Most cloud storage providers offer a tier featuring free cloud storage, letting you test out their service for free. No matter which provider you choose, there’s bound to be some limitations on the free tier.
Cloud storage isn’t just something for companies – it’s also for students and hobbyists. In an earlier blog posts we covered a couple of tips for how students and others can use cloud storage on a limited budget. Click here to have a look.
Usually companies goes for the full package, mostly because they value extra security and the premium customer service you have available on a paid plan. But when private users or students want to utilize the advantages of cloud storage, they prefer free cloud storage.
Today there’s plenty of providers that offer a free plan for their service, each with their own restrictions. Here’s a quick walk-through for you, making it easier for you to choose the service that fits your needs.
Dropbox is a favorite among private users. It features simple-to-use apps both through web browser and on any of your devices.
The basic plan features:
- Automatic uploading of pictures and videos from all your favorite mobile devices.
- The extremely handy feature of scanning physical documents.
- Simple sharing and collaborate features, to mention a few key concepts.
The first let-down on Dropbox Basic is the limited amount of free cloud storage at 2gb. Many prefer to use Dropbox as a place to store pictures, taking advantage of the automatic picture uploading. This quickly fills up the free cloud storage limit, forcing you to delete files or upgrade to a paid plan.
A nice feature Dropbox doesn’t offer for users of their Basic plan is to remotely wipe information stored on a stolen device. This is only available on the Plus plan and above. The plan also lacks offline syncing to mobile devices.
Dropbox is one of the cloud storage services you can connect with Correlate. Click here to learn more.
Google Drive handles their pricing a little bit different than Dropbox, as you don’t pay for a set of features. Instead, an upgrade only increases the amount of storage you have available on your account.
Google has a free tier giving you a total of 15gb free cloud storage space. Keep in mind that this amount is divided out across your Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos. So if you use Gmail alongside your Google Drive, this will help you reach the limit a bit faster than if you only use Google Drive. Gmail won’t limit you much, but Google Photos might give you some problems, if you’re an avid user.
Correlate can help you connect your Google Drive accounts with the rest of your cloud accounts. Click here to learn more.
Yet again a new pricing strategy for Microsoft OneDrive. While Google Drive doesn’t let you single out their Drive service, Microsoft allows you to get 5gb of free cloud storage. This is only covering your OneDrive account.
The free tier gives you access to the simple web applications for apps included in the Office package. These are Word, Excel, OneNote, Powerpoint, Excel survey and the plain text document app. They all have limitations and aren’t as beautiful to look at as the ones you get with the 365 subscription (the Office package included in the paid subscription), but works for simple tasks.
OneDrive lets you share files, but sets some restrictions on the free plan. You can’t set an automatic time limit on your shares and there’s also a limit to how many bytes you’re allowed to share. Some other things that the free tier lacks is offline folders and multi-page PDF scanning. The last one makes the useful scanning concept messy when trying to scan more than one page of a document.
OneDrive is, along with Dropbox and Google Drive, one of the cloud storage services you can connect to Correlate. Click here to learn more about how Correlate works with your OneDrive account.
Box divides its plans into two groups: one for individual users and another group of plans for teams and enterprises. The only plan that’s free is the plan called “Individual”.
The free plan gives you almost all the same features as the next level plan called “Personal Pro”, which is also intended for individuals. Still there’s a couple of main differences between the two plans. Two examples: the free plan gives you 10gb instead of 100gb and you’re not allowed to create Office or Google documents on mobile. There’s also a couple of limitations in sharing and syncing files from your hard drive.
But Box is an extremely useful service on the free plan. It gives a pretty good amount of free space, lets you create documents from both Office and Google, features syncing capabilities and sharing of files and folders. Another cool feature for Box is that you can secure your mobile app with a 4 digit code. This adds an extra level of security on your files, in case your mobile ever gets stolen.
Like Google and Microsoft, you’ll get access to your very own Amazon Drive after signing up for an Amazon account. With it, you’ll get 5gb of free storage and no feature limitations.
Still, the entire product lacks a few key features.
- You’re not able to create or edit documents inside the app.
- The share functionality through email is also a bit clumsy, forcing you to open the email client and manually sending an email with the link in it.
One thing Amazon Drive does really well is to store photos for you. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you get unlimited amount of photo storage on your Amazon Drive. This makes it a perfect platform for photographers, both hobbyist and professionals.
So there’s plenty of choices out there for you. Almost every major cloud storage provider has a free tier today, giving you a limited amount of storage space to play around with. The services mentioned above all have different advantages on their free plan, whether it’s more storage space or a better range of features.
Choose your provider based on the most important thing for you and what situation you’re in. An example would be that if you want to store photos and already have an Amazon Prime account, Amazon Drive would be a perfect fit for you. If you’re looking at more space or heavier security than what the major providers presented above gives you, Mega with it’s 50gb of free storage and high focus on security would be a perfect fit.