Free cloud storage is an online storage offered free by a cloud computing company. Storing files online is nothing new to the computing world. FTP, WebDAV and online backup were in the arena for quite some time already. What makes cloud storage different from peers is its expanded set of functionality. These include but are not limited to auto backup, auto sync, advanced file sharing and collaboration, anytime anywhere access, cross platform compatibility including mobile, and etc. Many of these cloud storage companies work on freemium model by which a certain amount of cloud storage is provided free of charge, and premium is charged for larger online storage. Features and functions you should look for before using a free cloud storage are listed below.
Capacity & Expandability
Storage capacity is the first factor to consider when choosing free cloud storage providers. It would be inconvenient and tedious to move from one provider to another as you run out of space. Many providers award you extra free space if you refer your friends to their services. Some providers set the maximum referral bonus you can achieve while a few others have no cap for your bonus. Popular free cloud service Dropbox offers 2GB free, and its closet competitor Sugarsync offers 5GB free. Maximum referral bonus you can receive for Dropbox is 8GB while Sugarsync has no limit. The more you refer, the more bonuses you get. For a limited time, cloud storage provider JustCloud offers free unlimited storage if you refer two friends.
In the age of cloud computing, you should no longer need to backup manually. Many cloud services can do auto backup in real time, and keep the history of your files for one month. In case the provider in your interest doesn’t support auto backup, it may not worth consideration.
Auto Sync & Selective Sync
If you use more than one computing devices, you may have experienced that your files being spread across different computers. It would be time consuming to organize and sync all the documents across your desktop, laptop and tablets. With cloud storage, your files are automatically synced across your devices – your office PC, home Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc. No more hassle.
File Sharing & Collaboration
Sharing a file has never been easier with cloud storage. You can forget about the file size limit which we all encountered when we shared files through email. Most cloud storage services provide file sharing features which you can use to share a file or folder with ease. Folders can be password protected, and you can also set permission so that files are read-only and can be edited only by the selected individuals.
Cloud storage are accessible from most web browsers, but you need an application installed on your devices so that files are auto backup to cloud and synced to other devices. So you should check whether there is an application for your operating system. Some applications are PC only, no Mac. Providers like Box.com offer genrous 5GB but don’t provide their applications free users. Popular e-commerce giant Amazon.com also offer 5GB free, but doesn’t have any desktop application.
Believe it or not, we are now in the age of mobile computing. iPhone, iPad, Android, other smart phones & tablets are quickly taking the roles of laptop and netbook. It was said that number of mobile computing users will soon surpass that of desktop users. You need to check out whether the provider in interest has apps for your tablets and smart phones.
The main concern you should have when choosing a provider is security. Most providers will boast that they use secured file transfer with AES encryption. But you need to think twice if you are going to open a free cloud storage account with an unknown provider. What if hackers camouflage themselves as service provider?
You should also check the price of their paid plans too. Your data will grow over time, and you may one day need to upgrade to paid plan. Some providers offer larger free space up front, but if you want more space and buy a subscription, their price may be a little higher than that of other providers.
Not all people are tech savvy, and support is what makes providers different. Most providers offer knowledge base system and email support. Some providers has chat and phone support, but it is not free.
Free Cloud Storage to Consider
JustCloud – unlimited free cloud storage if you refer 2 friends
CX – immediately get 10GB, no need to refer friends
Dropbox – super simple solution, immediately get 2GB, refer 32 friends to expand your Dropbox to 10GB