Many companies today are quite happy to let you store some of your stuff in their cloud – free as long as you don’t have much. About 10 months ago I decided to ditch paid cloud storage and figure out how to do it all for free. Here are the options I found, the ones I haven’t investigated yet, and a way to organize them all.
In no particular order, here are the options I’ve used and the caveats I’ve found.
- Dropbox: 2 GB Free, plenty of ways to get more on permanent or temporary basis. Files can be any size. Uploading best done through client. Supports 2-factor authentication. Most everything integrates with Dropbox.
- SkyDrive: 7 GB Free (Was 25 GB if you have an older account – I had a few so I lucked out and kept all 25). Uploading best done through client (Doesn’t support folder upload through the web, but you can upload a bunch of files at once). No way to get more free space. No 2-factor. Interface was recently updated to work a lot better for Mac users, and their client seems to be getting less buggy.
- Box: 25 GB (Or 50 GB for special promotions). It’s still unclear how one gets the desktop client reliably (at least to me). New accounts I believe always get it. Major limitations on file size for free users (Nothing over 250 MB). Supports proprietary 2-factor authentication (text message).
- GDrive: Google offers 5 GB (Older users lucked out if they had paid storage… grumbling that I ever cancelled mine). Desktop client works fine, however I find it’s not as easy to manage files in Google Drive as in other services. The interface always looks too cluttered, so I keep it mostly reserved for Google Apps.
- iCloud: Apple offers 5 GB but your iOS device backups factor in. For me that’s almost 4 GB used right there, making it nearly useless other than to have a few small files here or there in various iOS applications.
I decided to organize my free cloud options by creating a “Storage Matrix” in Evernote. It is basically 4 columns: Login name, Service, Quota, & What’s stored there. The cloud never holds my sole copy of something, but it does hold backup-backups (and files I might need while traveling or at another computer). Keeping the list in Evernote lets me find where things are easily, without having to think “Where did I upload those photos?”.
Options to Explore
Other cloud offerings exist. I haven’t played with these yet, but intend to:
- Amazon Cloud Drive. I actually use Cloud Player as the repository for ALL THE MP3s (i.e. my entire collection, starting back in ’98). Cloud Drive I haven’t played with too much.
- MediaFire: A startup with some interesting options. 50 GB for free, but with quite a few limitations.
- MiMedia: Geared toward media upload, but supports some documents. 7 GB of space.
- SpiderOak: 2 GB for life, and an emphasis on security. Interesting!
- SugarSync: 5 GB for free. I actually used SugarSync for a while and had Karey’s primary cloud storage there for a year. But the client is extremely buggy (don’t even try deleting large numbers of files in the web version), so we ditched it. It kept bothering me that my space was “nearly full” (90%) and I eventually cancelled my account out of spite.
- Symform: A very interesting concept: You donate to the cloud, and get space in return. However other people’s encrypted files live on the area you donate. Not exactly sure how this works, but sounds interesting.
- Syncplicity: 5 GB, emphasis on synchronization.