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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