Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A comparison of FREE Cloud Storage Services

A comparison of FREE Cloud Storage Services:

Cloud Services Logos
Now that the biggest tech companies in the world are taking aim at Dropbox (with Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon all offering their own cloud storage services), we thought we would compare the FREE cloud storage plans that are out there, in terms of how much free storage space they offer, how easy it is to get it raised, and how much you could get in total. We also compare other pertinent factors that could help you decide which one is best for you.
We tried to list all the “good” cloud storage services; however, there were criteria for inclusion on our list, as well as criteria for exclusion (see below for more info on both). Our list eventually encompassed the following: , Dropbox, Skydrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive , Sugarsync, Glide , CX (Cloud Experience), Memopal, Safecopy, Mimedia, Teamdrive, HiDrive, Comodo Cloud Storage, Spideroak, MegaCloud, Wuala, and Synplicity.
Note: this is a snapshot of the way things were as of our last update: May 1st, 2012. Things could have changed since. If you find an inaccuracy, please let us know in the comments or via email.

How much free storage do I need?

Although the answer to this question is up to you, this issue was explored in a previous post entitled “How much free cloud storage space do you really need?”, which posited that 7 gigs may be the magic number.

Inclusion criteria: what the services have to offer to be on the list

  • A free plan: obviously
  • Desktop folder sync: a desktop client that syncs a local folder or folders with the cloud.  Services that offer this only with a paid plan were excluded. This is also why most ‘file locker’ type services were excluded.

The Comparison

  • Sorting order: the services on the list below are sorted in descending order according to the amount of maximum free storage attainable for each.
  • Recommendations: if you want to know which services we like here at Freewaregenius, go to the ‘recommendations’ section below.
  • Links: go down to the links section for sign-up links. In most cases you will get the initial extra referral bonus.

Cloud ServiceMax File Size Upload [1]Initial Free StorageExtra Free Storage Per FriendMax Storage Ceiling (including max extra bonuses)Supports VersioningOS Phone Apps# of devices supported
Cloud ServiceMax File Size Upload [1]Initial Free StorageExtra Free Storage Per FriendMax Storage Ceiling (including max extra bonuses)Supports VersioningOSPhone Apps# of devices supported
Idrive500MB5GB1GB / referral. 10GB for sharing with your contacts list50GBYesWin, MaciOS, Android1
Sugarsync2GB5GB500MB. A range of tasks will net you extra storage as well.32GBYesWin, MaciOS, Android1
Glideno limits30GBno referral program30GBYesWin, Mac, LinuxiOS, Android6
Dropbox2GB2GB500MB16GBYesWin, Mac, LinuxiOS, Android1
CX (Cloud Experience)no limits10GB300MB16GBYesWin, MaciOS, Android, Kindle Fireunlimited
Memopal5GB3GB500MB13GB [2]YesWin, Mac, LinuxiOS, Android, Blackberry10
Safecopy [3]5GB3GB500MB13GBYesWin, MaciOS, Androidunlimited
Mimedia3GB7GB1GB for each 5 (200MB / friend)12GBNoWiniOS99
Teamdriveno limits2GB250MB10GBYesWin, Mac, LinuxiOS, Androidunlimited
HiDrive2GB5GB5GB for each 10 friends (500MB / friend)10GBNo (not on free plan at least)Win, MaciOS, Android, WP71
Comodo Cloud Storage2GB5 GB200MB10GBYesWiniOS, Android1
Spideroakno limits2GB1GB10GBYesWin, Mac, LinuxiOS, Androidunlimited
MegaCloudno limits5GB500MB10GBYesWin, MaciOS, Android1
Wuala14GB5GB250MB8GBYesWin, Mac, LinuxiOS, Android1 [6]
Skydrive2GB7GBno referral program7GB [4]YesWin, MaciOS, WP7 (3rd party Android Apps)unlimited
Amazon Cloud Drive2GB5GBno referral program5GB [5]We think not [6]Win, MaciOS, Android8
Google Drive2GB5GB + 1GB Picasa storageno referral program5GBYesWin, MaciOS, Androidunlimited
Synplicityno limits2GB1GB5GBYesWin, MaciOS, Android, Kindle Fire2

[1] This will also depend on your browser or OS file size limits

[2] We couldn’t find documentation for this, but found it in practice

[3] Safecopy seems to be a mere rebranded copy of Memopal, with a few minor differences between the two,

[4] Legacy accounts have 25 gigs free, and if you have a Hotmail or MSN account you may be able to get 25 gigs as well (see the recommendations section below)

[5] It may be possible to get more if you’re buying music off of Amazon (see here)

[6] Not 100% sure about this.

Links (intended in many – but not all – cases to start you off with a bonus)

Exclusion criteria: why some services are excluded from the list

  • No desktop client in the free version:, sadly, and Adrive are guilty of this.
  • Maximum attainable free storage @ 2 gigs or less: if you can only get 2 gigs free maximum storage no matter what, we excluded the service. Mozy is an example.
  • Mac only, or requires ownership of an Apple device: Apple’s iCloud, and Dolly Drive were excluded on this basis.
  • Free versions have bandwidth or speed restrictions: with so many options available, we decided to toss out the following services that restrict daily or monthly bandwidth in the FREE version, or restrict upload speed: YouSendIt (1GB/month restriction), OpenDrive (1GB/Day, 200KB max upload speed), FilesyncAnywhere (25MB per file, max 25 files per day) , and Asus WebStorage (500MB per day).
  • Defunct services or ones that are being phased out: ZumoDrive and Windows Live Mesh fall into this category.
  • Unclear or misleading offering: ZenOK was tossed out because it doesn’t know what it is and what it wants to offer.
  • No free plan available: many services were overlooked on this basis.

Our recommendations:

We like SkyDrive, Dropbox, iDrive, and Google Drive. But we also like many of the others.
  • We like Skydrive because you can get it installed on multiple computers at once (on a single account), and you can likely still get the 25 gigs if you have a Hotmail or MSN login, see this link and this LifeHacker article.
  • We like Dropoxbecause it is widespread, such that you will NOT need to ask your friends and collaborators to sign up for something entirely new, since they will likely already have a Dropbox account. It is also being widely used by developers who are creating cloud-related apps. The current maximum free offering (16 gigs) from Dropbox will is on the higher end of the table, and is probably sufficient for most people’s needs.
  • We like iDrivebecause you can get up to 50 gigs of free space, at 1 gig increments per friend.
  • We like Google Drive because we use Gmail and many other Google services.
But we are working on another post that compares these services more thoroughly, including their unique strengths and weaknesses, beyond how much free space they offer. We would like your input.

Appeal to readers

  • Please tell us what you care about in a Cloud Storage service: e.g. number of users, encryption of data transfers,  price per gig for extra storage, whether you cold sync any file or folder easily on demand…. What else is important to you that we missed? We will use this input in a more thorough comparison post to follow this one.

  • Illustration credit: we modified an image found here(for which we are grateful). We are hoping that the fact that the PSD is freely downloadable means that it is ‘Creative Commons’.
  • Thanks go to Alaa K, for doing a lot of the legwork involved in compiling the information above, which turned out to be a very difficult task.
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