Cloud computing and online backups are no longer a novel concept but a necessity. Cloud storage applications are not only for those with trade secrets and mass amounts of personally identifiable information (PII).

Individuals and businesses of all sizes can highly benefit from storing files, photos, and co-authored documents on the cloud. A cloud storage application ensures the safety and security of important files while allowing us to access our data across multiple operating systems and devices.

Walter Silin, CEO at born-in-the-cloud technology solution provider Bauen Solutions, affirms that the current pandemic crisis caused by the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak will change the labor market forever.

“The current rise in cloud services is a sign of changing times and a powerful tool to fight against global threats such as the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. People need to stay home, and cloud-powered services are giving them tools to maintain their productivity. It is just the beginning; the whole job landscape and way of companies interacting are changing forever.”

Silin also highlighted that “while many people are working remotely for the first time, our company has been entirely remote for nearly three years. We have always used Teams as our primary communication tool, and the service did not blink during the increased usage.”

There are several affordable cloud storage applications out there. Some companies offer services free of charge. Here are a few of the best free cloud storage offerings on the market:

Microsoft OneDrive – Personal cloud storage

Microsoft OneDrive Basic allows you to store your files and photos with the ability to access them anywhere. The Basic plan gives you access to 5 GB of free storage with the option to store up to 3 of your most important files in a Personal Vault.

The Basic plan allows you to use Office for the web for free. You can use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to create, edit, share, and co-author documents. You have the option to access your files using a mobile application or a web browser with the possibility of syncing files directly to your PC, Mac, or mobile device.

Read: OneDrive for Business Vs. SharePoint, Which is Right for My Small Business

Google Drive – File storage and synchronization service

Google Drive is a free storage application that allows you to store any file, including photos, videos, and PDFs. When you create a Google account, you receive access to the Drive for free and receive 15 GB of data— one of the highest amounts out of the free cloud storage options.

You can optimize your free experience by working with Google apps such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides, Google Forms, and Google Drawings. You can make your files available offline so you can view them on your phone and tablet without a network connection.

Google takes your security very seriously. Every file in the Drive is safe no matter what happens to your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Your Drive is encrypted using SSL, which is the same security protocol used on the other Google services.

Dropbox – File hosting service

Dropbox Basic is Dropbox’s entry-level plan. It offers 2 GB of space at no cost that you can use to store, access, and share your files on multiple devices. Dropbox offers both desktop and mobile applications that run on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems as well as iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices.

Just because it is free doesn’t mean Dropbox slacks on security. They offer tools such as two-step verification and an account security page where you can monitor linked devices, active web sessions, and third-party apps that have access to your account.

You can download files from using your web browser and back up data to Dropbox using the desktop and mobile apps. All you must do is save the Dropbox folder directly on to your computer or mobile device.

Beyond the Basics

As a modern IT professional, you must always look at the larger picture. A free cloud storage solution may work well as a short-term fix, but not so well as a long-term solution for your business. Considering a full solution for your business may help you reach your business goals and achieve a competitive edge.

Microsoft Azure – Cloud computing service

Microsoft Azure is a comprehensive cloud computing service. It provides your business with freedom and flexibility to build, test, deploy, and manage applications through a global network of data centers.

Azure allows users to build cloud-native applications on a flexible platform that enables users to create highly secure, resilient apps with a faster time to market. Microsoft reports more than 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies to trust their business on Azure.

It is not only a place where you drop your files but a place where you can access various applications from AI + Machine Learning to DevOps.

The Azure Storage application is a scalable and secure cloud storage platform where you can store your data, apps, and workloads. There multiple storage products to choose from that enable you to integrate on-premises data with your cloud data while meeting compliance and privacy requirements.

Microsoft keeps customer privacy a priority. Azure offers users more than 90 compliance offerings while investing $1 billion per year in security to keep your business protected. Cloud security is managed through advanced AI and 3,500 Microsoft security professionals who analyze 6.5 trillion global signals every day. Microsoft makes certain that your cloud storage and data are controlled by you and are never used for marketing or malicious purposes.