iCloud Review – Best Cloud Storage for Mac and Its Alternatives
iCloud, which is an Apple’s self-developed cloud storage service, offers ease of use and excellent integration features with amazing price, surprisingly!
Why Choose iCloud
For Apple users, iCloud is the service to keep all of your Apple devices’ data in one place with privacy.
Best Cloud Storage For
5GB free storage
Automatic integration on all Apple devices
Cheap subscription fees
No file versioning
Poor security features
Poor collaboration features
I’ve been an Apple girl forever, but that doesn’t mean I’m all-in on Apple’s cloud storage, iCloud. Having said that, there are genuine reasons for it.
So, is it better to use Apple iCloud or highly-recommended cloud storage services for Apple users?
But a lot of users, including myself, find the interface goes off the deep end.
Dealing with iCloud is clunky, and it is fair to say that there are other better cloud storage alternatives.
Using iCloud may seem sensible to many Apple owners because of Apple’s recommendation, but managing files on iCloud can be difficult.
Overall, iCloud isn’t that bad.
All Apple devices come with a free 5GB free iCloud storage to start.
All of your data — files, photos, videos, notes, and more are automatically saved.
Apple presents a strong contender in the electronics market. Its strengths include its commitment to security and easy integration between Apple devices.
iCloud is also included in this equation as its main draw is the integration with all Apple devices.
Yet, iCloud security features do not make Apple as one of the strongest competitors in the cloud storage market.
Apple Storage is Expensive
Not to mention, Apple has altered most of its laptops from HDD to SDD, which delivers a thinner frame and faster performance.Find out the difference between HDD, SSD and SSHD here.
Apple laptop designs are sleek and beautiful, but it comes with a price — lower storage capabilities.
This means a lot of users, including myself, have to find another solution to store files and data either on external hard disks or cloud storage services.
Having said that, with so many cloud storage solutions to choose from, how can you know which cloud storage is the best for Apple devices?
Do you choose a service such as iCloud that is dedicated to Apple applications or highly recommended services that are known for its collaboration features or advanced security features?
Not to fret, we have all the answers you seek.
Criteria for using Apple devices toward adopting cloud storage services — is it different compared to PC Windows?
Both Mac OS or Windows operating systems have the capacity to utilize cloud storage platforms.
Most cloud storage services in the market offer strong cross-platform support for Mac OS and Windows.
So far, there are no specific criteria for Apple devices to sync with cloud storage services.
The only difference between Mac and PC operating systems is aesthetics design and functionality.
Choosing between these 2 operating systems is just a matter of taste and experience.
At the end of the day, you’ll still need to back up your files and data to the cloud — regardless if you choose iCloud or other cloud storage services.
Is iCloud one of the top cloud storage services? Here’s my honest review.
No doubt, iCloud Drive is one of the most used cloud storage services on the market.
The reason is if you own an Apple device and registered with Apple, you are automatically signed up to Apple iCloud as well — even if it wasn’t your intention.
Many assume that it is a cloud storage service exclusively for Apple users, but that’s not the case. You can use it on a Windows application.
However, iCloud is not perfect and should not be viewed as one of the best cloud storage services.
Its desktop application is poorly designed. It doesn’t offer file versioning or advanced security features.
Setting Up with iCloud and It’s Feature
First thing you’ll notice that iCloud features are divided into 2 parts:
- storing Apple devices application data
- iCloud Drive
Once you have set up your devices with your Apple ID, you can use the iCloud Drive using the same ID to access and edit your data.
You have the option to back up your files from Mac or iPhone to iCloud Drives.
All your files, including photos, email, calendar, bookmarks, and others, will be stored automatically into the iCloud Drive.
This function is integrated into the macOS operating system and iOS. This is one of the uppermost benefits of using Apple devices.
After you set up your iCloud Drive, all documents that are stored in the Drive will automatically be moved to the iCloud storage.
Any owned Apple devices will keep your data in the Files app as well as the Pages, Keynotes, and Numbers apps.
So far, iCloud doesn’t provide any complications when it comes to setting up all Apple devices and automatically syncing them for back up storage.
User Experience on iCloud
iCloud is remarkably easy to use if you are using an Apple device.
The settings integration with all Apple devices are automatic, so it is convenient to sync the devices to your iCloud account.
Sounds too good to be true, right!
Unfortunately, iCloud’s user-friendliness is questionable.
The interface connection is limited, and the iCloud client for Apple is dreadful.
While iCloud does a great job syncing Apple Products, sometimes the data are not automatically updated on iCloud.
You also have the option to drag and drop files into iCloud but only through the web client.
If you are using the desktop version, iCloud does not provide that option.
The iCloud Drive works smoothly for the most part, but sometimes, folders will show that they didn’t sync properly unless I click on them, and then, it automatically updates to the iCloud.
File Sharing and Sync
File sharing and sync features are reasonably easy with iCloud.
If you are using Apple devices, you will notice that all of your data — both desktop and mobile — are synched by default.
iCloud will also automatically back up pictures stored on your Apple mobile device.
Other Apple services such as Contacts, Email, Notes, Calendars, Reminders, Keynote, and Notes are automatically synced. Your system settings — both desktop and mobile — are synced between devices.
Once in a while, there are issues with the sync feature, but mostly this happens to third-party apps such as using Google Chrome.
Sometimes, the iCloud Bookmark extension doesn’t work, and you have to do it manually.
Besides the data sync issue, the synchronization between the devices is pretty good, as long as you are using Apple Devices.
On the other hand, iCloud’s sharing feature is quite weak. Compare to other top recommended cloud storage services, iCloud does not provide a strong sharing feature.
File Format Not Compatible
Besides the sharing feature between Apple native apps such as Notes or Pages where you can edit and view the latest file, iCloud fails to convert many file types such as Microsoft Office or Excel documents to an editable format.
You basically can’t edit these documents, like Google Drive or Dropbox. However, iCloud identifies many different types of files in the Drive.
When it comes to sharing files, iCloud allows you to share via Email or Copy Link.
You can set permissions for access and make changes to your files. Having said that, iCloud does not provide password protection for links or create link expiry dates.
Popular cloud storage platforms such as Sync.com or pCloud, offer this option.
You can’t even share folders, which is a huge disadvantage. So, if you are looking for an excellent collaboration system, Google Drive or Dropbox is a better bet.
But, keep in mind that iCloud is more of a cloud storage that complements the Apple device ecosystem.
Security and Privacy
If you don’t remember the 2014 iCloud celebrity photo leaks, well, I’m surprised.
It is important to address this incident because this is a huge red flag when it comes to security and privacy.
A lot of people, including myself, prefer cloud storage that has strong security features.
Regardless, this incident is more of a reminder to use a strong password rather than it was Apple’s security fault.
Apart from that, Apple does the best of its ability to protect the data in iCloud Drive. iCloud offers two-factor authentication, which “is an extra layer of security for your Apple ID designed to ensure that you’re the only person who can access your account.”
Here’s how it works: When you sign in to a new Apple device for the first time, you will need to provide your password and the 6-digit verification code that automatically displays on your other trusted Apple devices. Once you entered the code, the new device is good to go.
For example, if you have a Macbook and you just purchased a new iPhone and signing into your account for the first time.
The verification code will automatically be displayed on your Macbook after registering the iPhone with your ID.
iCloud also encrypts your data using 128-bit AES and TLS to protect your data, which is a robust security protocol.
However, emails that are stored in iCloud are not encrypted at-rest.
It is also best to indicate that some of Apple’s services, such as iMessage, are end-to-end encrypted, which means Apple cannot access your data, but iCloud Drive does not get the same treatment.
Additionally, iCloud Drive is not a zero-knowledge encrypted, which is Apple’s Achilles Heel in the cloud storage market.
In other terms, your data in iCloud Drive can be stolen or handled under a court order, which gives the benefit of the doubt of their practice. That being said, Apple is averagely secured.
If you’re looking for high-security cloud storage services, check out our review on how you can secure your data better by using one of the 4 Most Secure Cloud Storage Services on Planet Earth right now.
Last but not least, Apple protects your privacy pretty well.
Apple only records logs usage data for development purposes after acquiring your consent, and your information will not be sold to third-party advertisers.
Subscription and Pricing Plan
You probably know by now that most Apple products are expensive.
Surprisingly, iCloud Drive is reasonably affordable.
Apple offers 5GB of free storage upon signing up. It’s not much but definitely more than what Dropbox offers.
If you ever need more space in iCloud Drive, you can upgrade to a larger plan by choosing a total of 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB cloud storage.
You can even share the 200GB and 2TB plans with your family.
Apple offers monthly plans only, which is a bummer because most cloud storage services offer monthly and annual subscription plans.
Or even a lifetime plans such as pCloud and Icedrive.
|iCloud Live Price Monitor|
|Lots of Photos||$2.99/mo||(200GB)|
|Great for Families||$9.99/mo||(2TB)|
*Above price chart is our self-developed pricing monitor mechanism to counter the out-dated pricing in the review that does not get corrected when the provider changes their price structure.
iCloud Pricing is still a steal
iCloud charges based on the monthly pricing and plans per country or region. You can definitely check out on their site at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201238.
Most cloud storage services provide a 1TB option, but iCloud does not.
Icedrive is offering 1TB for life at $149, which is amazing by the way.
In spite of that, iCloud Drive is cheap, and if you’re not into high-security or collaboration features, iCloud pricing plans are a steal.
So is Sync.com that offer 2TB secure end to end encryption for $8/mo.
That being said, Apple does not offer discounts for annual subscriptions, like many popular cloud storage services in the market.
iCloud’s customer service is average. There’s really nothing special to note about this service.
If you require help for iCloud on their customer service website, there are only 2 ways to get help.
It’s either over a phone call or going through the iCloud community page. There is no chat or email support.
If you need emergency assistance, you’ll have to schedule a call, which can be an inconvenience sometimes.
The support community, on the other hand, can only help based on your issues.
Getting your answers through the forum is rolling the dice.
You can either find the exact answer you need or have a stroke of tough luck finding the solution you seek.
The downside of using the iCloud drive
It is best to say that iCloud Drive isn’t the best cloud storage solution for everyone.
There are plenty of reasons discussed above viewed as a deal-breaker.
All in all, iCloud was created to support and back up Apple devices.
Sadly, it does not do much for others who do not own Apple devices.
Even for those who use Apple devices, iCloud is not the best option for back up storage.
We get the fancy commercial of Apple devices, but iCloud is definitely not worth paying the top dollar.
For Apple users, iCloud Drive is an average service to keep all of your Apple devices’ data in one place.
It’s already part of the Apple operating system, so you can’t escape it.
With this in mind, you should go for a cloud storage solution that has robust security features or excellent collaboration features to keep your data in virtually good hands.
When it comes to selecting a cloud storage service, it can be hard finding the right provider according to your needs.
Some have great collaboration options, but without excellent security features, like Google Drive or Dropbox.
While others have great security features but lack other features. For example, pCloud has unique security options but it requires additional cost.
To help you decide on the best cloud storage for your Apple devices, we have come up with a list of the top-recommended storage options for you.
The list below ranges from the top security platforms to excellent collaboration features to soothe your decision-making in choosing one of our recommended cloud storage services — if you don’t want to use iCloud.
Sync.com stands out in the market due to its security features. They also offer zero-knowledge encryption that keeps your data secured.
Sync.com offers 3 different personal plans and 3 business plans, ranging from 5GB to 20TB storage.
Sync.com covers all Apple users, and its navigation feature is pretty impressive because it is simple to use.
The best part, Sync.com’s security features are free compared to pCloud, where you have to pay extra for it.
Overall, Sync.com is easy to use and offers an extensive selection of storage plans, excellent security, and practical features.
You can check out our Sync.com review for more information and learn more about our first 8 impressions.
One of the best cloud storage platforms in the market, pCloud is an excellent alternative to iCloud.
Packed with amazing features, pCloud is easy to use. It provides users with clean and easy navigation through the platform.
pCloud uses zero-knowledge, two-factor authentication, and AES 256-bit encryption to protect your files.
However, it comes with a price. Its security features do not come with a free account.
Zero-knowledge encryption is an add-on, so this is definitely a recommendation that you use it to prevent anyone, including pCloud accessing your files.
pCloud offers 10GB of free space. The extra 10GB free space gain by referring or invite other users to register.
If you’re interested to know about pCloud, we recommend you to read our intake about pCloud in depth.
Known for its secured and fairly simple service, MEGA is hands-down, better cloud storage than iCloud.
First of all, MEGA offers 15GB of free storage for Apple users. Compared to iCloud’s 5GB free storage, 15GB is definitely an upgrade with a more secure storage system.
MEGA utilized AES 128-bit encryption and two-factor authentication to keep your account safe.
Although the encryption isn’t on the same standards as pCloud or Sync.com, you can still rest assured that your data is safe.
Moreover, MEGA offers features such as Versioning to keep multiple of the same file.
If you want to know more about MEGA’s outstanding features, read our full review.
Similarly to iCloud, Dropbox offers a free plan, but it’s a puny of 2GB storage space.
With Dropbox, you can only share files and folders using the web interface. If you’re going to share a folder, you can either allow a view-only or edit access.
Another interesting point, Dropbox includes passwords and expiry dates for shared links and the option to disable downloads in their file-sharing feature to control access.
When it comes to security, Dropbox uses AES 128-bit when the files are in transit and when the files are at rest, it uses AES 256-bit for encryption.
Dropbox also offers two-step verification and adjustable security settings in the desktop app to protect your data.
To know more about its excellent collaboration functions, read our review here.
5. Google Drive
One of the biggest giants in the cloud storage space market.
Their features are famous more on its collaboration tools than security purposes.
Their functions are what make Google Drive reliable and efficient, enabling users to share and save all files as well as enables you to collaborative edit documents, forms, spreadsheets, and slideshows presentations on their native office applications.
With the excellent file-sharing service in mind. It allows you to generate links for files and folders as well as permit permissions such as edit, comment, or view.
Google Drive web interface and app are very easy to use. It takes less than a minute to figure out how it works. Syncing all files stored in the cloud is straightforward as well.
Google Drive is accessible through a browser, a mobile app, or a desktop app. Once you’ve installed the Google Drive desktop app on your Mac, you can drag and drop files into the linked folder to sync to your cloud drive.
Compare to the above-stated cloud storage services, Google Drive doesn’t automatically sync files, so you have to choose which files to backup selectively.
Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage upon signing up, and if you want to know more about its flexibility subscription plans, read our review here.
We’ve even compared the Google drive with Dropbox and Onedrive, check that out as well if you find the comparison interesting.
We put Icedrive last in the list for iCloud alternatives because it’s the youngest among all the above and not because of the lack of functionality, security or even cost.
In fact, they excel in those fields. Being the youngest gives them the upper hand on giving what users really want by checking out on their competitors.
Zero-knowledge encryption checked. Lifetime plan checked. Privacy checked. Cheapest cloud storage checked.
I’ve no reason to ask you not to check them out in our Icedrive review.
Under the same lens, it seems that iCloud alternatives perform better than iCloud.
So, if you’re looking for the right one that works with your Apple devices, there are a lot of excellent services out there.
But finding the right one with excellent security or collaboration features, the list above is there to help you decide better instead of cracking your head figuring out the right one.
Although all of the services on this list are great, it’s really up to you which one wins your heart.
All of them are excellent cloud storage services that can back up your important files, including photos and videos, and keep all of your Apple devices in sync.
It’s also a great way to make sure all of your Apple devices have instant access to your cloud storage.
If you are looking for the one to edit and access files and easily share files and folders with others, Google Drive or Dropbox is the-go for you. If it is for security reasons, pCloud, MEGA, and Sync.com are for you.
5GB iCloud free storage is very little compare to today’s standard and usage. Before you know it, it’s hitting the limit and you are required to pay for additional storage.
Though the subscription is very affordable. Still, I would prefer to upload all my photos and videos to my home NAS where those are the types that take up most of the free spaces.
Get some breathing space for my free iCloud account.