Top Personal Cloud Storage Systems

It's never been easier to store large amounts of data in the cloud

We never seem to have enough storage space to contain all of our files and data. That personal computing devices and home networks often don’t possess enough built-in storage space to handle all of our data is nothing new. Over the years, however, network storage solutions have been developed to help with this:

  • USB keys (sticks) and external drives
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices
  • cloud storage services on the internet

Each kind of network storage technology has advantages over the others, and Cloud storage has become especially popular as multiple providers now offer convenient internet-based services that can automatically transfer data from computers, tablets, and phones both at home and while roaming.

That Internet cloud systems send copies of personal data to unspecified far-away locations raises concerns over security and control. Vendors of Internet cloud systems put effort into improving their security safeguards, but these systems are a high-profile target for network hackers, and so the risk of breaches remains. Additionally, being reliant on a corporation to have access to one’s own data is not ideal.

Cloud Storage Systems

A special category of products offers cloud storage systems that combine the best features of both internet cloud storage and NAS devices. Instead of relying on remote data hosting, these systems support large amounts of local storage together with options for controlled online sharing.

Personal cloud storage systems are also available that offer large amounts of storage space for individual users at reasonable prices—and many offer a starter level of storage that is free—that do not require special hardware such as purchased storage drives. These services allow you to store files and data in the cloud and access them from multiple devices, such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets.

The following personal cloud storage systems are popular and represent internet cloud services that do not use special hardware like a storage drive, and those that work with devices that connect to a home network router via Gigabit Ethernet cable and support a range of Microsoft, Apple, Android and other clients.

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Cloud over businessman's head
Junophoto/Getty Images

Apple's iCloud storage service offers free and paid subscriptions. As more iOS mobile apps and Apple devices become more interconnected, iCloud provides users with space where data can be stored and accessed by multiple devices.

Users with an Apple ID also have access to the base, free level of iCloud storage. More »

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Dropbox

Dropbox offers both personal and business cloud storage options. Dropbox offers a small personal starting package for free, and users who have larger storage needs can purchase larger storage capacity subscriptions.  

It was reported in 2016 that Dropbox was hacked and 68 million users' account data was stolen in 2012.

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Box

Box (formerly Box.net) is a cloud storage service that offers free cloud storage as well as paid subscription storage for both personal and business users. 

The base personal cloud storage system from Western Digital includes a single 1, 2 or 3 terabyte (TB) capacity drive and the WD 2go (www.wd2go.com) portal for remote file access. The vendor also produces 4 and 6 TB My Book Live Duo models featuring a two- bay configuration, which provides (RAID) redundancy options in the drive setup to improve overall reliability of the system. Free WD 2go apps for both iOS and Android have proven popular with customers and are reasonably well-rated. More »

LaCie offers versions of the CloudBox external storage drive with 1 TB of storage up to 4 TB.

The vendor supports a remote access environment called MyNAS that enables users of a home network to access data on the unit remotely. The remote access services are reachable through the company’s MyNAS portal (mynas.lacie.com), and Apple devices can also be set up to run through an iOS app of the same name.  More »

Available in 2, 3 and 4 TB capacities, Seagate Central is an external drive unit with cloud storage features similar to other products in this category. Free Seagate Media apps for iOS and Android provide client access for streaming video from Central (along with its support for other Seagate devices), while access.seagate.com provides remote Web-based file level access.

The company additionally has produced an app that runs on Samsung Smart TVs enabling streaming from Seagate Central to the television, billed as the first consumer storage device to offer such a feature. More »

D-Link offers the mydlink (www.mydlink.com) portal for remote access to its ShareCenter family of NAS enclosures—the 2-bay Cloud Storage 2000 (DNS-320L) and 4-bay Cloud Storage 4000 (DNS-345) models—not to be confused with D-Link’s other NAS products. Depending on the drive storage capacities chosen (drives can be purchased separately), these Cloud Storage systems may support up to 8 TB (via two, 4 TB drives).

Online reviewers give mixed feedback on these systems, some dissatisfied with the vendor’s customer support, although D-Link backs the product with its 3-year limited warranty. More »