Apple, Google, or Microsoft? How to match cloud storage to your computers — and cut costs

The predictions for your next phone, tablet, laptop or desktop include not only the opportunity to check out, but also the ability to choose between them. As in, what cloud storage service will you use to back up your files?

The wrong answer is “nothing”. Any device that leaves your home needs a backup system that doesn’t rely on remembering to plug it into another drive or computer once at home. In addition, cloud storage greatly facilitates access to your most important files across all your devices.

But unless you’re entirely in Apple’s orbit, you’ll have to choose between cloud services that fit some devices better than others.

Here are your options from Apple, Google, and Microsoft, with annual costs:

  • iCloud+ from Apple offers 5GB of free storage, after which you can buy 50GB for $11.88/year, 200GB for $35.88/year, or 2TB for $119.88/year;

  • Google One starts with 15 GB for free, then offers 100 GB for $19.99 per year, 200 GB for $29.99 per year, and 2 TB for $99.99 per year;

  • Microsoft OneDrive offers 5 GB for free, followed by a 100 GB tier at $23.88 per year and a 1 TB offering at $69.99 per year, plus a 1 TB per person family plan for up to six people for $99.99 per year.

On Macs, iPhones, and iPads, iCloud+ allows for the simplest backup and now offers additional privacy features like iCloud Private Relay to hide your browsing and Hide My Email to create random addresses that forward to your actual email.

On Windows, OneDrive offers equally simple backup of essential data folders as well as useful additional features for Microsoft Office applications.

Not only does Google Backup come with add-ons to match Apple and Microsoft — but it’s also your only recourse to a Gmail inbox that’s grown beyond your ability to keep under the 15GB line.

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In addition to these three, you can also buy cloud storage from the likes of Dropbox, with 2TB priced at $119.88 per year, while Amazon Prime subscribers get unlimited storage from Amazon Photos; These third-party services, however, lack their integration with major computing platforms.

My advice: Let the computer with the most need for online backup – the device that spends the most time outside the home and contains the most content that needs to be saved – drive your choice in the cloud. In my case, this is an HP laptop running Windows 10, so I pay for OneDrive to sync documents, photos, and music.

My other advice: Try not to pay list price for cloud storage if you can help it. Credit card cashback offers like American Express’s 20% target Google One deal may reduce your costs, but you can also often buy Apple and Google gift cards, which are good for their cloud services, at a discount.

For example, Target rewards a $100 Apple Gift Card purchase with a $15 Gift Card, Amazon earlier provided $5 credit for a $50 Apple Gift Card purchase, and AARP members can purchase $15 Google Play Gift Cards for 13 dollars through the organization’s AARP rewards page.

Sign-up fatigue is real, but eliminating those expenses is one way to get weary of the cost of doing digital business.

Rob Pegoraro is a technical writer based in Washington, D.C. To send a technical question, email Rob at Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Google, Apple, or Microsoft: Which cloud storage is best for you?

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