If you’re backing up a lot of data — for example large media files — then upload speed is crucial when picking a cloud storage service. Similarly, being able to download your files quickly can save a lot of time. Keep reading to find out the fastest cloud storage services and the slowest.
Out of the criteria used to judge cloud services, speed is one of the most nebulous. Without extensive testing, it’s difficult to tell whether one service is faster than another. That’s why we’ve tested 17 cloud services to determine which you should go with if you’re looking for the fastest cloud storage.
Although most of the services we tested qualify as personal cloud storage, business solutions like Tresorit, Egnyte and Box also made the list. For these services, download speeds are much more important than usual, as businesses are more likely to need to recover data as quickly as possible in case disaster strikes.
If you’re looking for more than just speed, make sure to check out our list of the best cloud storage providers for a more complete view of each service’s capabilities. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the data and see which is the fastest cloud storage service.
Although it doesn’t come out great in this comparison, our favorite cloud storage provider is Sync.com, closely followed by pCloud and Icedrive.
Icedrive is the overall fastest online storage solution, but services like pCloud and Google Drive aren’t far behind.
Except for Egnyte, the top 10 fastest cloud storage providers offer a free plan, but they vary in how generous they are. This includes Icedrive, pCloud and Google Drive.
Out of the 17 services we tested, 10 can be reasonably described as fast. These services each managed a combined upload and download speed of less than 16 and a half minutes, which is roughly within three minutes of the best possible result.
Average Minutes of Upload Time, 5GB Folder
The median upload time based on our test results was 9 minutes and 12 seconds. Of the 10 services listed above, only Amazon Drive was slower, but just by eight seconds.
The mean upload time was increased significantly by some of the slower services we tested, resulting in an average of 32 minutes and 35 seconds, way longer than any of the fastest services.
Average Minutes of Download Time, 5GB Folder
Our results for downloads were a lot more consistent. Nevertheless, eight of the 10 fastest services managed better results than the median download time, which was eight minutes. Egnyte and Koofr were slightly slower.
Since there were no extreme outliers for downloads, the mean download result was a lot lower than it was for uploads, coming in at 9 minutes and 2 seconds, which is a bar all the top 10 manage to clear.
Now that we’ve briefly covered the top 10 performers, let’s look at the data as a whole to see how they compare to a wider segment of the cloud storage market.
Of the two speed criteria, there is much more variance among uploads than downloads, so we’ll start there.
* = Zero-knowledge encryption enabled
As you can tell, there’s a clear cutoff point between Amazon Drive at 9 minutes and 20 seconds and the next entry, Box, which averaged 13 minutes. After our top 10, we see mediocre results from Box, SugarSync, Sync.com, iCloud and Filen.io. Finally, Internxt and Woelkli are orders of magnitude slower than the other services.
We expect services with zero-knowledge encryption enabled to take slightly longer to upload files. Ideally this shouldn’t add more than a couple of minutes to the overall upload time. Out of the services tested here, Sync.com, MEGA, Tresorit and Internxt had zero-knowledge encryption enabled.
Download speeds are much more consistent, with even the extreme outliers in the upload test getting results much closer to the top 10.
Unlike in the upload results, there are no extreme outliers for download speed. Only pCloud manages to get under seven minutes, with most of the services sitting somewhere between seven and nine minutes on average. Filen.io, SugarSync and Internxt returned mediocre results, running between nine and 11 minutes.
Bringing up the rear this time is Sync.com and iCloud, which were particularly disappointing. For Sync.com, that’s because it’s an otherwise phenomenal cloud storage service (read our Sync.com review). In iCloud’s case, a company the size of Apple should provide better performance.
Now that we’ve looked at the overall data, it’s worth explaining how we came to these results. To get the most accurate results possible, we used a remote Windows computer with a connection speed of around 1 Gbps. We throttled this down to 100 Mbps, which ensured stability for each test.
For our data, we used a 5GB folder filled with files of various types, including texts, documents, images, 4K video and audio. We uploaded and downloaded this folder to each service twice, averaging the results.
Finally, our testing setup is hosted in Dublin, Ireland. This means services with European data centers have a slight advantage over those with more geographically remote servers.
Of the services we tested, three managed to upload the files in less than eight minutes, well under the median and mean results.
Icedrive managed the fastest upload speeds out of any service we tested, though Google Drive came close, as we’ll see in a second. Coming in at just 7 minutes and 15 seconds, Icedrive’s upload speeds are lightning fast, but the service consumes many times more RAM than others in the process. Check out our Icedrive review for all the details.
Considering Google’s size and countless data centers, it’s not surprising to see its service performing well in raw speed. Although it’s slower than Icedrive, it’s not by much, with a final result of 7 minutes and 21 seconds.
Google Drive’s RAM consumption is more reasonable than Icedrive’s, but its disk usage is high during indexing. For more information on the service, read our full Google Drive review.
Koofr is the last of our top three uploaders, clocking in at just 7 minutes and 42 seconds, slightly more than a minute slower than the best possible result. Unfortunately, Koofr can’t quite reach the fastest speeds for its uploads. However, if your priority is rapid disaster recovery, it’s worth considering, so long as you don’t mind the exorbitant prices (read more in our Koofr review).
Things are much closer when it comes to download speeds. There’s only 24 seconds of difference between our top three fastest services.
pCloud outclassed every other service in download speed. It’s the only one that downloaded our folder in less than seven minutes, getting close to the limit at 6 minutes and 42 seconds. It did so while drawing little system resources, averaging around 10% to 15% CPU load. Read our pCloud review for more information about the cloud service.
Although its upload speeds are mediocre, Amazon’s video and image storage manages impressive download speeds, finishing the transfer just 25 seconds over the limit at 7 minutes and 5 seconds.
It also didn’t use much system resources to achieve this, which is great. If your cloud storage needs are limited to video and images, check out our Amazon Drive review for more information.
On top of having the fastest upload speed, Icedrive manages third place for downloads. It’s just a second slower than Amazon Drive, meaning the two are essentially tied.
Before we wrap things up, we’d be remiss to not talk about the services that performed poorly, whether that’s the mediocre results of Box, SugarSync and Sync.com — or the terrible ones of iCloud, Woelkli and Internxt.
Average Minutes of Upload Time, 5GB
Although Woelkli and Internxt make the rest of these services look good, they’re mediocre at best.
Average Minutes of Download Time, 5GB
Out of our three dishonorable mentions, iCloud is by far the best performer. That doesn’t mean its results are good, just that they’re not quite as slow as Internxt and Woelkli. Still, iCloud’s speeds are disappointing for a company the size of Apple and fall well short of other tech giants like Google or Microsoft.
While iCloud’s upload speeds aren’t that bad, especially compared to the next two services, it was the worst performer in terms of download speeds. Check out our iCloud review to see if the service can make up for its poor results and our list of iCloud alternatives if you’re looking for a way out of Apple’s ecosystem.
Finally, there’s Woelkli. Its download speeds weren’t that bad — in fact, it ranked ninth on that score. However, its upload speeds are so much worse than any other provider that there’s no question it’s the slowest service we tested.
It took more than five hours to upload our test folder, which is more than 50 times slower than what we’d expect. It’s hard to tell whether it’s the third-party NextCloud client (check out our Woelkli review for more on that) or Woelkli that’s at fault. Either way, we observed the service stopping the upload for long periods between files, which was the main contributor to its terrible results.
While Internxt’s download speed is mediocre, its upload speed was well over an hour slower than the next fastest service. This is partly to be expected, as Internxt works by breaking files into multiple pieces before encrypting them and sending them to a decentralized network of servers.
This approach slows down the upload process, and it will remain an Achilles’ heel for the service if it can’t figure out how to optimize the network or the encryption process. Unfortunately, Internxt doesn’t do much to make up for its terrible speeds, as you can see in our Internxt review.
That brings us to the end of our cloud storage speed comparison. Although it’s usually not the most important factor when considering a cloud storage or cloud backup service, fast upload and download speeds can be crucial depending on your storage needs.
While we stuck to cloud storage in this ranking, you can head to our list of the fastest backup software to see how the two categories compare.
What did you think of our results? Did any surprise you? Is there a service we didn’t test that you think we should have? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for reading.
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