Tips for Maximizing Cloud Storage on Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive

September 7, 2016

2:30 pm

Even though it seems like the cloud capacity is almost endless, all cloud storage providers do, in fact, have quite tangible limits of what you can get for free. With Dropbox that is 2GB, Google Drive offers lavish 15GB, Box features 10GB for free and OneDrive has 15GB of space you can utilize at no costs.

Sure, you can utilize a bunch of different services to get all the space you need at zero costs, but this may result in a terrible mess and loss of productivity. So, let’s first have a look on how you can extend the existing free space on various platforms:

Google Drive

Store all documents in the native Google Drive Format. In this case, you’d prevent them from counting towards that storage limit. You can also automatically convert them to Drive format during uploading to save yourself heaps of time later on.

Store your audio files in Play Music. Podcasts, favorite tunes, voice-overs – all of those can be stored separately in Play Music (currently allows having up to 50, 000 tracks for free), rather than on your Drive.

Optimize your photos and video files. You can upload as many pictures as you like as long as the resolution size of those is below 2048×2048. The same is true for video files under 15 minutes.


Complete all the “free bonus space options”. These include referring a friend (0.5GB per friend with max of 16GB in free space); connecting your Twitter and Facebook accounts (125MB for each), completing the “Get Started” guide (250 MB) and following the company on Twitter (125 MB).

Dropbox also features occasional promos for specific devices e.g. Samsung or HTC users could get up to 48GB in free space. So, keep an eye for the deals.


Refer a friend. In that case, you’ll receive 500 MB for each new sign up, capped at 5GB total. The good news is – unlike Dropbox, it’s easier to find people, who haven’t yet tried OneDrive.

Connect your Office 365 Subscription. Technically, that isn’t a completely free option as you need to pay for the software in order to receive 1 TB in free cloud space. However, Home Office 365 pack comes with a 1TB promo for up to 5 users, so you may want to ask around whether anyone’s interested in sharing.

Backup your photos using Camera Roll. If you use OneDrive app for iOS, Android or Windows phone to auto-sync your pictures, you are entitled to receive 3GB of free space. If you choose to disable this feature later, the disk space will still stay at your account.

If you still lack the desired cloud space, it’s probably time to compare the respective costs involved. Apart from additional space, paid plans often come with add-on features. For instance, when comparing Google Drive with Dropbox, the first one offers much more 3rd party app integrations with a better collaborative environment, while Dropbox still excels in security and file encryption, better and faster sync options and more seamless sharing functionality.

Additionally, as new names are entering the cloud storage sprint, the prices start dropping even lower. Amazon, who has just entered the scene, is trying to attract users with unlimited free storage for as low as $60 per year versus $100 per year for 1TB per user with Dropbox.  Look into the newer alternatives if you are inserted in cutting down the storage expenses.

Another tricky alternative route for the free loving data hoarders is to use Resilio (powered by BitTorrent Sync). This software allows you to sync up to 10 folders between different devices with no storage limits involved. If you need to store/sync more data, you’ll have to pay $40/year for unlimited access. You can use it to backup larger files, instead of sending those to the cloud. However, this option obviously doesn’t solve the problem of stolen/broken physical devices and the data loss coming from it.


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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien