Five Best Free Cloud Storage Services of 2018
28 February 2018
Most people value their data. They want to make sure their files are safely guarded and free from unauthorized access. Cloud storage is a service that manages data remotely, backs it up and fosters easy sharing. The service allows people to store their files online and access it from any location as long as they are connected to the internet.
Perhaps you want to safeguard your photos and easily share them with family and friends? A free cloud storage for photos would work well in making sure that your precious memories are safe from destruction.
This being said, cloud storages are not created equal. That’s why it’s important to choose the best cloud storage service for your needs. In this article, we’ve reviewed the five best free cloud storages of 2018.
Cloud storage: how it works
Cloud storage isn’t as complicated as it sounds. The “cloud” simply refers to a remote storage location. This means that instead of storing your information on your computer’s hard drive or external drive like a USB, using cloud storage saves your information on a virtual platform. With an internet connection, you or anyone you allow can immediately get access to this information.
It’s very simple to set up too—once you sign up for the service and setup your device, it automatically pulls information from your device to the cloud. Essentially, your computer or device will send copies of your files over the internet to a data server through a web interface. Once it’s in the web interface, you are free to edit, share and download the data.
Cloud storage advantages
Using a free cloud storage service has several advantages over using traditional storage methods like USB. Here are the five main advantages of cloud storage services:
- Accessibility – Files are accessible from any location. This fosters collaboration between teams as they can download, save and share files on the go.
- Bandwidth – Instead of emailing large files, one can simply send a link via email which allows the recipient to access the file immediately.
- No data loss – Cloud storage provides a backup of all your documents and files in real-time. This means that should you lose the information on your computer, you can still get the most-recent version on the cloud. Furthermore, cloud storage services have adopted security measures that can withstand large cyber attacks.
- Cost savings – Cloud storage is extremely affordable. Businesses often cut a huge chunk of their operational costs by using this service, and with their free tier, you can make use of cloud storage without breaking your wallet.
- Usability – All the free cloud storage services we have reviewed in this article are compatible with most devices. With drag and drop functionality, users can easily move files between the cloud and their local storage.
Free cloud storage: key factors
What should you look for in cloud storage services? One of the most important factors is storage space. Many of the top cloud providers offer a free tier of storage space, but understanding how much space you can get with each provider will help you choose the best one.
Here are other factors to consider:
- Cross-platform apps – You can use cloud services from any device such as your laptop, tablet or smartphone just by accessing the internet. However, to get optimal performance, it’s important to download the storage app directly onto your device. Check whether a cloud storage provider has dedicated apps for all your devices.
- Video and music playback – Some providers allow you to instantly play videos and music within the service, while others force you to download them first before playing.
- User interface – Some platforms are easier to use than others.
- Pricing – At some point you may outgrow the free tier and need to purchase some more storage. Understanding pricing models will help you choose the best one for your budget.
To understand all of these features and which provider offers the best, we decided to look at the five best free cloud storage services in the market.
5 Best Free Cloud Services Reviewed
Google Drive is one of the oldest and most successful in the market. Understandably so, as anyone with a Google account can access the free service.
Let’s start with the pros. The biggest advantage of Google Drive is its cross-platform syncing ability. It’s designed as a cloud service that acts as a hub between your data and everything else you do on the internet. This makes productivity and collaboration a breeze.
You can get 15GB free storage space with Google Drive—not as much as Degoo or Hubic, but still much more than Zoolz and Amazon. Additional storage of 100GB will cost you $1.99 a month, 1TB will cost you $9.99 a month and 10TB will cost you $99.99 a month. It is the most expensive provider on our list, however that is not without reason.
Google Drive allows streaming from the cloud so you don’t have to worry about downloading your videos and music. You can also preview any file type. In addition to that, the Backup and Sync functionality allows you to sync files from your device to the cloud and vice versa. This makes your files accessible offline too.
What about the cons? The biggest concern about Google Drive is privacy. Google collects users information as well as their data for advertising purposes.
Should you wish to compare Google Drive with other cloud storages, please read more about Google Drive alternatives.
Amazon Drive has come a long way since its inception. One of the previous problems people had with the service has been sorted—the service now has a sync client for safe storage as well as cross-platform apps for both Android and iOS. Furthermore, it uses block-level copying. Block level copying only copies the part of a file that has changed rather than copying the entire file. This quickens the syncing process.
When it comes to streaming, Amazon Drive allows you to preview all common file types. You can watch videos, but you cannot listen to music directly from the interface. This should not bother you if you are an Amazon Prime member as Amazon Music can access your music folder to play your music instantly.
Amazon only offers 5GB of photo, video, and file storage in their free tier. However, this is offset by their wide range of plans starting at just $19.99 per year. These plans are good for freelancers and people who want to start small, but also want the flexibility of upscaling at a good price. That being said, 100GB cloud space is still cheaper with Zoolz, Hubic and Degoo.
The company also offers unlimited photo storage to their “Prime” members for $99 a month—not really worth it unless you’re an avid Amazon customer who could do with the sales discounts, free streaming and free shipping attached to this membership.
Amazon Drive has three main disadvantages:
- It doesn’t include productivity integrations like Google Drive does with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and more.
- It doesn’t support file versioning.
- There is no password protection for links.
- If Amazon Drive doesn’t tickle your fancy, read our article about the best Amazon Drive alternatives.
Zoolz is known as a Hybrid solution. Hybrid cloud solutions are considered as superior for business continuity as they store critical data in a different location to their primary systems.
The service offers capabilities that others haven’t yet matched. Features such as facial recognition for photos, optical character recognition and the ability to search the actual content within the files are impressive. It’s also compatible with all major platforms such as Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Windows Mobile.
In addition, Zoolz supports multiple files types including RAW images, 3D and HD videos which you can instantly view within the interface with no buffering. Like most of the other cloud storage services, the service also supports file sharing. Files are shared via a password-protected link which expires after a certain period. Even better, you receive a notification each time someone downloads a file.
Let’s talk about storage and price. Zoolz currently only offers 10GB free storage, bringing it to second last place in terms of free space. Their next plan is the “Starter Pan” going for $19.95 per month. This plan gives you 600GB storage for up to 10 users. Not too bad for the price. They also offer a “Business Plan” which allows you to customize your package according to your needs. Overall, Zoolz gives you more storage for your money than Google Drive and Amazon Drive.
French company OVH hosts over 18 million applications, with Hubic being one of them. The cloud storage provider decided to focus on price as their main selling point—25GB free storage and just $1 per month for their 100GB plan. When looking at their plans, it may seem like a dream, however, we all know the cheapest deal is not always the best. We’ll tell you why in a bit, but let’s first have a look at Hubic’s features.
Hubic’s greatest strength is that it can be used as both a cloud storage and backup service simultaneously. This means that not only does it copy your files to the cloud, it also backups your entire system for disaster recovery purposes. The other providers don’t match up to this. Degoo only offers backup storage while the rest only offer cloud storage.
Cross-platform functionality is not an issue as Hubic has dedicated apps for smartphones, tablets, iPhones, iPads, Windows Phone 8 and Android.
The provider uses a basic filing system similar to what you see in your “Windows File Explorer”. The basic sharing functionality will allow you to share the file link for 5, 10 or 30 days.
Now, down to the disadvantages. Hubic secures files using SSL to prevent unauthorized access, however, the files are not encrypted. This means that anyone who gets access to the Hubic server as well as any Hubic employee can access your files. Lastly, there is little to no support. Users can make use of a help center forum, but there is no tutorial, chat support nor email support.
Degoo is a cloud backup aimed at productivity. This means that there is no web interface, no integrated apps and no file syncing nor scheduling. You cannot stream videos or music with this service. This service is good for people who simply need large storage space with no extra features.
You cannot schedule your own backups on Degoo as the system automatically backups your files every 24 hours. Your files are secure with 256-bit server-side encryption which is said to be military-grade.
Degoo offers the most free storage (100GB) out of all the cloud storage services we reviewed. However, the issue arises when you move past the free tier. The service doesn’t have much flexibility with their plans as it’s either the free option or $9.99 per month for 2TB of cloud space. With that said, 100GB should be plenty of space for most people.
Your decision about this platform is highly dependent on what you’re looking for. If you simply require a place to store your files without the need for fancy features, this is the service for you. If you’re looking for more functionality, a more robust service like Zoolz will do.
“Backup and Sync” fosters two-way syncing between your device and the cloud.
Instant video and music playback including file preview.
Cross-platform apps available for optimum user experience and functionality.
Sync model client folder for safe storage.
File previews allowed for certain types of common files
Block-level file copying for faster syncing capabilities.
Supports multiple files types such as RAW images and HD videos.
Advanced security through hybrid backups
E-discovery automatically sorts your files and makes them more accessible.
Can be used as both a cloud storage and cloud backup service.
Synchronizes files across multiple devices and the cloud.
Basic file storing and sharing capabilities are available.
File compression saves time when uploading to the cloud.
All files are encrypted using military grade encryption.
Backups your data automatically every 24 hours.
So, how do you choose between the five best free cloud storages of 2018? Start by analyzing your needs. Think of how much storage space you will need and decide on which features you want.
If free storage space is your only concern, opt for Degoo as you can get 100GB free storage. If you are collaborating with a team and can make use of a full suite of products, Google Drive will give you that functionality. People who enjoy streaming videos and music can also benefit from Google Drive’s instant playback functions. Zoolz has impressive features like facial recognition and superior document discovery functions.
Lastly, take note that some of of these cloud storage services allow you to increase your storage space through referrals. You may want to consider that too.