The forecast for your next phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop includes not just a chance of clouds but a choice of them. As in, which cloud storage service will you use to back up your files?
The wrong answer is “none.” Any device that will leave your house needs a backup system that doesn’t depend on you remembering to plug it into a drive or another computer once at home. Plus, cloud storage vastly eases access to your most important files across all your devices.
But unless you exist entirely in Apple’s orbit, you’ll have to choose between cloud services that fit better on some devices than on others.
Here are your options from Apple, Google and Microsoft, with costs on an annual basis:
Apple’s iCloud+ gives 5 gigabytes of free storage, after which you can buy 50GB for $11.88/year, 200GB for $35.88/year, or 2 terabytes for $119.88/year.
Google One starts with 15GB free, then offers 100GB for $19.99/year, 200GB for $29.99/year, and 2TB for $99.99/year.
Microsoft’s OneDrive provides 5GB free, followed by a 100GB tier at $23.88 a year and a 1TB offering at $69.99 a year, plus a family plan with 1TB per person for up to six people for $99.99/year.
On Macs, iPhones and iPads, iCloud+ allows for the simplest backup and now offers such additional privacy features as iCloud Private Relay to cloak your browsing and Hide My Email to create random addresses that forward to your actual email.
In Windows, OneDrive provides an equally simple backup of your core data folders as well as the useful extra of Microsoft Office’s apps.
Google’s backup service does not come with add-ons to match Apple and Microsoft’s – but it’s also your only recourse for a Gmail inbox that’s grown beyond your ability to keep it under the 15 GB line.
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Beyond those three, you can also buy cloud storage from the likes of Dropbox, where 2TB runs $119.88/year, while Amazon Prime subscribers get unlimited Amazon Photos storage; those third-party services, however, lack their integration with major computing platforms.
My advice: Let the computer that most needs online backup – meaning the device that spends the most time out of the house and holds the most content in need of safekeeping – drive your cloud choice. In my case, that device is an HP laptop running Windows 10, so I pay for OneDrive to sync its documents, photos and music.
My other advice: Try not to pay list price for cloud storage if you can help it. Credit card cash-back offers such as a targeted American Express 20%-off deal for Google One may trim your costs, but you can also often purchase Apple and Google gift cards, good for their cloud services, at a discount.
For example, Target rewards buying a $100 Apple gift card with a $15 gift card, Amazon earlier offered a $5 credit for buying a $50 Apple gift card, and AARP members can buy $15 Google Play gift cards for $13 through that organization’s AARP Rewards page.
Subscription fatigue is real, but chipping away at these expenses is one way to feel less wary about this cost of doing digital business.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Google, Apple or Microsoft: Which cloud storage is best for you?