Dropbox is one of the most famous and most successful cloud storage services available. Its success is largely due to its many functions and ease of use. But when it comes to data protection and maximum free online storage space, this popular app isn’t the pick of the bunch. There are other file hosting services that offer different approaches. Here’s our collection of some of the top alternatives...
You probably always carry a lot of your most important data with you on your smartphone. It is particularly annoying when your valuable device is suddenly stolen, lost, or broken. It is helpful if you’ve done a backup and saved your photos, videos, and other files in the cloud. Just like iOS, the Android operating system has its own tools for these tasks – but they’re not always enough.
Instead, you’re often better off relying on trusted Android cloud apps from external vendors. You’ll also enjoy a few benefits if you choose to use them. For example, you can create a document in the office, continue working on it using your tablet when you’re on the road, and share it with colleagues anytime, anywhere. We will introduce you to the best Android cloud apps.
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- The cloud for Android: online storage for the operating system
- External cloud apps for Android
- The best Android cloud apps
- Overview: features of the best Android cloud apps in comparison
- In addition to cloud storage - be on the safe side with online backups
The cloud for Android: online storage for the operating system
For many iPhone and iPad owners, Apple iOS is clearly miles ahead when it comes to system and data backups. Using the internal settings, you can create a complete backup of your devices, including all accounts, documents, and configurations, and store it on a standard 5BH iCloud. For example, photos can be synchronised through the iCloud photo media library, and all other data can be backed up through iTunes in combination with a Mac computer.
However, what about Google’s own operating system? The sobering truth is that, to date, the company has not provided a way to store a complete backup on the Google Cloud. One of the reasons for this is that app data on Android devices, for example, is encrypted in such a way that programs with standard rights have no access to it. For example, to download the scores from your favourite phone game after a system crash, you will need root access.
Unlocking a smartphone like this has disadvantages, as well as advantages –first, you will lose your warranty, which is why you should thoroughly consider taking this step. This may be the reason why the bigger Android cloud app manufacturers don’t mention app storage through the root in their product descriptions.
If you choose not to, you can at least allow Google Backup in your device settings to synchronise your contacts, calendar entries, email, and your Gmail account with all other devices connected to your Google Account – provided, of course, you have one.
Some smartphone manufacturers like Samsung also offer their own data backup solutions and clouds at the factory. You can also transfer your system backup to other Samsung devices.
To store photos, videos, and other files, you’ll need Google Drive already installed on your Android device – or another trusted androidcloud app from an external vendor.
External cloud apps for Android
Android cloud apps are smartphone programs that allow you to back up data to the cloud instead of local storage and retrieve it from any device that you have authenticated (e.g., by using a password-protected sharing link). Apart from some minor differences, they all work in a similar way:
Users can manually back up their system or selected files or data categories at any time. Alternatively, you can create an automatic storage plan to load your data into the cloud at specified intervals or whenever you create, modify, copy, or delete a file. To save your mobile data volume and battery life, you can specify that backups are only initiated when you have a Wi-Fi connection or are on the road using UMTS or LTE. Some android cloud apps also allow you to back up all installed applications including the associated configuration, personal, and access data – provided your device is “rooted”.
Note that when backing up app data, you are also transferring personal information like contacts, messages, pictures, and stored wireless passwords to your Android cloud.
As an Android user, you’ll most likely have already created your own Google Account, so it’s easy for you to simply use the Google Drive cloud for system backups and data backups. If you don’t want that, there’s always a wide range of external apps available, some of which are also compatible with the Google Cloud. However, with the myriad of tools in the Play Store, it’s not easy to pick the best of them unless you’re going with a well-known option like IONOS or Microsoft.
For lesser-known products, however, it makes sense to know exactly what makes a good cloud for Android before downloading it. For these, the same quality criteria apply as for cloud storage providers in general:
- As large a memory as possible (at least 1 GB for rare backups)
- A free version for private and occasional users
- A wide range of storable data categories (not just calendar entries and photos, but also app data)
- A high synchronisation speed, so that uploaded files can also be retrieved immediately on other devices
- Optimum user-friendliness and smooth functionality
- Additional functions like file sharing, folder structures, and software integrations
- A good price-performance ratio for Pro versions
The best Android cloud apps
Some android cloud apps in the Play Store are generally more popular than others, but the mere number of downloads shouldn’t be the only criteria you follow when selecting one. The many different cloud apps for Android all work on the same principle but offer different amounts of storage space as well as different pricing models and additional functions. Ultimately, the only way to find out which one suits you best is to do a trial. Small details like the user interface design or menu structure can often be decisive. In this article, we offer help with the preselection process.
HiDrive: German data security
Hi-Drive from IONOS has an impressive data security standard: All stored data needs to be secured with a PIN code. If you opt for a IONOS server located in Europe, data protection is secured in accordance with European law – namely, the GDPR. HiDrive’s online storage is a great choice for companies. With 2 TB of storage space, teams can use HiDrive to collaborate. Data is synchronised across all devices. Thanks to different protocols, data exchange and backup are fast and secure: WebDAV, (S)FTP/FTPS, rsync, SMB/CIFS, SCP and Git are available a part of the Pro edition (with the exception of WebDAV).
Customers can choose from different storage options: 100 GB, 250 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB. Features include a user-friendly interface. The Pro edition can be extended to multiple backup devices and end-to end encryption.
|✔ High data security||✘ No free version|
|✔ Servers located in Europe (strong EU data protection law)|
|✔ Business packages can be fully integrated into your own system landscape|
Google Drive: 15 GB free
For Android users with a Google account, Google Drive is the most convenient solution because the app comes pre-installed on the system, so no additional setup is required. With 15GB for backups, it offers the most free storage of any Android cloud app on our list. Plus, you can store an unlimited number of photos and videos. The same applies to documents, spreadsheets, and presentations created with Google Docs, our in-house application. For a monthly fee of approx. £1.99 you get 100 GB, with prices increasing to up to £7.99 per month for 1 TB of storage. With a yearly subscription, you can reduce these prices by 15%.
Folder management, data synchronisation with the Google Cloud, and file sharing (with other Google users or through an external link) can be easily controlled through the ‘+’ button on the start page. Photos can also be stored in the cloud through Google Photos, even automatically at the time of capture. Integration of popular Google Workspace applications: Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Presentations is another advantage of the app. However, you must first convert documents created with it into an Office format before you can download them and use them offline. Furthermore, Google Drive convinces with its resource-saving functionality and a high synchronisation speed. A two-factor authentication and encrypted connections offer sufficient security. However, many Android users will not want to put their sensitive data into the hands of the large IT company.
Google Workspace by Google with IONOS
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|✔ 15 GB of free disk space||✘ Google Workspace files must first be converted to Office formats to use them offline|
|✔ Pre-installed on Android devices||✘ Widespread security concerns about Google|
|✔ Perfect functionality and simple operation|
Dropbox: well known
Founded in 2007, the widely used Dropbox is one of the pioneers in the industry and for a time was even considered synonymous with the online cloud. Both the desktop application and the Android cloud app have remained virtually unchanged since then. Major modifications were probably not necessary either, as the intuitive user interface still allows uniform operation on all platforms.
The app owes its high synchronisation speeds, which are usual for Dropbox, to its special technology. This technology has been developed over the years and consists of several components: Delta Sync always updates just single, modified segments instead of a whole file, LAN Sync gives priority to files in the same network and with Streaming Sync, document download starts as soon as the first bytes have been loaded into the cloud. This enables record time synchronisation between all your devices.
Downsides are that Dropbox’s servers are located in the USA and the free storage space is nothing special: 2 GB is far behind the 15 GB offered by Google Drive, but you can increase this number up to 16 GB by recruiting new users for Dropbox – per newly registered user there is 500 MB more.
Similar to its competitor Google, Dropbox also offers its own word processing tool called Dropbox Paper, which you have to download and link to the app. Although it isn’t nearly as extensive as a Microsoft Office program, it can be linked directly to this and Adobe Acrobat products. Dropbox Plus with 1 TB of storage space is available for about £7.99 per month. The business version is available on request from the manufacturer. It costs just as much and offers 2 TB per user.
|✔ Widespread||✘ Relatively little free storage space|
|✔ Proven functionality and intuitive operation||✘ Servers located in USA|
|✔ High synchronisation speed|
|✔ Integration with MS Office and Adobe Acrobat|
|✔ Cost-effective business variant|
Microsoft OneDrive: full Office integration
The biggest advantage of OneDrive is obvious: As an Android cloud app from Microsoft, it is integrated into a wealth of Windows applications. For example, it is possible to load docs, Excel sheets, and PowerPoint presentations directly from the respective application into the cloud. The desktop counterpart to the mobile app is already pre-installed on every new Windows version from Windows 8.1 – an ideal starting point for file sharing with friends, family, and colleagues who prefer to move around in their familiar desktop environment instead of using their smartphone to exchange data.
You give and receive approvals using links with expiration dates that guarantee extra security. There has been some backlash internationally since their servers are based in the USA, however, there have been no major complications with hacking and breaches so far, thanks as well to modern TSL data connections encryption.
New customers get 5 GB of free storage – previously 15 GB – but don’t have to worry about functional limitations compared to the more expensive versions. Even with the best price/performance ratio before, Microsoft had to make a few cutbacks because of high data peaks: 100 GB for approx. £1.99 per month is still considered competitive. You can also purchase OneDrive as a package with an Office 365 subscription. The personal version offers one user 1 TB of storage for approx. £7.99 per month for five users and 5 TB of storage and contains special premium functions. In addition, there is an attractive business package.
|✔ Microsoft integration||✘ New customers get less storage space than existing customers|
|✔ Pre-installed on operating systems Windows 8.1 or higher|
|✔ File sharing through a link with an expiration date|
|✔ Available as a package with Office 365|
|✔ Attractive business package|
|✔ Microsoft integration|
Super Backup: best price
Don’t be put off by the advertising banners in the free version and the somewhat jarring voice output – the external Android cloud app “Super Backup: SMS & Contact”, as it is known in the Play Store, can certainly hold its own among the big manufacturers. Its strength lies in its storage of SMS and contacts, but call lists, calendar entries, and pictures can also be stored locally in the internal memory or on an SD card. The manufacturers do not operate their own cloud, but Super Backup supports the Google Cloud and Dropbox. Copies of files can also be sent to your Gmail account.
Unfortunately, videos and music do not belong to the storable file categories. The backup of apps and data is only possible on a rooted device. A special function is the recording of entire telephone calls as MP3 – whether you want to grant the app comprehensive access rights for this is up to you. Another small bonus is the option to display the minimalist but functional design of the app in dark mode.
However, despite all its possibilities, Super Backup offers rather little in terms of operation. Each category needs to be saved and restored manually. In addition, the time settings for the automatic backup can only be personalised to a limited extent. Premium users only pay a small, one-off amount of approx. £2 to get rid of advertisements, permanently.
|✔ SMS backup||✘ Advertisements and uncomfortable user operation|
|✔ Supports Google Drive, Dropbox, and Gmail||✘ Does not store videos or music|
|✔ App backup on root devices|
|✔ Cheapest price|
Titanium Backup: features for professionals
Titanium Backup doesn’t just sound powerful, it is also the standard for Android experts for professional smartphone users who know their device inside out. However, the Android cloud app can only be used with root access – without this, it will not function. Once you’ve completed the complex setup and found your way through the slightly confusing user interface, you can save almost anything: system settings, widgets, backgrounds, even the personalised configuration of the actual Android cloud app. The backup is done either locally or with your provider (either Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box), where you simply log in through the settings. You can also restore your data not just on the original device, but also on other hardware, different Android versions, or even custom ROMs.
Titanium Backup lives up to its reputation by giving you deep access to your Android system. Thanks to additional functions like encryption, data manipulation, and data carrier cleaning, the app qualifies as a multifunctional tool that is constantly being further developed and maintained by ambitious developers. In return, they only require a one-time payment of approx. £6 for the complete PRO version. However, beware: if technical terms like XML, Nandroid, and ADB don’t mean anything to you, you won’t be able to do much with the Titanium Backup (PRO). For those who are eager to learn, the development team offers comprehensive support in the form of a Wiki and the in-house knowledge base titaniumtrack.com/kb.
|✔ Widest range of functionality||✘ Can only be used with root access|
|✔ Depth access to Android systems||✘ Too complex for beginners|
|✔ Backup to Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box|
|✔ Reasonable price|
|✔ Intensive developer support|
Box: for companies
The Android cloud app with the simple name is similar to the much better-known Dropbox in many ways. The user interface looks very familiar and there is an integrated document function called Box Note. In terms of storage, Box offers the Starter package, which has 2 GB file upload and 100 GB secure storage for approx. £4 per month. They have a range of business packages to suit your price, storage, and upload needs. The program also offers advanced controls as well as administrator functions and records a detailed history of all file changes that can be made by an unlimited number of external employees. Box is particularly suitable for companies and workgroups.
Although the cloud app for Android is still quite new on the market, its flawless functionality easily keeps up with the more well-known competition. In addition, Box is already integrated into many file management programs. The professional tool Titanium Backup Pro (see above) even allows backups in the Box cloud. Only when uploading larger files, Box can sometimes have trouble. This is due to the comparatively small maximum file capacity. You should upload your data in a well-organised way, in several small blocks.
|✔ Familiar interface||✘ Not as widespread as the well-known competition|
|✔ Integrated document function Box Note||✘ Weaknesses in upload file capacity|
|✔ Large free storage space|
|✔ Unlimited storage in business packages|
|✔ Integrated into many file management programs|
Overview: features of the best Android cloud apps in comparison
In the following, we summarise the features of the 9 best Android cloud apps:
Free cloud storage
App security on root devices
Biggest selling point
Price for private users
local, in-house cloud
German data security
From 100 GB: £1/month
Different packages and offers
Max. 2 TB: £20/month
local, in-house cloud Google cloud
Largest free storage
From 100 GB: £1.99/month
Max. 2 TB: £7.99/month
local, in-house cloud
2 TB: £9.99/month
local, in-house cloud
From 100 GB: £1.99/month
Package with Microsoft 365: from 1 TB (1 user): £6.99/month
local, Google Cloud, Dropbox, Gmail
Depends on cloud used
One-off £1.99 to remove ads
Titanium Backup Pro
local, Google Cloud, Dropbox, Box
Depends on cloud used
Yes (Root must be available)
Broad range of features
One-off £5.99 to access all functions
local, in-house cloud
Ideal for companies
100 GB: £4/month
Android users can download and install apps outside of the Google Play Store. However, running these apps may lead to parsing errors.
Share large files for free
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In addition to cloud storage - be on the safe side with online backups
If you want to always have your important files at hand, online storage is the right choice. Access your data from a variety of devices and collaborate with others on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. But online storage isn't meant to protect your data. If you want to secure your sensitive data in the long run, you should look into an online backup solution.
An online backup service stores professional backup copies for you - automatically and at short, regular intervals. Should your PC, laptop, or smartphone be infected by malware, get lost, or stop functioning, you will always have your sensitive data safely stored online. You decide how extensive the backups should be and how often the backups should be created. We have two options that may be suitable for your backup strategy.
IONOS MyDefender: Smart for system data
HiDrive is primarily aimed at saving individual files in the cloud. Photos, videos, or important documents are stored there and can be easily shared with others. But if you want to back up larger amounts of data regularly, MyDefender from IONOS is a good solution. This cloud is designed to automatically create a backup. On Android devices, you can use the backup software to back up your contacts, photos, videos, calendar, and text messages. If you lose or break your smartphone, your data will still be accessible. This is also useful when you purchase a new device and need to transfer your old data.
MyDefender is available in four packages: 10 GB, 100 GB, 200 GB, and 500 GB. The two smaller packages let you connect one and two devices, respectively. MyDefender with 200 GB and 500 GB storage capacity can be connected to an unlimited number of devices to backup. This way, you can use the cloud to back up your laptop, PC, and your tablet. MyDefender is available for iOS, Windows, and macOS. All data are 256-bit AES encrypted and are stored in ISO-certified data centers.
Special features of the cloud app include automatic detection of new devices. Set-up is simple: just download and install the software on your smartphone, log-in and the connection is established automatically.
|✔ High data security||✘ No free version|
|✔ Backup cleanup to restore storage space||✘ Basic version limited to single device|
|✔ Backups continue if interrupted|
IONOS Cloud Backup: store infrastructures
Professional users and businesses can benefit from using the Cloud Backup from IONOS. Similar to other solutions, backups are stored automatically and regularly in the cloud, but in contrast to Pro packages of MyDefender servers, virtual machines, databases, and cloud environments can also be backed up in addition to PCs and smartphones.
With MyDefender you get a comparatively large amount of storage space to accommodate different needs. Cloud Backup offers a total of eight different capacity categories between 50 GB and 5 TB. This means that the solution is scalable. The “Cloud Backup Flex” package is fully adaptable. This lets you pay per gigabyte used. The backup system provides different options for versioning, incremental backups, and log files. All data is encrypted with 256-bit AES.
|✔ High data security||✘ No free version|
|✔ Compression of backups|
|✔ Preconfigured backup strategies available|
When looking for the best cloud app for your Android device, you should ask yourself the following questions: How much disk space do I need? What is my budget? How important is data security to me, and how much do I know about software and hardware? Both IT teams in companies and private individuals have a wide choice of free and fee-based Android clouds.