If you believe Apple, you really only need 16GB of storage on your phone. Why else would it still make the base iPhone 6S and 6S Plus with such little space? And, in fact, that thinking might be right — if you look to the cloud. By storing files remotely, you can grab them on demand and access them from various devices.
Even better, cloud storage doesn’t even have to cost a dime, thanks to a few free options. They have limits, but should you really need it, upgrading to more storage doesn’t cost too much. One caveat: All this downloading and streaming can quickly eat up your monthly mobile data plan. With that in mind, here’s how to get cloud storage without spending any of your well-earned paycheck.
Best for Photos
Photo files are storage hogs — and only getting bigger. The iPhone 6S features a 12-megapixel camera, and the Samsung Galaxy S6 outdoes that with a 16-megapixel camera. Most photos will take up 2-3MB of storage. Time to send those photos to the cloud instead of keeping them on your device. Google Photos is the best photo cloud storage option for most people. It offers free unlimited storage of files smaller than 16 megapixels. If you want to use it for higher resolution photos, you get up to 15GB storage for nothing (it uses Google Drive, which will eat into your Gmail and Google Docs allotments). However, upgrading your Google Drive to 100GB only costs $2 a month. Google Photos apps are free for Android and iOS. The app makes it easy to browse your photos (and videos, too), and includes some basic editing tools.
Best for Music
Google Play Music
So you have a large collection of MP3s and you’re not down with paying $10 a month to a streaming service such as Spotify Premium or Apple Music (which you can test out for free for up to three months before having to shell out a penny). Luckily, there’s still a way to slim the amount of space your music takes up on your device. Google Play Music offers a free digital music locker that holds 50,000 songs — up to 300MB per file (a typical song takes up about 4-6MB). And if you buy music through the Play Store, it doesn’t count against your song total. To use the music locker, you’ll need the Google Play Music Manager. The utility will find music files on your computer and upload them to the cloud. You can also use a plug-in for Chrome. Once your music is liberated from your machine, you can stream it through the free Android and iOS apps, or use a browser. You can set up playlists and browse by artist, song, or genre — just like you would with any media player.
Best for Documents
If you need to edit Word documents, Excel files, and Powerpoint presentations on the go, Google Drive offers a solid free option, but Microsoft’s OneDrive is even better. Like Google Drive, Microsoft gives you 15GB of storage for free. Plus, it throws in free access to Office Online for easy editing. Office Online isn’t as robust as the paid version, but it lets you do basic editing, which is hopefully all you need to do on a tiny screen anyway. OneDrive limits each file size to 10GB. If 15GB isn’t enough, upgrade to Office365 for unlimited storage.
Google and Microsoft aren’t the only options you have. Here are some other useful apps and services to consider: