Many users wonder if they can get reliable, fast and affordable cloud storage services and the good news is that it is. Even though remote file storage services have been around for quite a while, cloud storage was not available for a general audience until Dropbox was founded in 2007. When Dropbox’s CEO and creator, Drew Houston decided that it was time to find a solution for data storage and transfer that didn’t require USB devices or email attachments. The first cloud-based file storage service for the masses made its debut and since then, the popularity of these services has continued growing and more providers are available in the market. Let’s take a look at what these providers have to offer.
Apple’s cloud offer 5GB of versatile storage that allows you to keep and stream music, TV shows from iTunes, as well as to access books and apps that you acquired from the App store without adding up to your storage capacity. Apple iCloud works together with iTunes Match, which is integrated in the iTunes app and allows you to store your complete music collection for $24.99 per year. The music doe snot have to be purchased from iTunes, even if it wasn’t it will not affect your storage capacity.
iCloud also offers you storage, online music server, and access to Apple’s wireless services. This lets you enjoy features such as email service, mobile backup and the possibility to synchronize your contacts. While the fact that iCloud offers regular file syncing could be practical in some cases, it can feel like things get out of hand when you are not able to control what is stored in the cloud or not, as well as the granting of full permissions to read and edit can make you feel concerned about the security of your files.
Another thing is that even though iCloud services are available in any device, in order to enjoy all its best features, it would be necessary to use a Mac running Lion, or mobile devices running minimum iOS 5. You can get additional space starting for $20 per year for 10 GB. 20GB cost $40 and 50GB will set you back $100 per year. Apple’s iCloud seems to offer great features but the reality is that managing your files is not as simple as it should be.
Amazon Cloud Drive
The first thing that would come to mind when you mention Amazon Cloud is the Amazon EC2 ( Elastic Compute Cloud), which is the largest cloud service available for the public. Even though most of their clients of this service are companies, Amazon also offers services for individuals. Amazon Cloud Drive provides over 5GB of free storage and it can be accessed from a browser or through an app available for iOS, Windows and Android. However, the app only allows to upload files, the majority of tasks would have to be completed in a web browser.
They also offer a music streaming service called Amazon Cloud Player, which allows you to upload and stream up to 250 songs to Android, iOS devices, Macs and Desktops. This is not particularly impressive, specially when compared to other streaming services. In general, Amazon Cloud is a good service but it may need some enhancements to offer more options for PCs, iOS and Android devices.
Dropbox was the company that brought cloud storage service to the masses and it still is one of the best options available. It does not require a web-browser interface and will run intuitively on Windows, Linux or Mac PCs as well as iOS and Android devices. One of the best things about Dropbox is that it works as a network drive and can be used with any file manager and any operating system. Their service may be very basic as there are no advanced features or extras but its simplicity is what makes it a favourite of many users as it results very convenient.
Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage which is below the average basic storage offered by personal storage providers. However, you can get additional storage by referring new user for Dropbox. You can also pay $9.99 per month or an annual fee of $99 for 100GB and you can get more space with deals with similar prices that go up to 500GB. Dropbox for teams is another pricing option that offers a shard TB of storage for five users. Even though Dropbox is not exactly the most inexpensive option, specially if you are looking for a large capacity, it still stands as one of the most convenient services as it works easily with any device and you can access any files stored even when you are offline because by default, it syncs with al your local devices. Price may be the only downside of Dropbox but it is a solid provider in every other aspect.
With Google Drive you can get simple and easy to use file storage combined with the Google Docs cloud-based office software. It is clear that Google continues working to improve Drive as it has evolved significantly since it first appeared. It is similar to Dropbox in the sense that it will automatically sync with the cloud to ensure consistence though all your devices. Even though it supports Windows and Mac file systems, as well as Chrome OS, Android and iOS, unfortunately it does not work with Linux.
Google Drive also allows you to share and work jointly on any type of file and the content you create in Google Docs will not impact your storage allowance. Google Drive offers 5GB of free storage and of you want more space, you would only need to pay $2.49 per month for 25GB, while the price for 100GB is just $4.99 per month. Those who have huge space requirements can get 16TB for $799.99, as well as avail of Google’s business storage solutions. In spite of the fact that they do not support Linux, Google Drive is another good option when it comes to cloud storage.
What makes MediaFire stand out from other providers is their impressive offer of 50GB free storage. Even though this sounds very tempting, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you think it sounds too good to be true, it is because it probably is. There is a catch as the free version comes with ads and you can only upload files up to 200MBs in size. While that would be enough in most cases, it does not give you the option to use it for archived backups of your system. There are other restrictions, such as the fact that you cannot download a complete directory in one go.
To get rid of these limits, you can go for the paid service which starts at $1.50 per month. While the most basic option does not give you additional storage, it removes some of the restrictions. MediaFire also has a Pro plan for $4.50 per month for 250 GB and a Business plan that cost $24.50 per month and offers 1TB of storage. MediaFire supports Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, as well as Android and iOS devices. The downside is that it does not integrate with your file system but even so, MediaFire still has a lot to of storage to offer for a low price.
Just like MediaFire, Mega offers 50GB storage and the uploading time has reduced. However, speed is still a big issue with Mega and even with a good connection, it feels like it can take ages to upload and download files. Furthermore, Mega does not offer file system integration. To make things worse, they do not offer the option to buy storage directly from them. If you require storage space, you would need to rent it through one of their resellers of around 13.50 USD per month for 500GB. Mega has improved since it started but there are still many things they need to work on to make their service more practical and solid.
The focus of Box is in files access to provide a great solutions for businesses that need to set permissions when it comes to important documents. For instance, if you and your work colleagues need to get access and be able to edit the same document, no matter where you are, Box for business offers solid permission options. Their Business edition also gives you access to a selection of helpful programs such as Box OneCloud and Online Workspaces that are included with their cloud storage services.
The basic service offers 5GB of free storage and Box Sync Program, which enables you to sync files between Desktop and Mac computers and the cloud. For $9.99 per month, you can upgrade to get 25GB of 50GB fro $19.99. The prices for their Business version start at $15 per month and offers an impressive 1000GB of storage. Box would be more suitable for companies, given their features and solutions but it may not be the right option for personal cloud storage.
In most cases, OneDrive works through a browser but it allows you to save, share and access files as it works together with Windows 8 file manager and Microsoft Office. It also offers its own software: Office Web Apps. One of the features included is the ability to pull files from any PC associated with your account and store them in the cloud. This can be convenient when you need to get files from you home computer to use them at work but also presents a risk if your Microsoft account login details and personal information are accessed by other person and they manage to download your files. While this option can be disabled, it is something that could potentially compromise your data. The good news is that the upload option for PC includes two authentication factors to enhance the security of this feature.
The benefits that you can get with OneDrive include its 7GB of free storage, which places them above most of the competition in this area. Additional space can be added as follows: $10 per year for 20GB, $25 for 50GB and an annual fee of just $50 for 100GB. This makes OneDrive a great value for money service, even though the remotely download option needs to be used carefully.
If privacy is your main concern, you may want to consider SpiderOak, as its client software encrypts all your files before they are stored in servers. SpiderOak is aimed mainly for businesses but they also have convenient solutions for individuals and 2GB free storage service. For additional space, you can get 100B for $10 per month. It support Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, as well as Android and iOS devices. Their business plan starts at 1TB for $600. Even though the speed could be improved as uploading and downloading files take longer than it should, their service is not at slow as what other providers offer, particularly Mega.
Unlike other services, SpiderOak does not work through a web browser or integrated with your OS. It can only be accessed through their client software, which enhances its security. While it may be more suitable for businesses and those whose main concern is security, SpiderOak is a good alternative to consider as it offers protection for your files and a solid cloud-based backup service.