Free cloud services compared
Free cloud services compared

Note: Click on the hyperlinked service name to open its web page in a new tab.

Credit: Apple

If you have an iDevice with iOS 5, you already have access to iCloud. It's mainly for backing up your iPhone or iPad, and anything purchased through iTunes — that is, ebooks, music, videos and apps — as well as contacts, calendars and photos synced via Photo Stream, will not be counted towards the free 5GB limit. But you can also back-up things like app data — for example, PDFs that you have in your PDF app, or documents in iWork or all of your text messages. If you do a lot of work on the fly, then this is great, especially given how often mobile devices go missing.

iCloud has a solution for this, too, though: if you enable iCloud location services, you can log-in to iCloud on the web and track your missing gadget on a map — and even wipe it of sensitive information remotely.

Free: 5GB
Subscription: +10GB (15GB total): US$20/year; +20GB (25GB total): US$40/year; +50GB (55GB total): US$100/year
Maximum file size: 25MB for free; 250MB for paid
Compatibility: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Mac OSX Lion, browser
Automatic sync: Yes, but you have to enable it



If you're an Android, BlackBerry PlayBook, Sony Tablet or HP TouchPad user, now is a great time to sign up to Box — for a limited time, you can get 50GB of storage for free. It's a pretty sweet deal, but there is a catch: you have a maximum file-size limit of 100MB, and your accounts won't sync automatically; you have to refresh them manually. If you miss out on the deals, it's even less; a maximum file size of 25MB, and 5GB of space.

If you're a business user, you get a lot for your money, though: 1000GB of space, with a file-size limit of 1GB, as well as automatic syncing.

Free: 5GB; but up to 50GB, according to a special promotion
Subscription: business: 1000GB, US$15/month; enterprise: unlimited storage, pricing TBA
Maximum file size: 25MB; 1GB; enterprise 2GB
Compatibility: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Ovi, Windows Mobile, browser, FTP
Automatic sync: no for Personal users; yes for Business users

Credit: Dropbox


Dropbox has a relatively low amount of space provided with a free account, but there are ways to get more. It also seems to be one of the most versatile services out there, with automatic syncing, wide, multi-platform compatibility and no file-size limits if you're uploading from your desktop application. It's really easy to use, too, and includes SSL encryption to keep your data safe.

Free: 2GB
Subscription: Pro 50: 50GB, US$9.99/month; Pro 100: 100GB, US$19.99/month; Teams: 1TB+, TBA
Maximum file size: no limit if uploaded via the desktop app; 300MB via web browser.
Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, browser, iOS, Android, BlackBerry
Automatic sync: yes, with selective sync option

Credit: Microsoft


SkyDrive is Microsoft's cloud offering, and it offers a lot of storage for a free account — 25GB. It doesn't have subscriptions available yet, but, if these linked screenshots are any indication, it will also have very cheap rates for extra space.

Like Box, it has file-size limitations (a slightly more generous 200MB, soon to be expanded to 2GB), and its compatibility is also limited. That said, if you have a Microsoft Live account, then you already have access to SkyDrive, so you may as well use it. It also has some cool features arriving soon for Windows 8 compatibility, such as secure remote access to your computer.

Free: 25GB
Subscription: coming soon: +20GB (45GB total): US$10/year; +50GB (75GB total): US$25/year; +100GB (125GB total): US$50/year
Maximum file size: 200MB, soon to be 2GB
Compatibility: browser, iOS, Windows Phone
Automatic sync: no

Credit: SugarSync


SugarSync is one of the most value-laden options available. You only get 5GB with a free account, but its subscription prices are cheaper than those of Dropbox, and you don't have a file-size limit. It also backs up automatically, and is compatible with one of the widest ranges of desktop and mobile OSs. Plus, all files are encrypted with 128-bit AES.

Free: 5GB
Subscription: 30GB: US$4.99/month, US$49.99/year; 60GB: US$9.99/month, US$99.99/year; 100GB US$14.99/month, US$149.99/year; 250GB US$24.99/month, US$249.99/year; 500GB US$39.99/month, US$399.99/year
Maximum file size: no maximum file size
Compatibility: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Outlook
Automatic sync: yes

Credit: Amazon

Amazon CloudDrive==

Do you have an Amazon account? Then you already have access to Cloud Drive, and, while you can store documents, photos, videos and music — whatever you like — in Amazon's browser-based service, its biggest value is clearly in its support for your Amazon music purchases. Any MP3 purchases made through the Amazon store are not counted towards your 5GB free limit.

Of course, the best bit of this is unavailable to Australians: any music stored on your Cloud Drive can then be streamed through the Amazon Cloud Player. Boo.

Free: 5GB
Subscription: 20GB: US$20/year; 50GB: US$50/year; 100GB: US$100/year; 200GB: US$200/year; 500GB: US$500/year; 1000GB: US$1000/year
Maximum file size: 2GB
Compatibility: browser; music can be streamed via Amazon Cloud Player
Automatic sync: no

Credit: Google

Google Docs===
Google Docs has the smallest amount of free space available on this list — only 1GB — but it's also a highly specialised service that only stores documents. It is meant to serve as a sort of mobile workplace attached to your Google account, and it's great for always having access to your documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoints. If you want a photo or music-storage service, though, it's probably not the droid you are looking for.

Free: 1GB
Subscription: 20GB: US$5/year; 80GB: US$20/year; 200GB: US$50/year; 400GB: US$100/year; 1TB: US$256/year
Maximum file size: 1GB
Compatibility: web, Android app
Automatic sync: yes

Credit: SpiderOak


SpiderOak is similar to Dropbox in that it allows you to back-up and sync your files, but where Dropbox is a simple, more holistic service, SpiderOak lets you get right into your files and customise down to the last TXT file exactly what you want backed up and synced, and where. You can choose what folders you want to back-up, and even certain file types — or just choose to have them synced between computers.

It is also great for security, using two types of encryption: 2048-bit RSA and 256-bit AES. Additionally, outer-level keys are never stored in plain text — and it's only half the cost of Dropbox.

Free: 2GB
Subscription: 100+GB: US$10/month, US$100/year
Maximum file size: no maximum file size
Compatibility: Mac, Windows, Linux
Automatic sync: yes

Credit: Evernote


Evernote's a bit different to other services in that it doesn't base your subscription on a set amount of space, but rather on a monthly upload limit. Its value lies in its versatility; it's available across a wide range of platforms, and it allows you to sync the notes you create within the app between as many different devices as you like — and you can search them, too, so you can find them easily.

You can make text, audio and photo notes, and you can even add your own external documents. That said, the monthly upload limit indicates that it's more for keeping notes and files in order rather than storing, say, your family holiday snaps or collection of blues MP3s.

Free: 60MB monthly upload limit
Subscription: 1GB monthly upload limit: US$5/month, US$45/year
Maximum file size: 25MB for free account, with 60MB monthly upload limit; 50MB for premium account, with 1GB monthly upload limit
Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Palm, web, Windows Phone
Automatic sync: yes, but you have to enable it

Credit: ADrive


If you want 50GB, ADrive is a pretty neat way to get it free, and, with a 2GB file-size limit, it's a great deal. What you pay for when you upgrade to a Signature account isn't more storage space — it's FTP, file history, SSL encryption, the ability to hold multiple concurrent sessions (say, if you're sharing files with someone), 24/7 support and an absence of ads — which, for US$6.95 a month, is an attractive package.

Free: 50GB
Subscription: 50GB: US$6.95/month, US$69.50/year; premium 100+GB: US$13.95/month, US$139.50/year
Maximum file size: 2GB
Compatibility: Windows, Linux, Mac
Automatic sync: yes

Do you have a favourite cloud service that we missed? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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