Keeping the backups of your files lets you keep the important data and memories with you. And while previously people used to keep their data in external hard drives, right now it's much more convenient to simply keep your data online
With personal cloud storage, you can access your files with pretty much any device that connects to the internet.
This means that, for example, you can upload pictures, taken at your grandpa's wild birthday party from your computer - and later access them through your phone. No wires and no file transfer needed (your grandpa should be very impressed).
What is personal cloud storage and how does it work?
Essentially, personal cloud storage is a hard drive with basic hardware and an online connection. The PCS device is connected to the internet and from there, it can be accessed by various devices, without requiring a physical connection between the two.
However, there's a problem. Despite the fact it's cloud storage, personal cloud storage devices are still nothing but fancy hard drives. Which means they can break, be stolen, or affected by various environmental factors (flood, fire, a hungry curious dog, you name it).
In fact, looking at the interest online, personal cloud storage is already on its way out.
And considering the decreasing storage prices of online cloud platforms, it might just be the time to switch.
So, let's have a look at the alternatives. If you're looking for a good personal cloud storage service to keep and share your files safely and reliably, consider these options:
- Google Drive (Cloud storage optimized for creative projects)
- OneDrive (Best suitable for Microsoft users)
- Dropbox (Personal cloud for sharing photos and music with friends)
- iCloud (Best suitable for Apple users)
- MediaFire (Cloud storage for users needing unlimited bandwidth)
1. Google Drive
Free to use
Recommended for: Individuals who have personal blogs and undergo design projectsGoogle Drive allows you to store everything from stories, drawings, videos, recordings, and designs. You can also export files into a variety of formats depending on the project you’re working on. Basically, if you’re the creative type, this suite is a strong contender!
No matter where you go, your files will come with you as Drive now has an application on all devices and operating systems. You can even work offline, with documents saving automatically each time you connect to the Internet.
What I like most about Google Drive is that you can collaborate with friends and family and see their edits in real-time. By sharing a simple link, you can watch their creative juices flow. No more need for downloads or big email attachments.
To setup Google Drive, you first need a Google account. Then, you’ll automatically get 15GB of storage, free of charge. Once you’ve used that up, you can upgrade to a Google One account with 100GB or 200GB for just $1.99 or $2.99 a month, respectively. There are also 2TB, 10TB, 20TB, and 30TB plans, all of which come with their own individual price tags.
- Great for collaborating on creative projects in real-time
- Application for all devices and operating systems
- Generous free plan
- Various paid plans to choose from
- Not a great option for saving images and music
Free plan available (5GB of storage)
Recommended for: Users who prefer Microsoft products and devicesDo you have a Microsoft device? Maybe you have an Outlook or Xbox Live account? If so, OneDrive may be the solution for you. Similar to Google Drive and Dropbox, you can access all of your files from your phone, tablet, and computer as the OneDrive application is suitable for all devices.
What I really like about this personal cloud drive is that as soon as you save your files, they’re automatically available for you to view offline. So whenever you're off the beaten track, OneDrive has got your back!
Google Drive and OneDrive are similar in the way they allow you to collaborate on projects without the need for large email attachments. Instead, you can just send whoever you want to collaborate with a link via text, email, or social media.
Are you also getting tired of filing all your paper receipts in individual folders? With OneDrive, you can use your phone to scan them and upload them directly to your OneDrive. Aside from not losing any important bills and documents, you’ll be able to declutter your physical space.
As with other solutions, OneDrive offers a selection of plans, one of which is free but only offers 5GB of storage. Though, for $1.99 a month, you’ll get 50GB of storage. And if that's not enough, Microsoft also offers premium plans for $69.99 and $99.99 a year, accommodating for 1TB of storage space!
- Great for Microsoft users
- Offline viewing options
- Variety of plans to choose from
- The free plan only comes with limited 5GB of storage
- Designed with Microsoft users in mind, despite Android, Mac, and iOS compatibility
Free plan available (2GB of storage)
Recommended for: Sharing photo albumsDropbox is one of the grandparents of all personal cloud storage solutions. It's among the oldest and most well-established cloud storage platforms around. Founded in 2007, Dropbox allows you to store, share, and securely access all your files in one central application.
Whether you want to give friends and family access, or you simply want to show off your holiday pictures, Dropbox is a worthy solution. Today, you can sync your files across all of your devices, from your smartphone to your tablet or laptop.
What about the pricing?
Dropbox has two individual plans to choose from. The options include the Basic plan and the Plus plan. While the basic plan leaves little space for you to save all your files because of its 2GB cap, it’s free of charge. The Plus plan, on the other hand, costs $9.99 a month. This though encompasses everything within the Basic plan, as well as 1TB of storage and offline access to all of your files.
- Free plan available
- Application for all devices
- Possibility to share files and folders
- Offline access to all folders with the Plus plan
- The Basic plan offers very little storage space
Free plan available (5GB of storage)
Recommended for: Users who prefer Apple products and devicesiCloud is Apple’s cloud storage solution. This is the most intuitive cloud solution (as long as you use an Apple product) but be warned; if you’re not on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, this may not be the best option for you. While Windows users can also sync their files with iCloud via the website, it’s not as intuitive as with an Apple smart device.
Looking beyond this alignment to one brand, you can integrate the Mac Finder application with iCloud, allowing you to access any files straight from your smart devices. For example, if you create files in the iWork office suite and save them to your iCloud, you can access them on your other devices, so long as you mark them for offline access while connected to the Internet.
So, what about the different plans?
iCloud’s free plan only gives you 5GB of storage. Yet, this solution has some of the most competitive paid plans out there. On paid plans, you can get 50GB for just $0.99 a month, 200GB for $2.99 a month, and 2TB for $9.99 a month.
Better yet, you can share the iCloud love with your family by setting yourself up on a family plan. There, you can share iTunes, Apple Books, and any purchases you’ve made in the Apple App Store. You can also set restrictions if you’ve got kids. The option to create a family account is not applicable to the free or 50GB plan.
- Most competitive pricing available
- Option to create a family account
- Great cloud solution for Apple users
- Not ideal for collaborative projects
- Not a great option for people using non-Apple devices and operating systems
Free plan available (comes with ads)
Recommended for: Fast upload and download speedsMediaFire is another home cloud drive that’s been around for more than a decade, and for good reason. The solution allows you to store files like images, videos, audio, and documents, and share them through simple links. That means, no more big email attachments or annoying download times.
In truth, the main reason I rate MediaFire is its competitive free plan. With this, the provider automatically gives you 10GB of free storage as soon as you sign up but, it gets even better. By following the company’s social media accounts and referring friends, MediaFire will boost your free storage allowance by an extra 40GB, giving you the potential of a whopping 50GB to use until your heart’s content, at no extra cost.
Aside from this huge storage allowance, there’s also support for files of up to 4GB. Plus, your sharing options aren’t limited to MediaFire users. That’s right! You can share a link with anyone you want to collaborate with, even if they don’t have a MediaFire account.
Despite this, MediaFire comes with one downfall that some may be put off by: All free accounts come with advertisements. If this is a deal-breaker for you, you can always upgrade to the Pro plan, which includes 1TB of storage, for just $3.75 a month – as long as you pay up front for the year.
- Generous free plan
- Opportunities to gain 40GB of free storage
- Affordable Pro plan
- Support for large files
- Adverts with all free accounts
- Fewer plans to choose from, unless you go for a business account
Choosing the Best Cloud Storage Solution for You
Personal cloud storage is already on its way out. But if you're looking for storage, the 5 options I've talked above all come with their own unique set of benefits. Here’s my verdict:
- Dropbox is the best option if you want all of your devices to sync automatically
- Google Drive is the best option for collaborating on projects in real-time
- OneDrive is the best option for accessing files offline, and for Microsoft users
- iCloud is the best solution for storing all your images, and for Apple product users
- MediaFire is the best option for users with small budgets and free storage needs
When choosing the best solution for your needs, you need to consider the device and operating system that you use, as well as the amount of storage you're looking for. You also need to consider the type of personal projects you’ll need it for, such as offline access, or collaborative work.
In the meantime, if you feel I’ve forgotten to mention any important alternatives to those listed in this article, feel free to leave me a comment. I’d love to know your thoughts!