13 Free Secure Online Storage Services-Safely Save Files To The Cloud


Well-known free cloud storage providers like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple iCloud are convenient. They offer a generous amount of free file storage, but there are strings attached.

When you upload files to storage services offered by Big Tech companies, they have full access to your files.

Law enforcement may compel the company to provide access to your content. Despite budgeting for top security teams, data breaches also occur which may accidentally permit incorrect access across users. In the more egregious cases, these companies exploit your data to profile you for advertising or even repurpose your content.

These top cloud storage services offer complete control of your upload files.

What are the best free secure online storage services?

  1. NextCloud
  2. Keybase
  3. Sync.com
  4. Mega
  5. pCloud
  6. icedrive

These cloud storage companies not only allow you to save your files to the cloud without cost, but they offer end-to-end encryption or self-hosting.

Let’s dig into the details of these top 6 secure online storage providers plus 7 more that can be made secure. We’ll also cover a couple of premium services along with some free options you may not have thought about.

13 Free Secure Online Storage Services

RankServiceFree SpaceWhy It’s AwesomeUse Cryptomator
1NextCloud2-8 GB or UnlimitedChoice of Nextcloud provider location; Self-host to control your data in personal cloud storageNo
2Keybase250 GBIncludes other end-to-end encrypted tools like chat, team collaboration, cryptocurrency wallet, social media tools, and moreNo
3Sync.com*5 GBUp to 25 GB free cloud storage by referring friendsNo
4Mega15 GBUp to 50 GB if you’re an active user and work within Mega’s achievement programNo
5pCloud10 GBUp to 20 GB free storage by referring friends; Linux desktop client available; Single-payment, lifetime plans availableYes, unless you’re a subscriber
6icedrive10 GBSingle-payment, lifetime plans available; Multi-OS portable app; Beautiful web user interfaceYes, unless you’re a subscriber
7Google Drive15 GBYou probably have a Google account already for this cloud storageYES
8Box Individual10 GBBusiness focus including compliance with GDPRHIPAAPCIGxP, & FedRAMPYES
9MediaFire10 GBSingle-use, expiring sharing links for file sharingYES
10Amazon Drive5 GB 
Restricted
Unlimited storage for photos for Amazon Prime subscribersYES
11Apple iCloud5 GBTightly-integrated into Apple platforms and devicesYES
12Microsoft OneDrive5 GB1 TB for Office 365 subscribersYES
13Dropbox2 GBIncludes a suite of productivity toolsYES

* affiliate/referral link

How To Secure Files In The Cloud On Any Online Cloud Storage Provider

13 free secure online storage services-safely save files to the cloud

The “Use Cryptomator” column in the above table indicates our advice to use file encryption before uploading. This is a crucial step to prevent Big Tech from leveraging your content for their own use. Cryptomator is an excellent project listed on PrivacyTool.io.

The desktop version uses pay-what-you-want pricing. There are versions for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

While I wish the mobile app was open-source, it is well worth the purchase on Android and iOS. The smartphone version offers automatic photo uploads, timed vault auto-lock, and fingerprint-based unlocking for your less-secure vaults.

This project gives users a truly secure cloud storage solution no matter where space is available. Turn any free cloud storage like Google Drive, iDrive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc into secure and private storage.

13 free secure online storage services-safely save files to the cloud

Cryptomator pairs well with ExpanDrive which makes using cloud storage providers show up as a drive on your operating system easily expanding your computer’s storage space.

If you are not paying for the product, you and your data are the product. 

modification of Andrew Lewis’s quotation via Quote Investigator

Besides using encryption, consider the following simple tips for storing files online:

  • Avoid trusting Big Tech GAFAM providers with your files: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft
  • Compartmentalize where you save files.
    • Save your files in a different service than your email, contact, and calendar
    • Save your types of files at different cloud services. For example, use one service for sensitive files, another for media like photos and video, and a third for less-secure data.
    • Spreading your data across storage providers ensures files are also in different data centers.
  • Access your cloud-stored files only from trusted devices.
  • Share links to your files sparingly and manually expire them when you’re done.
  • Ensure your files in cloud storage service allows long strong passwords and includes two-factor authentication
  • Know in what country your files are stored. The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway among others have laws that favor privacy including cloud storage providers.

Easy Built-In Encryption Via These Paid Providers

There’s nothing better than owning your own data. But, if you want to focus on your expertise and put your trust in reputable, secure cloud storage, consider one of the following. There’s no need to use Cryptomator.

These commercial cloud storage services offer top-notch security through their software tools and operational procedures. They do not have free storage starter tiers but instead offer limited-time trial periods.

RankServiceStorageAnnual PricingWhy It’s Awesome
1SpiderOak150 GB$69/yearHigh-quality desktop & mobile apps
2Tresorit200 GB$109/yearHosted in Switzerland
3ProtonDrive5 GB for Plus users, 20 GB for Visionary users$48 or $288/yearFrom the trusted makers of ProtonMail and ProtonVPN

Storage You Might Already Have

Memory Sticks, Cards, Hard Drives

Do you need to store all your files online? The best place for your sensitive files is often offline away from cloud services.

I found a couple of 8 GB USB memory sticks that I received at a trade show. Aside from the logos, I wiped them and used them for storing tax returns. Additionally, I’m not limited by some file size restrictions on some cloud storage providers. My total storage space is only based on how many drives I have on hand.

13 free secure online storage services-safely save files to the cloud

Did you get a “starter” memory card with your camera, tablet, or one of your kid’s toys? Some consumer electronics come with low-storage SD cards. We use these as more offline storage. Either insert them directly in your laptop’s card reader or use a USB card reader for less than $15.

13 free secure online storage services-safely save files to the cloud

Are you a DIYer with an old laptop? You can remove the hard disk drive from the computer, wipe the operating system, and repurpose it as a USB hard drive for less than $20.

Smartphone

Did you know you can use your smartphone or an old burner phone as portable storage? If you practice digital minimalism, you can use your smartphone’s extra space like a USB drive.

Storing files directly on your mobile device is a bit riskier than cloud storage. There’s a higher chance of someone gaining physical access to your device. Use Cryptomator’s mobile application as local storage to make your spare storage secure.

13 free secure online storage services-safely save files to the cloud

Subscription Service

Are you a Microsoft Office 365 or Amazon Prime subscriber? Many cloud services offer large amounts of online storage as a perk. Take advantage of this benefit saving your less-secure files.

Again, plan carefully what you upload and encrypt the files first. Despite Big Tech’s best efforts, access errors occur. Google allowed the export of private user data to random other Google users.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of good, free options for storing files in the cloud. Even with our higher rating on services that respect your content and privacy, be skeptical. Prefer online storage services that have end-to-end encryption. Alternatively, use open-source tools that encrypt your files before you uploaded them to public cloud storage.

It’s your data. No one else is going to care about it as much as you do.

Mike Chu

Mike is a web developer and content writer living as a digital nomad. With more than 20 years of devops experience, he brings his "programmer with people skills" approach to help explain technology to the average user. Check out his full author bio by clicking here.

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