Cloud services have become an increasingly popular tool for storing and sharing data. Specifically, applications like Dropbox and Google Drive remain popular because they are accessible, convenient, and easy to use. But while these large companies assure users that their data is secure and private, they also usually have access to the encryption keys on their server. Though unlikely, this could potentially make it easier for hackers to get your data if something were to happen to their servers.
For those looking for alternatives, there are smaller cloud services that use even more enhanced security practices to protect your data. So if you’re looking to store sensitive information using a cloud application, consider using one of these instead.
Tresorit has become one of the most trusted cloud storage services, especially for businesses, thanks to its enhanced security. Tresorit encrypts your data locally (on your device), ensuring that no data can be leaked when being transferred to the cloud. Tresorit also has a zero-knowledge password policy, meaning that their employees can’t see your password — or any of your data — except in raw form. This means Tresorit employees can only see how much storage your data is taking up, and that’s about it. Since it’s impossible for them to access your data, it is therefore impossible for them to turn over any information to another party, eliminating the risk that your information will be accidentally or intentionally leaked on their end.
Tresorit also has their own way of syncing information, which eliminates the need to drag and drop files into a specific folder, like you would with an application like Dropbox. Instead, you can turn any folder into what they refer to as a “tresor” by right clicking on the existing folder, which will automatically sync the data with the cloud. You can also share encrypted files by converting them to Tresorit links, instead of sending potentially insecure attachments. The files are encrypted until they are downloaded by the specified user.
PRICE: $12.50/month for 100 GB, starting at $12/month per user for businesses
Like Tresorit, SpiderOak One has a zero-knowledge password policy, meaning that it is virtually impossible for anyone on the other end to access your data. However, this also means that if you forget your password, you are completely locked out of your data, so be sure to choose a password you can remember (or write it down somewhere safe). One also uses a local encryption process before files are uploaded it to SpiderOak’s servers.
SpiderOak One also has a unique file versioning feature, meaning that if you make changes to a file, it will only keep the changes and not the entire file. The version that existed before you made the changes will be saved as a “historical version.” This allows you to make as many changes to the file as you want without taking up a ton of storage, eliminating the need to keep upgrading to a larger storage plan. And, you’ll always have access to the previous versions of that file. You can also edit files while offline, and the files will still be encrypted locally. Once a session is over, SpiderOak destroys the unique password which was used for that particular session.
PRICE: Starts at $5/month for 100 GB
McAfee Personal Locker
The McAfee Personal Locker is unique in that it implements multiple security checkpoints before you can get to your data. Based on the security level, it will ask for various levels of authentication, including facial recognition, voice recognition, specific security questions, and pin numbers. Because of this, you must have a front-facing camera on your computer (built-in or a separate webcam) and a working microphone. The biggest advantage here is your ability to customize the security level depending on the file, so that more sensitive information is harder to access.
This probably isn’t the best option for storing everyday files that you’ll need to access quickly. But if you’re looking to store sensitive data such as legal documents, medical information, passports, etc., this might be a worthwhile option. You also need to have a subscription to McAfee LiveSafe — a security suite used for anti-theft, anti-malware, and anti-virus purposes — in order to install Personal Locker. LiveSafe costs $80 annually, but once you have it, you can install Personal Locker for free. Personal Locker offers a relatively small 1GB of space. It’s probably best for smaller, rarely-accessed sensitive files.
PRICE: $80 for McAfee LiveSafe, then free to install
Sync is another great zero-knowledge cloud option. Like other zero-knowledge applications, Sync uses end-to-end encryption, ensuring that you and only you have access to the encryption keys. In other words, there’s no way that Sync could access any of your data. Sync employees also won’t be able to see your password, although Sync is unique in that there is a password recovery feature you can enable in the settings. Just make sure you enable it before you forget your password.
Sync is for those seeking secure, easy-to-use cloud storage. The interface is easy to navigate, unlike other applications that can be a little congested and scattered. In addition to creating folders, Sync has a feature called the vault, which can store data without syncing it across all of your devices. This allows you to store files without storing them on your computer, freeing up some space on your hard drive. They are also known for having excellent customer support should you need it.
In terms of Sync’s sharing features, the company provides the option to create enhanced privacy links, meaning that linked files are decrypted locally, making them zero-knowledge when you share them. There is also a “pro” membership option, which comes with additional features like advanced collaboration tools, download limits, and viewing download statistics.
PRICE: 5GB free, $8/month for 2TB
CertainSafe is a great cloud storage option if security is your number one priority. The CertainSafe Digital Safety Box implements multiple security practices in order to ensure that your files are extremely secure. When you upload to the Digital Safety Box, your data is first exchanged for MicroTokens. These act as a kind of digital “bookmark,” and are used to retrieve the original data that you upload. These are then MicroEncrypted, meaning they are broken up into separate, individually encrypted pieces. Those pieces are then distributed and stored independently of each other on off-site servers. What this means: CertainSafe cannot view any of your data, and in the unlikely event that hackers were able to get through these multiple layers of security, the data would be unreadable.
In addition to high-quality security, they offer other helpful collaboration features, like live chat and team “file cabinets,” which allow shared access to your files. Plus, they offer in-app integration with most Microsoft applications, allowing for real-time editing in these applications on CertainSafe’s server. Granted, it is more expensive than other cloud services, and you can only upload a maximum of 2GB per file, which is on the smaller side. But CertainSafe is worth checking out if you place a premium on file security.
PRICE: $12/month for 100 GB