Save yourself the cost of buying a new hard drive. Jonathan Parkyn explains how you can get gigabytes of cloud storage for nothing.
If your once roomy hard drive is beginning to feel claustrophobic – or if you’ve started seeing dreaded ‘Low Disk Space’ warnings – then you’re probably considering buying more storage. An external USB drive is the obvious choice, though these aren’t cheap; expect to pay around £50 for a 500GB model.
But there’s a way to get more space for your files without paying anything at all – by using free online (cloud) storage instead. Many cloud companies offer a small amount of free space, and often provide ways to increase your free allowance. Dropbox, for example, offers 2GB for free to new customers and an extra 500MB for every friend you refer, or 125MB for following the company on Twitter. Better still, there’s nothing to stop you from signing up for multiple free cloud accounts to build up a decent amount of free storage. In fact, we managed to rack up a whopping 272GB of free online storage – see the box right to find out how.
Advantages of cloud storage
The most obvious benefit of storing files online is that you can access them from just about anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Not just from PCs, but also via phones and tablets, too. This instantly solves one of your biggest niggles – the problem of transferring files between your computer and your mobile devices. Better still, and unlike a hard drive plugged into your PC, online storage is virtually immune from theft or damage. Even if your entire computer spontaneously combusts, files stored online will still be safe.
The best services offer desktop syncing tools that copy any files stored on your physical hard drive to your online space, creating an instant backup without you even having to think about it. Online storage is also great for collaborating and sharing. You can share a folder of photos with family members, for example, or work together with colleagues on a document shared via the cloud. And many services, including Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, automatically keep a version history of your files, meaning you can restore a file you accidentally delete or make unwanted changes to.
Unify your cloud storage
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January 18 2017