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  1. Best Free Cloud Storage
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Free Cloud Storage Guide

Online storage isn't just for backups anymore. Mobile technology and online collaboration have grown dramatically in recent years, and thus the need for access to data with just about any device anywhere that online connections are possible.

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Cloud storage services are a convenient means of keeping important files in one place and also serve as a reliable backup option. Fortunately, there's no reason to pay for this service: Some of the best cloud storage options are free and others cost no more than 50 cents a gigabyte annually.

We looked at a handful of free cloud storage services and settled on Microsoft SkyDrive as our favorite. Microsoft offers a variety of attractive features and more free cloud storage than other services (7GB), with the cost of additional storage as cheap as you'll find. Dropbox, our second choice, boasts a large, loyal customer base and offers lots of features, although free storage is available only up to 2GB. Amazon also maintains a cloud for its users -- Cloud Drive -- but the service lacks the features and flexibility of the top two on our list.

Our preferences aside, all the services we researched provide some amount of free storage, so there's no harm in giving any or all a test drive to determine which works best for you. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from using more than one free cloud storage service if you're so inclined. Indeed, there are plenty of cloud storage services out there. Google runs Google Drive, which anyone can use, although dedicated users of Google products and services will get the most out of it. And Apple offers iCloud, which makes all your documents, music, apps, photos, and more available and up-to-date on every iOS-enabled device you use. SugarSync is yet another free cloud storage option, but the cost of extra GBs is comparatively high.

There are several features to consider when searching for the best cloud. First, decide how much storage you need. Cloud storage sites typically offer between 2GB and 7GB of free storage, with prices for additional space ranging from 50 cents a gigabyte to more than one dollar a gigabyte a year. Then think about how you plan to use the storage. Each free cloud storage provider offers a specific array of services. For example, cloud storage is a great way to share files with others, especially when jointly creating documents or collaborating on a project, but Amazon's Cloud Drive doesn't have any sharing options. Device support is something else to take into account. A good free cloud storage service should be compatible with both PCs and Macs, at the very least, and most services also support mobile devices such as iPhones, Android devices, and others that use the Internet. And of course, you want a cloud service that's fast. You shouldn't have to wait long for files to upload or download.

Finally, the matter of security. All cloud storage services require passwords and protect their servers with encryption technologies that are commonly used for other types of web sites and services. These encryption technologies are quite good, making it unlikely that someone will burst into your private cloud from the outside, although security breaches are always a possibility with any site. As for concern about files disappearing, cloud storage services back up files in multiple locations, so even if something happens to one server where your data is stored, that data will be backed up on another server somewhere in the cloud.

by Michael Sweet (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Computers, Desktops, Laptops,

Best Free Cloud Storage

Microsoft SkyDrive
Gold Medal

Microsoft SkyDrive

SkyDrive offers more free storage than competing services, and prices for additional storage are rock bottom. The service has good storage and sharing options, and users can edit SkyDrive documents using Microsoft's online Office programs.

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Good Free Cloud Storage

Gold Medal


Dropbox is stingier with its free storage than the competition but users can earn more through referrals and other promotions. The cost for additional storage is pretty high, but in terms of features and flexibility, Dropbox is hard to beat.

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Don't Bother

Amazon Cloud Drive

This cloud service is fine, if all you care about is basic storage. Cloud Drive is feature-deprived compared to the competition, but it's a good place to park your media files and additional storage is cheap.

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