The best cloud storage option for you will depend both on how much space you need and on how much you need to protect your files. If you work in a highly regulated field, such as financial services or health care, you should be willing to pay more for solutions that offer premium information security. If you’re a consumer or work for a company that doesn’t store a lot of sensitive information, convenience, cost-effectiveness, and storage capacity will matter more than strong security.
Safe cloud storage combines both encryption and server virtualization security. Let’s take a look at your five best options for personal and business cloud storage.
Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive: Big on Convenience
With solutions for both consumers and businesses, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive epitomize convenience and cost-effectiveness. The security disadvantage of all of these services is that they don’t encrypt files locally before transmitting them over the Internet. Your files do get encrypted once they reach the storage location, but they’re not encrypted from the moment you upload them. It’s not a big deal for most individuals and organizations, but it matters a lot if you deal with PCI or HIPAA.
Dropbox has support for more devices than any other cloud storage alternative, including support for Linux, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. For free accounts, Dropbox’s storage capacity is pretty measly: just 2 GB. You can earn more storage without paying by referring friends to Dropbox, setting up automatic camera uploads from your mobile phone, or linking Dropbox to social media accounts.
You can upgrade to Dropbox Pro, which for $9.99 per month or $99 per year, offers 1 TB of storage. Dropbox for Business provides 1 TB of secure cloud storage for companies at the cost of $150 per year per user.
OneDrive offers 15 GB of free storage, and you can earn an extra 5 GB by referring others to the service and 15 GB for backing up your camera roll. If you’re already an Office 365 user, you get 1 TB of OneDrive storage for free. OneDrive’s free version also allows you to set permissions when you share files, such as read-only or edit, something that’s only available in Dropbox’s Pro and Business versions.
Additional OneDrive storage, at 100GB, 200GB, and 1TB, costs $1.99, $2.99, and $6.99 per month, respectively. Keep in mind that Microsoft’s privacy protections are iffy; according to the terms of service, Microsoft can banish files that the company deems inappropriate.
Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage across all of its services, including Gmail, Google Apps, and Google Photos and Streams. If you already have a Google account, then you already have Google Drive available.
Google Drive lets you set permissions for shared files at no cost, but it only offer 128-bit encryption as opposed to the 256-bit encryption supplied by Dropbox. If you’re a Google Apps organization, you have 30GB of free Google Drive storage. You can purchase additional storage, with 1TB costing $9.99 per month.
SpiderOak and Tresorit: For Serious Security
Both SpiderOak and Tresorit have a “zero knowledge policy” on stored files because every files is encrypted the moment it leaves your computer or mobile device. Each service handles file sharing and security a little differently.
When you share files, SpiderOak creates a room for you and the others who need to access the file. The room is password protected and accessible through website embeds, file links, or email invites. Its Hive feature syncs files across all of your devices, but only if you drag and drop the file into your Hive. You get 2GB for free, and 30GB, 1TB, and 5TB at $7, $12, and $25 per month, respectively.
Tresorit lets you establish groups, or tresors, into which you invite different people. Then, you share files within your tresors, and you set the group access rights for each tresor. Tresorit has offered a $50,000 bounty to any hacker that can penetrate its storage. So far, no hacker has succeeded. You can get 100GB of encrypted storage for $12.50 per month. Businesses can get 1TB of HIPAA-compliant storage for $25 per use per month, and enterprise tools cost $50 per user per month.
There you have it — a look at 2015’s best cloud storage offerings. Choose the one that strikes the best balance between convenience, budget, and security.