Which Free Cloud Storage Option is the Best?

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You or someone close to you has probably experienced one of the following scenarios: your laptop was stolen or your hard drive crashed and all of a sudden all your most cherished photos, videos and documents were lost, never to return.

You can back these files up on an external hard drive, but that can also break or get stolen. External hard drives can also be quite expensive.

So what’s the solution? Your best solution would be online storage, or better known as cloud storage.

You can even get cloud storage for free, which is what we’ll compare in this article: free cloud storage solutions.

So What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage refers to software and services that save your treasured data on multiple web servers, meticulously backed up to make sure your data never gets stolen, lost or damaged.

You access your files in cloud storage through an Internet connection by uploading and downloading the files.

Usually you install software on your computer that creates a folder on your hard drive.

Everything in this folder gets backed up to the cloud and you can even share certain folders with other people.

When you get a new computer, or need to do a restore after your hard drive has crashed, you simply download the software again, log in with your details and it will automatically start downloading all the files in that folder.

Most of the options listed below have a mobile app, which you can use to backup your photos and videos automatically when connected to Wi-Fi.

This means you don’t have to plug your phone into your computer to download photos, as everything is synced automatically between the two devices as long as both devices have the software installed and are logged in with the same account.

There are many cloud storage providers to compare, but we decided to compare our 6 favourites: Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive and Syncplicity (Personal Edition).

Comparison of Free Cloud Storage Options

Option

Starting Free Storage

Bonus Storage per Referral

Supported Operating
Systems

Phone Apps

Amazon Cloud Drive

5GB Does not have referral programme Windows, Mac iOS, Android, Kindle Fire

Dropbox

2GB 500MB** Windows, Mac, Linux iOS, Android

Google Drive

15GB*** (unlimited photo backups with Google+) Does not have referral programme Windows, Mac iOS, Android

iCloud*

5GB Does not have referral programme Windows, Mac iOS

Microsoft SkyDrive

7GB Does not have referral programme Windows, Mac Windows Phone, iOS, Android (3rd Party)

Syncplicity (Personal Edition)

2GB 1GB Windows, Mac iOS, Android, Kindle Fire

* Requires ownership of an Apple device, yet does not sync all files and no folder syncing. IT is more focused on syncing files you access through apple software, e.g. music purchased from iStore, iWork Files, Calendar and Contacts. If you own an Apple device, it is a great product, however you might need another solution to help you back up all your files. 

** You can get more space the following ways: 3GB by using the mobile app to upload photos, 125MB for completing Getting Started Guide, 125MB each for linking to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, 125MB by telling Dropbox why you love them. There are additionally a few more tasks you can complete to increase your space for free.

*** Your 15GB free storage is shared between your Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ accounts. With regards to media stored on Google+ only those over 2048 x 2048 pixels and videos longer than 15 minutes count towards your storage limit.



[tip title=”moneysmart tip”]First see which devices a cloud storage provider supports before making your decision, see if you can find one that supports all your devices.[/tip]

Conclusion

I personally make use of multiple providers. As they are free, nothing is stopping me.

My favourite is Dropbox, because of the speed, ease of use, easy ways to get more space and the App that syncs photos quickly.

However if you want to sync mostly photos, keep Google Drive in mind, as with the added ability from Google+ you can upload unlimited amounts of photos, as long as they’re not bigger than 2048 x 2048 pixels.

Do you like and use another cloud storage service not listed here? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Author

Stefan de Klerk is Moneysmart's Product Manager. He has a passion for technology, consumer trends and anything new. With great research skills, he loves to dig deep into human behavior spending trends and the implications thereof.

  • Thomas

    I Personally use dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud. So you are right, a combo approach is best. Also got 48GB free dropbox space when I connected my new Samsung Galaxy S4 to dropbox, so now I got a lot of space. For Free!
    Now let’s hope Telkom can increase our Internet speed in SA so that Uploads speeds to the cloud can increase a bit, that is my only frustration ATM.

  • Jurgens

    Google Drive all the way!

  • Drop Box For Me Thank You! Its the best simplest cloud solution our there. iCloud in my opinion to expensive. Google Drive is has given me a bad user experience.

  • Jack Parkman

    MediaFire provides 50 gigs of free storage.

  • Mathias B. Elonga

    Surdoc provide 100GB to 1TB free, available for Windows, Android from Froyo above, Mac OS X