There are many services offering free cloud storage, but their offerings are all slightly different. Today I’m comparing the top 4: Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud and Google Drive.
The Dropbox basic plan gives you 2GB of storage for free, but you can get 500MB of additional free storage for every referral. The referral limit is up to 16GB, so you could end up with 18GB of storage if you can manage to sign up 32 friends. Of course, this isn’t very realistic, so you should probably base your assumptions on having 2GB of storage.
Dropbox has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. Additionally, you can access all your files through dropbox.com (which works very well in my opinion). One of Dropbox’s most popular features is the collaboration tools. You can easily share files and folders with people by giving them a link, or you can share directly if they also have a Dropbox account.
Microsoft OneDrive will give you 5GB of storage for free, a nice bump up from 2GB. Just like with Dropbox, you can get 500MB of additional free storage for every referral, but the referral limit for OneDrive is 10GB, meaning you could potentially end up with 15GB of storage.
OneDrive integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office on Windows. As long as you’re signed into the same account, you can save documents straight to your OneDrive without going through the file explorer. As well as being preinstalled on many Windows computers, OneDrive has apps for iOS, Android, and macOS. Just like Dropbox, you can access your files through onedrive.live.com, where you can also generate sharing links.
iCloud offers 5GB of free storage to people using Apple products and it doesn’t cost much to get more. If you need more than 5GB, it will only set you back 79p per month to upgrade to 50GB. Unlike Dropbox and OneDrive, there is no way to increase your free allowance. The problem with iCloud is that without an iPhone, iPad or Mac, you are limited to a measly 1GB of storage.
If you have an iDevice, then you’re probably already using iCloud. Many of the apps pre-installed on iPhones will sync your data to iCloud. For example, the photos app has the option to automatically upload your photos to iCloud, so you don’t lose any photos if your phone is lost or damaged. iCloud can be accessed through the web browser at icloud.com, or you can download the iCloud Sync app for Windows. iCloud isn't supported on Android, whereas Apple products have iCloud built-in.
Google Drive is the most generous on this list because it gives you 15GB of storage for free. All you need is a Google account and you’re sorted. The Google Drive app is available on iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS (built-in). If you don’t have the app installed, you can still access all your files at drive.google.com.
One of my favourite features of Google Drive is the way it handles photos. If you want to store high-resolution images at original quality, you can save them in folders with the rest of your files where they will use some of your 15GB. If you are happy to sacrifice a bit of quality, then the Google Photos app will compress your photos and let you store them for free. Google Drive also ties in nicely with Docs, Sheets, and Slides which are part of Google’s free office suite.
If you look from the perspective of free storage space, Google Drive wins hands down because it offers the most storage. On the other hand, storage isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a cloud service. If you only use the cloud for storing small files such as documents, you may be happy with less storage. An important part of a cloud service is its ability to integrate with your workflow. For me, I already use Google Docs for writing all my blogs, so I find it very convenient to use Google Drive for my other files. In addition, I use an Android smartphone which is well integrated with Google services.
If you use Apple products, you might be better off with iCloud. The integration with apps such as Photos and Contacts means the hard work is already done for you. The 5GB limit might be an issue if you want to sync photos, so, for this reason, I would recommend downloading the Google Photos app where you can use your 15GB of free Google Drive storage.