Cloud storage doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg. Free cloud storage services give you space to test their features without committing to monthly subscriptions.
This guide showcases six of the best free cloud storage services for you to start with. Each offers premium features and upgrades you can use if you choose, but there’s never a requirement to move beyond the free plan.
The Top 6 Best Free Cloud Storage Services
- iDrive – Best free cloud storage service for most
- Dropbox – Best for file syncing
- Google Workspace – Best for productivity
- Box – Best free cloud storage for collaboration
- Mega – Best for high storage needs
- Proton Drive – Best for secure cloud storage
The Quick Sprout research team tested dozens of free cloud storage services and narrowed the options to the top six on our list. Each review explains pricing, features, and upgrade options to help you find the right fit.
iDrive — Best Free Cloud Storage Service for Most
For a free cloud storage service, it’s difficult to beat iDrive. iDrive not only gifts more free storage to customers than some competitors but also features high-level security — 256-bit AES encryption — to keep your files safe.
Although 10 GB of storage isn’t a lot if you store photos, videos, and other large files in your account, it’s certainly plenty to test what iDrive offers. It could also be a good solution to store work files or personal documents separately from another cloud service.
iDrive is downloadable, so you’ll always have a copy to access on your desktop or laptop. You can also use the iOS and Android mobile apps for syncing across any device.
Save snapshots of your file versions automatically to revert to old files when needed. Access and restore up to 30 previous file versions, ensuring you always have the one you need.
If you do decide to upgrade iDrive, paid plans start at $2.95 for the first year for a whopping 100 GB. Each plan includes at least one yearly iDrive Express backup, which lets you backup and retrieve data in bulk in less than one week.
iDrive’s free plan offers its basic features, like file version restoration and mobile syncing. Or, choose a paid account and save up to 50% on your first year or two of service.
Dropbox — Best For File Syncing
File syncing is a vital feature for cloud storage services to have. With simple file syncing processes, you can move files between folders and update their versions while accessing them within seconds on another device.
Dropbox is easily the best in this area. Use its web-based version to access any file stored in its cloud through automatic saves and file updates.
Or you can download the Windows, Mac, or mobile apps to get your files on any device without using the web app.
Dropbox creates folders on your desktop or laptop with quick access to your files. If you’re short on hard drive space, use Smart Sync to make specific files or folders online only rather than syncing them to your hard drive.
New and updated files sync to all devices with Dropbox installed automatically, so there’s no work to do on your part. You can always turn off this feature on a specific device if you’d like.
Dropbox Basic includes 2 GB of free storage space across up to three devices. Basic users also get Windows, Mac, or mobile apps to use for convenient syncing. Paid plans range from $15 per user per month for 5 TB and $24 per user per month and offers 2 TB to unlimited storage space. This service also provides a 30 day free trial for each of its plans.
Google Workspace — Best For Productivity
Even if you don’t already use Google Drive, there’s a good chance that you’ve used it in the past—or at the very least heard of it. It’s part of Google Workspace, Google’s full suite of tools for individual and business productivity.
Google Workspace has easily become one of the most used cloud services on the web, partially because its free version offers video calls and Gmail in addition to storage. Each personal user on a free plan gets 15 GB of space for their Gmail and storage accounts and video calls for up to 100 participants.
Google Workspace excels in productivity. For starters, it lays the groundwork for simple collaboration through real-time document suggestions or edits, folder organization, presentations, and more.
Then, it ups the productivity ante with its multiple apps included with a Google Workspace account. Free users get the following tools:
Many of these include privacy settings that let you make files, calendars, presentations, notes, and documents viewable or editable publicly or limited to a select person or group. Share links with a couple of quick clicks of your mouse to keep things moving across your team or personal workflow.
You can also link to other files in your Google Drive from within your documents to conveniently switch between anything you’re working on.
When you need more space, you can jump to the Business Standard plan for 2 TB of storage per user for $12/user/month.
Box — Best Free Cloud Storage for Collaboration
Box is much more than a cloud storage service. It also has collaborative tools that make it more of a cross between cloud storage and project management.
For instance, Box’s collaboration toolbox includes Box Notes, which is similar to Google Docs. Teams can work on one document simultaneously, with each team member able to see the other’s live edits.
You’ll also get Box Canvas which is a virtual whiteboard tool is ideal for collaborative presentations, graphs, idea organization, and brainstorming.
Of course, Box also provides the collaboration you need for regular file storage and sharing in its free plan, like mobile and desktop apps, multiple file types, and admin alerts when files are viewed, changed, or moved. AES 256-bit encryption comes standard, so your drive data remains secure.
Box Free provides 10 GB of cloud storage, but its plans are very versatile for personal and business use. Paid plans offer as much as unlimited storage and transfers of files up to 150 GB in size.
Mega — Best For High Storage Needs
Are you looking for a free cloud storage service with lots of space? Try Mega, which provides 20 GB for free.
But that’s not all you can get. Although you’ll start with 20 GB, you can “earn” more free storage with Mega Achievements.
You’ll get an extra 5 GB of storage for any of the following tasks:
- Installing the Mega mobile app
- Installing the Mega desktop app
- Verifying your mobile number
- Inviting a friend to Mega
Each task’s 5 GB reward is valid for 365 days, allowing you to expand your free account to 40 GB.
Despite its large amount of upfront storage at no charge, Mega doesn’t skimp on features. You’ll get all the basics you expect, like end-to-end encryption, quick and easy file transfers and downloads, and the Mega mobile app.
You can also set Mega to sync automatically and backup photos you take with your mobile device so you never miss a picture save and can free up space on your device.
Unique to Mega is its private chat tool, which provides high-level security for video and voice calling or in-app chats. Securely send files from your Mega account to others within your conversations without special links.
It’s worth noting that Mega‘s paid plans are pricier than others, ranging up to $331.04/year for 16 TB of storage and up to 192 TB of transfer bandwidth per year.
Proton Drive — Best for secure cloud storage
Unlike other cloud storage services that create their security rules based on United States privacy laws, Proton Drive follows Switzerland’s privacy laws, which are some of the most stringent in the world.
Proton Drive cannot decrypt your data once it’s encrypted, which happens as soon as you begin uploading anything to your drive. That means that once your data begins transferring, it’s completely private.
You’ll still have control over who accesses your files by granting or revoking access to specific people whenever you’d like. Add link expiration dates for an extra layer of protection.
Proton Drive even takes security a step further with its open-source code. This level of transparency allows you to see exactly what’s behind the software and how it functions to ensure your security.
When you sign up for a free account, you’ll get a modest 1 GB of storage. However, Proton also gifts Proton Mail, Proton Drive, Proton Calendar, and Proton VPN to free users, adding a lot of value at no extra cost.
Paid plans range between $0.00/month-$12.99/user/month, depending on whether you get a personal or business plan and the length of service you choose. Longer commitments of 12 or 24 months reduce the overall price.
How to Find The Best Free Cloud Storage Services For You
Free services will undoubtedly have limited features and benefits compared to their paid services. The same is true for free cloud storage services. Despite being free, it’s still fair to have some basic expectations for your cloud storage.
We’ve used the following criteria to determine the best free cloud storage services.
The amount of storage a free service offers is probably the primary criteria you look for, as it should be. While some free services include as little as 1 GB of storage, others offer 20 GB or more.
What else comes with that storage is even more important than that number. Can you share links to files, organize files into folders, and get high-level encryption to protect everything you store? If not, that storage space won’t do much for you.
Also, consider the maximum amount of storage the provider offers on its free plans, just in case you decide to buy one later. Some include unlimited storage that can come in handy as your storage needs expand.
Free cloud storage solutions can be web-based or include apps for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. You may not need a service that offers all of the above, but some do, and they can benefit people who want their files to be available across all the devices they use most.
Cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Workspace feature mobile apps that streamline syncing. Upload a file from your computer and have it available on your phone within seconds or minutes.
Security and Encryption
You do not need to compromise on data protection when you choose a free cloud storage service. The best companies understand the importance of securely storing your files, photos, and videos, and they use top-of-the-line encryption and security features to protect them.
Look for solutions that include the same high-level protections for free accounts as paid accounts. You might not have all the features of paid plans, like security monitoring or premium alerts, but you’ll still get excellent security to keep your account in the right hands.
On a similar note, consider a free plan with privacy protection, like file locking, device approvals, and shared link password protection, to protect the information in your files.
Bandwidth is the amount of data you can transfer in and out of your account in a specific period. For instance, some free cloud storage services limit the amount of bandwidth you can use per month or year.
Paid plans often come with significant bandwidth so that you never feel limited on how much you can transfer. However, free plans may reduce how much you can use to encourage you to upgrade at some point.
The good news is that, even on free plans, you typically have more than enough bandwidth for average file transfers unless you consistently upload large files. Still, it’s something to consider as you compare solutions.
Upgrades and Add-Ons
You might think that your 20 GB free service is plenty. But, if you start creeping close to maximum storage, you’ll need to consider upgrading to prevent any interference in your regular backup or upload schedule.
Before choosing your free service, think about how its paid plans or separate add-ons fit your future needs. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Can more storage be purchased, or will you need to upgrade to an entirely new plan?
- What features will you get if you upgrade?
- Will you be paying for features you won’t use on a paid plan?
- Does a paid plan offer you the amount of storage and bandwidth you’ll need?
- Does the company include a discount if you pay annually?
- How do the costs of the company’s paid plans compare to those of other companies?
Free cloud storage allows you the freedom to test a service before buying it, so feel free to experiment with a few before it’s time to upgrade.
The Top Free Cloud Storage Services in Summary
The best free cloud storage services include a decent amount of free storage space, high-level security, and basic tools to help you organize and share your files. They also offer fully featured upgrade options that simplify scaling to a larger service.
iDrive is recommended for most people. With 10 GB of free storage space and excellent security, iDrive offers just about all you need in a no-cost cloud storage service.