Not sure where to store your important documents and want to access them from anywhere without having to invest in an expensive and easily lost device? There are free online storage solutions that can perfectly fulfill this role. We have taken a tour of the best services available in France.
In the world of everything connected, the need to store and back up our data online has become a habit, even to the point of not noticing it. From your computer or your smartphone, there is necessarily a way to store your documents, images, videos or any other personal content, whether via the services of the manufacturers (iCloud, OneDrive) or via paid or free external solutions. It is on the latter that we will focus in this dossier. Whether you’re a student looking to back up work, a professional on the go, or simply a data security-conscious user, these services can make your life easier. Especially when they are accessible in a synchronized way on all our devices.
As with paid storage services, free online storage solutions provide a convenient alternative for storing, sharing, and accessing your files from anywhere, anytime. However, you have to know how to sort out the different existing services so as not to come across any unpleasant surprises.
What are the constraints of storing files online?
By its principle of free, it is important to keep in mind that not all solutions have the same business model to reduce their operating costs. Maintaining a 24-hour server park around the world is expensive and making storage space available to a user free of charge is not without compromise. Here are the different constraints to take into account when thinking about online storage.
Limited storage space
Free online storage services usually offer a limited amount of storage space. This capacity can vary from one service to another, but it is often less than that of the paid versions. For brands, these “samples” represent call products playing on your frustration to encourage you to switch to a paid offer. Ideally, these solutions remain above all temporary or to save documents accessible everywhere.
No access to advanced features
Free storage services may also limit certain advanced features available in paid versions. For example, there may be real-time sharing with other users, automatic backup or synchronization across multiple devices. Some services also reduce the amount of time data is available before erasing it or, more commonly, severely restrict upload or download speeds.
Another important element, in most cases, there is no access to customer services in a free version, which can be very disabling in an emergency.
What about data security and confidentiality?
When talking about online storage, which is free, it is essential to study the aspects related to the security and confidentiality of the stored data. If a service is not subject to the laws in force (in particular the GDPR), it may well collect information on your usage habits and use this data, for marketing purposes in the majority of cases.
Similarly, security measures may vary from service to service, and data stored online may be at risk of hacking or breach of confidentiality. It is important to choose reputable services that offer strong security measures, such as data encryption and two-factor authentication.
The reliability and availability of the service
As we saw with the OVH episode at the start of 2021, zero risk does not exist and your data may at any time be inaccessible due to a breakdown or reduced availability of the service and inevitably. This affects the less armed cloud services first.
As these services are used by a large number of users, it is possible to experience download speed or synchronization problems, as well as temporary interruptions in the service. Although these incidents are generally rare, it is important to turn to safe bets with guarantees in terms of data redundancy in order to avoid potential dead loss of files.
What are the best free online storage services?
Depending on the constraints mentioned above, the storage space offered on the free versions and the performance in terms of transfers, we have listed our favorite services below:
Google Drive: 15 GB free
Undoubtedly the service that automatically comes back when talking about online storage, Google Drive has established itself by its simplicity and, above all, by the fact that it is fully integrated into the Google ecosystem.
In its free version, Google Drive offers 15 GB of storage space, which makes it one of the most generous on the market. There are also no restrictions on transfer speeds or sharing with other users. In addition, Drive is accessible from any platform (Windows, macOS, Android and iOS) as well as being closely linked to other Google products such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Photos, which makes its use almost natural, and it is intended!
Google Drive is also amazingly easy to use with a unified interface across all platforms. Small black point however, nothing is assured concerning the security of your data and the confidentiality policy remains rather vague on this point.
pCloud: 10 GB free
The promise of pCloud in the free version is simple: up to 10 GB accessible free of charge for life. So even if the commercial discourse obviously hits the bull’s eye, it is nevertheless important to know that this sesame is not obtained without several conditions. It will, in fact, fulfill six objectives to dispose of it, such as: checking your e-mail, making a first transfer, downloading the desktop application and the mobile application, activating automatic uploading and inviting third parties via e-mail.
Once this is done, the 10 GB is allocated to you and you end up with a simple interface (strongly similar to that of Google Drive), but with some other interesting features such as the revision of files kept for 15 days (allowing you to return to a previously stored version of a file) or file backup stored on computer or mobile in real time. Note also that pCloud is accessible via an internet browser as well as through Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS applications.
The particularity of pCloud is that it is a service of Swiss origin and that the private data retention policy is strict with a high level of security: SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) encryption to secure communications between client applications and pCloud servers and another of the AES-256 type for files stored on the servers.
Mega: 20 GB free
The famous online storage and sharing service Mega (which succeeded Megaupload) of the no less famous Kim Dotcom will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. It has the distinction of being the most generous in its free version with no less than 20 GB of storage accessible simply by creating a Mega account. Unlike the other services mentioned in this top, it does not necessarily have the same guarantees, but it at least has the merit of offering a clear interface, with an end-to-end data encryption system and synchronization between devices.
However, it is still necessary to highlight lower transfer performance compared to Google Drive and pCloud and it is not guaranteed that your data is completely secure, because the servers located in Canada do not belong to Mega.
It is still a very practical storage solution for the short term.
Shadow Drive: 20 GB free
Here is a 100% French solution to complete this selection with Shadow Drive, which is none other than the latest product from the Shadow company, in charge of the famous Shadow PC. Shadow Drive offers 20 GB in its free version. Unlike the other services in this selection, this one takes the form of a OneDrive directly accessible from your machine (PC, Mac, Linux) as well as on mobile applications (Android and iOS).
The only criticism that could be made would be on the desktop application itself, with a somewhat crude installation that could put off less advanced users. Otherwise, the web interface is quite clear, not very intrusive and has practical options such as the possibility of migrating its drive to another storage platform (Dropbox in this case) or the possibility of creating sharing links for your content.
We also appreciate the fact that the Shadow Drive servers are based in Europe and therefore meet the requirements for the protection of private data. In addition, the firm ensures not to exploit the data present on these servers, as is the case for Shadow PC.
Do you use Google News (News in France)? You can follow your favorite media. Follow CssTricks on Google News (and ).