Always secure private data on the Cloud personally

European cloud-based data storage is generally more secure than its US counterparts. Nonetheless, no user should store sensitive data without encrypting it, reports Stiftung Warentest, a German consumer-products tester.

It tested 13 services, including seven from Europe. All cloud services store user’s data in encrypted format. However, 12 of the 13 retained an encryption key, meaning they had access to the data.

US services are additionally subject to searches by government security agencies.

To protect from prying eyes, Stiftung Warentest reported in its magazine, Test, that users should check out freeware encryption solutions like Boxcryptor and Cloudfogger. Both rated well, on PCs and mobile platforms.

However, Cloudfogger was a little more complicated to use, noted the group.

There are downsides to encryption. Encrypted pictures, for example, can no longer be viewed in cloud server galleries.

None of the cloud services fully won over the testers. Seven scored a satisfactory, while six earned a grade of acceptable. Along with data-security concerns, they all lost points for accessibility, in terms of poor help functions, or a complete lack of them.

There were wide variations in data-transfer rates. One service needed almost half a day to upload 1 gigabyte of photos. Others processed the same amount of data in about half an hour.

Based on that, the testers recommended being discriminating about what to upload and urged users not to put the entire contents of a PC into the cloud. Additionally, free space allowances – which ranged from 2 to 25 gigabytes – gets used up quickly, noted Stiftung Warentest.