When you upload data to the cloud–photos, documents, trade secrets, military intelligence, etc–you probably have a certain expectation of privacy. Simply, other people shouldn’t be able to look at your stuff, even though it’s stored on a shared cloud server. Unfortunately, that simple expectation can be difficult to ensure.
Most cloud storage and cloud backup providers offer some level of encryption–essentially scrambling the contents of your data. To unscramble it, an encryption key is needed. Most companies hold the encryption key on behalf of the user, which requires him or her to blindly trust that they won’t abuse having access to your files, lose the key to hackers, or give in to snooping government authorities.
A few companies allow the user to create their own private key, encrypting data on their local computer before uploading it to the cloud. But this is usually reserved for more expensive business-tier cloud backup, not the average individual user.
If data privacy is a serious concern for you but you don’t wish to shell out for a more costly backup or storage plan, we’ve got an alternative solution. Several apps allow you to encrypt your data before uploading to the cloud, ensuring that only you can decrypt your files. Anyone can do this, but it’s especially targeted toward accountants, lawyers, doctors, and other professions that require a high standard of privacy.
We’ve compiled a list of such apps for your perusal. Find the one that best suits your needs but keep in mind, if you ever lose your private encryption key, that data is lost to you forever.
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Paul Bischoff is a tech writer covering IT-related subjects since 2012. A digital nomad who depends on the internet to make a living, he’s always seeking out the best value and highest quality products and services on the web. He previously worked as the China editor at Tech in Asia and is a regular contributor at Mashable, as well as several blogs for internet startups around the world. You can find him on Twitter at @pabischoff.
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