Where can I backup my files online for free?

As our digital lives become more complex, protecting our files and data is more important than ever. With the amount of photos, videos, documents, and other media we create and store on our devices, having a backup is essential in case of device failure, theft, or accidental deletion. Thankfully, there are many great options for backing up your files online for free.

What are the benefits of online backup services?

Online backup services provide offsite storage for your files in the cloud. This has several key advantages over local backup methods like external hard drives:

  • Access your files from anywhere – Online backup allows you to access your files from any internet-connected device, which is not possible with a local backup.
  • Protection against local disasters – Local backups may be lost or destroyed along with your computer if it is damaged in a fire, flood, or other incident. Cloud backups keep your data safe.
  • Automatic continuous backup – Most online backup services run automatic, continuous backups that capture new and changed files. This removes the risk of forgetting to manually create backups.
  • Greater storage capacity – Online services provide vast amounts of storage, often unlimited, so you likely never have to worry about running out of space for your backups.

What should I look for in a free online backup service?

When evaluating free online backup services, keep the following features in mind:

  • Secure encryption – Your files should be protected with industry-standard encryption so they cannot be accessed without your authorization.
  • Simple file restoration – You want to be able to easily restore your files when needed. Services should allow restores via web interface and/or by shipping files on a storage device.
  • File versioning – Versioning allows you to access previous versions of files in case you need to revert changes or recover an old copy.
  • File sharing capabilities – Many services let you securely share files with others via links. This allows collaboration while keeping sensitive data private.
  • Mobile apps – Being able to access and manage your backups on your smartphone or tablet is very convenient.

5 great free online backup services

Here are 5 highly recommended free online backup services to consider using:

1. Google Drive

Google Drive is one of the most popular free cloud storage services, offering 15GB of free space. Files can be accessed through the web, desktop syncing, and mobile apps. While 15GB is somewhat limited compared to other services, Google Drive provides:

  • Strong encryption and security features
  • File versioning for up to 30 days
  • Easy sharing via links
  • Integration with Google Docs for document collaboration
  • Availability on all major platforms

For many users, the free 15GB is sufficient for documents, photos, and other important files. Google Drive is easy to use and widely trusted.

2. Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive gives you 5GB of storage free, plus additional bonuses for using other Microsoft products. It serves as the official online storage solution for Windows, Office 365, and Outlook.com. OneDrive offers:

  • Syncing capabilities for instant access to your files
  • File version history for up to 30 days
  • Easy sharing of files and folders withcontacts
  • Advanced security features and encryption
  • Deep integration with Microsoft Office for seamless collaboration

For Windows and Office users, OneDrive is a natural choice offering tight integration. It meets the needs of most with its initial 5GB of storage.

3. Dropbox

Dropbox pioneered the personal cloud storage space and remains one of the best-known brands. The free tier comes with 2GB of space. Dropbox provides:

  • File version history up to 30 days
  • LAN sync for local backups and quick access
  • Advanced encryption technologies
  • Easy folder and link sharing
  • Wide availability across platforms and devices

The 2GB limit is on the lower side, but affordable paid plans are available if you need more space. Overall Dropbox remains an excellent choice for effortless cloud backup and synchronization.

4. Box

Box focuses on business and enterprise users, but also offers a generous 10GB free plan. Given its business strengths, Box excels at features like:

  • Advanced administration, security, and reporting
  • Robust file sharing and collaboration tools
  • Integration with Google Workspace and Office 365
  • APIs and SDKs for enterprise application development
  • Bulk upload tools

With 10GB free, Box has one of the largest initial storage allowances. Businesses may appreciate Box’s administrative tools, but it works well for personal use too.

5. Mediafire

MediaFire offers a very generous 50GB of free storage, with no limits on bandwidth or file types. They focus on simplicity with drag-and-drop uploads and intuitive interfaces. Key features include:

  • 50GB allows backing up large media collections
  • One-click file sharing
  • Sync to desktop and mobile devices
  • No caps on bandwidth or file types
  • Drag-and-drop uploading

For sheer storage capacity, Mediafire’s 50GB free plan is hard to beat. The service covers the basics well with an emphasis on simplicity in uploading and sharing.

What are some key factors when choosing a free backup service?

When selecting a free online backup service, keep the following key factors in mind:

  • Storage space – Look at the maximum free storage amount as well as options to expand if needed. Unlimited space is ideal.
  • Security – Proper encryption is a must. Two-factor authentication provides an extra level of protection.
  • File versioning – Versions help recover older copies and revisions of files if needed.
  • Sharing/collaboration features – Useful for personal and business use. Link sharing should have custom permissions.
  • Mobile apps – Access anywhere with apps for phones and tablets.
  • Syncing and backup capabilities – Match files across devices and automate backups.
  • Platform and device support – Use the service on your operating systems and devices.
  • Reliability and uptime – Choose an established provider with robust infrastructure and uptime guarantees.

Prioritize the factors that are most important for your usage. Test promising services with small amounts of data first before fully committing.

What are some ways to use these free services effectively?

Here are some tips for getting the most value out of a free online backup service:

  • Turn on automatic backups to capture new and changed files effortlessly.
  • Use desktop syncing to mirror important folders onto all your devices.
  • Share links to documents rather than attachments for easy collaboration.
  • Take advantage of mobile apps to access files on the go.
  • Use file versioning to protect against unintended changes.
  • Store irreplaceable data like photos in at least two different services for redundancy.
  • Set up two-factor authentication for better protection.
  • Organize your data into folders to keep things tidy as your usage grows.
  • Only backup essential data to conserve your free storage space.

The best practices for online backups are very similar to local backups. Automate the process as much as possible, replicate important data across multiple services, and actively manage your storage as needed.

What are some potential downsides of free online backup services?

While free online backup services provide essential protection for your files, there are some drawbacks to consider:

  • Limited storage and features compared to paid plans
  • Possible retention policies that delete old files to conserve space
  • No guaranteed support or customer service resources
  • Potentially slower speeds and bandwidth caps
  • Must renew service periodically to maintain access to files
  • Risk of service shutting down and losing access to backups
  • Privacy concerns over data mining practices

To mitigate risks, only store irreplacable data in reputable established services. Broadly distribute backups across multiple platforms. Overall though, the benefits still outweigh potential downsides for most personal backup needs.

What are some alternatives to these free online backup services?

Some alternatives to free online backup services include:

  • External hard drives provide local backups and portability.
  • USB flash drives are small, convenient for transferring files.
  • Personal NAS devices give networked home storage and backup.
  • Burning data to DVDs or Blu-Ray discs can create archival backups.
  • Backup software creates local or cloud backups tailored to your needs.
  • Paid online backup services offer more features and storage.
  • Cloud storage services like iCloud or Amazon S3 allow customized backups.

Local backup methods ensure you retain full control over your data. Alternate cloud services give more flexibility for advanced needs. Evaluate your budget, usage, and technical comfort when choosing between alternatives.

What are some top tips for getting started with online backup?

Follow these tips when getting started with online file backup:

  • Find a service that best fits your usage – assess your needs for space, features, platforms, etc.
  • Never store the only copy of important data in one backup service – distribute redundantly.
  • Setup automatic backups to capture new and changed files effortlessly.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for better security where possible.
  • Install desktop and mobile apps to access files conveniently.
  • Organize your data into folders so you can find files easily.
  • Share links instead of attachments for easy collaboration.
  • Use versioning to protect against unintended changes.
  • Review storage usage periodically to avoid exceeding limits.
  • Keep local backups as well for quick restores and redundancy.

The key is automating your backups so they run continuously without manual intervention. Maintain local and cloud backups for the best protection. With a little setup, online backup gives you great peace of mind.


Free online backup services make protecting your files incredibly easy. Leading options like Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox offer ample storage and features for most personal needs. Take advantage of automatic continuous backups, file sharing, mobile access, and other capabilities.

Online storage cannot fully replace local backups, so utilize both for optimal redundancy. But with so many reputable services offering free plans, there’s no reason not to backup your important files in the cloud. With the right preparation and diligent ongoing monitoring, your data will always be protected and available wherever you go.