Using cloud storage can be a valuable tool for nearly everyone, as it provides the ability to have backup copies of your data located away from your physical computer, just in case the computer’s hard drive crashes or someone steals the computer.
But if there is one group of people for whom cloud storage goes beyond making backups, it’s students. When in school, students need to create files regularly for taking notes, writing essays, and working on projects, and they need to be able to access those files anywhere and at any time to give them to instructors or to collaborate with fellow students.
One of the best options among cloud storage and file collaboration options is through Dropbox. Unfortunately, Dropbox does not have a special pricing tier for students. However, Dropbox does have a completely free tier that will be ideal for certain students to use.
We’ll discuss some of the ways students can make use of Dropbox, all with spending little to no money. (Save those dollars for ramen noodles.)
Is There a Dropbox Student Plan?
Dropbox does not offer a free cloud storage plan specifically for students, but it does have a free version that students could use.
Dropbox Basic provides students and others up to 2 GB of storage for free. With the Basic tier, customers are able to use quite a few of the same features as some of the lower end Dropbox subscription tiers, such as file collaboration.
Referring Friends for Extra Storage
If you’d like to gain more than 2 GB of storage at the Basic level, you have the chance to “earn” some extra space by referring other people to Dropbox.
With the Basic level, if your referral person signs up for Dropbox, you’ll gain an extra 500 MB (about 0.5 GB) of storage space. You can receive 500 MB for each person you refer who signs up for Dropbox, up to a total of 16 GB of extra storage in the Basic level. So as a student, if you can convince friends to sign up, you’ll have the option of having a lot more free storage than the starting 2 GB.
How Does the Dropbox Education Tier Work?
Depending on how your university department works, it is possible that you as a student will have access to the Dropbox Education tier. With Dropbox Education, faculty and students can collaborate on projects through file sharing, while also gaining access to cloud storage.
This is a subscription tier of Dropbox. Prices depend on the number of team members on the account. Those who want to use the Education tier must contact Dropbox for a price quote.
It is possible that your university department will pay the monthly subscription price for students who are part of the team, essentially allowing the student to use the storage for free. (However, some departments may not allow students to use Dropbox Education storage for personal use.)
Although there are different levels of storage space available to each person on each Dropbox Education team, a common storage amount is 15 GB per person.
Does Dropbox Have a Student Discount?
Unfortunately, Dropbox does not offer discounted pricing on its subscription tiers for students, so you’ll have to pay full price.
However, students do have the option of obtaining extra storage in the pay tiers without paying extra, using the same referral method we discussed earlier on the Basic tier.
If you refer a friend, and he or she signs up, you could earn up to 1 GB of extra space per referral when you’re using a paid tier subscription level of Dropbox. If you add enough referrals, you could gain an extra 32 GB of storage over time.
6 Tricks for Using Dropbox As a Student
Here are some tips to help you use Dropbox more effectively as a student.
No Need for a Printer
If your school allows you to make prints inexpensively on campus, save all of your files to Dropbox and then make prints on campus from any device, rather than purchasing your own printer.
This is an extremely easy process, and it works great if you forget to print an assignment while at your apartment or dorm room. With your files in Dropbox, you can make a print on campus at the last minute just before class, and your instructors will never know that you almost forgot.
Use the Dropbox App on All Devices
To ensure you have access to your Dropbox files wherever and whenever you need them, add the Dropbox app to all of your devices, including a smartphone or tablet. With its app, Dropbox makes it easy to access your files in the cloud from anywhere.
Easily Share With Others
If you are working on projects with classmates, setting up all of the files inside Dropbox means all project members can work on the files on their own time, leaving notes for other team members or showing editing suggestions.
Additionally, if you want to share class notes or notifications of assignments with classmates, this is easy when you store everything in Dropbox. You’ll be able to send a copy of a Dropbox file to anyone at any time without occupying storage space on your computer’s hard drive.
Connect to eBook Websites
With certain websites where you legally can download books and other items for your studies, such as Internet Archive, you may be able to sync your Dropbox account to the website, allowing you to download the books to your Dropbox cloud account, rather than on your hard drive, so they are available on any of your devices.
Save Hard Drive Space
By using Dropbox features called Smart Sync and Selective Sync, you can set up certain files to be only stored in the cloud, rather than on your hard drive. This saves space on the hard drive, which is helpful if your computer is starting to fill up, while still keeping your Dropbox files close at hand and quickly accessible whenever you need them.
Simplify Integrating Dropbox With Gmail
If, like a lot of students, you use Gmail as your email client, you can download an add-on or an extension for Gmail that allows it to integrate easily with Dropbox. You can select files from your Dropbox account to add to any Gmail message. The files will look like attachments, but they will be links to a Dropbox file, which saves time and simplifies sharing files versus using traditional attachments to emails.
Cheap Cloud Storage Alternatives for Students
If you want another option for your cloud storage beyond Dropbox, there are some free and inexpensive pay options you can consider.
Free Cloud Storage for Students
Beyond the free version of Dropbox we discussed earlier, there are a few other free cloud storage options that will work for students who don’t have significant data storage needs.
For those students who are members of Amazon Prime, you will be able to store an unlimited number of photos on Amazon Drive for free, as well as up to 5 GB of video files for free. This can be a handy option for the student who already has a Prime subscription and is looking to back up photos and videos from a smartphone.
Those students who own some sort of Apple device, including a iPhone or iPad, automatically receive 5 GB of free space in iCloud.
If you don’t have an Apple device, you can still receive 1 GB of free storage, but there are far better options on our list for free data storage for non-Apple device owners.
Although Box has more of a client base of businesses, rather than individuals, it does have a decent free storage tier that students could choose to use, offering 10 GB of storage.
Unfortunately, if you want to later upgrade to a paid version of Box, there are no options in the under-$5 per month category with Box.
Among students looking for free storage and other items, Google Drive is going to be the best option on the market for the majority of use cases.
With Google Drive, you’ll have the option of obtaining up to 15 GB of free storage, along with access to productivity apps like Docs and Sheets. Gmail can be part of the same account too.
All of the apps you use under your Google account will count toward your 15 GB limit. So if you receive a lot of huge email file attachments, those count against the storage limit along with your Google Drive files.
With MediaFire, students receive 10 GB of storage for free, and the service synchronizes nicely with social media and email clients. However, you will have to see ads with the free version.
You’ll only receive 5 GB of free storage with OneDrive, which is disappointing compared to some of the other options on our list.
However, if you have purchased a subscription to Microsoft 365 apps as a student (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), you’ll receive quite a bit of storage for free within OneDrive, so this is a good deal for students who are already using Microsoft 365.
If you don’t mind going outside the United States for your cloud storage provider, Swiss-based pCloud offers a free version that starts at 10 GB and is expandable to 20 GB of storage with friend referrals and other tasks.
One of the advantages of pCloud is that you can easily play stored media files, such as video and audio, through the pCloud app, which may be appealing to students.
With Sync, students will receive 5 GB of storage for free. Should you refer friends or complete other tasks, you have the option of increasing this to 20 GB of free storage over time.
Inexpensive Cloud Storage for Students
There are multiple storage options that cost less than $5 per month, but there are none from Dropbox. The cheapest option from Dropbox is the Plus tier, which costs about $12 per month for 2 TB of storage, which is a good amount of storage for the student who needs to store large files, such as video, presentations, and photographs.
However, we understand that money is tight for students, so the Plus tier may be too expensive. But if you can swing just a few dollars a month, you will gain access to quite a bit more storage than what the free versions deliver, as listed here.
For those who want to purchase storage, Apple offers one of the cheapest options at about $1 per month for 50 GB. It also has a $3 per month tier for 200 GB. There are some limitations on these pay tiers for those who do not own an Apple device or who do not subscribe to an Apple service.
Google One is the pay subscription storage tier for Google Drive. If you want more than the 15 GB of free storage in Drive, you can upgrade to a Google One account.
Google One has 100 GB of storage in Google Drive for almost $2 per month and 200 GB of storage in Google Drive for almost $3 per month. As with the free version of Google Drive, you’ll gain access to a number of Google tools with your Google One subscription.
Among cloud storage options for those willing to pay a few dollars a month, MediaFire has one of the largest storage subscriptions, offering 1 TB of storage for about $4 per month if paid annually and $5 per month when paying by the month.
If you are not a Microsoft 365 subscriber, but you want more storage than you receive for free with OneDrive, you can purchase 100 GB of storage for about $2 per month with OneDrive.
With Sync, you can pay about $5 per month for 200 GB of storage per year. However, there is no option to pay month to month with this subscription; you have to pay for the full year in advance.