Close up of line of hard drives

Best cloud storage & file sharing – Comparison of favourites

Why move file sharing and storage to the cloud?

For years I have used a hybrid cloud strategy where I stored the bulk of my material on a local NASA NAS is similar to a mini-server on the network that allows multiple devices to connect to a storage pool. with key material backed up to the cloud.

When the NAS failed, and I spent a significant time recovering, I started looking at the costs compared to a cloud first future. What follows are the considerations and options I worked through.

What are you using the cloud storage for?

Depending on your use case, cloud storage costs have dropped to where they can compete with on-site solutions. Even if your use case doesn’t allow a complete shift to the cloud, for example surveillance, you may find you can reduce the data held on-site. I will split this article into two parts associated with two different use cases:

This doesn’t include all vendors, but it includes my favourites, and the ones I use, except iCloud. Please add your preferences and reasons in the comments though.

Comparison of cloud storage and file sharing options

Common features

All the cloud storage and file sharing options presented below include some common features.

  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android including automatic upload of images
  • Desktop integration allowing easy link sharing and direct storage of files to the cloud with the ability to remove local copies to save space
  • Selective folder syncing to the desktop
  • End-to-end encryption
  • File versioning support
  • Password-protected file sharing

Summary

FeaturepCloudSyncOneDriveGoogle Drive
Price* (yearly fee unless stated)5GB – Free
500GB – $48
2TB – $96
5GB – Free
2TB – $96
4TB – $180
1TB & Office – $99
Extra TB – $10/ month
Free – 15GB
200GB – $30
2TB – $100
10TB – $100/ month
Price (lifetime plans)500GB – $175
2TB – $350
Max capacity (individual)2TB4TB – individual
10TB – team plans
2TB30TB
Max file sizeNo limit5GB – Web
No limit via apps
100GB5TB
HIPAA certified**
Client side encryption$3.99/month
$125 lifetime
Custom link branding

* Free options may have reduced functionality.

** HIPAA compliance of the vendor is not enough. Businesses must enter a business associate agreement and ensure their own compliance. Please ensure you familiarise yourself with all your obligations.

So where’s Box? Box is frankly not one of my favourite vendors but does offer some interesting solutions. I would encourage anybody to take a look and see if it is appropriate for them and will look to do a more in depth review in the future.

Conclusion

So which options do I use? Actually I have used all four. Sync provides the best user experience and value for money, in my view. OneDrive and Google can have the best integration to their own services.

pCloud – This is a Swiss company that you may not have heard of before but pay attention because they are innovating in this space. One great benefit is that they offer lifetime prices, which if you are going to invest over the long term are very attractive. If you are small business their link branding can make a nice landing page to shared files as well.

Sync – A Canadian company that is taking the lead in both experience and security. Their prices are attractive and they offer a great variety of controls and monitoring for link sharing. Unfortunately their archiving solution (vault) is not as well designed as those like OneDrive where you can just right click to remove it locally. People also don’t need an account to access a link.

OneDrive – Provided by Microsoft, meaning if you use Microsoft Office, you probably already have 1 TB of free space in OneDrive, and that can make it a great first choice. This was my default until I started to exceed the storage space.

Google Drive – Like iCloud for Apple, if you are heavily invested in Google’s platforms, Google Drive can become a default choice. I used it for years for web application backups until they grew a bit too large. Google’s advantage is it supplies the capacity

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