[Off-the-Topic] Top 4 Free Cloud Storage Options in 2015

Since more people are using mobile devices for writing and sharing content and files, cloud storage is becoming ever more popular – specifically, cloud storage programs that utilize mobile apps as part of the program’s offerings. Why lock away your files on a computer C drive when you can have them on-the-go? Sharing files has never been easier than in recent years. Many of these cloud storage options might sound familiar, like Google Drive or Dropbox, but what makes them stand out from others? Here, we will discuss the top four cloud storage options that anyone can quickly download and use for free.

1) Dropbox

Dropbox tends to be a favorite cloud storage platform, mostly in part due to the ease of use as well as the mobile app offerings. Dropbox offers not only a web login to access your information, but is also downloadable as an app on your Mac or PC, as well as its availability for iOS, Android, Linux and Blackberry.

Dropbox offers a free, basic account that  does not offer much storage space – only 2GB, which is just about as much as a cheap USB drive from a drug store. This kind of space works for simple documents, but for photo storage and other media, it just won’t cut it. For this reason, Dropbox allows for some creative ways to upgrade.  Try 500MB upgrades for each friend you refer to sign up to the service, with a limit of 16GB, and other ways to get more storage include linking your account to Facebook and Twitter for an extra 125MB each, or setting up a Mailbox account which will offer up to a 1GB increase. For 250MB extra, take a tour of the Dropbox basics; and for 3GB extra, simply enable the mobile app’s camera upload feature to automatically backup your smartphone or tablet’s photos to the cloud.

Dropbox also offers affordable options to purchase more storage, of course, but the free options are definitely an asset for any individual on-the-go.

2) Google Drive

For all the Google fans out there, Google Drive is currently one of the online services that the company offers, and might be one of the more popular features for the commercial user. Google hands out 15GB of free space with just an account setup, which can even be linked to an existing Google account or Gmail inbox. While the automatic 15GB is a generous amount, Google Drive currently has no offering of adding extra storage through friend referrals or social media synchronization – other than the 100GB free for two years if you purchase a Chromebook.

Google Drive offers a similar setup to Dropbox, with a local folder on your PC linked to its partner in the cloud. While this feature works for PC and Mac as well as mobile versions for Android and iOS, Google has held off on an option for Microsoft Windows’ phone. It is safe to assume that, as these two companies are fierce competitors, we shouldn’t expect this option in the near future.

Google Drive is an excellent free option for those already using Google for work or personal email, as well as those who are using platforms like YouTube, Google Music and more.

3) Microsoft OneDrive

Previously referred to as SkyDrive, Microsoft’s OneDrive is similar to Dropbox in many ways, except that they offer 15GB of free storage up front. One similarity to Dropbox is that users are able to gain 500MB of free storage for every successful referral made, and there is also an additional 3GB offering of storage for users who link OneDrive to their mobile phone’s camera roll, enabling an automatic backup to photos and videos stored on the device. OneDrive’s limit for referral system additions is 5GB, so as a whole, free storage on OneDrive can offer a user up to 20GB of storage. Even better, if you’re on Office 365, you get 1TB of OneDrive storage as part of the monthly subscription fee.

OneDrive also offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS – and obviously, Windows phone users. Also, OneDrive is going social just like Dropbox in that multiple social networks are available to be linked to your account, making it easier to share files with friends and family (as well as putting a security option on files,taking them from being a read-only file up to full editing ability).

4) Box

Box has been around longer than its mostly-mistaken-for counterpart Dropbox, but is lesser known among commercial users as a free platform since the company has poured its focus into the enterprise side of its business for years. Box’s free storage options begin generously at 10GB of space for any new user, but the drawback on this is that file sizes are limited to 250MB for each upload. While this doesn’t cause much of a problem for most files, it will most likely be problematic for sharing of any photo and video files.

Next time you think about backing up your data, consider the apps above. If you use other helpful apps and would like to share, please comment in the box below. I’d love to hear what works for you!

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