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The best ways to store pictures, videos and files online - free

Save money on your mobile - and keep your pictures and videos safe, by storing them online instead. But which free option is best?

Online storage solutions such as Dropbox and SkyDrive offer a place to store pictures, videos, apps and files - but can also save you money on your phone.

If you store your stuff online, you'll need less space in your phone, which can save you cash.

The cloud is the simple name for a connected network of services that lives online. One of these is storage, with lots of companies offering password-protected backup plans for relatively small prices, accessible whenever you want as long as you have access to the internet.


Google Drive
Free storage: 5GB
Google Drive gives you 5GB free storage but offers up to a gargantuan 16TB. Pricing is keen too, with 25GB setting you back $2.49 a month and 100GB only $4.99 (16TB will set you back a heftier $800).

Simple to use, Google Drive is essentially an extension of Google Docs and works across Windows and Mac OS X, on the web, and on Android and iOS via the app.



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The integration with Google Docs makes it easy to share and sync documents, photos and other files and edit them collaboratively from multiple devices online – great for work if you’re a small business or freelancer.

Cheap and easy to use, Google Drive’s strengths lie in its share and sync capabilities with a leaning towards documents rather than multimedia.


iCloud
Free storage: 5GB
Apple’s iCloud also offers 5GB free backup but charges £14 per year for an extra 10GB up to a maximum 55GB for £70 a year.

Built into the latest OS X and iOS devices like the iPhone 5, its integration into Apple’s native Mail, Calendar, iTunes and iPhoto apps make it simple and effortless to use with automatic syncing keeping all your devices up to date. iCloud also works with Windows, but not Android or BlackBerry.

Less a sharing and syncing service for all your stuff, iCloud is app-centric and isn’t compatible with all file types. Music backup with iTunes Match is great and the photo streaming from iOS devices is also very handy, but for documents and file sharing, look elsewhere.


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Dropbox
Free storage: 2GB
One of the first and best cloud sync services, Dropbox Basic offers 2GB free (with referral registrations adding 500MB a time up to 16GB), Dropbox Pro charges $99 (£62) a year for 100GB and $499 (£313) for 500GB. Dropbox Teams offers bigger storage solutions for businesses.

The big appeal is in its platform friendliness, with superb Windows and Mac integration and a range of great apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Linux. In fact you can use it on almost any internet-enabled device.

Create an account and you can store and access photos, videos and files in folders online, share individual folders and access them easily from a simple desktop client. There’s no automatic syncing or backup of your files though, making this more of a store and share service.


Microsoft SkyDrive
Free storage: 7GB
With a sizeable 7GB free storage when you sign up and paid for options stretching to 100GB for $50 (£31) a year, Microsoft’s cloud storage is the cheapest amongst its rivals.

SkyDrive works on web, PC and Mac and is the only service here that works on Windows Phones’ like the Nokia Lumia 920. iOS is also catered to, but there’s no dedicated love for Android or BlackBerry.

Deep integration with Microsoft Office is a boon for working on documents on and offline as file types are the same online as on your desktop. Creating, adding and sharing files is simple from the well-designed interface. You can also set photos to automatically back up direct from your device.


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SugarSync
Free storage: 5GB
Like many of its rivals, SugarSync offers a free 5GB of storage, but you’ll have to look hard to see it tucked away at the bottom of the signup page. Instead it prefers to concentrate on its 30GB for $50 (£31) a year, 60GB for $100 ($62) a year, 100GB for $150 (£94) and larger storage deals. Like Dropbox it too offers a dedicated multi-user business account.

SugarSync supports web, PC and Mac alongside Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian on mobile, making it one of the most accessible backup services.

It’s also blisteringly easy to use thanks to its Magic Briefcase feature – just add a file to the folder on your computer and it auto stores, copies and syncs the file to all the devices you’ve installed the app on. Sharing and auto backing up of files is equally easy.