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 carry a lot of your most important data with you on your smartphone at all times. It is particularly annoying when your valuable device is suddenly stolen, lost, or broken. It is really 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 will 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
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, in order 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 of all, 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, e-mail, 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 android cloud app from an external vendor.
External cloud apps for Android
Android cloud apps are smartphone programs that allow you to backup 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 times. 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 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.
1&1 IONOS HiDrive: German data security
Hi-Drive from 1&1 has an impressive data security standard: All stored data needs to be secured with a PIN code. Since all 1&1 IONOS servers are located in Germany, data protection is secured in accordance with European law – namely, the GDPR, as well as German data protection law. HiDrive’s online storage is a great choice for companies, thanks to their business version, which offers up to 10 TB of storage space. This is not just ideal for collaboration, but can also be integrated into almost any existing system landscape, thanks to optional protocols like SCP or (S)FTP/FTPS.
Private customers can choose between the Basic plan (£1 per month for 100 GB), the Essential (£3 per month for 250 GB) or the Pro (£20 for 2TB). There are further savings to be made if you take out 12 month subscriptions. Users can enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee and can switch between packages at their discretions. The clear user interface’s functional scope can be broadened with device backup, additional user profiles and 24/7 support. There are other free functions such as scanning documents as PDFs directly into the cloud or integrated the app into your premium 1&1 IONOS mailbox.
|✔ Stonger data security||✘ No free version|
|✔ Servers located in Germany (strong EU data protection law)||✘ Device backup and 24/7 support must be booked separately|
|✔ Business packages can be fully integrated into your own system landscape|
|✔ Discounts for annual subscriptions|
|✔ 30-day money-back guarantee|
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 G Suite 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.
|✔ 15 GB of free disk space||✘ G Suite files must first be converted to Office formats in order to use them offline|
|✔ Pre-installed on Android devices||✘ Widespread security concerns about Google|
|✔ Unlimited photo, video, and G Suite file storage|
|✔ Discounts for annual subscriptions|
|✔ 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.
However, some users see the fact that many of Dropbox’s servers are located in the USA as a data protection problem. Also, 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 approx. £8 per month. The business version is available on request from the manufacturer. It costs approx. £15 and offers 2 TB per user.
|✔ Widespread||✘ Relatively little free storage space|
|✔ Proven functionality and intuitive operation||✘ A large number of servers are located in the 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: 50 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. £5.99 per month for five users and 1 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|
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|
|✔ Recording of telephone conversations possible|
|✔ 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. £5 for the complete PRO version. However, beware: if technical terms like XML, Android, 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. £5 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 weaken. 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 best Android cloud apps:
Titanium Backup Pro
Local, in-house Google Cloud
Local, in-house cloud
Local, in-house cloud
Local, Google Cloud, Dropbox, Gmail
Local, Google Cloud, Dropbox, Box
Local, in-house Cloud
Free cloud storage
2 GB (expandable up to 16 GB by recruitment)
Depending on the cloud used
Depending on the cloud used
App backup on root devices
Yes (root absolutely necessary)
Biggest sales argument
Largest free-of-charge memory storage
Largest range of functions
Ideal for companies
Price for private users
Approx. £1.59/month = 100 GB;
Approx. £7.99/month = 1 TB
(Discounts for 12-month subscriptions)
Approx. £8/month= 1 TB
Approx. £1.99/month = 50 GB
In the Office-365 package:
One-off approx. £2 payment (to remove advertisements)
One-off approx. £5 payment (to unlock all features)
Approx. £5/month = 100 GB
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? If you are an advanced smartphone user, there is no way around Titanium Backup. As a private user, however, you have a large selection of free Android clouds that can be upgraded to professional applications at any time. Just try out the ones you like the most.