It’s almost impossible to live in today’s world and not need some kind of cloud storage, but if you don’t like the idea of your digital counter-self paying rent to live on a distant server, there are free options out there. Some involve a little bit of creativity and some a little bit of know-how, while others are simply free. Regardless of which option you choose, each is going to have size limitations, so you may need to mix things up.
Here are our top 7 ways to get free cloud storage.
Google offers every account holder 15 GB of free storage. You can use it to upload any type of file you want. 15 GB is a lot of storage, but you’ll quickly run out of space if you like to capture a lot of life’s moments on your phone.
Google currently offers the following plans:
- 100 GB/ $19.99 a year
- 200 GB/ $29.99 a year
- 2 TB/ $99.99 a year
- 10 TB/ $99.99 a month
- 20 TB/ $199.99 a month
- 30 TB/ $299.99 a month
Of course, you could always just open up another Google account to get more free storage.
The great thing about Google Drive is that you can share your files with any number of other people and give them the same access to the file as you, or even restrict access. This makes collaboration super easy.
Many companies only use Google Drive these days for their storage and content creation needs (as opposed to Microsoft Word). You don’t even need to download the file to view it. You can easily view the following file types within Google Docs without downloading:
- Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
- Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
- Apple Pages (.Pages)
- Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
- Microsoft Excel (.XLS, .XLSX)
- Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT, .PPTX)
*note older versions of PPT prior to 2007 may have formatting issues
- Microsoft Word (.Doc, .Docx)
- PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
- Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
- Text files (.Txt)
- TrueType (.TTF)
- XML Paper Specification (.XPS)
We’re doing a special shoutout for Google Docs because many people don’t realize one important aspect of Google Docs: these files don’t take up any space on your Google account. This means you can have an infinite number of Google Docs on your Google account, and your standard free 15 GB will remain untouched.
If you have thousands of documents on your computer you want to get off, you’re probably thinking this feature won’t do you any good, but you can convert any uploaded file to Google Drive into a Google Doc automatically when you upload a file, files, or folders of files. In doing this, the files won’t take up any space on your Google account.
Most text files on the market can be converted to a Google Doc with the exception of Apple Pages. If you’ve been using Microsoft Word for years, you have nothing to fear because all versions of Microsoft Word will easily convert to a Google Doc (including Excel and PowerPoint). If you need to convert your Apple Pages, you’ll need to first export the file as a Microsoft Word document from Pages before uploading it to Google Docs. It’s not as convenient as you’d probably like, but it’s a solution nonetheless.
Should you want to convert a Google Doc back to a different file format, you can easily do that, too. Simply download the file and Google will ask you what format you would like to download the file as. At the moment, you can’t download a Google Doc file into a Pages document, but that feature is expected to come at some point in the future.
This option isn’t exactly free, but if you already have Amazon Prime, Amazon Drive is a little known benefit included with your membership. Each Amazon Prime member gets unlimited full-resolution photo storage, and 5 GB of video storage. This means you can take as many photos as you want on your phone and set them up to upload automatically (online or through the app), and never have to worry about losing any memories again.
You can use Amazon Drive to store all of your digital files, and can then access them through either your desktop, mobile, or tablet. You can also share your photos with up to 5 people.
If you need more storage than 5 GB (and who doesn’t these days?), you can purchase more storage space from Amazon:
- For $19.99 a year, you can get access to 100 GB, which will get you about 14 hours of 1080p HD video
- For $59.99 a year, you can get 1 TB of storage, which equates to about 140 hours of 1080p HD video
- For $199.98 a year, you can gain access to 2 TB of storage, which is about 280 hours of 1080p HD video
Note that you’re not limited to the above options and can purchase even more storage if you need it. It can’t be stressed enough: the best thing about Amazon Drive is the unlimited full-resolution photo storage. Just make sure you keep your account active. If you don’t, you’ll only have 90 days to download anything you uploaded before it’s deleted.
You can only use YouTube to store videos. But if you’re like many people, you probably have a lot of videos on your phone. If you have a Google account, you can upload those videos to YouTube and make them either public, private, or accessible only via a direct link (aka a hyperlink). Make them private, and you can still give select people access to the videos. Use YouTube in conjunction with other cloud storage options, and you’re essentially all set.
They don’t just have to be video files. If you have music or audio files, you can use YouTube to store those files, too. Just make sure you make the upload private if it’s copyright protected, otherwise either the content will be taken down or your account will be suspended.
If you want to later download any files you’ve already uploaded to YouTube, you can easily do so after logging in. Simply click your profile picture and go to YouTube Studio. Click on the video’s drop-down box and hit download. The video will then be downloaded to your computer or mobile device.
YouTube does have limits on upload size. Currently, the file can’t be over 128 GB or 12 hours in length. Most people won’t have any issues with this, but there are some people out there this might affect.
Dropbox is a good alternative to Google Drive, but you don’t get a ton of free storage with your account (currently only 2 GB). However, for only $10 a month, you can get access to 2 TB worth of space.
Dropbox is very similar to Google Drive in that you can grant access to certain people. It’s a nice Google alternative, but perhaps the greatest thing is it’s the ease of use. If you’re using a desktop, all you need to do is drag and drop the file into it.
Dropbox also has a cool feature that allows you to see different versions of a file for the past 30 days — making it perhaps the ideal cloud storage service for professionals that need to edit and collaborate on files within a specific program.
You won’t be able to do much with 2 GB, but $9.99 for 2 TB is the best price for that amount of storage outside of Google.
Sync offers the same basic services as Dropbox, with the difference being that it gives 5 GB for free as opposed to 2 GB. You can share files with other people (who aren’t Sync members) as well as view and edit previous file versions.
To upgrade to more storage, you pay $49 a year for 500 GB, or $98 for 2 TB. Sync is easy to use, and there aren’t any restrictions to how many devices you can use to view your files.
You can get access to 10 GB for free through MediaFire, but it’s possible to get up to 50 GB if you link your social accounts. Each file you upload can be up to 4GB in size, and it’s easy to share any uploaded file to your peers with a hyperlink. Don’t want the file spreading around the web? A really cool feature with MediaFire is that you can make each hyperlink you send only good for one download. This means whoever you send a file to can’t in turn then send it to everyone else they know.
As with everything, you can upgrade to get more storage and features ($3.75 a month for 1 TB or $40 a month for 100 TB), but as it stands, MediaFire’s free version is pretty awesome.
Keep Your Money in Your Pocket
As you can see, there’s no need to spend any money on cloud storage. As long as you mix things up a bit, there are enough free options these days to take care of all your storage needs.