Beyond Price Point: Analyzing Differences in Cloud Storage Options

Are Paid Cloud Storage Services Really Better Than Free Cloud Storage?

Do you really get more value from a paid cloud storage service, or are free clouds enough? Here’s what you should know to balance quality against budget.

If you are looking at different cloud storage reviews to find the best option for you, it can be confusing. The market is saturated; there are hundreds of cloud services providing free and paid packages with an assortment of features. Even tech-savvy consumers could be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices they are faced with.

Many cloud providers offer free accounts with a limited amount of storage as well as paid accounts that have more features and a larger capacity. Because of this, they are presented as the better and sometimes more effective option, but is this really true? Are paid cloud storage services better than free cloud storage services?

The Case for Free Cloud Storage Accounts

There are some people who will tell you that free accounts with cloud storage services are somehow less valuable than paid accounts. This is not necessarily true. Free accounts can be beneficial and are effective as a method of storing data and files; they are simply more limited than paid accounts in some ways.

Free accounts benefit from the same security protocols and high-quality servers as paid accounts. They also generally have the encryption benefits as paid accounts, because these features are built into the overall service (this is not guaranteed, however, so be sure to double-check). Likewise, free accounts usually benefit from the same multi-factor authentication features as paid accounts.

The differences tend to lie in the range of extra features offered by a provider. For example, free accounts tend to have:

  • Less storage space
  • More basic features
  • Limited capabilities
  • Restricted bandwidth

As such, free accounts may not have auto-syncing, the ability to recover previous versions of documents, or the capacity for collaborative editing and working.

However, if you need a basic cloud storage server for personal use and don’t need a huge amount of space, free accounts can be just as secure and effective as paid accounts. It’s all about what you require; there’s no point in paying for more than you need if you don’t have to.

Are Paid Storage Accounts Worth It?

Paid cloud storage accounts have many benefits; this cannot be disputed. Depending on the server, paid accounts may come with higher levels of security and encryption, and generally offer a large number of extra functionality features that can make it easier to share documents and undertake more complex tasks. Paid accounts most commonly have these benefits:

  • Higher storage limits
  • Auto syncing features
  • Premium customer support services
  • Extra features to enable collaborative working
  • Unrestricted bandwidth or bandwidth with higher limits

These features are essential for people who need to upload or download large files, share files with colleagues or friends, or need those extra functionality features for complex projects. So, whether you decide to pay for an upgraded account or not is really up to you and what you need from your cloud storage.

In the end, there is no single answer. Free and paid cloud storage services have their place in the market and suit different people for different reasons. When you consider different cloud services and the packages that they offer, you should ask yourself the following questions:

What is my budget?

If you don’t need much, opt for a free account that matches all of your requirements. If you need a little extra, look for basic paid accounts that give you what you need within your budget. This is the benefit of having such a vast array of providers to choose from; there is an option for every budget.

How much storage space do I anticipate needing?

Free accounts range in storage size. Dropbox offers 2GB as standard, while Google Drive offers 15 GB. If you need more, there are reasonably priced options out there. iDrive, for example, offers better storage at a lower cost than many comparable competitors. If you need storage space without frills, this kind of account is for you.

Are there any features that I must have or really want?

If auto-syncing or the ability to recover previous document versions is important to you, then you can find both free and paid accounts that offer these features. If security and airtight encryption matter to you, prioritize these features within your budget; you will find something that works for you.

How important is multi-layered security for me?

All cloud storage providers prioritize security, but some providers and accounts have extra security features to protect sensitive documents in the event of a breach. If you work with highly sensitive information, this is something to think about.

There are other concerns, of course, but these four questions encompass the most basic concerns when it comes to cloud storage services. Once you have the answers to these questions, you can decide what else matters to you.  

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