The 7 best free cloud storage services for keeping your files secure online
cloud storageis abundant on the internet, with many companies offering free space just for signing up. Megaoffers the most free storage at 20GB, though all storage services listed here include at least 2GB for free.
- Every service lets you upgrade to higher capacities for a monthly or annual fee.
Free cloud storage services have revolutionized the way we work with files. Now it's pretty routine to store important day-to-day files securely online instead of on a fragile hard drive that's destined to unexpectedly fail at the worst possible moment.
Cloud storage also makes it easy to access files from anywhere, and has virtually eliminated the need to carry USB keys and other portable storage. Here are seven of the best free cloud storage services that you can use to keep your files online.
Microsoft OneDrive delivers 5GB of free storage to new users as a part of the OneDrive Basic plan, and if you subscribe to any Microsoft 365 plan (which includes a subscription to Office apps including Word and Outlook) you get a massive 1TB to use however you like. OneDrive is fully encrypted and can keep files in sync across multiple computers.
Dropbox is one of the best known cloud storage solutions, which means you can use it to share files with others with little-to-no difficulty because almost everyone you know probably already has their own account. Dropbox Basic is free and gives you 2GB of storage space, though you can get additional free space by completing simple tasks like referring other people and setting up photo syncing using the mobile app. The basic plan only lets you sync up three devices, but you can subscribe to Dropbox Plus ($9.99 per month) to get 2TB of storage and unlimited devices.
Google Drive is fully integrated into Google's other services, so as long as you have a Google account (complete with Gmail) you get 15GB of storage for free. Your Google Drive stores data from across your Google services, including Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Docs, so consider this storage to be absolutely essential, even if you primarily lean on Dropbox or some other services. The paid versions are not as cost-effective as other services, though. If you need to expand beyond 15GB, plans start at $19.99 per year for 100GB and go up to $99.99 per year for 2TB.
Sync isn't as well known as some other cloud storage options, but you get 5GB of storage for free when you sign up. It's more than just cloud storage; Sync emphasizes its sharing and collaboration features so you can easily create a storage scheme for other team members and use it to develop productivity workflows. Sync gives away a full gigabyte of additional storage for each additional user you refer. Need more storage? You can step up to higher capacity plans starting with 2TB for $96 per year.
pCloud gives new users 10GB of free storage when signing up for the basic service (though to get the full 10GB you need to complete some tasks like installing the mobile app and referring a friend), and unlike other services, offers the option to get "lifetime" subscriptions if you want to upgrade. You can get 500GB for a one-time $500 payment or 2TB for $980 — though these rates are almost always discounted, so you should expect to pay substantially less. In addition to highly polished file syncing across your devices, pCloud also gives you sharing and collaboration tools and end-to-end encryption for enhanced security.
Amazon Drive is like Google Drive in the sense that you don't have to go out of your way to get an account; Amazon automatically gives all customers 5GB of free storage. That's for all Amazon customers, incidentally, not just Amazon Prime. The difference is that the basic Amazon Drive shares the same 5GB with Amazon Photos, while Amazon Prime users get unlimited photo storage in addition to the 5GB Amazon Drive. Tools for syncing your desktop files with Amazon Drive are somewhat limited, though. If you need additional storage, you can upgrade to 100GB for $19.99 per year or go all the way to 2TB for $119.98 per year.
Mega includes a substantial 20GB of free storage with new user accounts, making it the most generous cloud storage solution around. And like the way you can extend your Dropbox storage by completing various tasks, Mega offers additional storage incentives as well. There are a slew of upgrade options starting at 400GB for about $68 per year and topping out at 16TB for about $409 per year. Whether you're paying for a subscription or using the free version, you get end-to-end encryption, file syncing, and backup (you can use it as an online backup solution complete with file versioning) and secure communication.
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