There’s no shortage of great options if you’re looking for free cloud storage. Plenty of companies will let you store several gigabytes in the cloud, and all you need to do is create an account. We’ve put together our five favorites.
What Makes the Best Free Cloud Storage?
We’ve put together our picks in no particular order: all of them have something going for them, from Google Drive’s excellent suite of tools to Sync.com’s security features. In each case, we’ll go over what the allotment of free storage is and what extras there are on offer.
You may notice that Dropbox is missing from our list, this is because it only offers 2GB of free storage, which isn’t a whole lot. Also missing is Apple’s iCloud, which is a little more generous at 5GB but is intended mainly for people who own Apple devices—Apple only provides 1GB if you don’t own an Apple device. As most other picks can be used on any device, we felt it was a little fairer.
Also note that in our calculations we have not included any bonuses gained by performing certain actions. For example, pCloud lets you cobble together as much as 10GB of free storage, provided you refer friends to the service. However, the base allotment is just 2GB, which is too low for this list. That said, we will mention when options like that exist.
Google Drive: 15GB
Our first pick is Google Drive, as it’s a great option for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is its 15GB of storage, which you get for free for simply making a Google account. Also included are a Gmail address and access to all of Google’s office-style products, like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. It’s a full package, including Google Photos—which, unfortunately, no longer offers unlimited photo storage. Photos you store count toward your 15GB limit.
There are, of course, strings attached. A Google account will track you wherever you go unless you sign out—or use incognito mode—and that may even include your location. Still, if you’re not too worried about the panopticon, Google Drive is a great deal as it offers lots of storage and usability at the same time.
Microsoft OneDrive: 5GB
Our next entry is another industry behemoth, Microsoft’s OneDrive. Like Google Drive, it’s part of a larger suite of apps and you access it through a free Microsoft account. If you own a Windows computer or use any other Microsoft products, including Skype, you already have one. Signing up gets you 5GB of storage through OneDrive, as well as access to a number of apps in the Office 365 package.
Overall, we like what Microsoft has to offer less than Google’s apps. In our experience, Microsoft’s web-based Office apps often feel slower to respond than Google’s. On top of that, OneDrive only offers one-third of Google’s storage allotment, so even when looking at just those numbers, Redmond’s offering disappoints.
MEGA: 20GB for the First Year
Our third entry is MEGA, and it’s also the one that offers the most storage for free: 20GB. You can even expand this further with certain achievements, like installing the mobile and desktop apps or referring a friend, each of which nets you an added 5GB of space. However, this extra storage only lasts a year, which is a shame.
Though MEGA doesn’t offer any office-style apps like Google and Microsoft do, it does have much better security. It encrypts all your files when you send them into the cloud, meaning that even if your files manage to get intercepted, nobody will be able to see what’s inside. However, it’s worth noting that, a few years ago, MEGA’s browser extension was hacked and found stealing passwords so the company does not have a bulletproof security record.
IceDrive is a relative newcomer to the cloud storage market but has made its mark thanks to solid security and, more importantly, offering a whopping 10GB of storage space for free. All you need to do is supply your email address to create an account and it’s all yours. There are no referral offers like with MEGA, but 10GB is nothing to sneeze at.
Like MEGA, IceDrive is a very secure service, but it does have some nifty features the competition doesn’t have. For example, it lets you preview encrypted files, which normally isn’t possible. It does this by temporarily decrypting files on your end, a neat trick indeed. If this kind of high-tech wizardry sounds good to you, IceDrive is a good pick.
We’ll finish this list with a look at Sync.com, a cloud storage provider that prides itself on being extremely secure—though many of its advanced functions are missing in the free plan. With just 5GB of space, it’s more of a way to get to know the service before committing—though, as with MEGA you can increase your allotment by installing the app and referring friends.
As most of Sync.com’s best features are locked away until you start paying for it, the free plan isn’t all that special. Still, 5GB of free space is pretty decent and Sync.com’s secure sharing features may be just the ticket for a group of people looking to move around sensitive files.
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