Best Free Cloud Storage Services For Keeping Your Files Secure Online

What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is a cloud computing model that stores data on the Internet through a cloud computing provider who manages and operates data storage as a service. It’s delivered on demand with just-in-time capacity and costs, and eliminates buying and managing your own data storage infrastructure. This gives you agility, global scale and durability, with “anytime, anywhere” data access.

Cloud storage service is a cloud computing service offering in which data can be stored, edited and retrieved from a remote cloud storage server over the Internet under a utility computing model.

Cloud storage service, an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) service model, delivers scalable, flexible and redundant storage capacity through Web services API, online interfaces and thin client applications.

Cloud storage service is also known as utility storage service and storage as a service.

How Does Cloud Storage Work?

Cloud storage is purchased from a third party cloud vendor who owns and operates data storage capacity and delivers it over the Internet in a pay-as-you-go model. These cloud storage vendors manage capacity, security and durability to make data accessible to your applications all around the world.

Applications access cloud storage through traditional storage protocols or directly via an API. Many vendors offer complementary services designed to help collect, manage, secure and analyze data at massive scale.

Cloud storage service is built to provide applications, services and organizations with access to offsite storage capacity that can be provisioned instantly, is flexible in scaling automatically at run time and is globally accessible.

Cloud storage service is provided, hosted and managed by the storage service provider (SSP), and it works on the combination of storage servers, which are designed on storage virtualization architecture. This technique allows a single storage server to create multiple logical and virtual drives with scalable capacity and tight coupling. End users and applications access the logical storage by the online management interface or integrating vendor APIs with the application and are only billed for the storage capacity metered.

Cloud storage services are delivered in public and hybrid storage models.

Benefits of Cloud Storage

Storing data in the cloud lets IT departments transform three areas:

  1. Total Cost of Ownership. With cloud storage, there is no hardware to purchase, storage to provision, or capital being used for “someday” scenarios. You can add or remove capacity on demand, quickly change performance and retention characteristics, and only pay for storage that you actually use. Less frequently accessed data can even be automatically moved to lower cost tiers in accordance with auditable rules, driving economies of scale.
  2. Time to Deployment. When development teams are ready to execute, infrastructure should never slow them down. Cloud storage allows IT to quickly deliver the exact amount of storage needed, right when it’s needed. This allows IT to focus on solving complex application problems instead of having to manage storage systems.
  3. Information Management. Centralizing storage in the cloud creates a tremendous leverage point for new use cases. By using cloud storage lifecycle management policies, you can perform powerful information management tasks including automated tiering or locking down data in support of compliance requirements.
Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage Requirements

Ensuring your company’s critical data is safe, secure, and available when needed is essential. There are several fundamental requirements when considering storing data in the cloud.


Durability. Data should be redundantly stored, ideally across multiple facilities and multiple devices in each facility. Natural disasters, human error, or mechanical faults should not result in data loss.


Availability. All data should be available when needed, but there is a difference between production data and archives. The ideal cloud storage will deliver the right balance of retrieval times and cost.


Security. All data is ideally encrypted, both at rest and in transit. Permissions and access controls should work just as well in the cloud as they do for on premises storage.

Types of Cloud Storage

There are three types of cloud data storage: object storage, file storage, and block storage. Each offers their own advantages and have their own use cases:

  1. Object Storage – Applications developed in the cloud often take advantage of object storage’s vast scalablity and metadata characteristics. Object storage solutions like Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) are ideal for building modern applications from scratch that require scale and flexibility, and can also be used to import existing data stores for analytics, backup, or archive.
  2. File Storage – Some applications need to access shared files and require a file system. This type of storage is often supported with a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server. File storage solutions like Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) are ideal for use cases like large content repositories, development environments, media stores, or user home directories.
  3. Block Storage – Other enterprise applications like databases or ERP systems often require dedicated, low latency storage for each host. This is analagous to direct-attached storage (DAS) or a Storage Area Network (SAN). Block-based cloud storage solutions like Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) are provisioned with each virtual server and offer the ultra low latency required for high performance workloads.

Best Free Cloud Storage Services

Cloud storage also makes it easy to access files from anywhere, and has virtually eliminated the need to carry USB keys and other portable storage. Here are seven of the best free cloud storage services that you can use to keep your files online.

OneDriveYou get 5GB of free online storage with OneDrive.You get 5GB of free online storage with OneDrive.

Microsoft Onedrive delivers 5GB of free storage to new users as a part of the OneDrive Basic plan, and if you subscribe to any Microsoft 365 plan (which includes a subscription to Office apps including Word and Outlook) you get a massive 1TB to use however you like. OneDrive is fully encrypted and can keep files in sync across multiple computers.

DropboxIt seems like everyone has a Dropbox account, but you only get 2GB for free.It seems like everyone has a Dropbox account, but you only get 2GB for free.

Dropbox is one of the best known cloud storage solutions, which means you can use it to share files with others with little-to-no difficulty because almost everyone you know probably already has their own account. Dropbox Basic is free and gives you 2GB of storage space, though you can get additional free space by completing simple tasks like referring other people and setting up photo syncing using the mobile app. The basic plan only lets you sync up three devices, but you can subscribe to Dropbox Plus ($9.99 per month) to get 2TB of storage and unlimited devices.

Google DriveEvery Google account comes with 15GB that's used to store Gmail, Google Photos, and more.Every Google account comes with 15GB that’s used to store Gmail, Google Photos, and more.

Google Drive is fully integrated into Google’s other services, so as long as you have a Google account (complete with Gmail) you get 15GB of storage for free. Your Google Drive stores data from across your Google services, including Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Docs, so consider this storage to be absolutely essential, even if you primarily lean on Dropbox or some other services. The paid versions are not as cost-effective as other services, though. If you need to expand beyond 15GB, plans start at $19.99 per year for 100GB and go up to $99.99 per year for 2TB.

SyncSync comes with 5GB of free storage.Sync comes with 5GB of free storage.

Sync isn’t as well known as some other cloud storage options, but you get 5GB of storage for free when you sign up. It’s more than just cloud storage; Sync emphasizes its sharing and collaboration features so you can easily create a storage scheme for other team members and use it to develop productivity workflows. Sync gives away a full gigabyte of additional storage for each additional user you refer. Need more storage? You can step up to higher capacity plans starting with 2TB for $96 per year.

pCloudpCloud includes a generous 10GB of free storage and you can get a lifetime subscription rather than renewing annually.pCloud includes a generous 10GB of free storage and you can get a lifetime subscription rather than renewing annually.

pCloud gives new users 10GB of free storage when signing up for the basic service (though to get the full 10GB you need to complete some tasks like installing the mobile app and referring a friend), and unlike other services, offers the option to get “lifetime” subscriptions if you want to upgrade. You can get 500GB for a one-time $500 payment or 2TB for $980 though these rates are almost always discounted, so you should expect to pay substantially less. In addition to highly polished file syncing across your devices, pCloud also gives you sharing and collaboration tools and end-to-end encryption for enhanced security.

Amazon DriveEvery Amazon customer gets 5GB of storage for free.Every Amazon customer gets 5GB of storage for free.

Amazon Drive is like Google Drive in the sense that you don’t have to go out of your way to get an account; Amazon automatically gives all customers 5GB of free storage. That’s for all Amazon customers, incidentally, not just Amazon Prime. The difference is that the basic Amazon Drive shares the same 5GB with Amazon Photos, while Amazon Prime users get unlimited photo storage in addition to the 5GB Amazon Drive. Tools for syncing your desktop files with Amazon Drive are somewhat limited, though. If you need additional storage, you can upgrade to 100GB for $19.99 per year or go all the way to 2TB for $119.98 per year.

MegaMega is among the least well-known cloud storage solutions but gives away 20GB for free.Mega is among the least well-known cloud storage solutions but gives away 20GB for free.

Mega includes a substantial 20GB of free storage with new user accounts, making it the most generous cloud storage solution around. And like the way you can extend your Dropbox storage by completing various tasks, Mega offers additional storage incentives as well. There are a slew of upgrade options starting at 400GB for about $68 per year and topping out at 16TB for about $409 per year. Whether you’re paying for a subscription or using the free version, you get end-to-end encryption, file syncing, and backup (you can use it as an online backup solution complete with file versioning) and secure communication.

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