Cloud backup for Android—is Google Drive the best way to keep your data safe?

When it comes to cloud backup for Android, Google Drive seems like a no-brainer. Learn why it might not be the best choice and explore better alternatives.
Android app icons.
Whether you are switching to a new device or want to protect your data in case of any damage, a cloud backup is an excellent solution. It keeps your data intact and up-to-date, preventing file loss and all associated issues.If you’re doing a cloud backup for Android, Google Drive might seem the most logical option as the system’s native platform. In this guide, you will learn how to use Google’s cloud solution to keep your files and data safe. We will then discuss the drawbacks of this method and suggest a few alternatives worth exploring.
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How to back up your phone to the cloud with Google Drive

Google makes it easy for Android users to back up all essential data, including:
  • Apps and files
  • Contacts
  • SMS messages
  • Settings
  • Call history
  • Calendar
The process is straightforward and involves a few simple steps:
  1. Open Google Drive on your phone
  2. Tap the hamburger menu in the top-right corner
  3. Go to Backups
  4. Tap Backup Settings
  5. Click Turn on to enable backups (you’ll see the Google One page with backup details)
  6. Tap Back up now
Once the backup is finished, you will see it in the Backups menu. From there, you can restore any of the versions on the list.

Why Google cloud phone backup is not the best option for your data

While using Google Drive to back up your data is quick and easy, it comes with a major drawback—poor security. Google is known for invading users’ privacy, and its security features aren’t exactly top-of-the-line.When it comes to cloud storage, encryption is an essential security layer. It scrambles your data to make it incomprehensible to everyone besides the person with the decryption key. Whoever owns the key can access plaintext data, so ownership is a crucial consideration.Your cloud storage must be end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) to ensure complete privacy. With E2EE, files are encrypted on your device and stored on the cloud as such. Since the user’s device creates and stores the decryption key, the provider cannot see the unencrypted data.Google Drive doesn’t implement this technology fully, leaving significant vulnerabilities. You get client-side encryption of the backup itself, but not for the entire drive.Google protects data at rest—like archives and backups—with AES-256 encryption. This is a decent protocol, but encryption happens on Drive using Google’s keys. If anyone steals the keys by breaching the server, they’ll have access to all your data. An attacker might be unable to access or modify your backup, but they can corrupt your drive and see all other files.This is why you need a privacy-first backup solution that gives you more security and control over your files and backups. Luckily, several providers can give you the necessary peace of mind.

Best Android cloud backup—three platforms reviewed

If you’re looking for a secure alternative to Google Drive or other Big Tech solutions that invade users’ privacy, the following options are worth considering:
  1. Icedrive
  2. pCloud
  3. Skiff Drive
Each platform implements strong security measures to safeguard your data, but they are not equally suitable for all user categories, as you’ll learn in the detailed breakdowns below.


Source: IcedriveIcedrive is highly secure and easy to use, which makes it a great option for users new to end-to-end encrypted cloud drives. It offers several useful features, but it might not be the right choice if you are looking for a free backup solution.
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Icedrive offers a free plan and three subscription-based tiers:
  1. Lite—$1.67/month billed annually (no monthly option)
  2. Pro—$4.99/month ($4.17/month billed annually)
  3. Pro +—$17.99/month ($15/month billed annually)
There are also three lifetime plans you can use if you are certain Icedrive is the right provider for you:
  1. Lite—$99
  2. Pro III—$499
  3. Pro X—$999

Pros and cons

Prioritizing data protection, Icedrive uses advanced encryption protocols to safeguard users’ files. It implements the Twofish algorithm, which many cryptographers consider more secure than the popular AES protocol. The latter is still more widely used because of its performance, though the lower speed of Twofish shouldn’t bother most users as it’s not particularly noticeable.Icedrive’s Android app is well-optimized and straightforward. The user interface is easy to navigate, with the familiar left-side sliding menu housing the app’s features. There is no learning curve that would impair the overall user experience, so you can start securing your files immediately.The platform supports file sharing but lacks other collaboration features. This might not bother you if you are only looking to back up your data, but it does mean you’d need another cloud solution to work or collaborate. Choosing a more comprehensive solution might be a better idea than having to manage multiple accounts.The free plan gets you 10 GB of storage, which is quite generous compared to many providers. The problem is that you don’t get client-side encryption with it—you must subscribe to one of the paid tiers to get zero-knowledge E2EE.What makes this drawback worse is the lack of a monthly option for the Lite tier. You must either commit annually or go with some of the more expensive plans. Many users are not willing to spend so much on end-to-end encryption, especially since some providers offer it for free.
Advanced encryption algorithmClient-side encryption only available with paid tiers
Ease of useNo monthly option for the Lite plan
10 GB of free storage.


Source: pCloudpCloud is a Swiss cloud provider compliant with the country’s strict data regulations, which ensures a high level of security and privacy. It’s an affordable solution, but it suffers from the same issues as Icedrive—keeping the most useful features behind a paywall.


pCloud has different pricing tiers for its three main user categories:
  1. Individual plans:
    1. Premium—$53.49 per year/$212.88 lifetime
    2. Premium Plus—$106.98 per year/$426.90 lifetime
  2. Family plans (storage-based):
    1. 2 TB—$636.87 lifetime
    2. 10 TB—$1604.50 lifetime
  3. Business plans:
    1. Business—$10.69/user per month/$8.55 per month billed annually
    2. Business Pro—$21.38/user per month/$17.10 per month billed annually

Pros and cons

pCloud is a comprehensive drive solution with multi-platform support, and its Android client is gaining popularity thanks to strong security and ease of use. The interface resembles Android’s built-in file browser, so backing up your files is as simple as moving them between folders. You get pre-installed folders for music, photos, and videos, and you can create others as needed.Privacy-wise, pCloud is a solid option. It’s GDPR-compliant and lets users store their files on servers in Luxembourg or the U.S. The former might be a better option for sensitive files, as there’s a lower chance of the provider handing out user data to the authorities.pCloud supports zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption, but it doesn’t come out of the box. Regardless of your chosen plan, you must buy it separately. At $53.52 annually ($160.58 lifetime), it’s quite pricey when you factor in the base subscription costs. You would have to pay over $100 per year for the whole package even with the cheapest tier, as individual plans don’t have a monthly option.You can use pCloud for free, but you only get 2 GB of storage with an option to unlock up to 10 GB. The effort might not be worth it as you still wouldn’t have end-to-end encryption without a separate payment.
Familiar user interfaceEnd-to-end encryption charged separately
GDPR complianceLimited free plan
Luxembourg or U.S.-based servers.

Skiff Drive

Source: SkiffSkiff Drive is an end-to-end encrypted cloud service offering all the security measures you need to keep your backups safe. While it is not much cheaper than an average privacy-first provider, Skiff doesn’t reserve important security features for paid users.


Skiff Drive comes with a generous free plan alongside three paid tiers:
  1. Essential—$4 per month ($3 per month billed annually)
  2. Pro—$10 per month ($8 per month billed annually)
  3. Business—$15/user per month ($12 per month billed annually)

Pros and cons

Skiff Drive’s main advantage is a robust free plan encompassing numerous cutting-edge security measures. The platform offers zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption at no cost, so users can enjoy complete privacy without investments.Every file you upload to Skiff Drive is encrypted on your device. All data reaches Skiff’s servers encrypted, so nobody—including their team—can access plaintext copies or decryption keys.Your login credentials get the same treatment—they are not stored on Skiff’s servers, and you don’t need to leave any personal information to sign up. You can also set up two-factor authentication to fortify your account against common cybersecurity threats.Besides these security features, the free plan comes with:Skiff is open source, so the codebase is fully transparent. You can review it on the platform’s GitHub or read the whitepaper for more information.No cloud storage can guarantee complete safety if your device is compromised by malware, and Skiff Drive is no different. Android devices are typically more exposed to threats than iOS due to their leniency toward third-party apps, so follow the necessary precautions to avoid malware.
Advanced E2EE at no costCan’t guarantee data safety in case of device corruption
Zero-knowledge login.
Open source platform.

Get started with Skiff

Skiff Drive is suitable for personal and business use thanks to its combination of advanced security and affordability. You can back up your files in three quick steps:
  1. Visit the signup page
  2. Choose your account name and password
  3. Upload files to Skiff Drive
The free account also gives you access to three additional end-to-end encrypted platforms you can use to collaborate without privacy concerns:

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