Is Free Cloud Storage Risk Free?

Since many devices integrate free cloud storage, more people are becoming familiar with this technology. Free limited storage is included when you purchase a new Apple product (iCloud), Android (Google Drive) or Windows (OneDrive). Getting free cloud storage is very practical, but many people wonder if there are any risk involved. Although in general, free and cloud storage offer the same benefits and possible risks, there are some unique aspects to keep in mind when it comes to unpaid online storage services. Here we will discuss the downsides of free cloud storage services. Keep in mind that we’ll focus on free options that provide a limited storage capacity and won’t take free-trials for paid services into consideration.

The downsides of free cloud storage solutions

Weak Encryption

Free storage usually provides disappointing encryption by default, but what you can do in this case is to encrypt the data prior to uploading it to your cloud storage service. Encryption is what ensures that your data remains protected and it is crucial when it comes to sensitive information. If you are planning to use cloud storage for confidential files, it is advisable that you opt for a paid solution that offers strong encryption and a high level of commitment to security.

Questionable Privacy

Privacy has become a priority for internet users around the world and unfortunately, when it comes to cloud services, there are reasons to be concerned. When we talk about privacy, we refer to the ability of keeping your information protected from snooping. If you privacy is safe when you use a cloud storage service, the provider won’t be able to see the data that you upload. Security is a different aspect and in most cases, cloud storage providers offer strong measures to defend data from attacks and cyber crime.

However, they may still monitor your files and may collaborate with spying agencies like the NSA. In fact, it is believed that most leading services including Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive and Dropbox, share users’ details with government organizations. The good news is that there are cloud storage solutions that offer a high level of privacy and help customers to prevent eavesdropping. These include Sync.com and SpiderOak. Most free cloud storage options are offered by large companies that are likely to hand over information to the government.

Lack of Customer Support options

Another downside of using free cloud storage services is that if you come across any issue, in most cases, you won’t get access to dedicated customer support. Most cloud storage providers offer help via live chat, ticket system, email and even phone, but usually those options are only reserved for paid customers. Free customers may only be able to get answers to their questions through the community forums, if there are any. That being said, there are some companies that offer support via email, although the response times may not be as fast. On the bright side, when you use free cloud storage from a recognized provider like Dropbox or Google, it is unlikely that you run into any major problems that require immediate assistance.

Redundancy and Outages

Even large companies may be affected by outages, which will have an impact on your free storage and even paid storage. Fortunately, downtime and outages are not that common and leading providers take the necessary measures to avoid them.

End of free service

When you rely on free cloud storage services, there is a risk of the free option being discontinued at some stage. Small companies are more likely to stop providing free storage solutions or they may close altogether. The bottom line is that if you are going to use a free cloud storage service, it is advisable that you opt for a well-established company as this reduces the chances of the service being completely shut down.

Benefits of cloud storage services

In spite of a few downsides and possible risks, there are good reasons to stick to a free cloud solution if you don’t need a high amount of storage capacity. In fact, there are ways in which you can get the mots out of your free storage space as you can combine the allowance from different services into one single place. In addition, you can enjoy free sharing and collaboration features that come very handy when you are managing personal and even work files. For instance, Google Drive offers great collaboration functionality and Dropbox is a practical solution to share your photos with friends and family. In addition, cloud storage (free and paid), allows you to access data across different devices and all that you need is an internet connection. Overall, free cloud storage is a convenient solution and while there are some downsides that should be considered, the risk involved are not considerable.

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