Best Free Cloud Storage: EVERYTHING You Need to Know in 2021

Best Free Cloud Storage: EVERYTHING You Need to Know in 2021

What is the best free Cloud storage for 2021 – that’s a question many people ask. We have an idea, and we are going to “colibrate” it with you. 

You have probably noticed it – since last year we are spending more time online. 

By saying “Online,” we don’t mean Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but the general usage of the Internet – Zoom video calls, project planning on Monday.com or Trello, task management on Jira, and document management on the cloud. Maybe we should have started the list with the cloud, as the lockdown made us take the office home, and that includes all the documents that we had previously on the servers. 

That made online storage one of the most used software. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, we were using it a lot for storing photos, video, music… With the fear of new lockdowns, the companies are doing everything possible to get their data online and have their employees keep working out of the office. 

There are many solutions for online storage – some ancient, like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, and many new ones, as Sync, IceDrive, pCloud. All of them offer paid storage and free cloud storage. We are sure that sooner or later, each of us will find our own favorite paid cloud storage, but first, we need to test them all, free of charge, to find the best free Cloud storage. Our job is to help you with that choice and to evaluate each worthy cloud on the market.   

We are going to update the list with each new software we test – and, we will post complete reviews separately, too. The first several that we had evaluated are close one to the other, but we tried to put them in the list of our preferences, each one being slightly better than the next one. 

Best Free Cloud Storage (in 2021) : 

Here is our list for the best free cloud storage of the year. Use the links to navigate directly to the reviews – or go to the conclusion for our #1 choice:

  1. pCloud
  2. kDrive
  3. Mega
  4. Sync
  5. IceDrive
  6. Dropbox
  7. Conclusion (lazy option)

Our points of comparison of the services: 

  • They have to offer free storage, and … Size matters!
  • On how many and which Operational systems you can use them
  • Does it offer advanced sharing – with download links and shared folders
  • For how long you can keep deleted files in the trash bin and restore them
  • Does it propose online file editing, a virtual office, or Online Office
  • How many languages it supports – on the web platform and the technical support
  • How secure it is  – two-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption (client-side encryption)
  • Where is the storage located – data centers (as by that it depends which law the provider follows)
  • What are the paid offers when you need more storage? 

Let us start this list now. Please be patient. 

1. pCloud – the Best Free Cloud Storage for 2021

Founded in 2013 in Switzerland, pCloud now has over 14 million users worldwide and offers you for free up to 10 GB. You start with 2 GB, but very quickly, with easy steps, you get up to 8 GB. The last 2 GB you get when you invite two friends to join for free, which you can quickly do with a temporary email address creator and two fake accounts.

It’s available on Windows, macOS, Linux, as well iOS, and Android. The web platform is available in 10 languages, and the tech support is in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian.  

The desktop app is very advanced – it creates a virtual drive (one of the very few services with a drive), you can create a synchronization between a local and cloud folder, you can also share folders or get a download link directly from the desktop app. One minor disadvantage of their backup and sync is that it’s only bidirectional – all you do in one end replicates on the other. The desktop app is available in English, French, Spanish, and German so far. 

The security is the best about this service – they offer a two-step verification and pCloud Crypto – unbeatable end-to-end encryption (which is a paid option but totally worth it if you have sensitive data).

In 2016 pCloud offered $100 000 to any hacker that could break into a designated Crypto folder. Six months and 2860 participants later – no one succeeded. 

As a Swiss company, pCloud is GDPR compliant. 

As a bonus point, the data centers of pCloud are in Dallas, Texas, the United States, and in Luxembourg, the European Union. The two are entirely separate, meaning nobody from the United States can get to your data if your data is hosted in the EU data center. 

As for the features, pCloud is one of the best Cloud storage choices – branded download links with stats, upload links to a folder, shared collaboration folders between users. You can restore deleted files starting from 15 days for the free accounts up to 365 days as an add-on. This is also one of the very few services to offer a backup of Google Photos, Google Drive, Dropbox, Facebook, and OneDrive. 

And the last point – the paid offers. pCloud proposes 500 GB and 2 TB scalable individual Premium Plans, a Family plan of 2 TB for up to 5 users, and a Business plan, 1 TB per user, starting from 3 users. The biggest benefit of pCloud – the Lifetime option. For one single payment, you can get personal or family cloud storage, which pays off in less than three years. It’s definitely worth checking out.

ProsCons
EU servers
End-to-end encryption available as a paid add-on
Advanced sharing options
Lifetime option for paid plans
Wide language support
No Online Office for document editing
The client-side encryption is a paid add-on

TRY pCLOUD BASIC FREE

2. kDrive – The Second-best Free Cloud Storage

kDrive was as well born in Switzerland as a son of the web hosting service Infomaniak. It offers 3 GB free Cloud storage. Like pCloud, kDrive’s data centers are in Switzerland, making the service compliant with Swiss laws and GDPR. That, together with the two-factor authentication, is a strong point for the security of your data. Unfortunately, so far, they do not offer end-to-end encryption, as pCloud, but we do not doubt that we will see that coming soon. 

The strongest point of kDrive, which puts it in the second place, is the online collaborative platform, which includes an online document Office, webmail, calendar, contacts book, and online meeting solution. That even made us consider giving kDrive first place! Unfortunately, they still lack end-to-end data encryption. Plus, the paid plans, though very attractive, don’t have the Lifetime payment option that pCloud offers. Thus, pCloud is still the most cost-vs-quality effective solution in our book, though kDrive comes with attractive perks.

kDrive is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux as a synchronized folder. On their web platform, they use EN / FR / ES / DE / IT – the same goes for their online tech support. They are the only ones who offer chat and phone support, Monday to Friday on Swiss labor time. 

 You can share download links and collaborate in shared folders; unfortunately, the upload links (which they call DropBox) are a Premium option. The trash bin keeps the files up to 180 days. 

At the end – the paid options: a 2 TB Solo account, a Team account for up to 6 users, starting from 3 TB and scalable up to 18 TB, and Pro plan, starting from 3 users with 2 TB each. These plans are available as a monthly and annual subscription, with some discounts if you pay at once for 1, 2, or 3 years.

ProsCons
EU servers
Online Office for document editing
Advanced sharing options
A large paid storage
A variety of paid Business features
Only 3 GB free storage
No Lifetime paid plan
No end-to-end encryption

TRY kDrive FREE

3. MEGA – a Mega-third best Cloud storage

You have probably already heard of Mega from New Zealand. Started in 2013 by the famous Kim Dotcom, it has become a symbol of generosity – they are offering up to 50 GB for free for the first year, starting from 20 GB, getting the rest on steps of 5 GB. Unfortunately, they take back those 30 GB after one year – and, there is no way to get them back. Still, 20 GB is something which, at the moment, no one else gives for free. 

The servers of this storage provider are New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union (they do not provide info on the country). Two-factor authentication is provided, along with end-to-end encryption. Another security option that we like is the possibility to remotely log off other devices that you had used and the option to wipe all metadata when you log off. 

The service is available on web platforms in 50 languages, on computers with macOS, Windows, Linux, mobiles with iOS / Android, and, as a bonus, CMD for all above and NAS QNAP / Synology. 

Mega does not provide an Online Office and online document editing. Still, it provides a secure chat solution, audio-video conferencing, collaborative shared folder, download links, and a MEGA drop folder that allows anyone to upload files to your MEGA cloud, even if they don’t have an account. The trash bin has a 30-days limit, extendable to 365 with a Pro plan. 

The storage plans of Mega are quite generous as well. Starting from 400 GB, you can also get 2, 8, or 16 TB of storage, billed monthly or annually. A Business plan is as well proposed, billed per user monthly.  Our general opinion on Mega is positive – the platform lacks Online Office and Lifetime payment but provides A LOT of secured storage. 

ProsCons
A mix of servers
End-to-end encryption
Advanced sharing options
Massive free storage 20GB (up to 50)
Wide language support
No Lifetime paid plan
No online Office for document editing

TRY MEGA FREE

4. Sync.com – 5 GB from Canada, Some of the Best Cloud Storage Features

Sync was founded in 2011, serves 1.7 million registered users, and proposes 5 GB of free storage. It offers desktop apps for Windows and Mac, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android. The interface of the app and the web platform is very minimalist and in English only. 

The strongest point of Sync is the security: End-to-end encryption of the data, two-factor authentication, an automatic log-out of the browser session, and configuration on proxy for the desktop app.  The data center of the service is in Canada.

The trash bin and the file versioning are 30 days, up to 365 for the Premium accounts. The free Sync Starter plan allows you to create a maximum of 3 shared folders, which we do not like. At least, you can set up password-protected download links, but again all other features are limited to the Premium accounts.

You have an option to modify files online, but only if you have an Office 365 account; a file preview is reserved for the Premium users. 

Sync comes strong with the paid plans. You can choose between 2 TB and 6 TB Solo plans and a Small or Unlimited Teams plan, where the prices are pretty competitive, but in annual payment only. 

ProsCons
Office en línea para la edición de documentos
Una variedad de planes y funciones de pago para empresas
Una variedad de aplicaciones integradas
Sólo 2 GB de almacenamiento gratuito
No hay plan de pago de por vida
No hay cifrado de extremo a extremo 
Opciones avanzadas para compartir sólo para usuarios de pago
Obedece la jurisdicción de EE.UU.

TRY SYNC.COM FREE

5. IceDrive – Encrypted Best Free Cloud Storage, Straight From Wales

Another newcomer, IceDrive from Wales, is proposing client-side encryption. That is good, but not so good, as it’s available only for the paid accounts. The free accounts are only protected with two-factor authentication (Google Auth, FIDO, and SMS as a paid feature) and server-side encryption. The servers are in the UK, USA, and Europe (not specified the country). 

The cloud offers 10 GB for free right from the start. Created in Wales and owned by ID CLOUD SERVICES LTD, IceDrive started offering a cloud service in 2019. It mostly got popular in English-speaking countries, as the interface and the support are available only in English. In many online reviews, we see them compared to pCloud, as both offer Lifetime plan and end-to-end encryption, but IceDrive needs to get in the race on all markets, not only the English-speaking. 

IceDrive is available on Windows, iOS, and Android only, again only in English. As per their Support Team, macOS and Linux apps are coming by the end of 2021. The cool thing about the Windows app is that it offers a real virtual drive – the only other provider to offer this is pCloud. With IceDrive, though, it’s even better – you can mount and unmount it on the go, modify the Drive letter, and chose where to place the cache files in real-time without stopping the Drive. Another advantage of IceDrive is when setting the synchronization with the local folder, you can set it to be bidirectional or mono-directional. You can also choose where deleted files go. 

As for the other features, IceDrive is trying to make you pay almost for everything. You can share folders, but no permissions to be set. Download links are available, but setting a password and expiry date is a premium feature. No branding for the download links neither. The Trash bin history is eternal, but the deleted files take of your storage quota. No online office or file editing. At least you can preview office files and play music on the web platform. 

IceDrive is good when it gets to paid plans. You can get 150 GB, 1 TB, and 5 TB on a monthly, annual, or Lifetime plan. As well, their Lifetime plan is cheaper than pCloud’s one. The only question is whether they can survive proposing cheaper, with fewer features, fewer markets, and fewer clients. 

ProsCons
Office en línea para la edición de documentos
Una variedad de planes y funciones de pago para empresas
Una variedad de aplicaciones integradas
Sólo 2 GB de almacenamiento gratuito
No hay plan de pago de por vida
No hay cifrado de extremo a extremo 
Opciones avanzadas para compartir sólo para usuarios de pago
Obedece la jurisdicción de EE.UU.

TRY ICEDRIVE FREE

6. Dropbox – Last in the List (So Far) for Best Free Cloud Storage for 2021

What can we say – Dropbox has it all. Almost. Being the first historically cloud storage, founded in 2007, it has over 700 million registered users, 15 million of which are paying users. Maybe more than all of the above together. For sure, it employs more than all of the above – 2760, and even the planned reduction of 11% will be several times more than all above combined. 

The servers are everywhere around the world, combined in a big net. Anyway, being an American company, privacy is not their strongest point. Dropbox doesn’t have client-side encryption, but only a two-factor auth. The files at rest are encrypted using 256-bit AES, same as all above. 

Unfortunately, the free storage is only 2 GB; but, you can get 500 Mb more if you invite a friend who installs Dropbox on the computer. The service is available on all major desktop and mobile OS in about 20 languages. 

Dropbox might not have advanced security, but it has advanced features: branded download links with Dropbox Pro (free with pCloud), online file editing with integrated Online office and as well integration with MS Excel and Google Sheets, folder sharing, and download links. Of course, all security features come with the Pro plan. The trash bin is only 30 days. The number of integrated apps is virtually endless, though. 

On the Individual plans, Dropbox is very modest – Plus 2 TB individual account and 2 TB Family account for up to 6 users, both plans paid monthly and annually. No Lifetime plans here. They propose as well Business plans, more expensive compared to the competition. 

ProsCons
Office en línea para la edición de documentos
Una variedad de planes y funciones de pago para empresas
Una variedad de aplicaciones integradas
Sólo 2 GB de almacenamiento gratuito
No hay plan de pago de por vida
No hay cifrado de extremo a extremo 
Opciones avanzadas para compartir sólo para usuarios de pago
Obedece la jurisdicción de EE.UU.

TRY DROPBOX FREE

CONCLUSION

It is a long list, which we will update regularly.

If you got down here by reading, you are our personal hero, and we would like to offer you a beer. Please write to us and give us your postal address – we are going to find a way to send you that beer if you don’t live in Patagonia or Greenland. 

If you got here while using the lazy option “jump to,” you are smart. It took us several days to test and write this exhausting comparison. Reading it would be maybe almost that exhausting as writing it. So, good move to jump directly here. We will summarize it anyway. 

Which one is the BEST free cloud storage of this year, 2021? 

Our hearts go to pCloud – good-size free storage, lots of free features and sharing options, excellent desktop app for all major OS, both EU and US servers, EU laws and GDPR compliance, and most of all – when you test it and need more, there is a Lifetime plan for you. You can get as well as client-side encryption as an add-on. We know that they offer a promo price on many occasions, which we really appreciate. 

On the downside, the encryption is a paid add-on, and the web platform is missing a lot compared to the Online Office feature. However, those are maybe the very few negative points for pCloud. 

Second place – SECOND BEST

We would say that kDrive and Mega are very close one to the other and can switch places depending on what you need more – features or storage. We would like to see kDrive offering a bit more free storage and client-side encryption. On the other hand, Mega has an online office and a bit more features. Depending on your needs, you can set your choice on one or the other. 

We chose kDrive to be second, based on the server location, the Online Office, and the fact that we really like Swiss chocolate. Mega got third place, as we did not like the fact that they give up to 30 TB, which they take back in one year. 

THIRD BEST – or third worse? 

Sync and IceDrive. They could really be better; they just miss some touch. Sync has some features, but not as many as the first three competitors. They propose client-side encryption, but that’s it. Too minimalist for our taste. Too profit-oriented. No online office and a very basic desktop app. 

IceDrive is a great new competitor that may get ahead of Sync if they push a bit more on translating their services and developing macOS and Linux apps. They offer a Lifetime plan and end-to-end encryption, but that is all. If you need a lot of paid storage, you might consider them anyway. Maybe at the end of 2021, we would revise our opinion. 

LAST, so far, but only in this very competitive list – Dropbox. 

The Giant has a lot of features and apps. However, it looks it is all about profit there – almost no free storage. There is an Online office, but the security is on a poor level, privacy as well. No Lifetime plan, even if they can afford it easily. Good Business plans, if you have the budget. 

Ladies and Gens, the best FREE cloud storage for 2021 is … pCloud. Try it free today or take advantage of the limited-time offers we post whenever they come out!