15 Free Encrypted Cloud Storage Services [Secure Files Online]


Well-known cloud storage providers like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple iCloud are convenient. They offer free file storage, but there are strings attached. When you upload files to the Big Tech companies, they have full access to your files. This leaves many users wary and wondering where they can get free encrypted cloud storage.

The best free encrypted cloud storage companies are NextCloud, Keybase, Tresorit, Internxt, Sync.com, and Mega. These services include features like end-to-end encryption, zero-knowledge file storage, secure file sharing, and generous starter tiers, with some offering over 200 GB free cloud storage.

The following table details the best personal cloud storage providers. The top six are the most secure while the remainder can be made secure.

Two college/university students with a laptop happy they found free encrypted cloud storage.

The Best Personal Cloud Storage

The 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.

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
3Tresorit5 GBBased in Switzerland. Free tier includes secure file sharingNo
4Sync.com*5 GBUp to 25 GB free cloud storage by referring friendsNo
5Internxt10 GBBlockchain-based, distributed storage No
6Mega15 GBMega online storage offers up to 50 GB if you’re an active user in their achievement program No
7pCloud10 GBUp to 20 GB free storage by referring friends; Linux desktop client available; Single-payment, lifetime plans availableYes, unless you’re a subscriber
8icedrive10 GBSingle-payment, lifetime plans available; Multi-OS portable app; Beautiful web user interfaceYes, unless you’re a subscriber
9Google Drive15 GBYou probably have a Google account already for this cloud storageYES
10Box Individual10 GBBusiness focus including compliance with GDPRHIPAAPCIGxP, & FedRAMPYES
11MediaFire10 GBSingle-use, expiring sharing links for file sharingYES
12Amazon Drive5 GB 
Restricted
Unlimited storage for photos for Amazon Prime subscribersYES
13Apple iCloud5 GBTightly-integrated into Apple platforms and devicesYES
14Microsoft OneDrive5 GB1 TB for Office 365 subscribersYES
15Dropbox2 GBIncludes a suite of productivity toolsYES

* affiliate/referral link

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

15 free encrypted cloud storage services [secure files online]

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.

15 free encrypted cloud storage services [secure files online]

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
2ProtonDrive5 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

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.

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.

15 free encrypted cloud storage services [secure files online]

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.

15 free encrypted cloud storage services [secure files online]

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.

15 free encrypted cloud storage services [secure files online]

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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