With word coming from Google that they have now consolidated their storage quota to 15 gigabytes (GB) across Drive, Gmail and Google+ I began to ponder just how much free storage you can get from the various cloud services seeking your digital assets. A cursory review of some of the major services reveals the following amounts of free storage.
Microsoft SkyDrive – 7GB
Amazon Cloud Drive – 5GB
Apple iCloud – 5GB
Dropbox – 2GB
Box - 5GB
Beyond the stated free limits of the services mentioned above there are many special deals and exceptions to be had that greatly extend the limits of free storage. For example, Amazon MP3 purchases are stored in the cloud but don’t count against your quota. Ditto for your iCloud Photostream images. Box offers 50GB of free storage to those that purchase certain phones or tablets. Dropbox free members can earn .5GB of storage per referral up to 16GB.
Keep in mind that the services mentioned above are just the major ones. There are many services, such as SoundCloud and Evernote, that offer a measure of free online storage although storage is not the primary purpose of those services. Then there are places like YouTube and Facebook where you can upload videos (and in the case of Facebook) and photos seemingly without limits to the number of uploads.
So what does all of this mean for the average web user? One consequence of this explosion in free web storage is the ability to make your most important information and media available to you whenever you have access to a decent internet connection and a computing device. I say computing device rather than a computer because all of the services I mention above support access via smartphones and tablets.
Another very cool development is the fact that most of the services mentioned above go beyond mere storage of files to offer useful functionality related to the files in question. For example, Google Drive and SkyDrive offer document editing and creation. Amazon Cloud Drive offers a music player for MP3 files. Dropbox and Amazon offer photo gallery features. I’m sure that there’s plenty more to come.
Given how quickly digital media storage needs are expanding most people won’t be able to utilize the free storage options to store all of their media. But if you really need to pay for online storage the good news is that rates are continually dropping due to lower costs for storage devices and competition in the market, among other factors. So for the moment it appears that there is good news all around for people looking to find a corner of the Internet where they can put their digital stuff.