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Best free cloud storage service of 2020

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Blackboard)

With the rise of cloud storage in general, we have of course seen an increase in the amount of freebie cloud storage lockers. While these can be seen as a vehicle for getting users on board, with a view to them subsequently signing up for a subscription plan to get more storage, you can still get plenty of capacity for nothing in the world of free cloud storage. A surprising amount, in some cases, as you’ll see.

But given the many offerings out there – and the many different ways in which they work in terms of being able to up your storage limit without necessarily having to pay – it can be difficult to choose the right free cloud storage service.

That’s where we come in, and in this guide we’re going to break down the pros and cons of some of the top cloud storage products currently among the massed ranks of freebie solutions.

Read on to find out our picks for the best free cloud storage providers, the most suitable of which will, of course, depend on your exact needs. Raw storage capacity isn’t everything, and some users may be more interested in the security offered, or perhaps other features like a diverse range of apps across many platforms, or ease-of-use of the client interface.

Take Degoo Cloud for what it is – a backup service focused on photo uploads from mobile devices – and it scores relatively highly.

1. Degoo free cloud storage

The biggest free cloud storage company in the world right now

Free storage: 100GB | Max file size: Unlimited

Available on multiple mobile platforms
Slick and intuitive interface
Free tier with 100GB of storage space
Upload speeds can be hit and miss
No desktop application, just a web app
Short on serious backup features

Degoo may not be a name you’ve heard of before, and indeed it was only formed back in 2019, but the Swedish firm has managed to make a big impact on the cloud storage scene in a very short timeframe nonetheless.

So what has made it attractive enough to quickly pick up a large user base (some 18 million plus), and indeed be rated top of our best free cloud storage rankings? The headline storage capacity is certainly a big draw, as you get 100GB on the free tier, which is a huge chunk of space compared to rivals.

Even better, Degoo has partnered with us to give TechRadar readers double that storage for the first year. 200GB of cloud storage for nothing is a pretty impressive offering to say the least (although note that it will revert back to the standard 100GB after that initial year is over).

Other strengths of Degoo include 256-bit AES end-to-end encryption to keep your files secure, and two-factor authentication using your Google account. It also offers some nifty benefits for uploading and storing photos, including AI routines which are designed to help surface your best snaps.

Note that the free plan is advert-supported, and also lacks ‘zero knowledge’ encryption and some other features which are reserved for paying subscribers. There’s also a stipulation that if you don’t use your free account for 90 days, your files will be ditched.

Those caveats are a relatively small price to pay though, given the amount of free storage you’re getting here, and folks looking for an alternative to the big players won’t do any better than Degoo, certainly when it comes to capacity.

Exclusive Degoo 10TB cloud storage backup | $239.76 $99.99 for 2-years (58% off)
TechRadar and Degoo have partnered to provide a one-off exclusive. You can get a staggering 10TB of storage for just $99.99 for two years. That’s a 58% saving compared to the standard price of $9.99 per month, and is exclusive to TechRadar. It's a price that's far less than the cloud storage competition. That price is a locked-down one as well and will not change.View Deal

100GB Koofr Cloud Storage with Lifetime subscription - $29.99 at StackCommerce
While most other cloud storage providers charge monthly subscription fees, Koofr offers a lifetime subscription regardless of whether you choose its 100GB, 250GB or 1TB plan. You can access your files stored on its servers from the web, mobile and even using WebDav.View Deal

With the self-hosted model available on NextCloud, you get extra security and privacy options, and the amount of storage you have access to is completely up to you.

2. NextCloud free cloud storage

One of the best DIY cloud storage solutions

Open source platform
Huge amount of flexibility
Packed with features
Software can be a bit clunky
Takes more time to implement
Backups are your responsibility

Nextcloud is a popular open source file sync and online collaboration solution. More specifically, it’s a free piece of software which you can use to implement a cloud storage service on your own server, with all the benefits therein in terms of precise control.

So yes, it’s true that this isn’t an online cloud storage provider in itself, but there’s enough power and flexibility in this solution that it’s well worth highlighting – with the obvious caveat being that you need to know what you’re doing when it comes to putting all this together.

There are other benefits of this DIY approach to cloud storage, with the fact that the server is local to your network obviously being great news in terms of speeds, and of course security (you are free to use whatever encryption you might want, and you can go to town on that front).

All that said, we do come back to the point that you must know what you’re doing with Nextcloud, and that’s particularly important on the security front (the last thing you want to do is leave holes in the system which could be used to compromise your data).

For those who don’t have the necessary technical know-how to pull all this off, it is possible to buy a preconfigured Nextcloud Box with a 1TB disk that can be used in conjunction with a simple Raspberry Pi (the famous compact computer board) to keep your data synced. 

Nextcloud offers some powerful features including the ability to share documents and collaborate on them, as well as syncing files. Indeed, it bills itself as a “self-hosted productivity platform” offering not just collaboration facilities but a communication platform featuring Slack-style chat, plus video calls and much more.

Mega is one of the best cloud storage services around, though it lacks the suite of apps you get from the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Dropbox.

3. Mega free cloud storage

Cloud storage with a premium on security

Free storage: 50GB | Maximum file size: Unlimited

Easy-to-use UI
Extremely generous free offering
Sync client is open source
Basic business support
Limited extra apps and add-ons
Lacks collaboration options

Mega is a well-known cloud storage provider with a free plan that offers you a good chunk of storage, at least to begin with. Initially, you get 50GB for free – which is far more than the likes of Google or Microsoft will give you – but note that this is just for the first 30 days.

After that, you will be reduced back down to 15GB, although that’s still a reasonable capacity for a free service – and you can always earn more Gigabytes through Mega’s ‘achievements’ (essentially rewards for taking various actions).

Mega says that those running the free plan get the same fast transfer speeds as paying subscribers, with no throttling of performance for free users, which is good to hear.

This cloud storage operation is also transparent in that Mega makes the source code of the sync client available, so security pros can rifle through it and help to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities in the software.

The service offers end-to-end encryption for your files, with user-friendly apps for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as Android and iOS (the mobile apps also include voice and video chat facilities, along with messaging, which is also encrypted).

Note that Mega has a bunch of paid plans for businesses which offer vast amounts of storage (up to 16TB) and various premium features like password protection, or the ability to set expiry dates for files which have been made public.

Overall, Mega has some impressive functionality on offer, and the free plan is one of the better ones out there, although the company should make it clearer that you don’t get to keep 50GB of storage forever on the free tier (but as mentioned, your storage amount is tied to completing the various ‘achievements’).

iCloud Drive has made significant strides forward in recent years, and is now much better placed to take on the likes of OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox.

4. Apple iCloud free cloud storage

Apple’s competitively priced cloud storage

Free storage: 5GB | Maximum file size: Unlimited

Reasonable pricing
Tight integration with Apple’s platforms
No Android support at all
Still lacks some advanced features
Very few options for power users

Apple’s iCloud is, of course, one of the big names in the cloud storage world, and it offers a backup and sync service. iCloud can be used to back up your photos, videos, contacts, calendars, documents, notes, as well as the likes of bookmarks and other data, all of which is seamlessly synced across your iOS devices (plus you can access that data from a Mac or PC via a web browser).

iCloud has 5GB of storage on the free tier, which isn’t very generous, but the good news is that any photos – which are automatically backed up online by the Photo Stream feature – don’t count towards that limit. So that could effectively give you a lot more capacity if one of the primary considerations for your cloud storage is photos (you can, of course, buy more capacity as well; at pretty reasonable rates too).

Similarly, there are other files which get a free pass in this respect, and don’t count towards your 5GB storage limit with a freebie iCloud account, and they include media purchased from iTunes, or stuff you’ve bought from the App Store or Apple Books. 

Naturally, iCloud is a service which is targeted primarily at Apple users, whether that’s iPhone or iPad owners, or Mac users, although those running Windows can sync files with iCloud Drive, and are able to access features like the ability to share folders with friends directly from File Explorer on the desktop.

A bare bones file sharing service, Mediafire is missing many of the useful features that are standard with its peers

A bare bones file sharing service, Mediafire is missing many of the useful features that are standard with its peers

5. MediaFire free cloud storage

A highly experienced cloud storage operator

Free storage: 10GB (up to 50GB) | Maximum file size: 4GB

Can boost free storage to 50GB
Impressive UI and sharing options
No desktop app
No file previews
No sync
No encryption

MediaFire is a veteran player in the cloud storage industry with a free account which gives you 10GB of capacity. That might seem rather thin on the ground, particularly compared to some of the rival free services we’ve mentioned here, but you can up it considerably.

Taking actions like referring friends to sign up with MediaFire, or simply following the company’s social media sites, or installing the mobile app, garners extra storage space – and this can add up to a maximum of 50GB. That’s a very useful amount of free storage, and note that these bonuses don’t expire (which can be the case with additional storage accumulated on other services).

MediaFire allows for large files to be uploaded (up to 4GB in size), and it’s dead easy to share files with others (they don’t have to subscribe to the service, either). This provider gives you the ability to use one-time links, as well, when sharing more sensitive material with others – these ensure that the recipient won’t be able to pass the link on to anyone else.

There are no bandwidth or download limits with MediaFire either, although do note that downloads are ad-supported on the free plan.

Uploading files via the web-based interface is a simple matter of dragging and dropping, plus you get mobile apps on both Android and iOS. Another neat touch is that you don’t even need to sign up at all to check the service out – just open the web client, and you can try MediaFire as a trial user (although note that such accounts which aren’t registered to an email address will be deemed abandoned after 14 days of inactivity, and will therefore be deleted).

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