In an age of eroding online privacy and increasing corporate surveillance, many people are looking to find a good alternative to Google Drive for their documents and files. After all, why would you want to store your private data with the world’s largest advertising company? This is especially true when you consider that this company has a financial incentive to collect and analyze your data….
Even if finding a good Google Drive alternative has not been a top priority, it is another service worth replacing if you are planning to fully restore your privacy. And by selecting a reliable and secure Google Drive alternative, you will have more control of your data. You will also be supporting some great privacy-focused businesses while steering clear of surveillance capitalism.
Google Drive data privacy
First, we do need to point something out. Google Drive keeps your data secure against outsiders. However, this is a distinction from privacy. That’s because Google themselves can read your data if they wish.
Here is what the Google Drive Additional Terms of Service, dated March 31, 2020, has to say on the subject (emphasis added):
We may review content to determine whether it is illegal or violates our Program Policies, and we may remove or refuse to display content that we reasonably believe violates our policies or the law. But that does not necessarily mean that we review content, so please don’t assume that we do.
What? It seems to be saying that they want you to act like your data is private even though they can look at it whenever they feel the need to do so. We don’t actually provide privacy but you should pretend that we do?
Unless you are part of an organization where you are required to use Google Drive, it should be relatively easy to switch to a more private cloud storage service. Replacing it will be an easy step toward a long-term goal of replacing all your Google apps and services.
Finding a secure cloud storage service takes on more importance when you think about all the sensitive data you are storing in the cloud. Add in the number of nasty cloud storage hacks that have occurred over the years and you might start feeling a sense of urgency.
Best Google Drive alternatives
Choosing a secure and private Google Drive alternative is complicated by the fact that Google Drive works with various other services such as Google Docs, Calendar, and more. If you use the full suite of Google apps, replacing Drive could be challenging. However, if you have some flexibility in the additional apps and services you use, I can show you some secure cloud storage options that can act as Google Drive alternatives that also keep your data private.
Tresorit, based in Switzerland, is our pick for the best Google Drive alternative today. It offers a full set of features that could be useful for individuals and teams, as well as businesses. You also get end-to-end zero knowledge encryption that ensures your data is really private and secure — even from the people at Tresorit.
If you are on an individual plan, your data will be stored in Ireland. But if you spring for a business account, you can select from several jurisdictions to meet your regulatory and business requirements. Tresorit has also been audited to confirm that the product delivers on its promises. Ernst & Young did it in 2019 and rated Tresorit as a trustworthy service.
Tresorit doesn’t connect to the same range of business apps that Google Drive does, but it does integrate with Outlook, Gmail, and Active Directory, making it easy to use Tresorit with your existing infrastructure.
Their business-oriented plans also give you tools for managing users and their data across the organization. When you factor in Tresorit compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, FedRAMP, and numerous other data protection regulations, you get a secure cloud storage offering that works in a business environment.
Tresorit isn’t just resting on its past achievements, either. One recent addition to the product was Tresorit Drive 2.0. Tresorit Drive allows you to access and edit cloud-only files without downloading or syncing them. It is available for Windows and Mac OS.
Tresorit is a great Google Drive replacement for business users but might be overkill for individual users. The free plan offered by the company is very limited, while individuals will probably have little use for the business features while still needing to pay the product’s relatively high subscription fee.
Note: Effective July 6, Swiss Post acquired a majority stake of Tresorit. According to the company, the acquisition won’t really change much from the perspective of users like you and me. We’ll keep an eye on the situation and let you know if anything significant comes up.
Check out our complete Tresorit review.
The next Google Drive alternative we will examine is Sync.com. This Canadian company is one of the best alternatives to Google Drive for both individuals and businesses. The service has a zero-knowledge infrastructure that looks really solid and features that will appeal to any audience.
The Sync.com free plan could be ideal for individuals who can get by with only a few gigabytes of storage (5 GB) and don’t need a Linux sync client. The company stores all your data in Canada.
Sync.com has a number of strong features for businesses. It has capable subscription plans with the ability to do things like view Office documents directly from the web, send and receive files securely, as well as unlimited storage and bandwidth. The plans are compliant with industry standards such as HIPAA, GDPR, and PIPEDA.
There are two potential drawbacks to consider if you want to use Sync.com for business. One is that you need to store all your data in Sync.com’s Sync folder. This could result in incompatibilities with other crucial business apps and services. The other potential drawback is that the company has not published any third-party audit results yet.
Learn more about this Google Drive alternative in our Sync.com review.
If you use Google Drive as an individual, rather than a team member or an employee, MEGA could be the Google Drive replacement you want. Among its Drive-like benefits, MEGA provides desktop and mobile clients for every major operating system, including Linux.
Like Tresorit, MEGA’s end-to-end, zero knowledge encryption means not even MEGA themselves can read your data. They also offer a generous free plan that includes 15 GB of storage (which you can boost to as much as to 50 GB if you complete certain tasks).
One thing that hurts this service is that it has daily data transfer limits that can leave changes unsynced until the next day if you try to move too much data at once.
While MEGA has a lot to offer for individuals, it doesn’t look as good if you are looking for secure business storage. Their business plans can include unlimited storage and transfer capacity, plus built-in chat, contacts, and file preview capabilities. But Tresorit and other services like pCloud have stronger corporate offerings.
Another thing to be aware of with MEGA is that New Zealand law forces MEGA to include some worrying clauses in their ToS. You’ll want to study the ToS extra carefully if you are considering MEGA for corporate cloud storage.
Learn more in our MEGA cloud storage review.
Compared to the other Google Drive alternatives we’re looking at here, NordLocker is pretty bare bones. That’s because it is really a file encryption system with cloud storage capabilities. If you are looking for secure Google Drive replacement, the NordLocker Premium plan offers 500 GB of storage at a very reasonable price.
Consider NordLocker for business or personal use if you need the maximum possible security for your cloud storage. Conventional secure cloud storage services like Tresorit or Sync.com encrypt your data whenever it is in motion or when it is on their servers. No one, not even them, can decrypt your data in these circumstances.
But conventional cloud storage services do not encrypt the data when it is at rest on your devices. If a malicious actor gains access to your device, they will also have full access to your files as well.
NordLocker eliminates this problem. You put files and folders you want to store in the cloud into a special folder called a locker. Lockers are encrypted by default, even on your device. Unless you open NordLocker (which is itself password-protected) your files remain safely encrypted at all times. This results in an additional level of protection beyond any of the other products profiled here.
NordLocker has one other nice trick on offer. The service provides its own secure cloud storage for lockers just like everyone else. But NordLocker lockers are also compatible with any other cloud storage service. That’s a big deal. It means you can store lockers in other cloud storage services (including Google Drive), and know that your data is secure.
Learn more about this versatile tool in our complete NordLocker review.
Note: NordLocker is from the makers of NordVPN, one of the most popular VPNs on the market. They also offer NordPass, a secure password manager.
Nextcloud is hard to characterize. That’s because it is a free and open source suite of client-server software used to create and manage file hosting services. Depending on how it is configured, Nextcloud can serve as a secure cloud storage service for individuals, a functionally similar replacement for Google Drive in the enterprise, and anything in between.
If you have the technical expertise, you can host Nextcloud on your own servers, which offers the potential for a very secure configuration. Or you can use Nextcloud through a third-party service provider to eliminate setup and maintenance headaches. Nextcloud is also very versatile and expandable. One example of this is Nextcloud Hub. The hub allows you (and your team) to:
Share and collaborate on documents, send and receive email, manage your calendar and have video chats without data leaks
As a fully on-premises solution, Nextcloud Hub provides the benefits of online collaboration without the compliance and security risks.
Given what we’ve seen so far, Nextcloud looks like it should be one of the top Google Drive alternatives. There are, however, a couple of drawbacks. First, Nextcloud’s end-to-end (E2E) encryption is not fully functional yet. This makes the ability to host your Nextcloud system within a secure firewall very important.
Another issue is that you need to be alert to how secure and private each of the components you connect to Nextcloud is. Using Nextcloud as a secure and private alternative to Google Drive requires some technical experience.
Even so, Nextcloud seems to have a bright future as a powerful, flexible, and free cloud storage solution once they get their E2E encryption solution completely ironed out.
Here’s our full review of Nextcloud.
Alternative Google Drive FAQs
Here are some detailed answers to some of the additional questions people have about alternatives to Google Drive.
Does it matter where the company is located?
Where a Google Drive alternative is based matters. If it is based in a country that doesn’t provide strong privacy protections, the company may be forced to hand over your private data to the government or other third parties. In many cases, the company will be legally required to turn over your data, regardless of what their Terms of Service or other policies say.
However, the Google Drive alternatives we recommend feature zero knowledge, end-to-end (E2E) encryption. What this means is that no one, not even the company that runs the service, can read your files. The file encryption used by modern services is believed by cryptographers to be secure against cracking by even the most powerful current computers. So while it is best if your files are never turned over to anyone, the data within them will be safe if that does happen.
There is one other thing to discuss before we are done here. The fact that a snoop can’t read your encrypted files doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no usable data available about your files. The service may still have access to:
- Billing information
- Metadata such as your IP address and when you log on or off the system
- Who you share encrypted files with
- The names of the encrypted files or folders you are storing in the cloud
You should think carefully about the threats you want to protect your data against (your threat model) before evaluating alternatives to Google Drive.
Does it matter where my data is stored?
Yes, it matters. But with the secure, private cloud storage services we recommend as Google Drive replacements, it doesn’t matter too much.
If you’ve read the main article, you are now aware that your data is not always stored in the same country your cloud storage service is located in. For example, Tresorit is based in Switzerland, but it stores your data in Ireland or various other countries. Meanwhile, Sync.com is based in Canada and stores your data there.
The laws of the country that your data is stored in can affect your data and make it available to the local government or other organizations. But once again, since the Google Drive alternatives we recommend provide strong security (Nextcloud being a current exception) the local authorities won’t be able to read your files even if they do grab a copy of them. At best, they will be able to get the same kinds of metadata that we listed in the previous question.
That means that even though your data is secure in any location, if you have the option, go with a service that is both based in, and stores your data in, a privacy friendly jurisdiction.
Why can’t I use a free account?
While using a free Google Drive alternative sounds appealing, there are several good reasons to pay for your secure cloud storage. They include:
- Limited functionality – Free accounts are meant to lead you to subscribe to the paid version of the service. To that end, they always have limited functionality. Whether it is more stringent limits on the amount of data you can store, limits on the amount of data you can upload and download in a month, or the amount of time you can use the free account, or something else, the paid version of any alternative will usually be a better option.
- Limited support – Support costs money, and free accounts don’t earn any money. As a result, they usually provide limited customer support.
- Limited features – You usually get more features with paid accounts too. Things like file version tracking, enhanced security features, and business-oriented features are usually only available with a paid account.
The best use for a free account is to test the service. That way, you can be sure the service will meet your needs before investing money into it.
Should I use a VPN with my Google Drive alternative?
You should always use a VPN with the cloud storage service you choose as a Google Drive alternative. While secure services like those we describe prevent prying eyes from reading the data in your files, there is still metadata that can be recorded about you. Services often use your IP address to know whose metadata they have collected.
Their gathering of your personal data helps them but offers no real benefits for you. If you use a VPN to connect to a Google Drive alternative, that service won’t be able to see your real IP address and location. Instead, they will see the IP address of the VPN server you are using. Since each IP address of a popular VPN is shared by many other VPN users, it will be very hard for anyone snooping on your connection to be able to associate your online activities with your online address.
See our list of the best VPNs here.
What’s the difference between end-to-end encryption and zero knowledge encryption?
People are sometimes confused about the difference between end-to-end (E2E) encryption and zero knowledge encryption. Here’s a quick explanation.
E2E encryption means that messages or data are encrypted before they leave your device and remain encrypted until they arrive at their destination. They’re encrypted from one end of the connection to the other.
Zero knowledge encryption takes things one step further. With zero knowledge encryption, the user controls the encryption keys. The cloud storage service (or whatever other service you are talking about) doesn’t know the encryption keys and has no way to find out what they are. In other words, the service has zero knowledge of the encryption keys and therefore cannot read your data. Period.
Wrapping up this guide to the best Google Drive alternatives
This concludes our roundup of the best Google Drive alternatives. As we mentioned at the top of this article, a prime requirement for these cloud storage services is that they provide the privacy and security that Google Drive does not. Time and again, cloud storage services have proven to be prime targets for hackers from run-of-the-mill creeps to high-powered hacking teams backed by national governments.
To get the most benefit from this article, you should read the short reviews of the best Google Drive alternatives here. Then use the link at the bottom of any review you are interested in to get even more information about that specific service.
Finally, take any services you like out for a test drive. Spend a few days or weeks testing it to see if it really meets your specific needs as a Google Drive alternative. We’re confident that one of these will meet your needs and let you move away from Google Drive with little stress.
purity is vitality
Actually Google Drive just like other big players uses hash to test for copyright content. And there is no end to end encryption. Google Drive is so big that law authorities won’t let them go the other way. But Google Drive is not evil. They don’t look at user files despite the absence of end to end encryption. And the quality of service and reliability of Google Drive is very good, as and so are its speeds.
I also believe generally western countries and governments are not totally evil too. They do certain things for power and their interests and the interests of their people but they are the lesser evil. Look at Taliban and ISIS, that is the real kind of problem and evil one should be worried about. Use this power of privacy and freedom to make your governments act against it instead of doing toxic things on social media.
Hello, Fed. We see you.
What about kDrive from infomaniak?
I think it’s not cheap or expensive. They use encryption, unfortunately only when the transport is done and not directly on the device.
Any suggestions for that one?
What are the benefits of storing data in these alternatives vs storing data in google drive? Im talking about privacy and security, not the storage and limits.
My biggest question here is which google drive alternatives will work best at opening a google drive file being sent to me if I get out of my google e-mail and drive account? My child’s school uses drive to share newsletters, panflets, fliers etc to inform us of upcoming events and updates. If I choose one or the other alternatives, will I still be able to view the attached files based on google? I really do have the need to get out of these platforms as I learned the privacy issues they have. But will it be worth it or should I still keep them for the sake of being able to open files I need to read from the school district?
Thank you Sven for providing informational feedback on products and services!
Google recently announced a new policy for their Drive cloud storage service and will soon begin restricting access in order to crack down on “abuses” of its platform.
as for Google drive alternative, I do suggest Uloz.to disc where you can get 1 TB for your data ! 😁
Follow this link to get the Uloz.to disk, just for 5 Euro or ess if paid for 1 year:
As for security, https is certain but as for my files, I’d encrypt them on my Linux comp. or moved the to my VeraCrypt container and then upload it to the Disc.
I do suggest this just for good price 😉
I’m also a huge fan of Cryptomator, but have to add some caveats: 1) Crytomator can be finicky on Mac’s, especially when updating. You can suddenly lose access to encrypted folders you’d JUST moments ago had access to. This happens to me often when I’m prompted to “migrate” (update vault). And while there’s an active online Cryptomator community, if you have questions you won’t necessarily get helpful answers. So if access to your data is vital, have another encryption plan. 2) Cryptomator places its encrypted folder in the sync folder of the cloud provider on your machine’s hard-drive and syncs the encrypted content to the cloud. But if you run out of space on your internal hard drive, migrating the vault to an external hard drive might not work. It hasn’t worked for me with any of the cloud providers I’ve tried. 3) Some cloud providers won’t work with Cryptomator. I tried Nordlocker and they wouldn’t accept my Cryptomator vault. I shared this with their support team but they chose not to reply.
A better encrypt-your-data-yourself solution, I think, is to use an open-source service that encrypts the files and folders anywhere you point to on your home system (internal drives, external drives…) THEN upload the already-encrypted files/folders to the cloud.
hello, can I also mention Icedrive for cloud storage?
they have monthly and lifetime plans, and an interested approach to encryption, avoiding AES256 in preference of Twofish algorithm for encryption, see https://icedrive.net/encrypted-cloud-storage
I have recently signed up to their 150GB lifetime plan. they are a bit “work in progress” but so far so good.
Have you ever thought of your own NAS????? For about $300-400 you can set up a NAS system with as many terabytes as you need and not worry about 5 Eyes and the rest of the social media clowns
They would be good, but they collect a lot of info per their Privacy Page.
Plus they are based in California so bad jurisdiction and while I am not a novice, I don’t trust myself with setting up the system correctly to protect.
Just my .02.
Like S3 via RubberDucky which of these will allow to to share media via time self expiring URL?
Free file sharing services to share baby videos are sad. I pay my own way. (Which means i use zero google services or socially deviant media)
Hi Heinrich and RP Team,
Another great article. I really appreciate your time, efforts and commitment to educating privacy.
Another good options are:
1. Maifence.com, which has documents section, there you can upload files/photos,
Both are recommended e-mail services by you, also Tutanota soon to would have cloud service…, so all of them would have email+calender+storage(cloud) services.
3. Crypt.ee you recommended as Google alternative article as alternative to Goggle Docs+Google photos, there you can edit docs etc….but can’t it use as storage(cloud) same as all others?
Heinrich, kindly explain what are the differences, if there are, between them to the the services recommended above.
Thanks again for great reviews
I checked the tresorit plans on their website. The free version mentioned is only for trial period for 14 days.
Pay with money or pay with dignity. You will pay.
Respect yourself and your valuable privacy. Don’t be chattel!
Another good one to add is ProtonDrive.
Excellent company and private/Secure.
I think that the best approach to store data in a cloud is to encrypt it on your device and then send it to the cloud. I use open source Cryptomator, and it does the job effortlessly. Encrypted data is useless for a cloud operator.
Cryptomator; Yes, this is something Restore Privacy should review. It’s encryption software which is open-source – FOSS – which fits right into Restore Privacy’s paradigm.
NordLocker is by far my first choice on this list, however I am moving strictly to Linux in the near future, and Nord STILL doesn’t offer a Linux app. This is very disappointing to me since NordVPN and NordPass have Linux apps – and I really like Nord. Also, NordLocker is extremely convenient.
Also, it is very important to have file/folder encryption on the computer – not just in the cloud – for sensitive information (medical records, etc.). NordLocker has that feature.
Hence, I will find it necessary to use Cryptomator and find a somewhat cheap or free cloud service to use with it.
I have inquired about a Linux NordLocker app on several occasions in hopes of motivating them to introduce the app to no avail.
Restore Privacy, maybe you could contact the Nord Team and subtly motivate them to expedite their work on the Linux app? They might take it more seriously if you contact them about this.
I agree, Cryptomator allows to set up local virtual drives with encrypted data.
I think one more advantage of this approach (encrypting data prior uploading it to the cloud) should be mentioned here: It protects against changes of policies by the companies behind cloud services, when at some point a company craftily introduces some update(s) allowing “sharing reports” or “data usage” to “improve a service quality” or whatever. I observe it quite often now, which is very hard to manage because we usually learn about with a delay. Encrypted data gives some time to move it to more secure service if needed, with more confidence that nothing sensitive leaked before we realize of those changes.