25 Sep 2019

10 Best Free Cloud Backup Services

Cloud-based storage solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Businesses and their customers now rely heavily on cloud services as opposed to physical storage and hardware. I’m sure many of you can relate to this, perhaps without even realising it. For example, when you take a photo on your phone, these can be uploaded straight to the cloud. An example of this is Apple iOS users who use iCloud.

Cloud storage is used for a variety of reasons. According to Statista, the most popular use of cloud service storage is to protect against the loss of data (backups). Let’s look at the B2B and B2C revenues, the hosting, storage and computing cloud services market revenue in the United Kingdom for 2018. The turnover was around $8.3m and this is expected to rise to $9.7m by 2021. 

 

Disadvantages Of Cloud Storage

Internet Speed: If you decide to run a backup during business hours, your internet utilisation could be affected. You may need to setup some bandwidth controls in order to assign only a certain amount of bandwidth to your backups.

Compliance Issues: Depending on which sector you work within, cloud storage may not be an option. Certain industries like Healthcare and Financial Services need to carefully consider their options before using the cloud.

Vulnerability: Although any business or individual can be vulnerable to security attacks, we do have to mention this. As with any technology, it is not completely flawless and hackers may find a way to access your data or information, although it is unlikely.

 

1: Google Drive

Google Drive allows any user to have 15GB worth of storage for free. All you need is a Google account (also free), and you can start storing your photos, videos, documents etc. In my opinion, Google Drive is the best free cloud backup service of 2019. Whilst many cloud services are very similar, I feel Google Drive has a much more personal touch to it.

If you need to access your data offline, Google Drive can help you view your files without any issues. If you have documents to scan, all you need to do is upload them and Google will do the rest. You can also share your documents with others, allowing for easier access and collaboration should you need it.

Access anywhere (from multiple devices)
Share files with others easily (and collaborate)
15GB free

 

Visit Google Drive

 

2: MediaFire

MediaFire allows you to store up to 10GB of data for free. If you refer your friends or complete certain bonuses, you may be able to increase your storage up to 50GB. MediaFire also offers premium services $3.75 per month which includes a whopping 1TB of space.

Similar to Google Drive, MediaFire will give you access to share your files and folders with other people. You can share what you like and allow others to collaboratively work with you. There’s also a mobile app to make the process easier, available to download on iPhone, iPad, Android, or Apple TV.

Large file uploads
No bandwidth limitations
10GB free (option to upgrade to 50GB)

 

Visit MediaFire

 

3: Dropbox

 

Dropbox doesn’t offer as much storage space as other cloud services. You’ll start off with 2GB of free space, but this can easily be increased to 18GB by completing a few simple tasks. Whether you’re using a desktop or mobile, you can use the Dropbox app to upload your files from anywhere.

If you want to share your files with others, you can do so, and they don’t need a Dropbox account. For those of you who store Microsoft Office documents on Dropbox, you may be pleased to know that you can edit your documents for free using Microsoft Office Online.

Earn free storage
File and folder sharing
Retrieve deleted files

 

Visit Dropbox

 

4: MEGA

 

Although many of you may not have heard of MEGA before, they’re certainly worth considering. With a massive 50GB free cloud storage, you’ll enjoy end-to-end encryption with fast transfers. They also have a mobile app which can be downloaded on iOS, Windows, Android and many more.

MEGA boasts many security features, as well as secure communication. You can share your files with anyone of your choosing, as well as compiling messages, instant chat, and audio and video calls. If you decide you want more storage in the future, MEGA offers 2 premium plans which offer unlimited storage.

Plenty of storage
Mobile and desktop app
File sharing and messages

 

Visit MEGA

 

5: pCloud

 

pCloud offers 10GB free online storage. Like many cloud services, you can increase this to 20GB by completing bonuses like friend referrals. pCloud have a mobile app as well as a desktop client. They also support remote URL file adding, where you can upload single files or whole folders through your browser.

You can send and share your files with anyone you choose. When you sign up to pCloud you’ll be given your own unique email address so you can receive files directly from others to your pCloud account. If you share a lot of images on your social media accounts, you can backup these with pCloud for free.

Multimedia streaming
No file limits
Earn additional storage

 

Visit pCloud

 

6: Box

 

Box (formerly known as Box.net) offer 10GB of free online cloud storage. Their mobile app can be downloaded on iOS and Android and allows you to upload (as well as share) your content. They also have a desktop app for Windows and Mac; the client is really easy to use and makes uploading files very simple.

If you require your cloud storage to be able to share files and folders with people, Box won’t let you down. Simply choose the files or folders you want to share and Box will present you with a shareable link. Box’s security tools are second to none, regardless of the type of compliance you need to meet.

Bulk file downloads
Spreadsheet integration
10GB free storage

 

Visit Box

 

7: FlipDrive

 

If you’re new to FlipDrive, you can bag yourself 10GB free cloud storage. Like many other free cloud storage services, you can earn more storage for every friend you refer to FlipDrive. You can choose whether to use FlipDrive’s website or app to upload files. If you use their website, you can upload entire folders at any given time which is very handy.

Sharing files and folders with others is easy too. Your friends/family don’t need a FlipDrive account to be able to access files, but they will need one to view folders. Similar to other services, you can give people access to write, edit, and delete files and folders should you wish. There’s a limit of 25MB for shared files, and overall it’s not as easy to use as other services we’ve tested.

Plenty of free storage
Cross-platform apps
File sharing permissions

 

Visit FlipDrive

 

8: Yandex Disk

 

I’d never heard of Yandex Disk before now. Yandex is a Russian company who provide multiple helpful tools like Yandex Search and Yandex Email. Customers choosing Yandex Disk will get 10GB free cloud storage once you’ve created an account with them.

Yandex have similar features to other cloud storage services like public and private file/folder sharing. They also offer some unique features like social network photo imports, bulk downloads, and automatic mobile uploads. Whilst they may not be as well known as other services, they certainly don’t scrimp on useful tools. There’s a mobile app available to download for Android and iOS.

Unique features
Automatically upload mobile images
10GB free storage

 

Visit Yandex.Disk

 

9: Sync

 

Sync offers free cloud storage of up to 5GB when you sign up for free. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any offers to increase the storage through referrals etc. unless you sign up to their pro version. However, when you upload files with Sync, you’re reassured they are 100% secure and private.

You can share files and folders with others; they don’t have to be a Sync user. They also offer a feature called vault which is a folder on Sync which isn’t shared across your devices. This is handy if you need to store files away for a rainy day but don’t necessarily need access on all your devices. Sync is available on Windows, iOS, and Android with both free and pro versions.

Upload via web
Collaborate with others
Vault storage for archived files

 

Visit Sync

 

10: iCloud

 

iCloud is a cloud storage solution suited to Apple users. You’ll get 5GB of iCloud storage for free, allowing you to store your documents, files, contacts, etc. safely and securely. It’s a very simple application to use and you can share your photos and videos with others, and even across your devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad).

The useful thing about iCloud is that you can free up your device’s storage by automatically uploading your files to the cloud. For Apple users, this can often be very handy as you can’t upgrade iOS storage like you can with other devices like Samsung phones. More storage can be purchased at a small cost of 79p per month for up to 50GB storage.

Easy to use
Automatically upload photos from your device
Share with family and friends

 

Visit iCloud

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25 Sep 2019

8 Cloud Storage Solutions Covering HIPAA Compliance & Privacy

HIPAA compliance is no joke – unsecured health information can seriously damage an individual and also the healthcare provider. The sensitive information held on healthcare records must be stored securely otherwise there can be some serious consequences. Shockingly surveys have found that 59% of doctors have written an offensive remark on someone’s medical records. You have a legal right to access your own medical records to check whether this has happened to you. Surprisingly, the researchers also found that:

Most patients don’t care unless it affects them, like a diagnosis that has a social stigma or has do with insurance coverage

That being said, it’s one thing to access your own health records, but a hacker gaining access is another story. For that reason an assigned Medical Technician must take extra measures to ensure that medical records are kept secure. That includes using cloud storage solutions that comply with HIPAA and cannot be hacked.

Finding an HIPAA compliant cloud storage facility is not easy. That is why I’ve created this article, so that you can find out more about HIPAA cloud storage and easily access / compare HIPAA cloud hosting options. 

What Is The Purpose of HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This bill was signed back in 1996 by Bill Clinton when he was president of the US. HIPAA is designed to offer protection to workers when they change or lose their jobs and also to protect health data, integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

The data protection (accountability) aspect of HIPAA is relevant to cloud storage, especially for healthcare companies. Violations of this bill come at serious costs to the healthcare provider. 

Privacy8 Cloud Storage Solutions Covering HIPAA Compliance & Privacy #law #cloudstorage #HIPAA Click To Tweet

How Much Does a HIPAA Violation Cost?

While you could get a small fine for a violation of HIPAA records, the fee is generally upwards of $100 per record to $50,000. The maximum fine that you can get for an HIPAA violation is $1.5 million. What’s more once a federal investigator has found an HIPAA breach the name of the practice is listed on the “Wall of Shame” and cannot be removed. Even companies who are under investigation for a breach of HIPAA appear on this page.  

Medical Technicians should get training for HIPAA compliance and also the development of a Risk Analysis and Management Plan. The cost for this is in the region of $2-$10k however, that’s a small price when you consider the cost of HIPAA violation fines.

In reality there is no true HIPAA-compliant cloud storage provider. The responsibility for setting up the tools required always falls in the lap of the healthcare provider. While the cloud storage provider can provide the tools, the healthcare provider must set them up. With that in mind let’s look at the best HIPAA-compliant cloud storage solutions and see what they can offer you.

HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Storage Providers

1. Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most famous cloud storage solutions on the planet right now, but Dropbox it truly HPAA compliant? And can you share protected health information (PHI) with Dropbox?

Dropbox openly states that they support HIPAA and HITECH Act compliance. To make their product truly HPAA compliant, the healthcare provider must set up and use the platform in the correct way. Dropbox will need to sign a business associate agreement with HIPAA-covered entities, which they are prepared to do. Thankfully, it’s really easy to sign the BAA with an electronic signature.

Dropbox Business Service is really cheap, at just $12.50 for up to five users. They also provide unlimited storage, which is a great bonus and also document recovery services. However, you must also set up your account so as no files can be deleted. 

One thing to note is that Dropbox allows you to use third party apps, and these apps will not be covered by the BAA that they’ve signed with you – so that is one to look out for. In saying that JotForm’s HIPAA-compliant form-building service is covered by the BAA, and is extremely useful for Healthcare Providers. There are certain aspects of HIPAA that require the correct configuration of Dropbox. For example you must disable permanent deletions of files, which is pretty easy to do in the admin console.

Pros
  • Share/ store PHI files within HIPAA rules
  • Easy to sign BAA and be covered against HIPAA
  • Need to configure account to be covered with BAA
  • Cost effective
Cons
  • Third party apps not covered with BAA

2. Atlantic.net

Atlantic.net is an award winning HIPAA cloud storage solution. They won the “Best HIPAA Platform Provider in 2018″ award and the “Best Patient Data Security Solution” award in 2019. Atlantic.net  also offer HIPAA hosting. Atlantic.net are fully HIPAA compliant and audited by HIPAA. To find out the cost you need to get in touch to discuss your individual needs. 

Atlantic.net has also implemented a robust hosting solution, including management services for Healthcare companies. Including the following features: Firewall, Encrypted VPN – for secure file transfer, Offsite backups – to ensure that medical records can always be retrieved, Multifactor authentication – via mobile phone to ensure that each user that accesses the account is who they say they are. 

All files are stored in a private hosted environment – Atlantic.net has secured the resources by privatizing the infrastructure.  They also implement SSL certificates site wide – for security and credibility. They have SSAE 18 certification and will sign a Business associate agreement (BAA).

Pros
  • HIPAA Audited
  • HIPAA Compliant
  • Multifactor authentication
  • Offsite backups
  • Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit (AES-256)
  • 24x7x365 Security, Support, & Monitoring
Cons
  • Price not displayed
  • You need to contact their sales dept to set up your cloud storage account

3. Box

Box has some nice features for healthcare users, for example they offer access monitoring and audit trails which allows you to verify what data was accessed, when and by whom. Box is extremely straightforward to use and integrates with Salesforce, JotForm and Google, while respecting PHI security. I love the fact that you can securely view Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) files, like x-rays, ultrasounds, and CTs. 

With Box you pay by user and the minimum amount of users for their business account is 3 users. It’s about $15 per user, so the minimum you’ll be paying is $45 per month, which is expensive compared to other cloud storage platforms

Box has created their HIPAA offering with the healthcare business in mind. They say that they offer “HIPAA-compliant access to critical documents in the exam room or on-the-go”. You have peace of mind when you use Box, as they have been HIPAA compliant since 2012. Box offers a “Box for Healthcare service” that allows you to integrate seamlessly with IBM, Microsoft, Apple, TigerText, eHealth Technologies, and EDCO Health apps. As always you’ll need to obtain a BAA from Box before you can consider their service HIPAA compliant. 

Pros
  • View DICOM files
  • Feature rich
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Integrate with professional healthcare apps
  • Advanced reporting tools
  • Works on any device

Free trial

Cons
  • Expensive
  • Configuration required

4. Tresorit

Tresorit is a European cloud storage solution. They offer end-to end encryption and Swiss privacy and say that they are the most secure place for your files on the cloud – but are they? 

Tresorit are HIPAA compliant and allow secure file storage and sharing. They encrypt data using 256-bit keys on your device. Tresorit has a secure file transfer method that has the benefit of looking professional. That way, healthcare providers can send sensitive medical files securely via secure branded folder links. 

They also have some nice features, for example you can track activity on shared files and add your institution’s branding. Tresorit offers a 1TB Business account that can be used with up to 10 people in your organization for just $10 per month. You can give them a go for FREE for 14 days.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • 14 day free trial
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Feature rich
  • Secure
Cons
  • Not unlimited space

5. Carbonite

You might not have heard of Carbonite, but in fact they are a popular cloud storage company with a particular affinity for security. Plus they’ve been around since 2005 and now have over 1. 5 million users, which is reassuring. You’ll need to get a “Carbonite Safe Backup Pro” or “Carbonite Safe Server Backup” plan to take advantage of Carbonite’s HIPAA compliance. 

Carbonite is abides by the Massachusetts Data Security Regulation (201 CMR 17) as well as taking all of the necessary steps to help their customers comply with HIPAA. You’ll need to a BAA from their sales team via phone or email to get that set up.

Payment for Carbonite is done on an organizational size basis. So you’ll pay more if you have a larger organization, but not for each individual user, like you have to do with Box. Access to Carbonite starts at $249.99 per year and goes up to around $1299.99 for large companies.  This could work out well if you have a tonne of users who you want to add to the cloud storage plan. 

Pros
  • Established for a long time
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Massachusetts Data Security Regulation (201 CMR 17)
  • Pay one organization wide fee
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No auto BAA capability

6. Rackspace

Rackspace offer cloud storage solutions for a wide range of risk and compliance issues, due to the cost of non-compliance, it’s always good to get that aspect of your business organized. Rackspace make you feel like they take the stress out of stringent audits as they offer products for just about every regulation and certification. 

However, the approach to handling the data at the institution level is still important. Rackspace do have certified security experts that you can speak to and get help with compliance issues. Rackspace encourages customers to get in touch with them to “start the conversation”. Rackspace is great for people who are looking for more guidance in the area of HIPAA.

Pros
  • Experts in compliance
  • HIPAA compliant
Cons
  • You need to contact them to set up your account

7. Google Drive

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know about Google and their product Google Drive. Google Drive is a cloud hosting service that comes bundled with your Gmail account. If you have a Gmail account, you have access to Google Drive. You’ll also automatically get up to 15MB storage free of charge. 

Bear in mind – not all of the features on Google Drive suite are HIPAA compliant. However, the basic Google cloud software programs like sheets, docs and slides can be fully compliant. To make your Google Drive account HIPAA compliant you’ll need to request a BAA from Google. 

PHI security can be managed by changing file permissions.  Google drive is really easy to use and cheap too! You get 30GB for just $5. The only real concern I would have with using Google Drive would be the fact that Google employees have the right to take a peek at your data, which might not sit well with patients, if they found out.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Easy to use
  • Privacy issues with Google
Cons
  • Not unlimited storage

8. Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is HIPAA compliant and is a good choice for healthcare organizations. Microsoft states that despite there being no official certification for HIPAA or HITECH Act compliance (at present) – “Microsoft services covered under the BAA have undergone audits conducted by accredited independent auditors for the Microsoft ISO/IEC 27001 certification”, which is certainly reassuring. 

To make your OneDrive account HIPAA compliant you’ll need to request a BAA from Microsoft.  Microsoft encourages healthcare providers to deploy Azure PaaS solution to securely ingest, store, analyze, and interact with health data. They provide a HIPAA/HITRUST Blueprint  as well as comprehensive documents on HIPAA data and their platform’s AI capabilities.

Make sure to choose the OneDrive for business solution rather than their consumer package, because the consumer package isn’t HIPAA compliant. Again, you’ll need to sign a BAA with Microsoft to make OneDrive HIPAA compliant. 

Pros
  • Easy to organise files
  • Secure collaboration tools
  • Files are individually encrypted
Cons
  • Like Google – Microsoft reserves the right to look at your data

In Conclusion

In all instances you’ll need to get a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) signed by the cloud storage company as part of your HIPAA compliance. I particularly like companies who have a healthcare focus or a compliance focus, when looking for an HIPAA compliant cloud storage provider. 

Box is a good option if you don’t mind the cost. Dropbox is great as they offer unlimited storage and they are cheap as chips. Atlantic.net is also good as they know all about compliance issues. Drive and Microsoft reserve the right to view your files, so you might not want to go with them if security is your focus.

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13 Sep 2019

Best DIY Cloud Storage Tools of 2019: Build Your Own Cloud Storage

Looking to have total control over your cloud server environment? Then perhaps you’d like to take a leap of faith and create your own cloud server. Building your own cloud server is an honourable undertaking that will reap many rewards. You can have total control over your data, the best level of privacy possible (if you configure everything properly) and you can install whatever you like on your cloud server environment.

Perhaps you want to be able to access your private files while traveling and think that making your own cloud server is the best option. If you are keen on giving it a go, then this article is for you. I’ll give you all of the tools that you need plus a step by step guide for each solution to make the process as easy as possible. 

While a cloud server is a virtual server, it’s still imperative to have hardware and software to create your own cloud server. Therefore, you’ll need to invest in either equipment or a virtual host. It’s not a process for the light hearted, so if you are not convinced you want to create your own cloud server after reading this article then check out our guide to the best cloud storage providers.

DIY Cloud Storage vs Professional Cloud Storage

Probably one of the most obvious up-sides to using a ready-made cloud storage solution is the fact that you’ll not need to buy hardware, or install any software. Normally you go ahead and buy cloud storage, and you’re ready to go. However, often there are restrictions on uploads, downloads and often there can be privacy issues with public solutions.

Consumers are often uneasy with the worrying trend of hackers gaining access to sensitive files on the cloud. However there are now decentralized blockchain-backed cloud platforms, where decentralization increases security. Perhaps in the future we’ll write another article about how to set up your own decentralized blockchain-backed cloud server. 

But in this article we’ll get started with setting up a basic cloud storage solution that you can customize as you require. One thing that you can do with your own cloud is set it up so that it fully complies with your industries legal requirements, for example if you require solutions to adhere to HIPAA legislation. 

Bear in mind that you’ll need to be quite technically adept to be able to setup your own cloud server. This step-by-step guide has been designed to make it as simple as possible and provides you with everything that you need to know to get your cloud server up and running. You’ll need to install server software and also download client software. We’ll discuss what software you need for all of your devices.

Benefits of Setting Up Your Own DIY Cloud

Setting up your own cloud storage solution is like having your own private Dropbox, where you are in complete control. To create your own cloud you’ll need the help of server and client software. There are several solutions that you can choose from, in this article we’ll discuss five of the best DIY cloud storage tools on the market.  In order of best to worst (in my opinion)

What is Client Software?

A client is the device or software that is accessing the data on your server. For example, if you’re accessing the internet, then your device is the client – often referred to as “Client-side”. Client software works to sync folders. Sync folders are folders that you create on your pc or device that then coincide with the folders on the cloud. 

There are a wide range of DIY cloud storage tools that will allow you to access your content remotely. One approach is to access your content using a browser interface. This is called browser-based software. Often it is easier to use this type of software, as you can then access your DIY cloud from any device, others can access your data if you allow them to have the credentials and you don’t need to install software on every device. 

Minimum Hardware Required to Set-up your Cloud Storage Solution

In most cases these will be the minimum requirements for hardware spec. There is no upper level, the better the computer you have, the faster your cloud storage will perform. Here are the minimum hardware requirements, if you’re using you’re your home pc/ device:

  • DDR2-era 64bit PC/laptop that can stay on 24/7 (or anything better than these specs)
  • Home / enterprise grade server
  • Raspberry Pi 2 / 3 that can run Ubuntu Snappy Core

Let’s now dive deep into the currently available DIY cloud storage tools, the pros and cons to decide what would be the best solution for you. 

Nextcloud

Nextcloud is similar to ownCloud, with a few differences. Nextcloud was created by duplicating (forking) ownCloud and then working on it to take it down a different path.  Nextcloud is basically an upgraded version of ownCloud. 

Nextcloud have an open source version that you can use for FREE. This is perfect if you’re just starting out, and it should have everything that you need. Their enterprise edition allows 50 to 10 million users – you pay more for additional users. Nextcloud offers some great collaboration tools for you to use on your DIY cloud storage system. They also offer smartphone apps that work on both Android and iOS.

Nextcloud Packages and Pricing

When upgrading to their premium plan the benefits seem quite scarce. Sure, you can add on additional users, which is great. However, the main bonus seems to be a faster support team response. They do have additional apps and features as you move up the ranks that will become more apparent as you get to know their tools. Here are the three enterprise packages from Nextcloud:

  • Basic – 50 users, €1900 p/a
  • Standard -50 users, €3400 p/a
  • Premium – 50 users, €4900 p/a

Nextcloud Hardware & Software Requirements

You need to be running a version of Ubuntu that supports snaps – the latest version of Ubuntu would be preferable. The Ubuntu version that supports snaps is the most users friendly and easy to install. The snaps also allow for auto installation of the latest Nextcloud security updates.

Using Nextcloud

  • Step 1 – You’ll need to have your server in place (as described above), whether it’s a physical server or one that you have obtained from a third party cloud hosting provider. 
  • Step 2 – Download and install Nextcloud server environment
  • Step 3 – Download Nextcloud desktop client (Windows, macOS and Linux)

PRO TIP: If you want to speed up the process you can buy Nextcloud Box, Spreedbox or Syncloud, which are all pre-configured to save you time. 

NextCloud Features

Nextcloud has some nice collaboration features. You can share via email, links or social media. Most importantly you can password protect shared files, as well as set a date for the link to expire. After you share your files, the other user can edit them, even without an account. Which makes collaboration with clients that much easier.  There are also reporting tools, so that you can view what has been shared. 

Just about every feature that you might need to collaborate on your DIY cloud is offered via the Nextcloud software. External users can drop files onto your server, you can also restore, search and comment on files. 

Nextcloud boasts a massive 162 apps (which is the most we’ve found) to make your cloud server your own. They offer apps such as – “Collabora Online”, as well as the ability set up conference calls with video, which makes your cloud storage solution look extremely professional. 

Nextcloud Security

Nextcloud has some powerful security features such as two-factor authentication. Nextcloud also supports the Active Directory, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and single sign-on. They utilize a time-based One Time Password and Universal 2nd Factor hardware tokens, making their sign up secure. 

Data is protected during transit with the SSL/TLS protocol and at rest with AES 256-bit encryption. You can also choose folders that you want to be kept on lock down by enabling end-to-end encryption. Finally they use zero-knowledge, so that nobody but the owner holds the keys to your data. 

There are some securities flaws that you need to know about when thinking about using Nextcloud. For example they scan data to protect users, however I’m not sure how them scanning their clients data helps anyone. I suppose to check for viruses, but people don’t seem so sure that is what they are doing, just something to look out for. 

So if you are looking for tight security, you’ll need to really trust Nextcloud, as they will have access to your server and might audit it, as and when they see fit. The reason they put forward for this activity is to scan for bugs, check that your server is up to date. One thing that is great about Nextcloud is that they are HIPAA compliant, which is perfect for healthcare providers. 

Pros
  • Lots of apps
  • Enhanced security
  • Great collaboration features
  • Sync feature
Cons
  • Expensive
  • They scan your files

ownCloud

Implementing ownCloud is similar to Nextcloud, as they share a lot of the same proprietary code. ownCloud has a fantastic community and is open-source, so you’ll get a lot of support there. You can get the ownCloud software for free or opt for one of their premium packages. Something that is great about ownCloud is the fact that they offer public server providers via the ownCloud Marketplace, so that you don’t need to own your own server. 

You can also access your files via a browser, which makes accessing your files on the go much easier. Great for traveling business people or commuters, what’s more they also have mobile apps for Android and iOS.  ownCloud have a demo that you can quickly access to test if you like their service.

ownCloud Packages and Pricing

ownCloud offers a service called “ownCloud Online” for smaller businesses. They host the servers in Germany, comply with GDPR and up to 150 users can access one subscription. This is the easy option, if you decide not to set up your DIY cloud with your own hardware, as they do everything for you. 

  • OwnCloud Community – The FREE open-source community edition has a massive 50 million users, free desktop client, mobile app. Suitable for private users and freelancers. 
  • ownCloud Online – 30-Day FREE Trial, after trial – 11,99 € per user/ month and 1TB storage. No IT knowledge required, free iOS/ Android app, German servers – End-to-end encryption – the free trial is restricted to 10GB of storage. 
  • ownCloud Enterprise – The price is not publicly shown on their website, however we know that their standard plan is $3,600 and the enterprise plan starts at $9000 so they are quite a bit more expensive than Nextcloud. You do get branded apps with the Enterprise package and faster support. 

ownCloud Hardware & Software Requirements

The best way to setup ownCloud is by leasing a server from a professional host, such as Hostinger or 1&1 IONOS. However, if you are using your own computer as a server you’ll need to ensure that you have installed the LAMP or WAMP server environment. Let’s go with signing up for a professional hosting service, this is what you’ll need:

PRO TIP: Some professional hosts ban setting up cloud storage services on their servers, so it’s worth a check before signing up.

Setup Using ownCloud

  • Step 1 – Download and install ownCloud’s server-side software to your server/ download the software 
  • Step 2 – upload the setup-owncloud.php file to your webhost.
  • Step 3 – Follow the instructions to install ownCloud. You should then be redirected to the login screen.

If you’re setting up on a professional hosting environment, then it is that easy. Just three steps and follow the instructions to set up.

If you get stuck then ownCloud offers some great guidance on how to manually set ownCloud up.

ownCloud Features

ownCloud offers many of the features that Nextcloud does (unsurprisingly). They allow you to share files via password-protected links, they auto-expire after the set date and you can also get notifications to your mobile phone to let you know the status of your shared links. ownCloud also allows you to sync files, share files and search files. Also people can edit your files if they have access, which is great for collaboration both in-house and with external collaborators.  

Again, ownCloud offer lots of great features for collaboration on your files, such as commenting, tags, as well as video conferencing. External users can also drag and drop files onto your ownCloud. When you add in the branding capability that is offered with their Enterprise plan, then you have a very slick business tool. Their user interface is also clean and easy to use.

ownCloud offers just 70 apps, which is half the amount of apps offered by NextCloud, but you’ll find many of the popular ones in there such as Collabora Online, OnlyOffice Connector, Workflow App, PDF Viewer, Calendar and Contacts. In saying that, the other two solutions have no app marketplace, so seen in that light, 70 isn’t so bad. 

ownCloud Delta Sync is a great feature to reduce upload and download times. The way that it works is by only syncing the section of the file that is change, rather than the whole file, which saves a tonne of time.  They also offer a Virtual File System, where users can sync files directly from their browser.

ownCloud Security

ownCloud has some decent security features, such as end-to-end encryption and ransom ware protection. Administrators are offered lots of control as they can define password requirements as well as provision professional key management with their with Key Service application.

Virus scanning is done with ClamAV, which is free anti-virus software. ClamAV is great for isolating viruses, Trojans and malware. You can also scan files on your own personal server with this security tool. 

Two-factor authentication can protect your server from unwanted intruders, as well as the standard time-based One Time Password. You can also add on additional devices via the ownCloud app. Like Nextcloud, ownCloud can be used safely by Healthcare providers as they are HIPAA compliant. They are also GDPR compliant. 

Pros
  • HIPAA/ GDPR compliant
  • Clean user interface
  • Delta sync
  • Decent security
  • Sync client
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Just 70 apps

Seafile

Seafile is another FREE community driven, open-source cross-platform cloud storage solution. They also offer a business edition for larger requirements. The enterprise edition is more feature rich than the open-source edition, so you’ll need to pay to see the full range of features offered by Seafile.  When compared to what you get with the first two soltuions, the open-source version is quite bare-bones. 

Seafile is great for people who love to keep things organized, however, it may take you some time to navigate their user interface. I find their interface quite dated and complex. With Seafile you can sync, share and organise your files into libraries.

Seafile Packages and pricing

If you are looking for a more cost-effective solution, then Seafile might be for you. They allow you to use their enterprise edition for free for up to three users. Thereafter you pay per user, and the price gets cheaper with a larger number of users that you add on. They also offer discounts for educational establishments.

Seafile Pro Edition license (Annual Subscription) Pricing

  • Up to 9 users $100 in total
  • 10-249 users – $48 per user
  • 750-999 users – $35 per user

I haven’t outlined the wide range of prices, but you get the picture – the more users you add, the cheaper it gets. Companies with over 1000+ users need to contact Seafile for pricing. 

Seafile Hardware & Software Requirements

You can deploy Seafile with both Linux and Windows, I’ll explain Linux in this example. If you want to use Windows then you can find information on the Seafile website here. Before I get into setting up your cloud storage solution with Seafile, bear in mind that it can be quite tricky to set up. You’ll need the following:

PRO TIP: Only install the Seafile installer on a fresh server as it can interfere with other files. Then make sure to delete the installer after everything is set up.

Setting up Seafile

Step 1 – Download and install the server edition on your server.

For CentOS 7 (64bit)

Save to:

 

/opt/.

cd /root

wget --no-check-certificate https://raw.githubusercontent.com/haiwen/seafile-server-installer/master/seafile_centos

bash seafile_centos 6.1.2

 

For Ubuntu 16.04/18.04 (64bit)


cd/root
wget --no-check-certificate https://raw.githubusercontent.com/haiwen/seafile-server-installer/master/seafile_ubuntu

bash seafile_ubuntu 6.1.2

Step 2 – enter the unprivileged username: seafile

Step 3 –Run su – seafile -s /bin/bash with root privileges on the shell

Step 4 – Delete the installer file

Seafile Features

I like the fact that Seafile offers “Selective sync” that means that you can turn off syncing for specific folders, this can save a lot of time.  Seafile offers virtual-drive mapping, which means that you can access folders on another server, you can also access files offline. You can also access your files via the browser. One of the great features offered by Seafile is the fast syncing by chopping files into smaller pieces. This is ideal for people who see speed as the most important feature of a cloud storage solution. 

Like the other tools covered so far, Seafile allows the sharing of links to files. These shared links can be password protected and further secured by setting an expiration date. You can also set the read-write or read-only permission, which allows or disables the editing of the external user that you’ve shared the link with. 

If you have more than one person working on a file, then it can be locked while one person works on it, ensuring that editing is efficient and team members don’t interfere with another person’s work. As with other solutions, you can search files and restore them to an earlier state. 

One of the downsides of Seafile is the fact that they don’t have an app library at all. You can still integrate with Microsoft Office Online Server and Collabora Online server though which is great for online collaboration. 

Seafile Security

Security isn’t the main USP of Seafile. They do use two-factor authentication and create snapshots for ransomware protection. They also scans for viruses, offer remote wipes and audit logs. End-to-end encryption is possible, however metadata is not encrypted. Ideally metadata should be encrypted as it can expose sensitive privacy information. So this is one major downside of Seafile, in my opinion. Additionally client-side encryption is nowhere to be seen, which is another big security flaw.

Pydio

Pydio was founded in 2007 by Charles du Jeu, under the name “AjaxPlorer”. Pydio is open-source software that you can deploy on your server for free. You can easily install and run the Pydio software on public cloud servers to create your own cloud. They offer iOS and Andriod apps so that you can access files remotely, from anywhere.  You can also take images, sync and upload them to your cloud storage solution. 

Pydio Cells is the latest Pydio release and it affords better collaboration and sharing options. To share files with others, you simply place them in your cell. A “cell” is Pydio’s terminology for a shared folder. You can add and remove users, and grant them permissions to edit or read files or folders.

Pydio is only available for macOS and Linux. You can get it to run on a Windows machine by using a docker image. 

Pydio Packages and Pricing

Pydio offers two versions of their software – Open Source Home and Enterprise. Like Seafile, Pydio limits the features on the open source version; they also don’t offer support unless you opt for their paid solution. The open source software from Pydio only offers simple file upload, sharing and authentication.  If you go for the Enterprise edition, you can give it a test drive with a free trial. Their two packages are as follows:

  • Open Source Home Distribution – FREE, Open-source license AGPL v3, no support (DIY).
  • Enterprise Distribution – Unlimited support, Advanced sharing, Advanced administration security and high availability, Starter pack up to 20 users: 1520€/year, Up to 100 users: 4980€/year, for 10K+ users you need to get in touch with them.

Pydio Features

Pydio has an intuitive and attractive UX. Plus; some of the collaboration tools offered by Pydio are quite neat. You can make chat rooms, comment on files and get alerts to let you know what is happening inside your account. The chat rooms can be created, about a particular file. Files can be protected with passwords, you can also set download limits and expiration dates for shared links.  Files can also be restored to a previous version. 

Collabora Online is again THE way to collaborate with documents on your cloud storage platform. You can decide who can see what, and what they can do with each and every file. One of the great features of Pydio is the fact that you can add in your company logo and change the colours to fit your brand, making the interface truly your own.

Pydio Security

Like Nextcloud, Pydio uses Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to assist users with loging in. AES 256-bit to encryption is used to protect files at-rest and SSL is used to protect them in transit. Pydio doesn’t seem to comply with HIPAA, but it does comply with GDPR.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Good for sharing
  • Good collaboration features
Cons
  • Relatively few features
  • No app marketplace
  • No plugins
  • Resilio isn’t really a DIY cloud storage option, so it didn’t make this list. It’s more of a peer-to-peer tool that syncs content across devices. 

In Conclusion

If you are looking for more control, security and flexibility, plus you’ve got someone really techie on board, then perhaps DIY cloud storage is an option for you. Certainly Nextcloud and ownCloud are top of the list as they are so feature rich, and easy to use. You can try Seafile of Pydio if you need to save money or if speed is your main concern. Setting up your own Cloud storage solution is a brilliant option for a team that needs to be HIPAA compliant and tweak the server to their needs.

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28 Aug 2019

7 Best Unlimited Cloud Storage Solutions

Rather than trying to predict the amount of storage you are going to need in the future, why not go for an unlimited cloud storage provider? That way there are no upper limit restrictions. You never know what you might need to back up in the future, and with so many massive files being created from videos to games, more space is always better. 

Although there are a few great unlimited file storage providers out there, as always – they differ on how they structure their business. Some offer a monthly or annual fee and others will charge you for how much space you use. 

There is a difference between a cloud backup provider and a cloud storage provider. I’ll quickly outline each type of storage below so that you have an idea of the difference. 

What is the difference between Backup, Storage and Sync?

With the increasing demand for cloud storage and the fact that they are becoming more affordable, the services are becoming more specialized. Often providers will offer a few of these services, however, it’s a great idea to get informed. Here are the three types of cloud storage that you should know about:

  1. Cloud Sync
  2. Cloud Backup
  3. Cloud Storage

What is Cloud Sync?

When you synchronize your device with a cloud storage provider, the files that you choose to sync are backed up on the cloud. We’d always advise having multiple copies of your files, especially ones of high value that you cannot replace. 

What is Cloud Backup?

Unlike Cloud Sync, cloud backup doesn’t require you to select the folder/s that you want to store. Cloud backup is normally automatic and it backs up your entire device. Think of cloud backup like the good old fashioned CD or DVD that you use to make a backup of your data.

What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is a highly available data storage service. These services can be accessed by web developers via an API (application program interfaces).

Who is Cloud Storage For?

Cloud storage is a brilliant solution for anyone wanting to keep their data in a secure, accessible place. Great for both businesses and individuals alike, plus they are really easy to use (in most cases).

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of the top 7 UNLIMITED cloud file storage providers. For example – if they offer a FREE TRIAL, ease of use and price are all considerations. You’ll need to be uploading and downloading a lot with your cloud storage provider, so the speed of transfer is also something to check out. 

On the subject of file transfer – block-level transfer is a great feature, as it will allow you to only upload the parts of files that you have changed – saving time. These are our top six considerations when selecting the top unlimited file storage solution providers:

  1. User Experience
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Free Trial Offered
  4. Pricing 
  5. Speed of Transfer
  6. Block-level transfer

Ok, so let’s dive in and find out more about these “Unlimited” cloud storage providers so that you can pick the best one to fit your needs…

Here are our Top 7 Unlimited Cloud Storage Providers

#1 | Dropbox For Business (30-Day FREE Trial)

Dropbox is probably the most popular and widely known cloud storage provider out there. Founded in 2007, Dropbox has shot to the top of the cloud storage provider list. The negative publicity due to the breach in 2012 seems to have done them good. They have tightened up security and become the most popular out there. Not necessarily the “best” on all fronts, but they do offer a brilliant UNLIMITED option for businesses. 

Both their Advanced and Enterprise services offer completely UNLIMITED file storage on the cloud. The pricing is not too bad either – You can get the “Advanced Plan” for just $20 per month. Enterprise is one of those – “get in touch for more information deals”, designed for people who need to tailor their service, large businesses.  You can get a 30-day free trial of the Dropbox for Business service.

Both of the unlimited plans from Dropbox offer smart sync. They also offer block-level transfer for enhanced speed. The initial upload speeds are pretty decent when compared to some other cloud hosting providers. They also offer an easy to use the app.

Dropbox Business allows you to select the servers that you want to use. For example you can store your data in European servers or on a server in a country of your choice.

Click Here To Visit Dropbox

Pros
  • Smart Sync
  • Blok-level transfer
  • Decent transfer speeds
  • App provided
  • 256-bit AES encryption at rest
  • 128-bit in-transit encryption
  • Two-factor authentication
Cons
  • No Zero-knowledge
  • Limited reporting features

#2 | Box (14-Day FREE Trial)

Box storage states that 70% of the fastest-growing fortune 500) businesses use their storage service. They offer a 14-day free trial and focus on providing cloud storage that is optimized for the business user. 

Box offers three levels of service that offer the Unlimited Cloud Storage – Business, Business Plus, and Enterprise. Like Dropbox, they don’t provide much info on the Enterprise edition, you need to contact them to discuss your requirements. You can add unlimited users onto your account, but know that you’ll need to pay for each user, and there is a minimum user count of 3. The Business plan from Box is $15 per additional user and the Business Plus is $25 per month for additional users. 

On the flip side, Box doesn’t have block-level file transfers, so you won’t see an increase in upload speed for file uploads. They also limit your file upload to 5GB, which is a bit restrictive. However, they offer a neat “Selective Sync” feature. You can then manage what files you want to sync which saves time and space. 

One great thing about Box is that you simply install their software and a sync folder will automatically be created. Saving files to this folder means that they will automatically be backed up on the cloud. Their mobile app and desktop client are both user friendly and the UX is clean and easy to use. Security is great with Box – they offer AES 256-bit encryption and in transit protection.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Intuitive desktop and mobile client
  • Good Security
  • 24/7 support
  • AES 256-bit encryption
Cons
  • No block-level sync
  • Files uploaded restricted to 5GB

#3 | OpenDrive (5GB FREE)

OpenDrive are one of the only providers that we’ve seen that Unlimited Storage on a personal plan. What’s more, you can add up to four users on the personal plan, which is just $9.95 per month. If you sign up to their annual service you get two months free. 

The Business Plan from OpenDrive is $29.95 per month and is white label – so you can add your business branding. They offer account manager to help you, should you need it. They also offer a reseller plan so that you can effectively make your File storage service and sell it which is just $59.95 – quite an attractive proposition! The only downside to this is that you get charged for every user that you add onto your reseller account. 

One downside to OpenDrive is that their upload and download speeds are quite slow. Their web and mobile clients are OK – nothing outstanding. OpenDrive is certainly not the easiest or initiative cloud storage web / mobile app out there. 

The security offered by OpenDrive is not too shabby – you get encrypted with AES-256 when the files are at rest and 128-bit AES while data is in transit. You can also select managed or private encryption for optimal control. However, they don’t offer two-factor authentication, which puts you at risk for a password breach.

Pros
  • Cost effective
  • Unlimited Personal Plan
  • Personal account manager
  • Reseller/ white label services
Cons
  • No two-factor authentication
  • Slow transfer speeds
  • Clumsy UX

#4 | LiveDrive (14-Day FREE Trial)

LiveDrive is a UK based cloud file storage provider. They offer Automatic Online Backup that is geared toward the individual/ personal user who wants to back-up their PC. They offer a 14 day unrestricted trial on the personal or business account. You can however, access your files from anywhere, which is great. They offer free apps for you to instantly access your files. As a backup service, they offer things like “Simple Restore” so that you can restore your PC to a previous version. 

They offer some good security features, for example, TLS encryption for files in transit and they are an ISO 27001 certified center. They do offer encryption via obfuscation; however, don’t disclose the actual encryption method. A good option if you want to back-up your files on UK soil. Also, they don’t restrict the size of the file that you upload or download.

There are two levels of Business service – Business Express that offers 2TB and 3 users, for $50 per month. Business Standard offers 10TB and 10+ users for $160 per month. The service is not really UNLIMITED despite them saying that it is, but you can add on additional space if an when required.

Pros
  • 14 day free trial (no credit card required)
  • Collaboration tools
  • Mobile apps
  • No file size limits.
Cons
  • Only UK based servers

#5 | AWS (5GB FREE)

AWS is Amazon’s cloud storage service. It can be scaled up to whatever you need to in effect you have access to unlimited storage space. You can store your data on AWS for cost $0.004 per gigabyte per month. They operate a Pay-as-you-go service model and they also offer volume discounts if you need to store a tonne of data on the AWS cloud. They have some handy calculators to figure out how much space you are using. You can use as much as you want, and that is why we have put it on the list, it is unlimited, however Pay-as-you-go.

With AWS you can get access to a Free Tier – that gives you 750 hours and 5GB of storage. You can then upgrade as and when you are ready. Amazon also has 60 other tools that you can access on the free tier.  Security wise AWS has TLS for in transit files and customer controlled encryption on their servers, additionally they offer AWS Multi-Factor Authentication.

Pros
  • Free tier
  • Pay only for what you use
Cons
  • Complicated setup

#6 | Rackspace Cloud Files (No FREE Option)

Rackspace Cloud Files is a large cloud infrastructure service (with have over 200 data centres, with locations all over the world) and for that reason they can easily store unlimited files. You do however need to download and integrate third party software like Storage Made Easy. So Rackspace Cloud Files don’t offer the full package – which could be complex for people who aren’t so tech savvy. 

Files can be uploaded via the Rackspace cloud manager which is easy to use and fast. They do however charge per  GB. Up to 1TB, it is $0.10 then the price goes down by one cent to $0.09 up to 49TB – you also need to pay for bandwidth. The good thing is you are only paying for what you use, but these types of payments can easily rack up (pardon the pun).

Security from Rackspace Cloud Files isn’t the best. They don’t encrypt the data at rest however they do protect data in transit with SSL. To access your files on the Rackspace cloud manager you’ll need an authorized API key, which  offers some security.

Pros
  • You can create your own cloud
  • Fast upload and download
  • Pay for what you use
Cons
  • Complicated to use
  • Not secure

#7 | Backblaze B2 (10GB FREE)

With Backblaze B2 you get 10GB for free – which is a great bonus. After you use this space up then you get a gigabyte for $0.005 per month. They also offer you 1GB download for free, but after this you’ll pay $0.004 per 10,000 downloads – certainly a pretty cheap option. They don’t have international servers like other hosting providers and store all of your files in their Californian servers. This can make transfer speeds slow and put you under the jurisdiction of US data laws. 

 Although Backblaze B2 is cheap, they don’t offer much in the way of security – no encryption or any real infrastructure.

Pros
  • Dirt Cheap
  • Scalable storage
Cons
  • Slow transfer speeds
  • Not an actual cloud storage provider

All in All

The best thing about ALL of the file storage solutions outlined above is the fact that they are all UNLIMITED. It all depends on what you need, if you are looking for a secure cloud storage provider, then don’t go for Backblaze or Rackspace as they don’t offer encryption or much in the way of security protocols. If you security is top on your list then:

Check out our article on Secure Cloud File Storage Providers

If you are looking for an unlimited cloud file storage provider that has a flat-fee then Dropbox or OpenDrive are great options. I hope that this list helps you find the best unlimited storage provider to suit your needs.

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26 Aug 2019

10 Most Secure Cloud Storage Options

With the ever increasing number of digital files being created, it’s becoming more and more important to store them safely. Back in 2013 the number of files kept on cloud storage was 1,073,741,824 Gigabytes of data – quintillion bytes – now, that is a lot of data! That was six years ago, so I’m not sure if there is even a word in the dictionary for the number of files currently stored in cloud storage. 

The biggest cloud hosting service by amount of users is a tie between Dropbox and iCloud. However, more recently Dropbox has taken the lead with 500 million users. They both offer free storage when you sign up. iCloud is owned by the mega-giant corporation – Apple, and Dropbox is owned by… well – Dropbox. Despite being the largest cloud hosting providers they are not top on our list for security for several reasons.

When choosing a suitable cloud storage provider there are five things you should keep in mind:

  • Security
  • Collaboration Features
  • Usability
  • Price
  • Space

Can Cyber-Thieves Hack Cloud Storage?

In short – YES! That is why we are focusing on the most secure cloud hosting providers. 

The majority of hacks on cloud storage are done through privacy breaches due to weak passwords. Therefore, it’s important that you choose and store your password safely to make sure that your files are safe. Probably the most famous hack into a cloud hosting provider was that of the celebrity breach of iCloud in 2014

What can we learn from this celebrity hack? There are a few things, firstly making sure to always enable two-step verification with your cloud hosting provider. Also make sure that you always enable email notifications, so that you’ll be alerted the second that anyone accesses your cloud storage account. 

There are other safety concerns with cloud storage that you should be aware of. Cloud storage providers use encryption to protect your files. However hackers can gain access to encryption keys with special software, so it pays to make sure that your cloud storage provider uses the most secure level of encryption (known as zero-knowledge). 

You also need to make sure that you trust the cloud storage provider that you choose. To be sure that your files are completely safe and won’t be deleted due to a server outage or natural disaster, it’s a good idea to back your files up in at least 2 separate locations. Another super-secure method of storing your data on the cloud is with a Zero-knowledge service. 

What is Zero-Knowledge in The Cloud?

Security is the biggest risk when it comes to picking a cloud storage provider. For that reason zero-knowledge cloud services are a great option. Zero-knowledge cloud services are also known as private encryption cloud services. In essence what it means is that you are the only one with access to your data.

PRO TIP: Although Zero-knowledge or private encryption is the most secure method – it does mean that if you lose your username and password, your data is lost forever.  

Should I go for Private Encryption?

It’s a good idea to look for cloud storage providers that offer private encryption (or simply select one from our Top 10 list below to save yourself time). That means that they won’t store your password on their server. This is particularly useful as cyber criminals can access passwords that are located on your cloud storage provider’s server. 

Additionally private encryption means that nobody, not a single person, literally not one person can get access to your files other than you – not even the government. That is because the files they receive will be encrypted – even if they do get a warrant to access your cloud storage space. For this reason, you must find a cloud storage provider that offers good encryption.

Pros and cons of Zero-Knowledge Cloud Storage

Although Zero-knowledge cloud storage is brilliant, it’s not for everyone. If you are the type of person who cannot keep a password safe and always hit the “forgot password” link, then avoid this type of cloud storage. Here are three pros and three cons of Zero-knowledge cloud storage:

Pros

  • Nobody can find out your password, not even your cloud storage provider
  • Even if a government agency tries to access your files, everything will be encrypted, so not readable
  • Your Cloud storage provider cannot hand out your password as they don’t even have it

Cons

  • If you lose your password, you are locked out of your data forever.
  • Can be slower than less-secure providers
  • Secure storage can mean that you cannot effectively preview files due to the strong encryption

Without further ado, let’s dive into our top 10 SECURE cloud storage options…

#1 | Sync.com

Sync.com is based in Toronto, Canada. This is great if you want to take advantage of Canada’s privacy laws (which are less strict than those in the US). 

You get 5GB free storage for signing up. Price wise, their Personal Pro 2TB plan is just $8 per month if you opt for their annual plan. If you go for the 500GB personal plan, then you can get access for just $4.08 per month, which is really good deal for what you are getting. 

Sync.com offers zero-knowledge encryption and the TLS protocol for optimal protection. These are particularly good for stopping people intercepting your files. They also offer AES 256-bit encryption to protect data when on their servers. Sync.com are not only the most secure cloud storage providers, they also offer the best value for money out of all 10 providers listed.

Sync.com Security

Sync.com has some next-gen security features that make it top of our list. For example, their collaboration tools are tight – they allow you to password protect the links that you share with friends, family or colleagues. This feature is available to both free and paid members, which is great as often cloud storage providers make these features exclusive to their premium plans. 

Interception during transit, and password breaches are the most common methods of cyber-attack. Therefore the fact that you can select “enhanced privacy” and add zero-knowledge encryption to a collaboration link (eg. If you are sending a file or folder with someone), is a great feature.

Pros

✔ FREE Zero-knowledge encryption

AES 256-bit encryption 

✔ TLS protocol 

✔ Located in Canada so you can keep your files away from NSA

✔ 5GB FREE account

✔ Secure Collaboration tools

✔ Cost-effective plans

✔ Amazing domain investment & management tools

Cons

✘ Slower transfer speeds

✘ You need a pro account to set download limits and expiry dates when sharing files

#2 | pCloud

Released in 2013, pCloud offers a decent 10GB of storage space for FREE. That is double most other cloud hosting providers (but not the best). Although the company was founded in Bulgaria, pCloud is based in Switzerland. If you refer friends to pCloud you’ll get an additional 1GB completely FREE. 

Pricing starts at just $3.99 per month for 500GB and their Premium 2TB plan is $8, which is super cheap – putting pCloud on a par with sync.com price-wise. In saying that, you’ll need to sign up for an annual subscription to take advantage of these low prices. 

If you want to add zero-knowledge, you can, but it will cost you an extra $3.99 per month. Like Sync.com pCloud has some great security features like deploying the TLS protocol and AES 256-bit encryption.

pCloud have an extra feature called “pCloud Drive” that lets you view your files without downloading them – which is pretty handy if your PC is low on space or you are out somewhere. 

pCloud is a great cloud storage facility for photos, videos and music as they use block-level sync. This speeds up the larger uploads. If you upgrade to one of their paid plans you can secure collaboration links with expiry dates and passwords.

Pros

✔ AES 256-bit encryption

✔ TLS protocol

✔ 10GB on the FREE plan

✔ Great for large uploads

✔ Send secure collaboration links

✔ pCloud Drive file preview feature

Cons

✘ They have the zero-knowledge feature but you have to pay extra for it

#3 | Tresorit

Tresorit is based in Switzerland and pride themselves on their enhanced security. They also have offices in Hungary and their servers are in both Ireland and the Netherlands. However they are pretty expensive (to say the least) compared to other cloud storage providers. The lowest cost premium plan is $10.42 per month and that gets you just 200GB of storage, which is pretty steep when you consider that you can get 2TB for less with pCloud and Sync.com. Their FREE service is called a “Basic Account” which gets you meagre 3GB of storage space.

 When you compare that to the previous providers I’ve mentioned (like pCloud and Sync.com), that is over double the price for less than half the amount of storage space. Tresorit is one of the most secure cloud storage providers, but it comes with a hefty price tag. 

When syncing your folders you need to create “tresors” which is the German word for vault. This makes the process quite complicated. 

Tresorit Security

The main security feature that Tresorit deploys is high level zero-knowledge cloud storage. They do also use AES 256-bit encryption and the TLS protocol. We like the two-factor authentication as that offers an additional layer of protection to avoid breaches like the celebrity breach we discussed above. 

Pros

✔ Zero-knowledge encryption

✔ Secure file sharing 

✔ Two-factor authentication

Decent upload and download speeds

Cons

 ✘ Very Expensive

 ✘ No collaboration/ productivity apps

 ✘ Complicated to use

#4 | Mega (The Privacy Company)

“Mega” is an Auckland-based cloud storage company. They have above average security protocols to keep data safe, Mega use end-to-encryption. Their FREE plan offers a massive 15GB of storage space. They also provide an extra 35GB for a limited period of time. The 35GB limited time free space isn’t particularly safe. That is because Mega will automatically delete your files when your free disc space runs out (if you’ve not upgraded).

The cheapest plan from Mega gets you just 200GB of storage for $5.69. The best value premium account offers a decent 1TB of storage for $11.38 per month.

Mega Security

The security that you get from Mega is pretty thorough. They have at-rest and in-transit encryption, which will ensure that your data is always kept safe. The two-factor authentication is a nice touch, as it provides that extra layer of security and protection from hackers.

Pros

✔ Massive 15GB FREE (+ extra limited time 35GB)

✔ TLS Protocol

✔ Sync any folder

Nice Collaboration tools

Cons

✘ Just AES 128-bit encryption

✘ Limited (free) 35GB gets deleted when it expires

#5 | OneDrive

US based OneDrive is a cloud storage company owned by Microsoft, with their servers being based in the US. They offer 5GB for free when you create an account. For just $1.99 a month you can get 50GB of storage space. Upgrading to Office 365 Personal is great value for money as you get a whopping 1TB for just $6.99, which is one of the best deals yet, especially when you factor in the other Microsoft apps you’ll be getting with Office 365. 

OneDrive Security

In the past, OneDrive has had some privacy issues that have since been resolved. The security features with OneDrive are now pretty top notch. The only thing they are lacking is zero-knowledge encryption. They do however offer two-factor authentication and AES 256-bit encryption.

Pros

✔ AES 256-bit encryption

✔ TLS protocol

✔ Great Collaboration tools

✔ Fast sync

Cons

 ✘ No zero-knowledge encryption

#6 | Google Drive

Launched in 2012, Google Drive is Google’s answer to cloud storage. Google is headquartered in California in the US. Google Drive announced that they had smashed the billion user mark in 2018. Google Drive offers 15GB of FREE storage, which is pretty much the best you can get for free. What’s more, their lowest tier plan starts at just $1.67 for 100GB. 

The pricing with Google Drive is pretty great for people who are just starting out and don’t need a whole load of space. You can get 200GB for $3 or just jump to the spacious 2TB plan for $9.99 per month. Probably the best option is to sign up for a year and get two months free (just $99.99). Google offer great value for money, with twice as much space as Dropbox is offering for the same price. 

Google Drive Security

Google offers just AES 128-bit encryption, but does offer TLS protocol, which is great for data in transit.

Pros

✔ Auto update feature

✔ TLS protocol

✔ 15GB Free storage

✔ Cost effective pricing plans

Cons

✘ Just AES 128-bit encryption

✘ Your content is scanned 

✘ No block-level copying

#7 | Koofr

Koofr is a cloud storage company based in Slovenia. They offer several packages, most suited for the light-weight user. They also offer additional features like a Chrome bookmarking extension and the ability to connect to other cloud storage accounts. One good thing with Koofr is that you can preview your files without downloading, which is ideal for those with not much available space on their device. 

When it comes to pricing Koofr offers 2GB for free, which is quite a tiny offering. Their lowest package gets you 10GB of storage for just $0.57 per month. They have a good range of packages that will allow you to scale up as and when you need it, with their top 1TB plan coming in at $11.38. 

Koofr Security

Koofr deploy two-factor authentication, which is brilliant for added security. You have the option to turn two-factor on and off with Koofr. They also use TLS encryption for files in transit. Koofr also split your data up over three different locations to keep your data safe. They also offer the ability to protect shared files.

Pros

✔ TLS protocol 

✔ Two-factor authentication

✔ Good speed

✔ Easy to use

✔ AES 256-bit encryption

✔ Data isn’t scanned

Cons

✘ Limited sync features

✘ No zero-knowledge encryption

✘ No block-level file copying

#8 | Egnyte Connect

Like Dropbox, Egnyte Connect decrypts your data and stores your username and password. They don’t have a free option, but do offer a 15-day free trial. One good thing about Egnyte is that they allow up to 3 devices (or users) on their business plan. You get 1TB for $10 per month. They also have plans for up to 100 or more users, so a great solution for teams.  

Egnyte Connect Security

Physically speaking the Egnyte Connect server centre is secure as they have guard patrols and 24/7 security staff. If you upgrade to any of their business plans you can get two-factor authentication. Egnyte also offer comprehensive mobile security features.

Pros

✔ AES 256-bit Encryption

✔ Two-factor authentication

✔ Mobile Security features

✔ Block level sync

✔ No 100% free plan

Cons

✘ Two-factor authentication only on business plans

✘ No Zero-knowledge encryption

#9 | iCloud

iCloud Drive is Apple’s cloud storage solution that comes pre-installed with Apple devices. You get 5GB of free storage with iCloud. Most Apple products come with a big-fat-price-tag, but not iCloud, you can get 50GB for just $0.99 per month. The 2TB plan is competitively priced at $9.99 per month. 

When using an apple device, you’ll get automatic syncing. The privacy is pretty tight with Apple as they only log your usage data with consent, and they vow not to sell your data to advertisers. Unlike Google, who scan your Google Drive to find out what advertise to show you.

iCloud Security

Despite being hacked, iCloud has since strengthened its security. They now have two-factor authentication and 128-bit AES encryption.

Pros

✔ Great for Apple users

✔ 5GB FREE

✔ Cost effective

✔ Two-factor authentication

Cons

✘ Slow

✘ Not great for windows users

✘ Not a zero-knowledge provider

#10 | Dropbox

Dropbox is the largest cloud storage solution with servers in the US. The reason that Dropbox is so popular is because of their easy to use interface, ease of sharing and syncing. Although they are the biggest they don’t have top-notch security and privacy, that’s why they are last in the list. They do deploy a lot of great features. However the fact that their privacy policy states they can delete or change your data is a bit worrying. Dropbox also lacks zero-knowledge encryption.

Dropbox Security

Despite having a stormy past in the area of security Dropbox have tightened their security measures since then. Dropbox offer AES 256-bit encryption, two-factor authentication as well as at-rest and in-transit encryption.

Pros

✔ AES 256-bit at-rest

✔ TLS protocol 

✔ Fast sync

✔ Password protect shared links

✔ Easy to use UX

Cons

✘ Files are decrypted at data-centre

✘ They reserve the right to delete, download or change your content

✘ No zero-knowledge encryption

In Conclusion

It’s becoming increasingly important to keep your data safe online. There are many cyber criminals that can get their hands on inexpensive software to hack your accounts. Making sure that you choose a cloud storage server that is secure is extremely important. Look out for solutions that use Zero-knowledge encryption (provided you can remember your username and password) TLS protocols, AES 256-bit encryption and good value for money.

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19 Aug 2019

13 Best Free Cloud Storage Choices in 2019

Storing digital files safely on the cloud is an on-going concern for content creators or just people who love to shoot family video or photos. It’s also great to share files with friends, colleagues, and family all over the world. For this reason, file storage can be a viable option. There are often limits to the amount of space you get on free storage providers. 

As this is article is focused on the “FREE-ness” of file storage providers, I’ll list the providers from the most amount of FREE storage to the least. At the end, I’ll list my hacks to getting unlimited free space for your file storage. The exception to this rule is when a company has trixy clauses, for example, you can only upload a certain size of a file, despite being allowed to upload unlimited data or if the company deletes your data after a specific timeframe. 

Size is one thing, but what else should you look out for? Other things to consider when selecting a FREE file storage provider would be the ease of file sharing, collaboration tools, the speed of uploading and downloading and also the success of the company. Security is another issue that we covered in another article.  We’ll discuss:

Storage – the amount of space they offer for free

AlexaRank – How popular they are on the web #1 being highest. 

Pros & Cons – I’ll outline some of the pros and cons of the storage provider

Lastly, I’ll share a few secret hacks to getting file storage completely free. Ok – without further ado, let’s dive in and find out what the 15 Best FREE File Storage Providers are:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

#1 | Google Drive (15GB)

Alexa Rank – #1 (for Google)

Google needs no introduction – the largest search engine in the world that also provides free email and office software like Google Docs. You’ll get access to your Google Drive account as part of the bundle. Make an email address, and you’ve got Google Drive as part of the deal. The major downside of using Google Drive is the privacy (READ: You get no privacy with Google Drive), but they do give you a tonne of tools and space for FREE. 

If you want more storage space on your Google Drive account you can get a massive 2TB plan for $9.99 per month. They also offer humungous plans like 30TB for $300/month – which would keep most people going for most of their life. 

Pros

✔ You get a suite of software to use for FREE like GoogleSheets and GoogleDocs

✔ Easy to set up

✔ Easy to use

✔ Auto update feature

✔ TLS protocol

✔ 15GB Free storage

✔ Cost effective pricing plans

Cons

✘ You need a Google Account to use the service

✘ ZERO PRIVACY, Google openly states they look through your files to market products to you

✘ Linked to all of your Google accounts.

#2 | OneDrive (15GB)

 AlexaRank #11

OneDrive is Microsoft’s answer to cloud file storage. You get 15GB for free – which is the largest amount of storage offered for free by any cloud storage provider. Other than Mega, who give you an extra limited time 35GB that has some catches, more about that below. 

Microsoft has merged OneDrive with their Microsoft Office 365 offering. When you upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 you’ll get their whole suite of Office software products as part of the deal for $7 per month. With this package they provide 1TB of storage which is pretty decent.

Pros

✔ 15GB is a decent amount of storage space for FREE

✔ You get the suite of Microsoft Office software as part of the deal

✔ AES 256-bit encryption

✔ TLS protocol

✔ Great Collaboration tools

✔ Fast sync

Cons

✘ Files are not private (Microsoft can look at your files)

✘ If you login from another location (or a different IP address) you might get locked out of our account as they check your IP address

#3 | Mega (15GB FREE + Limited 35GB)

Alexa Rank # 870 

Compared to the top two FREE storage solutions Mega is quite far down in the Alexa ranking. However, they do offer up to 50GB storage space for free (with a catch). It’s best to think that Mega offers 15GB of storage, as the other 35GB of data that you might upload will be deleted if you don’t upgrade to a premium plan in time. One thing to note about Mega is that the original owner was prosecuted for piracy in the past. Also their top shareholder was marked for extradition from China, so it might pay to keep an eye on what the owners are doing. 

Data protection is one of the key USPs of Mega. They were featured in our secure storage options for this very reason. If you want to upgrade and get more storage their premium plan, the cheapest plan from Mega gets you just 200GB of storage for $5.69, which isn’t great. The best value premium account offers a decent 1TB of storage for $11.38 per month. However, this is quite a bit more expensive than Google Drive. Mega is more tight on privacy and security, so it depends on what is most important to you. 

Pros

✔ Secure

✔ TLS Protocol

✔ Sync any folder

✔ Nice Collaboration tools

Cons

 ✘ Can be Slow

 ✘ Bandwidth limitations

#4 | 4Shared (15GB + quite a few bizarre catches)

Alexa Rank 452

4Shared is based in the Kieve, Ukraine was launched in 2005 and is owned by New IT Solutions Ltd. Now one of the largest file hosting companies (probably because they rely heavily on their resellers) with over 11 million users and 317 terabytes of files transferred daily. 4Shared is higher in the Alexa rankings than Mega (meaning they are more popular) and also offer 15GB file storage for FREE. A big drawback is the fact that you can only download 3GB of data per day. So it’d take you 5 days to download all of your stored content. 

You can sign up for an account with 4Shared in seconds with Facebook, Google, and Twitter. They have a clean and easy to use interface, which is a plus. When you upgrade you get just 100GB of storage for $10 per month, which is a bit steep, considering you can get 1-2TB from other providers for the same price. 

If you pay annually you can save $3.50, but you have to pay for the whole year in advance.  One really odd thing is that you need to pay via one of their Resellers. Some of their resellers accept Bitcoin which is nice, but their payment options are rather bizarre to say the least.

Pros

✔ Clean interface

✔ Easy to signup

✔ 15GB FREE storage space

✔ Mobile app

Cons

✘ Lots of adverts, including adult content

✘ Limited download capabilities

✘ You cannot pay directly, you need to go through one of their resellers

#5 | MediaFire (10GB FREE)

Alexa Rank 164

If we weren’t focused on the amount of space that you get for FREE, then I’d order this list very differently. MediaFire comes third (so far, in the Alexa rankings) but it’s definitely not my favourite file storage provider. 

Mediafire often does an amazing deal where you get 50% off their premium offering, so that’s something to look out for. The normal price is $10 per month for 1TB of storage space.  You can get up to 100TB of storage space for $100, which is a whole load of space. 

With the FREE option there are lots of ads, which are quite off-putting. Their user interface is also not the best

Pros

✔ 10GB FREE storage space

✔ Frequent 50% discount sales

Cons

✘ Expensive

✘ Lots of Ads

Slow, clumsy user interface

#6 | Box (10 GB FREE)

Alexa Rank 446

The 10GB that you get free from Box is decent, however when you are looking to get more space, the upgrade price is extortionate – $10 per month for 100GB is wild. In saying that, Box is a good provider for businesses as you can add extra users on. This could also be a good option for a family to use. When you upgrade to their Business account you get unlimited storage and you can add as many users as you like. 

Pros

✔ Unlimited additional users can be added

✔ 10GB FREE storage space

✔ SSL and at-rest encryption

✔ Two-factor authentication

✔ Premium package has unlimited storage

Cons

Extortionate

✘ Download speeds are slow

✘ Hard to share files

# 7 | DepositFiles (10GB + a catch or two)

Alexa Rank 4,062 

DepositFiles has servers in 9 countries, which is great for uploading and downloading. They also offer 10GB for free. With DepositFiles there are a few catches. One is that you’ll have to endure advertisements on your FREE account. Their site and user interface is also a bit dated and not very intuitive. You can upgrade to the gold membership which gets you faster upload and download speeds and you can pay with credit card or Bitcoin. DepositFiles pricing is a bit steep  at $12 per month, and with this you don’t get extra file storage.

One thing that is great about DepositFiles is the fact that you can send a link with password protection – even on the free plan. I also like the fact that they store your files for free for an unlimited time. 

Pros

✔ Link password protection

✔ Free App

✔ Files are stored for an unlimited time

Cons

✘ Max file upload 10GB

✘ Largest stored file – 2GB

✘ Expensive

#8 | Sabercat Host (5GB FREE)

SaberCats host is based in Houston, US. SaberCats Host offers 5GB of free storage space and unlimited bandwidth. They also have fast uploads and downloads, which is brilliant. Their UX is clean and easy-to-use and works well on both mobile devises. . Sharing files is easy with SaberCats Host. One thing that is great about SaberCats Host is that you can use their site without making an account. This feature is really great for collaboration and sharing. 

You can pay with Paypal and all of the regular credit card options. There is no need to subscribe with SaberCats Host – which is a breath of fresh air, as all of the subscription payments add up. You can sign up for just 7 days to a year.

Pros

✔ Fast upload and download speeds

✔ 5GB free storage space

✔ Use without creating an account

✔ No subscriptions

Cons

✘ Advertising on free account

✘ You can only

#9 | iCloud (5GB)

Alexa Rank 333

Owned by Apple, iCloud comes bundled with Apple devices. You’d think they’d offer more storage space for free, being such a big company, but no. Apple takes control of your data, and can do with it what they please – so not necessarily the best option for sensitive file storage. Most Apple products come with a big-fat-price-tag, but not iCloud, you can get 50GB for just $0.99 per month. The 2TB plan is competitively priced at $9.99 per month.

Pros

✔ Automatically syncs to Apple devices

✔ Larger packages are inexpensive

✔ Two-factor authentication

✔ Great for Apple Device users

Cons

✘ You need an Apple ID to use iCloud

✘ Lacking privacy

✘ Slow

#10 | DropBox (2GB FREE)

Alexa Rank 87

DropBox is the biggest cloud storage provider out there, probably due to their massive marketing budget. However, they only offer a tiny 2GB for FREE. You can upgrade to their premium plan for $10 per month, which will get you 1TB of storage space, pretty good. To use DropBox you must create an account – which is a bit of a pain for sharing files. The file sharing and syncing is great with Dropbox.

Pros

✔ Fast sync

✔ Password protect shared links

✔ Easy to use UX

✔ Easy file sharing

Cons

✘ Not easy for beginner

✘ Small free storage option

✘ Lacks privacy

#11 | WeTransfer (2GB FREE with a catch)

Alexa Rank 444

WeTransfer is a quick and easy way to share files – however you don’t get access to a dashboard or members area with the free option. You can simply send files over the internet. This service is really handy if you need to quickly send large files to a friend or colleague. If you upgrade to their premium plan, the cheapest option is $12 per month for just 100GB. A downside to this provider is that you don’t get a chance to test drive your account to see if you like it before upgrading.

Pros

✔ Easy to use

✔ Upload and send multiple files

✔ Great for sending large files

Cons

✘ No password protect on free option

✘ No dashboard on free option

✘ Links that you send expire

✘ Expensive

#12 | Uploaded.net (2GB FREE)

Alexa Rank 607

Uploaded.net is a cloud storage company based in Germany. They offer just 2GB of FREE storage which is miniscule. When you upgrade they give you a faster user experience- however their plans are quite complicated. Uploaded.net is doesn’t have the easiest UX to use. The pricing is around $111 for premium for 2 years, but you need to pay for the storage space separately. You need to pay monthly for the storage from $6 for 100GB to $9 for 1TB.

Pros

✔ No expiration date for files

✔ Well known file storage provider

✔ Nice affiliate program

Cons

✘ Expensive

✘ Complex UX

✘ Slow upload and download speeds

#13 | SendSpace (300MB + a catch or two)

Alexa Rank 2,310

SendSpace is more of a file sending rather than a file storage company. You can store files with them, but they’ll be deleted after 30 days as standard.  In the free version you will be shown ads and have a slow download speed. If you want to upgrade you can get just 100MB of storage space for $9 per month, which is super pricey.

Pros

✔ Unlimited storage

Cons

✘ Files removed after 30 days

A Few Other Semi-FREE Options

I was going to review a few more, but in all honesty I just about lost the will to live. Hightail, Zippyshare, and Egnyte all have “somewhat free” options. From 300MB to a 15-day free trial, but I’ll leave you to have a look at them if you feel so inclined. They don’t really offer much in the way of a free service and when you upgrade they are quite pricey. Apart from Egnyte who are the ones offering 15-day free trial, they give you 1TB for $10 per month, which is pretty nice. I’d like to cut to the chase and give you a few sneaky secret storage hacks before you go. 

My Secret Hack to FREE Large File Storage

If you are looking to store lots of video files, this can take up a lot of space and be costly. Why not upload your videos to Youtube and keep the link “private”. Think outside the box and see where you can upload large files in a social media account for future use. Another idea is to create a private group on Facebook and keep your files in there – that way you can keep unlimited photos, documents, and videos. The only catch with Facebook is they compile your images – which means you can’t store them in high definition. Oh and the small fact that Facebook loves to spy on people, so not for sensitive documents. A solution to the compiling affecting image resolution would be to join a creative social media company like Vero Social or YouPic.

Got lots of Photos you need to store, share and present? Check out our list of “Best Websites for Photographers”.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for FREE file storage, there are many options – especially if you think out of the box. Make sure that the company you choose don’t delete files after a given date as Sendspace and Zippyshare do. You could also get an external hard-drive and keep a copy of your files on there, old fashioned, but it still works as another backup source. 

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