It used to be much simpler to keep your stuff safe, even a decade ago, most of us only really had to worry about physical storage. It’s a bit longer than a decade ago that the first smart phones showed up though, but ever since that time, our dependence on computers and internet have grown exponentially. This is also why most people today know the message of Apple, DropBox, Google and the like, “You are out of space, please pay to upgrade”.
While most of these services are all well and good and the upgrade cost is usually nothing of severe impact on our lives, they do come with a lot of hidden dangers. Most of these services have at one time or another lost users data or even deliberately sold it onto 3rd parties, this coupled with the extra cost, would at least in some peoples eyes make it “not worth it”. The other edge of the sword is that these services usually also tend to try and do some sort of vendor lock-in, like iCloud only being accessible from Apple devices or Google Drive losing a lot of convenience features if not run through an app on an Android phone.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, as some of those people mentioned, who deemed it to be “not worth it”, has devised ways to do things yourself and easily at that. I am not talking about using a USB harddrive to copy things over on though (if you still do this, please don’t, it is highly unreliable), but rather making or renting your own server. I know this sounds super difficult and fancy, but server is just fancy tech speak for computer and the making or renting part is rather straight forward these days.
The first option would be just making your own server at home, it may sound difficult, but companies like Synology and QNAP provide little devices where you just have to buy a few harddrives, and slide them into the provided slots and you are good to go. They also both provide short easy to follow quick start guides, as well as video’s on how to set them up. In 99% of cases, they will just work out of the box and you can have a cloud like service for a few $ of electricity every month, in the safety of your home and it can be shared with your family.
The second option would be to rent a server running some sort of Cloud like service, where disks and electricity is taken care of, by them, for a monthly fee. The best value of these I have found is Hetzner, although German based, they provide what they call StorageBoxes, which runs something called NextCloud and starts as low as $5 a month for 100GB. NextCloud is a lot more similar to most other Cloud services you have tried, as it has some productivity apps, contact syncing and so on included with the storage space.
If you are brave enough though, NextCloud is an entirely free opensource project and can be run on any machine you want it to, be this a Raspberry Pi or your own computer. I hope this helped you get a little insight into your options and maybe even better, to help you save some money on your backup costs.