Cloud Storage Options

Cloud storage options have become integrated with applications, and sometimes it’s confusing to keep all the options straight. Here’s some information that might be helpful as you consider options.


iCloud is a cloud storage solution from Apple. The first 5GB are free. It’s a great solution for storing photos and backing up your iPhone, if you’re Apple-centric, although you may find that you end up having to pay for storage pretty quickly if you have a lot of storage.

Apple tries to sneak in iCloud storage use on the Mac sometimes. With system upgrades it may ask if you want to store your Desktop and Documents to iCloud, and we recommend you not do it. Saving to iCloud does mean that your documents are securely backed up, but we have seen very slow performance on computers with this option set.


Microsoft’s OneDrive also gives you 5GB of free storage. Besides being available as a storage option on PC’s, Microsoft apps on macOS also offer to save to OneDrive. Newer versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint even default to saving to OneDrive.

OneDrive is a basic cloud solution, and with all the other options out there we don’t find ourselves recommending it very often.

Google Drive

Google Drive has unlimited storage for educational accounts, and 15GB storage for personal accounts. It’s easy to use, and integrates with all of the Google services. It’s a great storage solution especially in an educational setting.


Dropbox was great as an early cloud solution, but these days it seems pretty stingy with only 2GB of free space. It’s helpful for offloading files if you don’t have enough storage space on your computer–but only if you pay for enough storage to make a dent, and also choose to only selectively sync folders (otherwise everything is still stored on your computer).

Adobe Cloud Storage

Adobe gives educational accounts 20GB of free storage per user. It’s great for storing work from Adobe products, but it’s not integrated well with other products or operating systems.

General Considerations

  • Make sure you know where you are storing files. On a Mac, to see all storage options you may have to click a button for “Details.” Look at the folder hierarchy to make sure it’s going where you expect it to.
  • Unless you’re really organized, keep your cloud storage down to one or two services. Once you start adding on services it can be difficult to remember what is stored where. Also, if you’re paying for storage, once you get past the initial free space you get more bang for the buck with bigger plans.
  • Hampshire College sensitive information never be stored in a cloud storage system. For details, see our Data Security Policy.