The 5 Best Free Cloud Storage Services
There’s no shortage of great options if you’re looking for free cloud storage. Many companies allow you to store several gigabytes in the cloud and all you need to do is create an account. We have listed our five favorites.
What makes the best free cloud storage?
We’ve rounded up our picks in no particular order: they all have something for them, from Google Drive’s excellent suite of tools to Sync.com’s security features. In any case, we will discuss the allocation of free storage space and what extras are offered.
You might notice that Dropbox missing from our list, this is because it only offers 2GB of free storage, which isn’t much. Also missing is Apple’s iCloudwhich is slightly more generous at 5 GB, but is primarily aimed at people who own Apple devices: Apple offers only 1 GB if you don’t own an Apple device. Since most of the other choices can be used on any device, we thought it was a bit more fair.
Please also note that in our calculations we have not included bonuses obtained by performing certain actions. For example, pCloud lets you scrape together a whopping 10 GB of free storage, provided you refer friends to the service. However, the base allocation is only 2 GB, which is too low for this list. That said, we will mention when such options exist.
Google Drive: 15GB
Our first choice is Google Drive, because it’s a great option for many reasons, not least the 15GB of storage, which you get for free by simply creating a Google account. Also included is a Gmail address and access to all of Google’s office-like products, such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. It’s a full package, including Google Photos, which unfortunately no longer offers unlimited photo storage. Photos you save count toward your 15 GB limit.
There are, of course, strings attached. A Google account will keep track of you wherever you go unless you sign out or use incognito mode, and that can even include your location. But if you’re not too concerned about the panopticon, Google Drive is a good deal as it offers a lot of storage space and usability at the same time.
Microsoft OneDrive: 5GB
Our next entry is another industry giant, Microsoft’s A disc† Like Google Drive, it’s part of a larger suite of apps, and you can access it through a free Microsoft account. If you own a Windows computer or use other Microsoft products, including Skype, you already have one. When you sign up, you get 5 GB of storage via OneDrive, as well as access to a number of apps in the Office 365 suite.
In general, we like what Microsoft has to offer less than Google’s apps. In our experience, Microsoft’s web-based Office apps are often slower to respond than Google’s. Plus, OneDrive only offers a third of Google’s storage space, so even looking at those numbers alone, Redmond’s offering disappoints.
MEGA: 20 GB for the first year
Our third entry is MEGA, and it’s also the one that offers the most storage for free: 20 GB. You can extend this even further with certain achievements, such as installing the mobile and desktop apps or referring a friend, each of which will give you an additional 5 GB of space. However, this extra storage only lasts a year, which is a shame.
While MEGA doesn’t offer office-style apps like Google and Microsoft, it does have much better security. It encrypts all your files when you send them to the cloud, meaning that even if your files are intercepted, no one can see what’s inside. However, it’s worth noting that a few years ago, MEGA’s browser extension was hacked and stealing passwords found so the company doesn’t 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, most importantly, offering a whopping 10GB of free storage. All you have to do is provide your email address to create an account and it’s all yours. There are no referral offers like with MEGA, but 10 GB is nothing to sneeze at.
Like MEGA, IceDrive is a very secure service, but it has some useful features that the competition doesn’t. For example, you can preview encrypted files with it, which is normally not 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 choice.
We close this list with a look at Sync.com, a cloud storage provider that prides itself on being extremely secure, although many of its advanced features are missing from the free plan. With only 5GB of space, it’s more of a way to get to know the service before committing, although, as with MEGA, you can increase your allocation by installing the app and referring friends.
Since most of Sync.com’s best features are locked until you pay 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 might be just the ticket for a group of people looking to move sensitive files.