Cloud storage allows users to keep a copy of their files on an online drive, making it possible to access the files wherever an Internet connection is available. This also acts as a backup of sorts, in case a local copy is lost or damaged. Most cloud storage services offer automatic file syncing, so that when a local file is edited or changed, the copy “in the cloud” is also updated.
Most cloud storage services also offer apps or web interfaces, making it easy to access your files, no matter where you are located. For road warriors like myself, this makes it convenient, no matter which computer or device I am using.
Cloud storage providers have a huge amount of servers scattered around the globe, ensuring the safety of your data due to redundancy. Since your data is not stored on just one drive, like on your computer or other electronic device, it isn’t in danger if there is a hard drive failure.
Benefits of cloud storage include;
- Data protection.
- Access data anywhere there is an Internet connection.
- Cost effectiveness.
- Less reliance on failure-prone local hardware.
- Easy sharing of files with coworkers and clients.
- No hardware maintenance or replacement costs.
While cloud storage is widely available, pricing for the service varies greatly, as does the amount of storage you get for your hard earned dollar. In this article I’ll share information with you about the top three cloud storage services, and what they offer.
All three offer free levels of service as well as paid levels, which usually include extra services. I’ll take a look at the features of each.
Dropbox is, in my humble opinion, the easiest to use cloud storage service available today. In addition to good basic cloud file storage, the service offers file synchronization. Anything saved to the Dropbox folder on your computer or mobile device is automatically saved to your Dropbox cloud drive.
Dropbox is available for the Windows Desktop, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Windows Phone & Tablet platforms. Once the app is installed on a computer or mobile device, all of your files that are stored in Dropbox are available to that computer or device. This makes it easy to always have the latest versions of files immediately accessible.
Many users think of cloud storage as the same thing as cloud backup. While there are similarities, Dropbox should never be used in place of a good hard drive backup. Dropbox, and the other cloud storage solutions we’ll look at, is intended to make a user’s files available anywhere there is an Internet connection.
Another advantage of Dropbox is that the service offers an API for developers to include Dropbox compatibility in their apps. This has led to a large number of desktop and mobile apps which offer Dropbox syncing via their apps.
Dropbox offers a free basic subscription level, which gives a user 2GB of cloud storage. A “Dropbox Plus” plan is also available to individual users, which offers 1TB of cloud storage for $9.99 per month, or $8.25 per month if you opt to pay for a year of service up front.
Users can also snag extra free Dropbox storage space by referring their friends to the service. For each friend who tries Dropbox on your referral you’ll get an extra 500MB of storage. You can grab up to 16GB of cloud storage via referrals.
Business users can subscribe to plans that offer anywhere from 2TB to “you decide” amounts of cloud storage for $15 per user and up. Pricing for the custom amounts of storage varies according to how much storage is needed.
For more information about Dropbox, visit the Dropbox website.
OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage offering. Again, it’s not really intended for backing up your computer or mobile device, but offers access to your files no matter where you are, or what device you’re using.
OneDrive works in much the same manner as Dropbox, as a user selects a sync folder, and as changes are made to the contents of that folder, the changes are uploaded to the cloud.
If you already use Microsoft Office on your Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android, or Windows Mobile device, you already have access to OneDrive, whether you know it or not. Microsoft includes up to 5TB of OneDrive cloud storage with their “personal” Office 365 subscriptions. This makes it almost a no-brainer for Office users.
Microsoft also offers storage-only OneDrive Plans, including a basic free 5GB plan, and a $1.99 per month 50GB plan.
The Redmond firm also offers business plans, available in storage-only versions, or included with Office 365 subscriptions. Plans range from $60.00/year per user for 1TB per user storage, up to a $150.00/year per user fee for 1TB per user storage and a subscription to Office 365.
For more information, visit the Microsoft OneDrive website.
Google Drive comes along for the ride with your Google login. That’s the same one you use to access your Gmail account, and login almost everywhere around the web. (You do realize that Google is tracking you when you do that, right? But that’s a subject for another article.)
Google Drive offers a 15GB chunk of storage for free, and users can pay to upgrade their storage. 100GB of storage is available for $1.99 per month, or $19.99 per year. A 1TB piece of the Google cloud will run you $9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year.
Google Drive works much like Dropbox and OneDrive in that you install their app and set a hard drive folder as your sync folder. Any changes made to this folder or the files in it are uploaded to your Google Drive in the cloud.
Google users who make use of Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs, or Google’ G Suite office productivity apps can also store attachments, documents, photos, and other types of files on their Google Drive for easy access and sharing.
Buyers of any of Google’s Chromebook Internet-connected budget laptops get 100GB of free storage for two years when purchasing a new Chromebook.
For more information, visit the Google Drive website.
I regularly use all three of these cloud storage services, although I find myself using Google Drive the most, simply because it helps me keep connected with my clients and co-workers, and allows for easy sharing of files.
While any of these these three cloud storage solutions will offer you a low-priced method of safely storing your files from anywhere that you have an internet connection, I find the one I like and use the most is Google Drive.
In my opinion, Google Drive is the best all around storage solution, especially for users who work on both their computer and mobile devices. It is especially nice for users who are looking for an easy way to share documents with coworkers and clients, even to allow them to make changes as needed. I also make use of their Photos app, as I don’t really trust the iCloud storage that was included with my iPhone.
For more information about these and other cloud storage providers, set a reminder to visit my website on a regular basis.