Store your stuff for free: how to make the most of free cloud storage

There's terabytes of free cloud storage out there. We show you how to get it

Complete cloud cover

Stop calling it the cloud; it's just the damn internet! With that off our chests, let us proceed.

It seems that if a new product hasn't had the term 'cloud' simply crowbarred into its marketing bumf, the entire production team is set to create its own stream of personalised precipitation when it gets its marching orders.

All good board of directors know their latest product has to be in the cloud, otherwise why would anyone use it? As it is, their pulsar-dense level of thundering stupidity is our gain.

While every man and his start-up are piling free cloud storage in with their app, phone, tablet, computer, service and kitchen sink, we can benefit by taking time out to hoover up this free online storage. See, 'online' is a perfectly good word for it, plus it takes us back to the days when AOL used to send out discs.

From just rough calculations of the services on offer, you could easily net yourself over 70GB of general internet storage. We're not even talking a huge number of services either; targeting the top eight should easily net you that much, while a little more work could almost quadruple that amount.

"Fine, but how are you suppose to combine that into an easily usable lump?" we hear you cry. That's exactly why we're here. We're going to look at the various storage services that are being offered, which are best for your needs and how you can more easily access them as a whole. Alongside that, we'll look at how you can maximise your free cloud storage, too.

Before we begin, an important point to note about cloud storage systems is that there's a distinction between general and specific-service storage. While DropBox only offers 2GB of general-purpose storage, an image service such as Flickr is happy to provide 500 times that, with 1TB for your photos and videos. So let's see how we can snap up terabytes of free storage.

Despite our moaning, every marketing cloud has a silver lining - in this case, free space. With broadband download speeds heading towards the sort of pace you'd expect from a slower USB thumb drive, it's not an outrageous statement to say you could start using online storage for generalised low-speed, long-term storage and backup. So just how much cloud storage can you snag?

It depends how determined you are to snaffle every gigabyte available and how open-minded you are to exactly what you define as 'storage'. Even for the lazy, it's an easy to job to grab at least 50GB. If you're looking for a quick and dirty solution, heading over to www.mega.co.nz and creating an account bestows you with 50GB of storage and very few limitations. In fact, there are no file size or bandwidth limits at all. It'll resume upload and downloads, and includes mobile access. The only real restriction is only a single transfer is possible per tab. It doesn't offer device synchronisation currently, but that's supposedly coming in a future update to the service.

Two words of warning, though: firstly there's no password recovery system, so if you lose it you can wave goodbye to your data, and secondly this service is run by notorious Kim Dotcom, so who knows if it'll be busted by the FBI.

Clumping clouds

Google Drive

Over on Wikipedia there's a useful curated list of storage services. By our maths, if you take out accounts for most of them, you could get yourself over 330GB of free space. With a few tricks you could boost this by a further 100GB. This next point might be stretching things a little, as we realise there's a big difference between general storage and specialist-service storage.