Which cloud storage option gives you the most bang for your buck?

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Online storage is a tricky thing, and there are many reasons to choose one over another. If you’re all in on Microsoft platforms, OneDrive could be your best bet, while someone deep in on Apple stuff may find benefits in iCloud Drive. Meanwhile, if you need something that’s everywhere snd built into everything, maybe Dropbox is your number one option.

But what if we look at the big 5 cloud storage contenders (iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box) on a raw bang for your buck. How much value do you get from each option? This is kind of hard to do cleanly, since each service has different tiers and different prices, but hopefully these charts make it clear how each one is priced. For both charts, I took the liberty of highlighting the outliers. Green cells are extra good, red cells are extra bad.

This first grid shows the number of gigabytes you get at each price point. So if you look at Dropbox as an example, you get 2GB for free, 1,000GB (1TB) for $10/month, and 2,000GB (2TB) for $20/month.

In very short, the best option for people who don’t want to spend a cent is Google Drive, which offers 15GB for free, the most of any of these options. If you just need a little more, iCloud and Google have you covered with $1, $2, and $3 options. iCloud’s $3 for 200GB is a pretty good deal, but Google Drive’s 100GB for $2 is also great.

Meanwhile, iCloud clearly is the best option at the $10 price point, offering 2x what anyone else offers for the same. For $15 Box will actually give you unlimited storage, which is rather compelling as well.

In this grid we’re looking at how much it will cost you to get the amount of storage you need. If all you need is 5GB of storage, most of them have you covered for free. Dropbox gives a measly 2GB for free, so you have to pay their full $10/month fee if this is all you need.

If this is how you’re thinking about storage, iCloud wins almost every time. It’s the cheapest if you need 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB of storage. They’re only bested by Google at the 100GB level, and OneDrive at 1TB. OneDrive is actually the cheapest option for 1TB at just $7. iCloud is the best at the 2TB mark, offering that obscene amount of storage for $10. OneDrive has a 2TB option too that works out to $10 a month as well, but you have to pay for the whole year ($120) up front.

What this chart really shows is that Box is the worst deal in almost all scenarios. Charging $10/month for 100GB of storage is just terrible in 2017. Paying them $15/month gets you unlimited storage, which is really the only place where they are even competitive.

I’m not telling you what to do by any means, but I hope this at least helps you make the decision that’s right for you.