail or Google Photos, which are also connected directly to the cloud thanks to the right interfaces. To get started, you can use 15 GB of storage space for free. You can get more space by signing up for paid subscriptions (100 GB for around 2 euros, 30 TB for around 300 euros per month or even unlimited storage in the business tariff).
When you look at the tray, which is what Drive’s main menu is called, it’s easy to see why the Google program is one of the best cloud storage, management, and processing tools for all kinds of files and documents: You can link to hundreds of third-party apps and upload data with just one click. You can also download and use the popular Office suite services Docs, Forms, Spreadsheets, Drawings, Slides, Sites, and My Maps. Google Drive syncs the files you save on all of the devices you use to get to the cloud. If you don’t want to use the web application for this purpose, you can download free apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Since 2005, the American company Box has had a cloud service called the same name that lets both private users and businesses share and manage files without having to do it themselves. With the business plans, the development team focused right from the start on features that make it easier for people to use Box together: For example, you can use bookmarks (favorites) to easily share links, make tasks (to-do lists), or store them in real time Notes on the files and tasks you choose. All changes are written down in the action history, so you can always tell who made them (including timestamp). It is clear which users can access which parts of the cloud. Control access permissions on a per-user basis.
Box also does well when it comes to security and keeping your data safe: The key management service from AWS can be used to encrypt files that are managed by the customer (Amazon Web Services). Enterprises even have the option of using a hardware security module to protect the necessary encryption keys on their own (HSM). The cloud provider uses the data centers of international partners so that it can follow local rules about data protection (e.g. in Germany, Ireland, Japan and Australia).
Box, like many of the other cloud storage services we tested, has desktop clients for macOS and Windows as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android. With these apps, you can access your cloud storage (Box Drive) and make notes (Box Notes). Box gives its customers up to 10 GB of free storage space (upload size limited to 250 MB per file). Business plans start at 13.50 euros per user per month for private users who want to upgrade to 100 GB.
The same-named company, with offices in Switzerland and Hungary, started the Tresorit online storage service in 2014. The Tresorit team didn’t just pick a name at random for its cloud service: End-to-end encryption means that your files are encrypted before they are sent, so they are just as safe in the cloud as they are in a safe. File sharing is also possible thanks to encrypted and password-protected links to files and folders (up to 5 GB per file), expiration dates that can be set, and different permissions for each user. This makes it as safe as almost no other cloud provider. The security package is the same for all clients, whether they use the Tresorit browser app, the desktop app (Windows, macOS, or Linux), or the mobile app (iOS or Android).
The admin center is one of Tresorit’s best features because it is both large and easy to understand. Here you get the perfect overview of your storage space and the accessing users or devices. At this point, you also manage the individual user accounts and define security guidelines , for example by blocking access to certain devices or IP addresses or by activating two-factor authentication .
The certified data centers (ISO-27001) used by Tresorit are located e.g. in Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands . Compliance with European and especially German data protection guidelines is therefore not a problem. Private users get 500 GB of storage for EUR 8.33 per month (upgradeable to up to 2.5 TB for EUR 20 per month). The price for teams starts at 12 euros per user per month (1 TB per user). A free basic variant, which distinguishes many cloud storage systems in comparison, is missing. However, Tresorit offers a free service for securely sending large files (up to 5 GB).
The iCloud Drive storage service should be particularly well known to owners of Apple devices – because the cloud solution is part of the standard software package for iOS and macOS , which is why it is installed and usable automatically. However, Windows users can also access iCloud Drive via the web interface or using the desktop application that can be downloaded from the Apple website . The only requirement is a valid Apple ID , which you can create for free at any time. Together with other services such as the word processing editor Pages or the spreadsheet program Numbers, Drive forms the iCloud suite. This cloud offer is aimed exclusively at private users who have 5 GB of free storage as standardreceive. This can be upgraded to either 50 (approx. 1 euro per month) or 200 GB (approx. 3 euro per month). Apple has a 2 TB package for families (up to five users) for around 10 euros per month.