5 Great Choices for Free Online Data Storage

By Paul Michael on 19 March 2008 (Updated 17 June 2011) 46 comments

I have one of those USB jump drives. It holds about 256Mb (hey, I bought it years ago, but I do have another 2GB drive on order). Sometimes I forget my jump drive, and my files are just too big to email. I hate burning CDs and DVDs if I don’t have to, it’s a waste, so I wanted to know if there were free storage options online for me. I found a whole bunch.

There are many choices for you, but here are my personal favorites. I have listed the main features of each account, and what you get for free. Sign-up procedures vary with each one. You do have to give up some info to get a free account, but generally not that much. Then, you can load up your files at work and grab them at home…or vice versa. Freedom awaits. (See also: Save Money on Groceries With These Online Tools)

The list is in no particular order. Check them out, choose the one you like the best.

1. XDRIVE

5GB free storage, drag ‘n’ drop capability, unlimited file size/bandwidth (AOL users, just use your username and password and you should get in fine...this is the one I use, I had an old AOL account and it still worked).

2. MOZY

2GB free storage, unlimited file size/bandwidth

3. MEDIAMAX

25GB free storage, file-sharing, unlimited file size/bandwidth

NOTE: Several readers have pointed out some problems with MediaMax, namely that although uploads are unlimited, downloads are severely limited unless you sign up for a paid account. It seems the 25GB is a big draw, but comes with disadvantages. Please, don't use this service if you intend to download files larger than 10Mb.

4. BOX.NET

1GB free storage, drag ‘n’ drop capability, file-sharing

5. ESNIPS

5GB free storage, file-sharing, unlimited file size/bandwidth

FREE 512Mb USB memory key

If you still need some handy portable storage, IBM is currently giving away 512Mb solar USB keys absolutely free.

Just click here and fill out the simple form. It comes pre-loaded with a bunch of IBM stuff, but you just erase the drive after you’ve read it. Nice. (Not sure when this offer ends, so grab it quick.)

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Guest's picture
PRM

Great post, I am planning on using one of these free site to take save a video and list of my home inventory for potential insurance claims.

Guest's picture
Troy

Seems like you don't wish you backed up until something crazy happens. I've lost countless pictures and files when my computer crashed. I use Filebig.com a lot to backup my stuff.

Thanks for this post, I probably need to back up some stuff now matter of fact.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yes you should. In fact, people should be aware that their back-up hard drives can crash. I had all my personal pictures on the back-up drive to save space on my computer's internal hard drive. The back-up drive crashed two days ago and I will probably lose all those important and treasured memories. Everyone should consider using some kind of on-line back up capability because of this distinct possibility.

Guest's picture
Jeff

I cannot urge you strongly enough: Stay away from Media Max!
I used to be a subscriber when they were Streamload, then they switched names, owners, whatever- but the service became terrible. outages for several days at a time. lousy communication. every other month my billing was messed up. And just try to call them- go ahead I dare ya. If you find a phone number it will get you to a recording. You will NEVER EVER talk to a real person. After numerous emails and threats of litigation I finally resolved my account with them and promptly closed it. Before you trust your files with anyone check them out. contact the better business bureau- the BBB knows all about media max.

Nora Dunn's picture

Since I live on the road, backing up to CDs (or even flash drives at times) is difficult and impractical. If for whatever reason I physically lose everything, the CDs and flash drives will go with it.

So I use online storage (Xdrive and Mediamax). They do the trick, although I've intermittently had trouble with both. But hey - it's free - I won't complain! 

Guest's picture

These services are OK for personal files you don't mind losing, but if have important business data to protect, invest a little more in a business-class backup service like RemoteDataBackups.com. I've used them for years and restores are reliable, fast & easy. The best business insurance you can buy.

Paul Michael's picture

I have a free account with MediaMax, and have never had any issues. I'm not sure about the paid options, I'm too frugal to pay for online storage right now. But if any other readers have had problems with any of these, please let us know. So far, I'm very happy with XDrive.

Guest's picture
jumper

i would agree with the guy who said to avoid mediamax. it is unlimited file size/bandwidth only if you're uploading. the download file size limit is just 10mb (https://www.mediamax.com/Brands/MediaMax/home/pricing_comparison.aspx). if you backup something huge and try to restore it in the future, you'll be in for a nasty surprise. freedom certainly does not await, especially for your files that are "imprisoned" in mediamax's servers.

in addition, the site is freaking slow and the UI extremely user-unfriendly. and i've had a number of files that i can't download anymore - seems like they're corrupted or something, and i always encounter errors when downloading them.

paul, you may have a free account, but if you don't use it often or utilize it's full range of features, you definitely won't encounter any problems. hence, you're not in a position to recommend anything, much less call something as crappy as mediamax a "great choice".

Paul Michael's picture

As I said, I'd never had an issue. I did point out that I used the free part of the service, but will make a note on the post. Thanks Jumper.

Guest's picture
jumper

i am referring to the free part. if you had made time to click the link i provided, you would've seen that the 10mb file size download limit is for the free service.

thanks for the link on the free USB drive.

Guest's picture

I tried the free 512GB flash thing, thanks for the heads up!

I have used Box and XDrive, both have been fine.

Guest's picture
Guest

What about the Windows Live Skydrive? 5GB of storage....not sure of any limitations.

skydrive.live.com

Guest's picture
Vicki

I actually use my Gmail account for storage. Right now I have a little over 6GB of storage. It's free. The amount increases all the time, and it's been pretty stable.

Guest's picture
ray

@ Vicki
I didn't know that Google offered storage. How do you get it?
Ray

Guest's picture
Sh0tzy

I have been using Mediafire for several months now and I love it. I have never had any problems with it and it is very easy to share files with people. www.mediafire.com

Paul Michael's picture

Keep those suggestions coming, they're great.

Guest's picture
Jason

Check out elephantdrive (www.elephantdrive.com). I have been using it for a few months now with great satisfaction. You can get a 1G Free account and HomeEdition (unlimited storage) for 9.99$ per month. I have been using the HomeEdition one.

Guest's picture
jeremiads

Amazon's S3 storage is one of the only online data storage systems I can recommend, because it's aimed at serious users. Use something like JungleDisk to interface with it, and you're set.

Guest's picture
Nicole

I agree with someone else here -- I use Google to store most of my important documents. docs.google.com is currently good for text documents, excel spreadsheets and presentations, and anything else (PDFs, music files, what have you) I simply email to my Gmail account, and stash in folders until I need them. There's also Google's Picasa for free photo storage. Several Gigs of space that's increasing all the time -- you could even create a Google login specifically for storage.

Guest's picture
Guest

I'll jump on the "let's bash MediaMax" bandwagon too - but that's only because I remember how good their service was when they were Streamload.

Honestly, even if you have just a free account, don't trust them with your data. There are plenty of horror stories of people not being able to download files after Mediamax took over. My own experiences tell me I can't trust them.

I'd also like to point out something to be cautious about - these online services can go out of business at any time and then what happens to your data? Several online photo places have done this already, and generally you are offered an opportunity to pay to get your data back, and you have to do so in a pretty short time period.

I'm not saying online storage is a bad idea - I still use some services, and you can get a lot for free - just make sure you understand the risks.

Guest's picture
Charlie

Good job, Paul. I've been eyeing some online options for a while now since switching from Apple's Annual Tax (i.e. DotMac). I loved the way that integrated with everything, but it got to slow to be useful.

One suggestion I have regarding backing up: don't forget to back up your email correspondence if you're using POP3 with it being deleted from the server. My hard drive crashed last year, and I had everything backed up except for my mail. Six months worth of non-recoverable traffic. I'm still paying for it.

Guest's picture
Jen

Gmail is great for file storage. You can also start a Google Group and upload your files to it.

Guest's picture
david

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Guest's picture
Operagost

I tried XDrive and it was terrible for my purposes. I needed it to back up files unattended on a schedule, and it simply failed more often than it worked. I switched to iDrive. They give you 2 GB free, but the best part is that they give you another 10 GB for referring them to five other people. They do respond to support requests, even from free accounts. The software is also updated on a regular basis.

Guest's picture
Guest

Well, MediaMax is at it again. As if once wasn't enough, they are now restructuring over again. If you have a free account all your files will be trashed today, unless you upgrade to a pay account. From the official email:

Current non-paying users: If you are not currently a paying subscriber to MediaMax, you need to upgrade your account before April 25 to be included in the move. Otherwise, your account will be deleted and all your files will be lost.

Guest's picture
Guest

Avoid Streamload/MediaMax/The Linkup at all costs! These low-life bums have taken our money (sometimes even after we've cancelled service), lost our files (1/3 gone after changing to MediaMax, ALL gone after changing to The Linkup), and think that they can just continue doing it.

How can "the little guy" fight back against millionaire corporations that change their names repeatedly, in order to avoid fulfilling their contractual responsibilities?

Information.

Tell everyone you know NOT to use "The Linkup". And if you do a bit of online research on the near-criminal dealings of this company, you might decide to avoid dealings with the people who run the place: Steve Iverson, John Hood, Marty Wexler, Greg Bohdan, among others.

Guest's picture
timothy_us

Sign-up at easystockalerts.com to be ALERTED to any Insider Trades BEFORE they appear on the web! This can be market moving news which can make you Mad Money.

Guest's picture
Hugh Jass

sup people. Ya I just use gmail and email myself stuff. Works OK but whenever i remember to email myself something i dont forget it at school so there is no point.

-peace love and gap

Guest's picture
Guest

I think this is a fascinating subject but I also think it is time to update this post.

In the time since it was originally written, the landscape has changed. MediaMax is gone (changed its name to TheLinkup, then went out of business completely) and Xdrive is set to shut down in just a few weeks.

Still no Gdrive and some services like elephantdrive and skydrive have just gotten better. Are you up to a new review?

Guest's picture
Guest

AOL will be permanently taking down the XDRIVE site on January 19th, 2009.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have been using Skydrive for about a month now. 25 gig of free storage. quick and easy to upload and/or download. I recommend you try it at skydrive.live.com

Guest's picture
Guest

I have started using http://www.binfire.com. This is a free service and still in beta, but they have some great features. It gives unlimited storage for free, plus easy file sharing, group collaboration and more. You can upload files as large as 100MB.
They have a nice java applet (they call it File manager under file tab) which creates a virtual desktop.It let you to see and use (drag & drop) your web folder plus shared web folders from your friends and groups. Try it!

Guest's picture
David

Binfire.com provides the only free unlimited online storage provider(as much storage as you need when you need it!). Also, great file sharing for members and non members plus hot links to files,collaboration using group folder which has file locking, access permission and versioning. All services are for free.
Give it a try, Binfire.com is a much better value than box.net or rapidshare.com.
David

Guest's picture
Guest

Binfire gives 10 GB free online storage with file size limit of 100MB. It has an easy multiple file upload interface plus file locking and group folder for collaboration.

Guest's picture
Guest

:)

Guest's picture
Bill The Other

I checked on SkyDrive and the free limit of 25 gb of storage was appealing but the 50 mb file size limit for uploads was just too small for me so I decided to keep looking. I guess if all your files are under 50 mb then SkyDrive would work well for you but if you have some big files... keep looking.

Guest's picture
jlbfor

I like and use DriveHQ Online Backup Service.
Reasons:
Integrated with Windows file manager.
Reliable and stable software.(Windows only)
Realtime or scheduled backup.
Backup of files in use.
Backup Folders or individual files.
Retention of file versions as changes are made.
Reasonably priced.
1 Gig free.
The Company is focussed on quality.
I believe their product is underrated. Probably one of the very best services available.
See my website for discussions and recommendations on this subject.

Guest's picture
Ross

I use Dropbox.com and Moozone.com, first for all files and second for mp3s only. They both give 2 Gb for free and I can use moozone's player to play and share Dropbox files.

Guest's picture
Guest

Came across start up company gigmax.com ..pretty similar to dropbox incorporating sugar sync ideas..it looks like they have potential..any views on this?

i've been using them for a lil while now

Guest's picture
kamranggt

Online data storage is important to those people who wants to save their important data so they use these services for that purpose. I am using RockVPS services for web hosting. They have a lot of plans to meet customer requirements. Many great features, please visit http://www.rockvps.com 

RockVPS, Inc is a web hosting provider built upon a zealous commitment to customers. RockVPS originally served the needs of individual webmasters and small businesses. Now, the business operates its own network and server facilities to handle customer growth and a broader range of service offerings.

Guest's picture
kamranggt

Online data storage is important to those people who wants to save their important data so they use these services for that purpose. I am using RockVPS services for web hosting. They have a lot of plans to meet customer requirements. Many great features, please visit http://www.rockvps.com 

RockVPS, Inc is a web hosting provider built upon a zealous commitment to customers. RockVPS originally served the needs of individual webmasters and small businesses. Now, the business operates its own network and server facilities to handle customer growth and a broader range of service offerings.

Guest's picture
kamranggt

 

Online data storage is important to those people who wants to save their important data so they use these services for that purpose. I am using RockVPS services for web hosting. They have a lot of plans to meet customer requirements. Many great features, please visit <a href="http://www.rockvps.com">http://www.rockvps.com</a>

RockVPS, Inc is a web hosting provider built upon a zealous commitment to customers. RockVPS originally served the needs of individual webmasters and small businesses. Now, the business operates its own network and server facilities to handle customer growth and a broader range of service offerings.

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Guest's picture
Gustalafusha

dude! ADrive.com !! free 50 gb!

Guest's picture
Guest

Please update the information. The posted date says 2008, we are in 2012 I'm sure a lot of things have change since.

Guest's picture
Free Polazzo

I sure wish these reviews (and all articles) had dates on them.

Guest's picture
Free Polazzo

Oops. Found the date. Need newer review, please include Drop Box.