The 3 Best (Free or Nearly Free) Cloud Storage Providers
DropBox announced recently that, going forward, pricing for the Pro version of their cloud storage service would be dropping to just $9.99/month, or $99 for a whole year. It’s about time, too; many of DropBox’s fiercest competitors have had them beat, pricing wise, for quite some time.
What this drives home, however, is the fact that cloud storage is cheaper than ever. DropBox Pro offers 1TB of online storage, and at $99 per year, that works out to just a little less than 10 cents per gigabyte.
So why isn’t cloud storage free by now? The onslaught of free apps in the mobile marketplace has clearly demonstrated that there’s a strong market for “freemium” products and services, so where’s the ad-supported, unlimited-capacity cloud storage solution we’re all waiting for?
If there’s one out there, I haven’t heard about it. For right now, the fierce competition among cloud storage providers will continue to drive the price of the gigabyte closer and closer to zero. We’re just not there yet.
In the meantime, have you decided on a cloud storage provider for yourself yet? As our lifestyles become increasingly more mobile and the onboard storage in our smartphones and laptops continues to shrink, there will only be more and more opportunities in our daily routines where storing our important stuff in the cloud will come in handy.
Here’s a brief look at three of the best cloud storage providers out there right now to help you make your decision.
I’m going to start with what I hope becomes the new de-facto cloud storage solution for American consumers. With threats from hackers and our own government making cloud users nervous about privacy concerns, Mega likes to remind us that they owe allegiance to neither gods nor kings.
A quote on the Mega homepage, taken from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, serves as a reminder that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family… or correspondence.” Good enough for me. Oh, and signing up for Mega will snag you a cool 50GB for free, so there’s that, too.
This is the one that started it all. DropBox didn’t invent cloud storage, but they were unquestionably instrumental in popularizing it. Every new DropBox user gets 2GB of storage space to start with, which feels paltry next to Mega, but should be enough for most users’ documents and photos. After you sign up, you can earn even more space by referring friends, writing a testimonial on social media, and more. None of it takes more than a couple minutes to accomplish. To date, I’ve added an additional 7GB or so onto my initial 2GB, and I still haven’t felt a need to upgrade to the paid version of the service.
The reason DropBox shines is that they’ve obviously spent a huge amount of time and effort making it truly multi-platform. The desktop, mobile, and web interfaces are all clean, polished, and extremely easy to use.
Something of an unsung hero in the cloud storage world, SugarSync is also one of the longest-running. Where SugarSync really stands out is in its versatility: you can use it like a more traditional cloud sync option, wherein you receive a virtual drive (a folder, really) on your computer that syncs with the cloud, or you can use SugarSync to selectively back up certain folders and directories for safekeeping in the cloud. If you don’t want the hassle of backing up your computer to a physical drive, this is a great compromise.
Like DropBox, SugarSync has a free option (a slightly more generous 5GB), but pricing for its tiered options is a little steeper, with the 100GB plan priced at $9.99.
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