13 Best File Hosting Services (Feb. 2024): Free Storage & Sharing

 13 Best File Hosting Services (Feb. 2024): Free Storage & Sharing

Whether you're safeguarding family memories or safeguarding vital business documents, top-tier file hosting services offer the security and assurance necessary when entrusting another entity with your data.

The surge in demand for extra storage and disaster recovery strategies propels the personal cloud storage market, projected to hit nearly $126 billion by 2023, with a robust growth rate of 45%. These online platforms eliminate the necessity for tech-savvy individuals to invest in and configure additional hardware, streamlining the process of transferring, storing, and editing data online.

In this article, we highlight our preferred file hosting services, assessing them based on device compatibility, user-friendliness, pricing, storage capacity, as well as productivity and collaboration tools. Keep reading for our detailed comparisons and responses to any queries you may have regarding file sharing software and associated web hosting services.

1. Sync

Sync offers a comprehensive cloud storage and file-sharing solution designed to keep teams organized and efficient. Trusted by over 2 million teams worldwide, Sync provides an all-in-one platform at an affordable price, encompassing file synchronization, sharing, collaboration, and backup features. Compatible across various devices, Sync allows seamless integration with Microsoft Office 365, enhancing team productivity.

With its wide range of features, Sync enables users to streamline their workflow and save costs by consolidating multiple file-sharing, remote access, and backup tools. Moreover, its per-seat user costs are competitively priced compared to its counterparts. In terms of user privacy, Sync excels by implementing end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication, ensuring protection against unauthorized data access. Sync prioritizes user privacy by minimizing tracking, adhering to compliance standards, and refraining from accessing or sharing encrypted customer data, making it particularly suitable for industries dealing with sensitive information.

Key features include user privacy, AES-256 encryption, real-time backup and syncing, unlimited storage and sharing, automatic failover, secure document collaboration, files-on-demand, and SOC compliance. Sync offers a free plan with up to 5GB of storage, while paid plans start at $8 per month for 2TB of storage. For teams, starting at $6 per user per month, Sync provides unlimited storage and sharing without overage fees. Additionally, Sync ensures minimal downtime with its self-managed datacenters featuring hardware and regional data redundancy, as well as automated failover across multiple locations.

 Website: Sync

Sync's commitment to user privacy, along with its array of features, makes it a standout choice for teams seeking a reliable and secure cloud storage solution.

2. SugarSync

Originally focused on synchronizing images across multiple devices, SugarSync has evolved into an intuitive online backup and cloud storage solution. Users can effortlessly save, view, edit, sync, share, and securely access their files. Available in personal and business plans, the latter offers scalability beyond 2TB of storage capacity and grants control over bandwidth and permissions. Moreover, customers can test each plan for free for 30 days.

Key features include automatic syncing across devices, remote deleting, secure file sharing, the ability to restore protected folders, automatic continuous backups, and mobile apps for iOS and Android. SugarSync offers a 30-day free trial, with plans starting at $7.49 per month for 100GB of storage.

One notable aspect of SugarSync is its flexible month-to-month billing system, avoiding the need for annual contracts. While it's among the more expensive options on the market (at $55 for 1TB), its user-friendly interface, robust security measures, and convenient mobile apps justify the investment. The platform employs TLS and AES-256 encryption, ensuring data security comparable to that used by leading tech companies and banks.

Website: SugarSync

With its user-friendly interface, strong security features, and convenient mobile apps, SugarSync remains a valuable choice for individuals and businesses seeking reliable cloud storage and backup solutions.

3. Box

With over 70% of Fortune 500 companies among its clientele, Box stands out as a highly scalable file hosting solution catering to demanding requirements. While the company offers a compelling 10GB free plan for individuals, we found greater value in its other packages. For just $5 per month more than the somewhat restrictive Personal plan, users can unlock unlimited storage along with additional security and reporting tools, ensuring a more transparent and protected experience.

Key features of Box include automated workflow, collaboration, and machine learning tools, as well as compatibility with over 1,500 third-party integrations. The platform offers easy and secure file sharing, alongside intelligent classification and categorization of files.

Box provides a free plan with up to 10GB of storage, while paid plans start at $10 per month for 100GB of storage. For business customers, Box offers massive scalability with enterprise-grade packages that introduce enhanced collaboration and governance features. With data residency in nine countries, Box facilitates compliance with regulations such as GDPR, PCI, and HIPAA.

Founded in 2005 with a mission to simplify access to information from anywhere and enable seamless collaboration, Box has evolved into a comprehensive tool suitable for both teams and individuals alike.

Website: Box

Box offers business customers significant scalability, providing enhanced features for collaboration and governance through its enterprise-grade packages. With data residency in nine countries, Box ensures compliance with regulations such as GDPR, PCI, and HIPAA, simplifying the process for businesses to meet their regulatory requirements.

Established in 2005 with a mission to facilitate seamless access to information from any location and enable collaboration with anyone, Box has become a versatile tool suitable for both teams and individuals. Whether it's sharing files, collaborating on projects, or ensuring data security and compliance, Box offers comprehensive solutions to meet diverse business needs.

4. ElephantDrive

Being one of the pioneers and widely adopted applications built on Amazon Web Services S3 (Simple Storage Service), ElephantDrive harnesses advanced technologies and collaborations with leading network-attached storage (NAS) manufacturers to offer a versatile cloud storage virtualization and online backup solution. While the initial 2GB free plan may seem modest, ElephantDrive's reasonably priced entry-level plan provides users with ten times more storage space for just a nominal increase in cost per month. Additionally, every premium ElephantDrive plan includes a 30-day free trial period.

Key features of ElephantDrive include native integration with numerous NAS devices, automatic syncing across various devices, and compatibility with operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. Moreover, ElephantDrive ensures data security through robust encryption protocols, including 256-bit AES and 128-bit SSL encryption.

ElephantDrive stands out for its support for Linux machines and provision for Windows server backups, distinguishing it from other options on our list. In 2019, the company introduced a HIPAA-HITECH compliant Business Associate Agreement (BAA), guaranteeing HIPAA compliance for customers handling protected health information (PHI). While ElephantDrive may lag slightly behind industry leaders in productivity app integrations, it compensates by including support for 10 devices and three subaccounts in its introductory plan — features typically reserved for business-grade packages.

Website: ElephantDrive

5. IDrive

Having been in the data backup and storage industry since 1995, IDrive offers a comprehensive suite of features designed to simplify complex processes through user-friendly online dashboards. Specializing in cloud storage, online backup, and remote access solutions, IDrive offers incremental and compressed snapshots of unlimited PCs, Macs, and mobile devices to optimize bandwidth consumption and enhance performance. While IDrive provides users with 5GB of free storage — a bit less than some competitors — the availability of a well-equipped no-cost option is always appreciated.

Key features of IDrive include real-time file syncing, the option for data retrieval and restoration through physical drive mailing, remote computer management, 256-bit encryption, server backup scripts, and bare-metal disaster recovery services. IDrive offers a free plan with up to 5GB of storage, while paid plans start at $52.12 per year for 2TB of storage.

IDrive distinguishes itself with advanced features such as HIPAA compliance and specialized server and database cloud backup tools, making it particularly appealing to businesses and developers seeking to safeguard sensitive data. The company also offers good cost-per-terabyte benefits, and its new web-based thin-client application provides an improved, minimalist interface for end-users.

Website: IDrive

6. Microsoft OneDrive

Integrated seamlessly with Office 365, Microsoft OneDrive offers a blend of top-notch productivity and collaboration tools alongside generous cloud storage and file syncing capabilities. However, compared to Google Drive, OneDrive provides significantly less free storage, and even its storage-only option of 100GB for $1.99 per month may not meet everyone's needs. The real advantages of OneDrive become apparent with the Office 365 Personal plan, offering 1TB of storage for $69.99 per year.

Key features of OneDrive include offline access, SSL encryption, compatibility across multiple devices, the ability to set expiration dates on shared links, locally installed versions of Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, as well as ransomware detection and recovery capabilities. OneDrive offers a free plan with up to 5GB of storage, with paid plans starting at $1.99 per month for 100GB.

On the business front, OneDrive expands its capabilities to meet enterprise needs by offering Exchange email hosting, Sharepoint intranet, advanced data loss protection services, and in-place holds to preserve deleted and edited documents. Users can conveniently access, edit, and share files from their PC, Mac, web browser, or smartphone.

Website: OneDrive

7. Google Drive

Google Drive combines the ubiquitous email platform in America with an extensive cloud storage solution, making it a formidable option in the market.

Ideal for individuals and small businesses, Google Drive offers top-tier productivity tools, allowing users to create, edit, share, and store files across multiple devices and programs seamlessly. The platform's user-friendly interface serves as a natural extension for existing Gmail users, and upgrading to access additional resources is cost-effective.

Key features of Google Drive include compatibility across various files and devices, intuitive search functionality, data loss prevention rules, and a vast array of productivity apps covering everything from forms to sketches. Google Drive offers a free plan with up to 15GB of storage, with paid plans starting at $1.99 per month for 100GB.

However, Google Drive lags behind in certain enterprise-grade security features compared to its competitors. While Google's reliability is unquestionable, privacy concerns may arise as users cannot protect files or folders with passwords, necessitating careful attention to how sensitive data is shared. Additionally, the platform's desktop utility stores information locally, which can be frustrating for some users. Despite these limitations, Google Drive remains highly commendable.

Website: Google Drive

Overall, Google Drive earns two solid thumbs up for its robust features and seamless integration with the widely-used Gmail platform.

8. MediaFire

MediaFire is a go-to platform for over 840 million people each month, offering seamless file sharing and storage solutions.

With a user base of 50 million registered users, MediaFire stands out for providing exceptional value. For less than $5 per month, users can access a generous 1TB of storage space. The platform's free plan offers 10GB of storage, albeit accompanied by display ads during file downloads. However, users can earn up to an additional 40GB of storage by completing tasks such as connecting social media accounts or referring friends.

Key features of MediaFire include password-protected files, one-time links for secure sharing, detailed security logs, social media integration for easy sharing, unlimited bandwidth and downloads, as well as bulk downloads. MediaFire offers a free plan with up to 50GB of storage, with paid plans starting at $3.75 per month for 1TB.

MediaFire provides downloadable clients for desktop and mobile, compatible with both Windows and Mac devices, albeit with varying levels of functionality. While power users may seek additional collaboration and workflow management features, MediaFire is highly recommended as a straightforward storage service renowned for its affordability and expansive capacity.

Website: MediaFire

Overall, MediaFire offers a simple yet robust storage solution, making it a preferred choice for individuals and businesses seeking affordable and spacious cloud storage options.

9. Dropbox

Initially conceived as a personal solution to the frustration of losing a USB drive, Dropbox has evolved into one of the most prominent names in the cloud file hosting industry.

Originally focusing on individuals and small businesses, Dropbox has now expanded its reach into the enterprise market. Despite its growth, Dropbox remains one of the more cost-effective options available, offering substantial storage space. Alongside a 2GB free plan for individuals, business plans include a 30-day free trial period.

Key features of Dropbox include remote device wipes, two-factor authentication, robust encryption (256-bit and TLS), integration with Microsoft Office 365, administrative console and audit logs, direct download links for individual files, and granular access controls at the shared folder level. Dropbox offers a free plan with up to 2GB of storage, while paid plans start at $9.99 per month for 2TB.

While Dropbox has occasionally faced security vulnerabilities due to its prominence, the platform implements high-grade encryption, granular sharing controls, two-factor authentication, and remote device deletion capabilities. Although some collaboration tools may be slightly cumbersome, Dropbox remains a recommended choice for teams of all sizes, thanks to its comprehensive administrative dashboards and oversight capabilities.

Website: Dropbox

Overall, Dropbox's evolution from a personal solution to a versatile cloud file hosting service makes it a reliable choice for individuals and businesses alike, offering robust security features and administrative controls.

10. pCloud

Having amassed over 8 million users in less than a decade, pCloud stands out for offering individuals and businesses a blend of advanced cloud technologies and intuitive, user-friendly interfaces geared towards efficiency. A key feature we admire is the ability for users to customize and brand their download links and pages, ensuring a professional and consistent appearance for colleagues, collaborators, and external clients.

Key features of pCloud include customizable download links, optional client-side encryption for enhanced security, selective offline access to files, built-in video and audio players for seamless media playback, 30-day file versioning for added peace of mind, and no file size or shared folder limits. pCloud offers a free plan with up to 20 GB of storage, with paid plans starting at $3.99 for 500 GB.

Similar to MediaFire, pCloud provides users with 10GB of free storage and opportunities to earn additional storage by sharing files and folders, connecting social media accounts, and other actions. While U.S. users may have reservations about the Switzerland-based company's server locations, the added assurance of compliance with GDPR security and privacy regulations is a positive aspect for users seeking to safeguard sensitive information.

Website: pCloud

Overall, pCloud's combination of advanced features, customizable options, and commitment to security and privacy make it an attractive choice for individuals and businesses alike, offering a seamless and secure cloud storage solution.

11. Livedrive

Launched in 2008 with a mission to simplify data backups and syncing for all users, Livedrive offers military-grade security and unlimited cloud storage options tailored for individuals and small businesses.

As a sister company of SugarSync under the ownership of J2 Global, Livedrive presents a more focused and streamlined solution. Customers can opt for a backups-only product, a syncing platform, or a combination of both services.

Key features of Livedrive include unlimited cloud storage, team folders with customizable permissions, PCI compliance, data centers located in the UK protected by 24/7 physical security, and support for Windows, Mac, and mobile devices. Livedrive offers a 14-day free trial, with plans starting at $8 per month for unlimited storage space.

While Livedrive's UK data centers may deter some US customers, and its prices may seem steep compared to competitors, the platform excels in providing extensive cloud storage options and robust security measures. However, it may lack some collaboration and productivity features found in larger brands. Nonetheless, for users prioritizing ample cloud storage space and security, Livedrive's attention to detail and unlimited file hosting capacities make it a compelling choice.

Website: Livedrive

12. Hightail

Targeted towards businesses with extensive teams and significant file-sharing needs, Hightail positions itself as a leader in the enterprise information management sector. The company's robust platform enables organizations to accelerate their operations, streamline information governance processes, and mitigate security risks effectively. Hightail prioritizes secure file sharing, allowing users to send and share files as large as 100GB while receiving real-time notifications of data receipt, downloads, and access.

Key features of Hightail include file delivery and download tracking, customizable branding options, password protection for added security, real-time comments and discussions, side-by-side version comparison, approval routing, and task management functionalities. Hightail offers a free plan with up to 2GB of storage, with paid plans starting at $12 per month for unlimited storage.

While Hightail provides a 2GB free plan, it's important to note that uploaded files automatically expire after seven days, which may not be suitable for users seeking long-term storage solutions. However, paid customers have the flexibility to set expiration dates for time-sensitive information or prevent expiration entirely.

Website: Hightail

Overall, Hightail offers a comprehensive solution for businesses seeking efficient file sharing and management capabilities, with a focus on security and real-time collaboration features. While the free plan may have limitations, the paid plans provide ample storage and advanced functionalities tailored to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes.

13. MEGA

Founded on the principle that cryptography should not compromise usability, MEGA prioritizes browser-based performance coupled with end-to-end encryption. Notably, MEGA grants users control over their encryption keys, establishing itself as a zero-knowledge file hosting service where the company remains unaware of the data stored on its servers. While MEGA may not excel in file sharing and collaboration features due to its emphasis on security and privacy, its secure sharing and communication methods help offset this drawback.

Key features of MEGA include end-to-end encryption, availability of desktop and mobile apps, a command-line tool, as well as secure messaging and audio or video calls. MEGA offers a free plan with up to 50GB of storage, with paid plans starting at $5.45 per month for 200GB.

Despite MEGA's appealing 50GB free plan, there are several limitations to consider: 35GB of the allocated space expires after 30 days, and additional storage earned through installing the MEGA mobile or desktop apps expires after 180 days. Similarly, the 10GB of storage gained through referral bonuses expires after a year.

Website: MEGA

Overall, MEGA stands out for its strong emphasis on security and privacy, offering users control over their encryption keys and robust end-to-end encryption. While the free plan boasts ample storage, users should be mindful of the expiration limitations associated with certain storage bonuses.

What is the Difference Between File Hosting and File Sharing?

One of the significant advantages of file hosting is the convenience it offers in allowing others to access files without the hassle of dealing with cumbersome email attachments or physical flash drives. While email attachments often come with file size limitations, and using flash drives requires physical proximity, file hosting platforms eliminate these constraints.

Most reputable file hosting platforms provide mechanisms for sharing files or granting access to others, usually through shareable links. These links allow recipients to view or download the files directly from the storage platform. However, some services are specifically designed for sharing large files with others without offering permanent storage or sophisticated file organization systems.

In essence, file hosting refers to any service that enables users to upload and manage their files on servers owned by another company. On the other hand, file sharing involves generating a link that allows someone to download a specific file. Certain file sharing services, like WeTransfer, operate on a file-by-file basis and do not require users to create an account. Users simply upload the file, obtain the shareable link, and distribute it as needed.

Where Can I Host Files for Free?

Most of the top file hosting services offer some form of a free option, whether it's a trial period allowing users to familiarize themselves with the platform or a permanent no-cost plan with certain limitations. Below are some of the best free file hosting plans available:

1. Box: Provides 10 GB of storage with a maximum uploaded file capacity of 250 MB.
2. pCloud: Offers up to 20 GB of storage with no file upload limits.
3. Google Drive: Provides 15 GB of storage with no relevant file upload limit.
4. MediaFire: Offers up to 50 GB of storage with a 4 GB file upload limit.
5. MEGA: Provides up to 50 GB of storage, but with expiration for most storage.

Additionally, many Chromebooks come with Google Drive built-in, along with 100GB of free storage for two years. Other services on our list also offer free plans with smaller capacities. For example, IDrive and Microsoft OneDrive provide users with 5GB for free, while ElephantDrive, Dropbox, and Hightail allocate 2GB for their free plans.

Regardless of the free option you select, it's crucial to research the platform's security, privacy policies, and technological features such as file size limits and support for various file types. Free web hosting plans may sometimes compromise on these aspects, potentially jeopardizing both your personal information and the integrity and safety of your data. Therefore, thorough due diligence is essential to ensure the safety and security of your files.

Which Cloud Service is the Most Secure? 

All the file hosting services listed in our compilation adhere to fundamental requirements of file security, user privacy, and data protection. The majority employ robust 256-bit encryption, a standard trusted by entities such as the United States government and numerous organizations globally. Furthermore, these services typically employ SSL (or TLS) encryption to safeguard data during upload, download, or transmission to prevent interception by unauthorized parties, ensuring protection against potential man-in-the-middle attacks.

In addition to encryption measures and private SSL certificates, it's advisable to seek out other security features that demonstrate a file hosting service's commitment to data protection. Malware and ransomware protection, along with two-factor authentication, are valuable safeguards. Moreover, robust password protection features, both for user accounts and for securing specific files and folders, are essential for bolstering security and preventing unauthorized access.

Despite occasional security incidents experienced by major players like Google Drive and Dropbox, which have been subject to attacks and breaches, they remain viable options for most users with standard needs. However, for businesses and individuals handling sensitive information, exploring HIPAA- or PCI-compliant solutions, as well as zero-knowledge platforms like MEGA, is advisable.

It's important to note that secure file sharing entails user responsibility as well. Employing strong passwords and selecting solutions with access logs or administrative features for tracking file access and modifications are crucial steps in enhancing security and maintaining control over shared data.

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