How can you privately share pictures online

The 10 best cloud storages

[Update 04/26/2021]: We last checked and updated this post in April 2021.

It used to be easy: usually there was a desktop computer and the files were on the internal hard drive. In comparison, the variety of devices today is large and the files must be available on all devices such as notebooks, media players, tablets and smartphones, for example to show friends the latest photos, listen to music, watch videos and text documents read or edit.

Nowadays, a cloud can help, whereby the files are stored centrally on a server. All other authorized devices can connect to the server and, for example, synchronize, read or edit a file. The connection to the server takes place via your own network or the Internet. You can thus build and use your own private cloud or use one of the many cloud services on the Internet such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft Onedrive, which offer different functions and storage sizes.

Cloud provider: which cloud storage is right for me?

If you don't want to set up hardware and software for your own cloud storage yourself, you will find uncomplicated ready-made solutions from commercial cloud providers. For a quick overview, you will find a summary of our recommendations here.


Cloud storage from Germany, Austria and Switzerland:

Stricter data protection laws and GDPR compliance are most likely to be found with European providers. The end of the "Privacy Shield" agreement is an additional reason, especially for companies, to find domestic solutions for all data processing services.

  • Your Secure Cloud * is a German cloud solution with End-to-end encryption and only German server locations. Prices start at € 2.49 per month for 10 GB of storage space. Private customers can add up to 1 Tbyte, more storage is possible for business customers. In the "Business" product, companies pay € 4 per month and user, with each user automatically receiving 50 GB of storage. The service can be tested free of charge for 14 days; there is no minimum contract period.
  • luckycloud * also comes from Germany and offers self-created and thus independent serverswho do not rely on the infrastructure of large partners such as Amazon or Microsoft. Here you only pay for the storage space that you actually use (Pay what you use). It starts at 3 GB for 1 € a month, in total up to 500 Tbytes bookable online. The extensive configuration options are primarily of interest to companies, but the service is also open to private users. This cloud service can also be tested free of charge for 14 days before subscribing.
  • Who on the Swiss data protection laws pCloud * from Switzerland has an interesting price model: Here you can use the online storage (500 GByte or 2 TByte) in addition to the usual subscription model via One-time payment Secure for a lifetime - a unique selling point in our comparison.

    Saving tip: Currently there is 2 TB of lifelong storage at a one-time price of 350 euros * instead of 980 euros, which corresponds to a discount of over 64%. (As of: May 7th, 2021)

    A free basic package with up to 10 GB of storage is also available from pCloud.
  • The GDPR-compliant LeitzCloud comes from Germany and focuses primarily on business customers, but can also be of interest to private users. The basic package for one user offers 250 GB of storage at a price of € 11 per month. The service offers, among other things, a Distribution of rights and an integrated Online office package, which enables a simultaneous processing of documents and thus an effective collaboration.
  • The HiDrive cloud service from the German company Strato offers up to 3 terabytes of storage. Prices start at € 3 per month for 250 gigabytes of storage space.

Cloud solutions from overseas:

Caution should be exercised with cloud solutions based outside of Europe. They often provide storage space for free, which is particularly appealing to occasional users. However, significantly lower data protection requirements apply to these services. Those who do not want to make themselves a transparent user in front of an unknown audience are therefore better advised to use European services.

  • Already directly integrated in Windows is OneDrive *. Microsoft's cloud storage offers 5 GB of free storage space that can be easily accessed using the file explorer. The manufacturer also offers apps for additional Office functions.
  • For Photographers with a large number of pictures is recommended Amazon Photos as part of the Amazon Drive *. There is unlimited storage space for photos in full resolution, but only for customers of Amazon Prime (free test *). For all other data, Amazon users have 5 GB available at no additional cost.
  • For private users who have Google Play on their Android phone use the cloud from Google Drive with a storage capacity of 15 GB. The associated app is usually preinstalled. The office tools from Google Docs can also be used.
  • It is similar with iPhone and iPad. Because they bring the Apple iCloud with them without any installation effort. Here, too, there is not only memory, but also some Apple Office tools.
  • If you want to store documents in the cloud and share them with a manageable group of people, Dropbox should be enough. Working together on documents is also possible there. In the free version, however, the storage space is limited to 2 gigabytes.
  • At large amounts of data is mega worth a look. The cloud offers up to 50 GB of free storage space if you take part in a bonus program.

Our recommendation for hobbyists: private cloud

A private cloud offers maximum control and the best possible data protection, as files do not end up in the hands or on the servers of third parties. This is particularly easy with a modern router. The latest FritzBox models *, for example, offer the option of connecting an external hard drive * directly and configuring it as cloud storage. This means that you can access your data at home from any device and from anywhere.

Even with an older router, setting up your own cloud is less complicated than you might think. With a mini computer like the Raspberry Pi 4 and a free cloud server software like Nextcloud or ownCloud you are ready to go. A static IP address required for the server is assigned via a dynamic DNS service.

Private cloud for companies

Companies can also set up a private corporate cloud. Of course, a Raspberry Pi and home router are not enough here. In addition, all hard drives and servers must be suitable for permanent use. The necessary hardware resources can certainly be rented from a cloud provider. Compared to a storage service, however, you have to take care of everything yourself, in terms of the operating system, security updates and data management, including data protection. But here, too, some cloud services offer services so that you don't have to worry about everything and still maintain control over the data - provided encryption and backups. Tip: With a view to data protection and the DGPO, the aforementioned services ownCloud and NextCloud are also interesting for companies that want to operate their own cloud software. For example, ownCloud provides managed services so that companies only have to provide the hardware. With ownCloud.online, ownCloud also offers a SaaS solution for small and medium-sized companies (SMB).

Cloud comparison: storage facilities in China offer a lot of space

Storage space is usually limited in the free versions of the cloud services and can be expanded for a fee. The freemium business model is simple: if you need more storage space, you have to pay. However, the memory available for free varies from provider to provider and is sufficient for most users - when comparing the providers presented here, the storage space ranges from 1 GB to 50 GB and averages around 10 to 15 GB.

On the other hand, three providers from the Far East are fighting for their customers in completely different dimensions: The services Baidu Yun, Yunwei and 360 Yunpan offer 1 to 2 terabytes for free and always entice with time-limited promotions in which up to 36 TB were offered free of charge. However, these cloud services are only available in Chinese and the access times from Germany are so slow that you would have to inherit the account over several generations in order to be able to completely fill the cloud, so we do not take them into account in our comparison.

Apart from the available storage space, cloud providers such as Google and Microsoft also offer additional functions. For example, you can work on documents with others and make (large) files available for download. In addition, files and data can be kept synchronized and up-to-date on all connected devices.

synchronization

A central function of the storage services is the synchronization of the data stored locally on mobile devices and computers with and via the cloud. Most providers offer desktop clients and apps that mirror the cloud storage as a local folder on the hard drive and monitor it for changes. If a file is edited locally on a device, the client automatically updates the file in the cloud. If you want to continue working on another device later, the client checks whether the online version of the file is more recent than the local one and downloads the latest version if necessary. This principle has made it particularly easy to keep files synchronized on multiple devices without great effort.

In addition to clients for desktop computers, many manufacturers also offer apps for smartphones, mobile phones and tablets. They often offer additional features such as automatic photo uploads. Some clouds such as Box, HiDrive or MagentaCLOUD support the WebDAV protocol, which enables folders to synchronize files even if there is no native client for a system such as Linux. However, WebDAV must be supported. If you want to connect your Dropbox via WebDAV, you should take a look at the fee-based DropDAV tool. Alternatives to WebDAV are open interfaces that allow programs to access the cloud services. On Android, for example, this has led to a large number of file managers that connect directly to most cloud storage services.

Working together

Another function is the sharing of files and folders with other users. With Dropbox, it is possible right from the start to share folders with other Dropbox users so that these folders remain synchronized across multiple users and computers. Should it ever happen that a document is edited by two users at the same time, Dropbox recognizes this and saves the version of the second user with a conflict message in the file name. The disadvantage is, of course, that the files created in this way have to be manually merged into one at the end.

The three big providers Google, Microsoft and Apple are one step ahead. They have built in entire office suites as web apps in their services, which enable documents, tables and presentations to be edited directly in the browser. Markings make it clear in real time which user is currently working where in the document.

The office suite ONLYOFFICE, which is available free of charge for private use, also goes the same way. Here all documents can be created and edited directly online in the browser. If you don't have an internet connection, you can also download ONLYOFFICE Desktop. The documents are fully compatible with all common Office formats. Anyone who already has cloud storage with another provider can connect ONLYOFFICE with the services of these third-party providers to create an integrated document management area. In addition, the office suite can also be integrated into your own clouds such as Nextcloud or ownCloud, so that the documents created always remain on your own server and can be edited there from anywhere. The Integration Edition is available as a lifetime license for € 139 and allows up to 10 users.

Version control

Some providers offer versioning for the saved files. The service saves each file version for a certain period of time - usually 30 days - during which any previous version that is still available can be restored. If you have accidentally deleted a document or at a certain point you are no longer satisfied with the result, you can revert to an earlier version. With some providers, however, this function is chargeable or restricted to certain file formats.

Security and data protection in the cloud

A big problem with cloud services of any kind is the security of the data. After all, you have to trust the provider to handle the data responsibly and to store it in a safe location. Only a private cloud offers real data protection here.

Since the servers of most providers are in the USA, the data stored there are not subject to European and German data protection law. A look at the terms of use is therefore compulsory, which is what we do in our blog post Cloud provider: What about data protection? at Amazon Drive, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and Leitz Cloud.

Cloud storage: It is best to encrypt it yourself

Encryption is available from some cloud providers, but in terms of data protection it does not do much if the cloud services have the key to decrypt the data and have to give it to the authorities due to legal regulations. Whether data has been decrypted cannot be checked from the outside, so that the uncertainty remains especially after the NSA scandal and one has to be aware of the fact that one's own data may be viewed on third-party servers.

➤ Reading tip: Surf anonymously - the best VPN providers in comparison

You can minimize the risk by encrypting your files yourself before uploading them. This is particularly easy with the paid tool BoxCryptor, which enables uncomplicated encryption and decryption of files with clients for Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS. EncFs for Linux-like operating systems also offers corresponding encryption. It is important that the encryption continuously meets the current security requirements. Because the performance of computers is increasing and thus old encryption techniques can be cracked more easily with modern technology.

Bundle deals: telephone and office contracts with cloud storage

If you are currently looking for a new telephone and internet contract (DSL or cable) for your home, you will also find integrated cloud storage from the two large German providers Telekom and Vodafone. For example, Telekom * offers 15 GB of its MagentaCLOUD memory included in all tariffs. For non-customers there is at least 3 GB of storage free of charge. Vodafone users * can book the Komfort Cloud S with at least 5 GB as an additional service free of charge. Upgrades are possible with both providers, but then for a fee. Both providers advertise with a German server location, whereby the GDPR applicable in Germany applies here. The US manufacturer Microsoft offers significantly more memory to all of its Microsoft 365 customers. In the subscription package Microsoft 365 Single * (formerly Office 365 Personal) 1 TByte included free of charge. However, the server locations are outside of Europe and are therefore not subject to the stricter GDPR regulations.

Conclusion

The services of Microsoft and Apple are open to everyone, but offer paying customers more options than users with free accounts. At Google, users with a free account have a particularly large number of functions at their disposal, especially since they can be used from various systems via the browser. However, Microsoft, Apple and Google have the disadvantage that they are US companies that are subject to US law. European and German providers such as pCloud, Your Secure Cloud, LeitzCloud and luckycloud, on the other hand, are subject to this EU law and the EU data protection. This is especially important for companies, but private users shouldn't be indifferent either.

If you want to keep full control over your own files, you should set up a private cloud. Otherwise, subscribers of Microsoft 365 OneDrive has a terabyte of storage available and Amazon Prime customers can save their photo collection in the Amazon Cloud Drive. If you edit your photos, you should keep in mind that local data and cloud storage are not automatically synchronized.


FAQ - Questions and answers about cloud storage

In the following we answer some questions that are asked particularly frequently about cloud storage.

Which cloud storage is the safest?

You are in your own hands with the security of storing data on the Internet. Anyone who uses long passwords, encrypts files before transfer and ideally transfers them to the cloud provider via a VPN connection, effectively protects themselves against data thieves - and has little to fear even in the event of a data leak, as attackers cannot read the encrypted data .

Why use cloud storage at all?

Cloud storage has the advantage that you can access your data anywhere in the world if there is an Internet connection. In addition, automatic backup systems ensure that files are not lost even in the event of a server failure. This makes cloud storage interesting for storing backups, for example. If you work with several end devices, you can also synchronize your documents via cloud storage - so you always have the latest version of a file on all devices without having to copy back and forth yourself.

Which cloud storage is the best?

For companies, cloud providers who guarantee European data protection are to be preferred in any case. In principle, this should also be important to private individuals. If you only want to temporarily store unimportant files in the cloud, you can also use a free solution from overseas. We give recommendations for data protection-compliant cloud storage and free alternatives earlier in this article.

How do you save in the cloud?

As a rule, the cloud storage can be managed and operated via the browser and files can be uploaded and downloaded. Some clouds can also be integrated directly into your own computer - the online storage then appears, for example, as a drive in Windows Explorer. Tip: Tools like Boxcryptor ensure that files are automatically encrypted when they are uploaded to the cloud.

How do I save my photos in the cloud?

Even digital photos are just files and can be stored in the cloud. However, if you want to make them available to others or even sell them, you should use specialized photo platforms.

What is stored in the cloud?

In principle, you can save all the files you want in the cloud. However, since video and photo collections, for example, often take up a lot of storage space, there may be costs for cloud storage. That is why you should give preference to files that you also need on the go or important documents that should not be lost in the apartment tape. The latter should of course always be encrypted securely - if possible before uploading to the cloud.

Is there free cloud storage?

Many cloud providers provide their users with free cloud storage, which can be a few gigabytes in size. If you need more storage space, you can usually book it for a fee. However, many providers of free storage are located outside the EU, so they are not obliged to comply with European data protection laws.


* Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links for which we may receive a commission. The prices do not increase as a result!