The Best Cloud Storage and File-Sharing Services for 2021

Why waste valuable storage space on your PC or phone when you can store your documents and media in the cloud and share it across devices? These top-rated services let you do just that.
The Best Business Cloud Storage and File Sharing Providers for 2021
Scalable cloud storage solves a lot of problems for businesses of all sizes. The latest products we tested have added improved collaboration features as well as the ability to work with different file types. We take a look at some of the best picks for your business

What Is Cloud Storage?

As with many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business solutions that run primarily in the cloud, business storage applications continue to adapt to serve the changing needs of business users. For small to midsize businesses (SMBs), cloud storage solutions are ideal for covering the needs of remote workers, distributed office locations as well as maintaining secure offsite backups of important files. While it is now easier than ever to set up cloud storage and file sharing solution, the wide range of services and solutions ­­­­can be quite staggering to wade through. Key considerations for any business cloud storage solution is that it needs to be accessible, traceable, and secure. Beyond signing up for a service, businesses and their managers need to know whose cloud they’re keeping their data on and where. This can be daunting especially since many solutions rely on value-added resellers (VARs) or integrators to productize their cloud storage solutions. Business cloud storage solutions today run the gamut from basic tiers or buckets of mass storage that can be managed or merged with other solutions to functionality-focused platforms that integrate cloud storage and sharing functionality with office and productivity solutions.

The Open Cloud Benefits Interoperability

The good news is that, because today’s cloud storage solutions are also increasingly available as standalone products, they have been made for easy integration into any existing system. It is now easier to mix and match cloud storage solutions with existing productivity and document management systems. Cloud companies see the value of interoperability and seem open to taking smaller pieces of a customer’s business than losing it altogether by forcing user lock-in. For startups and SMBs looking to create new or upgraded cloud storage and file-sharing solutions, they have the option of choosing a cloud storage provider and then adding on various integrations and products or, conversely, building a cloud storage solution strategy based on the products that they already use. The challenge for CIOs and IT managers is that they now have a wider range of solutions to pick and choose from, which will require deeper investigation in order to determine what mix of solutions best fit their business needs, not just in the present but also in the future.

Storage and Sharing

Storage space is now more affordable than ever with prices going down each year. In terms of capacity, most cloud storage providers offer a generous amount of storage and in various tiers. Multiple terabytes (TB) are commonplace and no longer a big differentiator between services, especially now that adding storage capacity is easy and cheap. Competition in cloud storage services for business is pivoting towards value-added features including no additional charges for egress, and application programming interface (API) requests will be an attractive perk given similar storage costs and capacities. Anything that can differentiate a service’s offerings and improve the customer experience while lowering monthly fees will catch business user’s attention, provided their basic needs for space and performance are met.

The Challenge of Security

Keeping data safe is a bigger challenge today than it’s ever been. What was once considered “advanced” data safety features, such as enterprise-grade identity management, redundant storage layers, and encryption both at rest and in transit, are no longer optional. Many SMBs now expect a deeper focus on security from the providers they use.

Multi-Platform Support

Almost as important as keeping information safe is making information accessible across the diverse landscape of devices that users bring to the mix. The primary candidates are the typical: Microsoft Windows, Linux, and a variety of Android flavors as well as iOS and OS X. For any platform to be effective in today’s business landscape, web access is a must. In some cases, an authorized device is not always available. Being able to grab a quick document for a meeting or push a business-critical document from a remote computer can be a lifesaver for an ever-increasing distributed workforce—a lifesaver that users expect to be available to them. Mobile compatibility has gained a place in the ecosystem of business. This especially applies to road warriors who frequently work in planes, cars, and subways. Space is often at a premium, and the ability to prepare for a meeting or analyze a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on the go is a necessity. Having a cloud storage solution that can provide these capabilities to users via a software client optimized for their particular operating system (OS), be it Android, iOS, even Windows Phone, is a feature you should look for in a competitive service offering. For example, Dropbox Business recently added some new mobile features on iOS that let users see file activity and team feedback in file preview.

Integration and APIs

One of the advantages of having information in the cloud is that it can be part of a larger ecosystem of connected apps. This capability lets businesses create custom workflows and business processes, often without having to hire contract programmers. For example, it’s not unusual or difficult to configure your employees’ note-taking apps to automatically drive input to task-tracking apps. That way, decisions made in meetings are automatically reflected in your project management toolkit. Those apps might, in turn, drive a need to store reference material. Integration-oriented APIs help reduce the barrier to making apps work together, especially when your IT staff has some development talent. While many the most popular cloud storage solutions, such as Dropbox Business and Box (for Business), offer a rich set of integration options. Some others, such as Jungle Disk, opt to primarily focus on the storage aspect. So, before buying, consider exactly how you want these solutions to fit into your business and what it will take to make that happen. Choosing a cloud storage product for your organization can seem like a daunting task when you first consider all of the variables involved. Not only do different businesses have varying cloud storage and file-sharing requirements they demand solid security for file backups and sharing. Striking a balance between usability, security, and customization ultimately needs to be driven by business requirements. But understanding exactly what those requirements are is a serious task that will require real work; it’s not something you want to come to with a snap decision. Planning is the key. So sit down with business leads, IT managers, and even a representative from the cloud provider under consideration. Considering all of the features and benefits for a businesses’ current and future needs will make determining the best business cloud storage and file-sharing solution easier.