Find the best cloud storage service for you

Man using cloud storage service on multiple devices

Cloud storage has become a popular data solution for many reasons. By contracting with a cloud computing provider to store your data on a remote server, you can access your files on the internet, share documents and recover data if your computer or external hard drive is damaged. If you have a Gmail account and share Google Docs, you’re already accessing free storage in Google Drive. But if you need more space or options than you’re getting from free services, this article can help you understand how to choose the best cloud storage solution provider for your needs.

Why use cloud storage?

Cloud storage lets you store files and access them from almost any device with an internet connection. Most cloud storage services have web portals, mobile apps for Android and iOS or websites where you can access files stored in the cloud.

In addition, cloud storage facilitates file syncing and sharing, which allows you to save, edit and access documents immediately from anywhere in the world. Edits are synced across devices — a bonus for remote teams — so everyone knows they’re accessing the most current version. Some cloud storage tools also include productivity apps, like task managers and word processors.

With cloud storage, businesses can protect their data and avoid the overhead of managing their own data storage infrastructure. But, it’s important to understand the difference between cloud storage, which is designed to make it easy to access and edit files from any device, and cloud backup, which is more intended for restoring files if data is lost.

How to choose the best cloud storage for you

There are numerous features to compare when choosing cloud storage providers, including price, amount of storage, security and how you will access your data. The first step in selecting a cloud storage provider is evaluating your needs. Take the following features into consideration when selecting the best cloud storage services for you.

How much storage space do you need?

The amount of storage you need can affect the price of your cloud storage service. Most of the top-rated providers have a free plan for 5GB or 10GB of storage. If you need more, you can purchase it with a monthly or annual subscription. To calculate the amount of file storage you need, look at the files on your computer and phone and roughly add up the total file size. This is usually already calculated for you as an amount of data if all the files are in one location. You’ll want to consider an amount that can accommodate your current data volume, but you should also allow additional space as you add to your storage.

Many cloud storage services like Frontier’s Content Anywhere make it easy to upgrade if you require more storage, so there’s no need to pay for more data than you need. Also, take note of the maximum amount of storage available. Be sure it’s sufficient if you plan to save large files or videos. A few storage providers offer unlimited storage including Dropbox, Box and OpenDrive.

What devices will you access the data with?

In selecting a cloud storage plan, consider which devices you’ll use to access your data. To sync all of your devices including mobile devices, you’ll need to install apps. And the cloud storage solution might be integrated into specific operating systems, so make sure to determine which operating system you have, such as Windows, Android, macOS, iOS or Linux.

What level of security do you need?

Like information stored locally, data in the cloud can potentially be hacked or infected by malware. So, it’s critical to pick a secure cloud storage provider, and protect your data by configuring your cloud account properly.

When your data is sent to your cloud storage provider, it’s encrypted. Some providers keep a copy of your encryption key, which allows your files to be viewed. The most secure providers use end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture, which means your data is encrypted in transit and at rest on the cloud servers. Only you have the encryption key, and not even employees of the cloud storage provider can access your files. But if you lose the passphrase for your encryption key, you won’t be able to access your data.

Two of the biggest names in cloud storage, OneDrive by Microsoft and Google Drive, don’t offer zero-knowledge encryption. Others, like pCloud, give you a choice of security levels, with a basic package that’s less secure. For an additional fee, or with a business plan, you can specify sensitive documents to be protected with extra security.

For additional security, set up two-factor authentication. This common security feature requires an extra code to log in, such as a text sent to your phone. Even if someone accesses your password, they won’t be able to log into your account.

Other features to consider

In addition to storage, security and synchronization, it’s also important to balance your security concerns with ease of collaboration. When selecting a cloud storage provider, take these other features into consideration.

  • Cloud integration: Look for cloud storage options that interact efficiently with your software. Most pro tools, such as Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud, feature some cloud integration. Dropbox gets high ratings for its collaboration tools, and it works seamlessly with Microsoft Office files and Google Docs. Do your research, as not all cloud storage solutions function well with all software packages.
  • Free cloud storage: Some operating systems include built-in cloud storage. For example, Microsoft OneDrive is pre-installed on Windows 10 devices with 5GB of free storage. With a Microsoft Office 365 Personal subscription, you get 1TB of storage on OneDrive and desktop versions of Microsoft Office apps: Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint.

    Google Drive is a reliable platform for free storage that works with most devices. Your Google account comes with 15GB of storage at no cost. Pictures that sync to Google Photos from your smartphone also use that storage. If 15GB isn’t enough, you can subscribe to Google One to access 100GB of storage for a small fee.

    Apple devices, such as iPhone and iPad, come with 5GB of free cloud storage on iCloud Drive, and Apple users can buy more space as needed. Files are easily synced across all Apple products via macOS and iOS, and you can share documents with non-Apple devices like Android and Windows by subscribing to iDrive instead.

    Even Amazon Prime members get unlimited photo storage and 5GB of video storage with a subscription.
  • File sharing and versioning: If you’re part of a remote team, the ease of sharing, editing and viewing revisions in real time is important. Not all cloud storage providers facilitate collaboration. Some specialize in backup service. Be sure you know your provider’s strengths.

    What if a file is changed in error? File versioning allows you to go back and recover an earlier version of a file. Some cloud storage providers allow versioning for a limited time, such as 15 or 30 days. Others allow you to upgrade for a fee and recover older files.
  • Network bandwidth: It also helps to assess your network to be sure it has the bandwidth to handle data traffic between your network and the cloud infrastructure. In some cases, a basic internet connection won’t be sufficient. You’ll need a dedicated private line and a fast, secure internet connection between two sites. This allows you to bypass the public internet and transfer data to and from the cloud without long load times.
  • Price: Compare the cost of the cloud storage providers you’re considering. Most providers offer a free version of the service that includes a limited amount of storage space. If you work independently or in a small business, that level might be enough for you. Keep in mind that entry-level pricing may not include the features you require. You’ll need a paid plan to gain the amount of storage space you need or for the best security features. When comparing costs, get estimates that include all the features you need. A few cloud storage providers offer lifetime subscriptions, which lets you secure lifetime cloud storage for a single payment.
  • Product compatibility: It’s good news if your team uses a software suite that integrates seamlessly with your cloud computing service. It’s even better news when it also works well with other popular software platforms and project management applications. Look at the devices, operating systems and software you use. A cloud storage system with a strong and compatible ecosystem can help you respond to changing needs. Read reviews and research to find the most compatible cloud storage and productivity platform for you.

Get fast internet from Frontier to suit your storage needs

No matter how good your cloud storage is, having unreliable internet or a weak Wi-Fi signal can slow you down. Frontier® Internet offers fast and reliable internet connections to support your storage needs. To bring high-speed internet to your home, check out Frontier internet plans.

Product features may have changed and are subject to change.