Fortunately, most of the services we've included also have free trials, and any storage provider worth its salt is going to give you a few gigabytes of space for free anyway to try to get you to stick around.
Let's take a look at a few of the major cloud storage providers and see how pricing stacks up.
A few things you should know
Most cloud storage providers give you the opportunity to earn free space, either by spamming your friends with referral requests or as part of a promotion with another company. Dropbox, for example, will give you up to 16GB free through various activities, including getting your buddies to sign up.
It's possible to get enough cloud storage to suit your needs without spending a penny, as long as your needs are within certain boundaries.
Also, there are usually corporate pricing options, which may get you a buttload of space at your boss's expense, so it's worth asking about that, too. And services like Box have options for multiple users. The following comparison is of personal services.
Dropbox is one of the staples of the cloud storage game and a name that most will be familiar with. It has one of the weakest free tiers you'll find, but you can bump that without charge by referring other people to sign up. One of the added bonuses of Dropbox is that many apps hook into it, meaning it's more than just your files that can live there. You'll probably have to pay to get the most from it, but at 1TB for $9.99 it's no more expensive than Google Drive, and you'll get decent value from it.
- 2GB for free
- 1TB for $9.99 a month
Microsoft's cloud storage offers a compelling product at a decent price, as paying for 1TB you also get an Office 365 personal subscription. This allows you to install one copy of Microsoft Office on a Mac or PC, use on a tablet or phone, and some bundled Skype minutes. Not everyone will want or need this, but it does offer something the competition doesn't.
Microsoft doesn't offer the most when it comes to free storage, but its advantages start to shine through as you look for more in the paid tiers. While the prices below are monthly rates, it's possible to pre-pay should you go for the Office 365 options, to save a little by buying yearly.
- 5GB for free
- 50GB for $1.99 a month
- 1TB for $6.99 month (Office 365 personal for one user)
- 1TB for $9.99 a month (Office 365 home for five users)
Box is probably more of a business tool than something you'll trust your personal cloud files to, but it offers a reasonable free tier along with mobile apps available across platforms. But when you start paying, the value for the money goes down substantially. Ten dollars a month for 100GB just isn't good enough.
- 10GB for free
- 100GB for $10 a month
What Mega promises is ultimate security with end-to-end encryption for your files and a whopping 50GB of free space to fill up when you set up an account.
It also offers a range of "pro" paid accounts with varying levels of storage and bandwidth allowances. But when it comes to free storage, nothing else comes close in terms of quantity. Mega pricing only seems to be available in Euros, so the dollar equivalent value is correct at the time of writing based on exchange rates.
- 50GB for free
- 200GB for €4.99 a month ($5.87)
- 500GB for €9.99 a month ($11.75)
- 2TB for €19.99 amonth ($23.52)
- 4TB for €29.99 a month ($35.28)
Your Google Drive storage is actually split across three different Google products so it's important to take that into consideration. Gmail, Photos, and Drive-stored files all go towards whatever your limit may be. But, if you're a user of Google Docs, Sheets or Slides, anything you create in these apps won't count towards your limit.
Part of the strength of Google Drive is that it doesn't promise "unlimited" storage, instead offering some massive tiers to satisfy the neediest of users. However high you go, the price per terabyte remains the same.
- 15GB for ree
- 100GB for $1.99 a month
- 1TB for $9.99 a month
- 10TB for $99.99 a month
- 20TB for $199.99 a month
- 30TB for $299.99 a month
There's more to consider than only pricing. But, how much you get for how little is probably the first thing you're going to consider.
So, which one do we recommend? If you're looking at spending absolutely no money then you can't ignore Mega. It won't suit everyone, but if you want the most you can get for absolutely nothing, it's currently untouchable. Google is a distant second with a respectible 15GB free allocation.
When it comes to paying, Microsoft offers the best all-around value proposition for Windows users. A terabyte for $6.99 a month is as cheap as you can get from these choices. Throw in the Microsoft Office apps as well and you've got a superb package.
Box is really the only one we don't recommend. Its pricing just doesn't offer good enough value per gigabyte for consumers.
Updated October 24, 2017: We added Google Drive to the list and ensured all pricing is up to date.
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