Which cloud storage has the best value?
Best Answer: Overall, Microsoft OneDrive has the best value if you're going to pay at 1TB for $6.99 a month, and that includes an Office 365 subscription. For the most space and versatility without having ever to pay a dime, then you can't go wrong with Google Drive's free 15GB. Mega is another good option for the most free storage right out of the gate (50GB), however, while it offers end-to-end encryption on your files, it's not as versatile with third-party integrations like other services.We found the following:Best value: Microsoft OneDrive ($1.99 /mo and up at OneDrive)Good old reliable: Google Drive ($1.99 /mo and up at Google Drive)Secure but limited: Mega (€4.99/$5.56 /mo and up at Mega)All things Apple: iCloud ($0.99 /mo and up at Apple)Incredible versatility: Dropbox ($11.99 /mo and up at Dropbox)Going beyond Prime: Amazon Drive ($19.99 /yr and up at Amazon)Drop it all in here: Box ($10 a month at Box)
Is iCloud not good enough?
Apple's iCloud comes with your Apple ID and is probably what you're using by default on your iPhone or iPad for things like device backups, photos, documents, and other data. But Apple only gives you 5GB for free, which is barely anything. The pricing for more iCloud storage is:
- 5GB free
- 50GB $0.99/mo
- 200GB $2.99/mo
- 2TB $9.99/mo
iCloud is certainly not very expensive when you look at it on paper, and it's the easiest option out of all of these, but you certainly don't get the best value from it.
So Microsoft OneDrive is the best value, you say?
If you don't mind going with Microsoft, then Microsoft OneDrive is a great value if you plan on paying. Signing up for an account is free, but only nets you 5GB of space by default, just like Apple iCloud. However, if you go for at least 1TB with OneDrive, then it's the best bang for your buck. Here's the breakdown with Microsoft OneDrive pricing:
- 5GB free
- 100GB $1.99/mo
- 1TB $6.99/mo or $69.99/yr, includes Office 365 Personal
- 6TB $9.99/mo or $99.99/yr, includes Office 365 Home
With the 6TB Microsoft OneDrive plan, that is a total of 6TB split up among 6 users, so 1TB each. You can share your total storage and have certain accounts with more than 1TB by sharing folders and adding shared folders to your own OneDrive. So while the 6TB option is still a pretty good value, you'll need to do a bit of folder juggling if you don't want to use six accounts.
How about that Google Drive?
Google Drive is a good option if you're already invested in the Google ecosystem. Chances are you already have a Google account and are already using it, but if you're not, then creating an account is free and nets you 15GB of space to start with. Google storage takes into account all of your stuff from Gmail, Photos, and Drive, so depending on how you're using Google services, it may fill up quickly (Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides don't count). Google Drive's pricing tiers are as follows:
- 15GB free
- 100GB $1.99/mo
- 200GB $2.99/mo
- 2TB $9.99/mo
- 10TB $99.99/mo
- 20TB $199.99/mo
- 30TB $299.99/mo
As you can see, Google Drive keeps it at $10 per TB, so even if you go with the higher TB plans, you aren't saving any money.
You mentioned a service called Mega; I've never heard of it before?
Mega was created in 2013 by the Kim Dotcom, who founded the now-defunct Megaupload. With Mega, they promise ultimate security with your files by offering end-to-end encryption. They claim that your files are encrypted before they even reach the Mega servers, so you should have nothing to worry about.
They also give you 50GB for free, which is the most storage you can get without paying a dime. This alone makes it worth checking out, and they've doubled the amount of storage you get for each paid tier, making it worth considering. However, you will want to think about the integration with other apps, which may not be as numerous as the competition.
- 50GB free
- 200GB €4.99/mo
- 2TB €9.99/mo
- 8TB €19.99/mo
- 16TB €29.99/mo
I always hear about Dropbox, how's that one?
Personally, I have been using Dropbox for years, and it's the one that I pay for, but it definitely isn't the best value (it was with Google Drive pricing before their price increases). However, it's so ubiquitous with integrations in third-party apps and services that it's hard to stop using it.
A free Dropbox account gets you a measly 2GB of free space, which is the smallest amount out of all of your options. However, you can bump that up to around 16GB if you max out the number of referral bonuses and activities, such as installing it on multiple devices. But if you want to get the most of Dropbox, then it's best to pay for it. There are several different tiers for both individuals and teams.
- 2GB free, more space earned with referral bonuses
- 2TB Plus, $11.99/mo or $120 a year
- 3TB Professional, $19.99/mo or $199 a year
- 5TB Standard Team, $15 per user per month or $150 per user per year
- Unlimited Advanced Team, $25 per user per month or $240 per user per year
Didn't you mention Amazon at some point?
Yes, Amazon has its own cloud storage solution, aptly named Amazon Drive. You can sign up for this with your existing Amazon account (who doesn't use Amazon these days?), and you'll get a 3-month trial. This should be more than enough time to determine if Amazon Drive is for you. After that trial is up, you have four options, and none of them are free, unfortunately.
- Prime Photos: unlimited photo storage, 5GB for video, music, and other files, included with Amazon Prime membership ($12.99/mo or $119/yr)
- 100GB $19.99/yr
- 1TB $59.99/yr
- 2TB $119.98/yr
The three paid options for more storage are separate from your existing Amazon Prime account, which includes Prime Photos. So even if you already pay for Amazon Prime, you'll need to pay extra for more non-photo storage.
What about that other Box?
Ah yes, Box. This one should be considered more of a business tool rather than something you use for personal cloud storage. It offers a fairly reasonable amount of space for free, but once you start paying, the value drops significantly.
- 10GB with 250MB file upload limit, free
- 100GB with 5GB file upload limit, $10/mo
As you can see, Box offers the worst value when you look at what you're getting for your money as an individual user. However, there are plans for small and medium-sized businesses, which start at $5 per user per month and go up from there.
That's a lot of services!
There are a ton of cloud storage solutions out there, but the ones we've covered here are the most well-known options.
Again, the best bang for your buck is definitely with Microsoft OneDrive, if you are looking to pay for something. You get 1TB for $6.99/mo, which is the cheapest one. You also get an Office 365 Personal subscription with your storage, which may come in handy if you need it for school or work.
Google Drive is our runner-up because it offers a modest amount of storage for free that should work for most people. The only caveat is that it's Google, so you may not trust it fully for private or sensitive documents, which is understandable.
Mega is not as popular as the other ones, but it gives you an ample amount of space for free, which makes it worth creating an account for.
Most bang for your buck
At $6.99/mo for 1TB and Office 365 Personal included, Microsoft OneDrive gives you the most for your dollar. It's also fairly popular and reliable, so you can't really lose here. And the Office 365 Personal subscription is handy if you need Office for school or work.
A substantial amount without having to pay
Google Drive gives all users 15GB for free, and for most, it's definitely enough space considering it works across Gmail, Photos, and Drive. Paying for more storage is pretty reasonable.
Mega is not as well known as the other services, but they give you 50GB for free just for signing up, and you get end-to-end encryption on all of your files.
The default solution
Apple's iCloud is the default solution for most of us since we use iOS devices and Macs. However, 5GB is hardly enough, and the paid options, while inexpensive, don't give you the best value. However, it does have seamless integration with iOS devices and Macs.
Access your files and app data anywhere
Dropbox has the worst free storage amount, but you can bump it up through referrals and other activities. The paid plans are a little expensive now, but it really shines when it comes to app integrations because it's supported by everything.
Amazon for everything
Amazon is taking over
Chances are you're already using Amazon, so you can easily sign up for a 3-month trial of their cloud storage services. The Prime Photos is included with your Prime membership, and the other tiers are super reasonably priced.
More for business
More of a business tool
Box gives you a decent amount for free, but it loses value when you start paying. It's more used as a business tool rather than for personal storage.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.