Cloud storage solves the dilemma of keeping your important files stored for future use. This online data storage system works by maintaining or creating a backup of your files in the cloud. Cloud Storage is like a digital or web-based external hard drive which doesn’t require you to always bring. The main purpose of storing your files in the cloud allows you to access those files anywhere you go, without your computer or phone.
Cloud Storage: What could it do for you?
Also, with the rise of people owning different computing devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops, Cloud Storage allows you to shift or change from one device to another while keeping your files. You don’t need to back up all your data in your PC for disaster recovery. No need to worry about your hard drive’s life or other storing devices that may fail to keep your files and documents. It’s the ease of accessing and handling your files that this digital storage could help you with.
When traveling around the world or in your city. You need to back up your precious memories, pictures and Videos, as anytime you could lose your phone or PC or simply need more storage to take more. For this keeping automated upload to the cloud will ensure your data is safe.
Another advantage of having cloud storage is that sharing of files especially those large ones with your friends or co-workers is possible. This is very evident with more and more businesses turning to cloud storage services to have their documents backed up particular with those data-sensitive or client data. Collaboration with colleagues or clients is no mess by having your documents in cloud. Not only the above-mentioned purposes, Cloud storage has more uses and features according to each of those brands or providers. Some specialize plainly with storing or online backup; others focus with file-syncing, there were those that provide security the most, etc.
Unlike puzzling applications or programs, using cloud would not require you to learn the whole picture in a long time, or in other words, it’s actually a no-brainer. This may be because the idea of storing your files is what cloud is initially made of. As many solutions now emerge in the market, varying those from popular brands to the indies, you will encounter various choices. There were those which come free for certain memory or the more expensive ones. Take a look of this selection of popular cloud storage providers and how they’ve become.
Free Storage: 2 GB
File Size Restriction: 10 GB on Dropbox website
Distinction: One of the pioneers in Cloud Storage, Has a for Business counterpart (Dropbox for Business), Compatible with many applications & OS, Plain and Simple to use.
Among others, Dropbox perhaps is the most widely known cloud storage solution. Why? It is mainly because Dropbox is so easy to use. It has no bells and whistles and that makes Dropbox different. Its user interfaces are just simply and easy to learn. No confusing or misleading buttons or menus. Dropbox is almost the same with common project manager’s options and features.
Dropbox was created with the ‘storing idea’, allowing users to view their files and documents no matter what computing device they are using. Dropbox is compatible to use with more platform or applications like Mac, Windows, Linux, Blackberry, Android, iOS, and many other more compared to other cloud. Sharing files with Dropbox is also possible and stress-free to do so file-sync and collaboration is both attainable.
The only downside with Dropbox is that it only offers 2 GB free storage, quite far from competitors’ larger offers. You will be able to do storage, file sharing and security features like SSL encryption and 2-step authentication upon signing up and downloading the Dropbox app. Upgrades include; Dropbox Pro which gives you an expansive 1 TB, earn more free space by referrals, social media connection, linking to related apps and completing the website’s Get Started guide.
Free Storage: 15 GB
File Size Restriction: 5 TB
Distinction: Offers a huge free storage (15 GB), Easy set up (for those who already have a Google account), Shares functionality with Google Docs & Gmail, and Easy to save attachments from email.
By offering a large amount of 15 GB free storage, this makes Google Drive a popular choice for cloud storage. And if this still doesn’t fit your needs, you can opt to 100 GB upgrade or an expansive 1 TB storage. Whichever you may choose, just don’t forget that any data from your Gmail account counts against your Drive’s storage limit. So you better clear your Google email account every now and then to maximize your Drive storage. But not to worry with your data in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides since they do not count with your Drive’s storage. Just remember that small photos comes as free stored data, and images with 2048×2048 count and above contributes to your storage limit.
Not only as a cloud storage, Google Drive acts as an office suite, having built-in basic features like editing and viewing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. This multifunctional cloud storage acts as one with Google Docs, Sheets & Slides, Gmail, since they are all under one name. But this is a big advantage with this storage provider since it lessens your time to sign in, once you signed in with those mentioned related programs, it’s just a click away to switch to Google Drive.
When it comes to its appearance, menus and features of Google Drive containing added features mentioned above and being it relative to other Google Apps makes it a familiar tab. The drag and drop capability of this Google Drive makes it provide easiness with organizing and uploading files. Preview and saving of attachments from Gmail in your Google Drive is also present. Other apps supported by Google come in handy with Google Drive by letting it appear on side bars or as suggestions. These apps may come helpful but unfortunately, it also counts against your storage so careful with clicking those options.
Free Storage: 15 GB
File Size Restriction: None
Distinction: Offers a huge free storage (15 GB), Folder sharing divides the count of storage, Simple interface and basic features, Copy for Companies (business version), Paired with compatible apps also from Barracuda Networks, Compatible with OS or platforms like Mac, Windows, Linux, iOs, Android and Windows phone mobile devices, and for teams and businesses.
Copy is created by Barracuda Networks, an IT company known with producing security and storage programs/apps. It offers a 15 GB free storage, par with Google Drive but offers more upgrade options. These are; 205 GB, varying business plans that are priced based on the number of users, and additional 5 GB storage from referral program. Copy also lets users maximise the use of their storage limit by not setting a maximum file size limit, be it with the Free Download or the Pro and even the Copy for Companies version.
Let’s go down with its best features. Copy handles shared folders more organize and fair compare to other rival cloud providers. It splits the space with the number of users that shares a folder with. If there would be a 100 GB folder shared by 5 users, each user has a part of 10 GB and not the whole 100 GB. Next is Copy’s slightly similar interface to Dropbox, with a relaxed hue, plain and simple features. It may be something not visually amazing with extra apps but as they say, simplicity is beauty. Copy would not also limit your choice of platform or device. Access and share your files and folders from Mac, Windows, and Linux, be it on PC, laptop or tablet. This cloud storage also works on smartphones with iOS, Android or Windows Phone mobile devices.
Copy comes with different versions as it is continuously undergo developments. But not to worry since it would not affect nor corrupt your files. Any version you will opt to, your data is safe and saved with Copy.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Free Storage: 5 GB (Amazon Prime member or any owner of a Fire device enjoy free Unlimited Photos)
File Size Restriction: 2 GB (per file)
Distinction: Has two sub options; Unlimited Photos & Unlimited Everything, gives Amazon Prime Member or any owner of a Fire device the advantage, Store place and inviting upgrades)
Let’s admit it at the very first; Amazon Cloud Drive is helpful but confusing. This cloud storage provider lies with the basic purpose which is allowing users to keep their files. It gives you a space for your documents, photos and videos to store. This is its focus and no more other extra features like plug-ins or web-based Office suites. And since this drive is baked with Amazon, no need to sign up for Cloud Drive if you already have an Amazon account. That makes this helpful but how confusing? Many reviewers claims Amazon Cloud Drive’s downfall is its lacking of support for those standard documents and that of the desktop app doesn’t fully work well with the file system. It makes this better with the viewing and managing files from the Cloud Drive website.
Still, there are other abilities this cloud storage solution can provide. Platforms it only matches with are PC and Mac for desktop app and of course with the Amazon-made devices like the Fire tablet. And in order to be more detailed and organize, this cloud created sub-branches namely Unlimited Photos and Unlimited Everything. This exclusive idea proves that Amazon is not only a market place but has the guts to produce an organising and storing tool with this Amazon Drive Cloud.
With the selection for storage limit upgrade, you will just realize how much advantage it would be if you’re an Amazon Prime member. The free 5 GB is for non-members and could go for an increase of 20 or 1 TB per year as well. Also, they will have to pay for Unlimited Photos per year after a free 3-month trial. Prime members could enjoy the free unlimited photo storage and for Fire phone owners, all photos taken by your phone are stored for free. For more information about the upgrades on Amazon Cloud Drive since these varies a lot and may change from time, click here.
Mobile experience with Amazon Cloud Drive doesn’t require you to do everything. Also compatible with iOS and Android, with the Cloud Drive Photos app, sync to Amazon’s servers is done automatically. Just right after you took a photo or a video, it uploads automatic, so convenient. In the contrary, documents are not that accessible on mobile with this storage. You might encounter problems like not seeing your word or pdf file in your smartphone or tablet.
Free Storage: 5 GB
File Size Restriction (maximum): None
Distinction: Ease of use, Automatic duplicating your files, Cheap upgrades versus other options.
By its name, SugarSync syncs your files between computers or devices. Also, it only takes a couple of clicks to back up your existing folder structure for it to be copied while you’re in the process of changing those structures in the cloud. It’s SugarSync’s File Sync Technology that allows users to access those folders instantly. Whatever changes you made, once your files are in sync, it automatically saves in the same location across other devices. This amazing feature lessens work for you to do and enables you to finish your tasks easier and safer.
SugarSync provides a 5 GB free storage good for 90 days. For additional space, SugarSync’s selection of upgrades comes cheap versus other cloud providers. You may choose between the choices for Individual or single user, there’s 100 GB, 250 GB, or 500 GB all per month. For business use, Sugar Sync has two options including the 1 TB for 1 to 3 users the least and 9 users the most per month, and the Custom option that depends with your team or company’s choice and number of users (could go to more than 10 users). Good news is that all the cited plans include a 30-day free trial. Very budget-wise, right?
Aside from being cheap, another good catch with this SugarSync is that has a clean or pleasing interface and menu. It doesn’t have fancy bells and whistles but we guess it don’t even need to. The features or buttons are not confusing; they are familiar so you won’t encounter difficulty exploring this cloud storage solution. It works with different platforms and also allows sharing even to other websites or social media sites like facebook, twitter, and blogs or even in your email. SugarSync allows users to create public links for easier file sharing, if recipients don’t have SugarSync with them, they could still access the link you sent. No need for mandatory sign up. This also makes this cloud storage more accessible and easy to share.
Microsoft OneDrive (SkyDrive)
Free Storage: 15 GB
File Size Restriction: 10 GB
Distinction: Formerly known as SkyDrive, Microsoft’s Office integration, Has a version for Businesses, Tie with Google Drive and Copy by offering a free 15 GB storage, and Has an amazing row of storage upgrades.
It won’t be surprising that Microsoft has its own cloud storage solution. From a giant name, Microsoft expands its service with the existence of Microsoft OneDrive. The major advantage of this cloud is that it is integrated with Office suites & tools, making your tasks easier and secure. It’s no hassle opening and editing documents like in Word or even in Outlook. OneDrive will appear once an Office app is launched, recent documents saved to the cloud will be shown, and it’s like giving you an early reminder or option to add your file in the existing files there. Overall, since it’s built within the same makers, who wouldn’t find this helpful?
With regards to compatibility, Windows 8 and 8.1 Operating Systems have OneDrive built-in. From Windows 7 and older versions, OneDrive can be downloaded with certain system requirements, but except of the Windows XP which is not compatible with OneDrive. There’s also a downloadable desktop app for Mac and other platforms like Android, iOS and Xbox Apps. Also, this cloud is compatible and accessible with Windows PCs and mobile devices. Another plus of having this storage in Windows-made devices is that it also organizes files by its type, so photos, video and documents will automatically be grouped against each so you won’t get confused when looking for what you need.
Like the amazon cloud, OneDrive provides automatic uploads to photos taken by Windows Phone apps or any Android & iOS devices having this cloud installed. From being SkyDrive, users would not need to worry since the transformation took place not just with the name but also with the system. Nothing was deleted nor rearranged, the same process of logging in, only in a different name. Updates from the former cloud would happen automatically, no other action required.
Microsoft is hoping that OneDrive will be the place where you store your photos, and the company is working on technology that will eventually sort all of the photos you take based on how important and meaningful they are. For instance, if you take a photo of your kids, a picture of a special meal and a shot of your parking space so you can find your car later, OneDrive would be able to understand the importance of each picture, save the ones it thinks are the most useful, and trash the rest. That’s still big-picture stuff for OneDrive, but it gives you an idea of the direction Microsoft is moving in. With the upcoming new Windows 10, expect a much improved cloud storage like its line that says “One place for everything in your life”, OneDrive will also be integrated in the upcoming new Windows Operating System.
Free Storage: 10 GB
File Size Restriction: 250MB With Free Account; 2GB With Starter Account
Box and not Dropbox has been an around cloud storage provider, even earlier than the much popular rivals, dated to start by 2005, though it’s more focused with the business side. This is proven by many enterprises using this cloud storage. But of course, Box also offers personal online storage that gives off 10GB free storage. Along with this plus is the intuitive and clean interface that makes Box excel in the competition. No longer is time needed Box is easy to use that supports you to manage and organize your files quickly.
This web-based storage highlights not only its uncomplicated features and buttons. It also redefines file-sharing where it allows users extensive sharing with just a single-click option. It’s only drag and drop to upload files and settings like permissions for recipients to view, edit or even delete your file is possible. Uploading as well would not cost you too many actions; it only takes in just few steps and finishes quick. Box only falls flat in the idea of auto-back up. Since this cloud is web-based, it’s necessary to manually upload all of your computer files to your account in order for it to be accessible to a different platform or device.
As mentioned that Box appears to focus more with its version for Business, it’s not surprising that team collaboration with file editing, sharing and security share positive remarks for Box. From any device, may it have a constant shift from mobile to laptop etc., Box guarantees both simplicity and security to your team or business’ sensitive projects or confidential documents.
When it comes to offers of large amounts, Box don’t have much options for personal plans. After the 10 GB free storage (with 250 MB Max File Size), you can upgrade it to 100 GB Storage (with 5 GB Max File Size) per month. But for the selection for Business plan, you may try the Starter, for 3 – 10 people with 100 GB Secure Storage and 2GB Max File Size per month and per user as well. There’s also the Business, which is the most popular that is available per month & user with inclusive of all Starter features, minimum of 3 users, offers Unlimited storage with 5 GB Max File size, Office 365 integration, etc. Last option is for companies with bigger users, called the Enterprise that includes all the Business and many other large-scale features offered accordingly to your needs.
When this cloud storage idea is not yet around, the answer for extra storage means wires and bulky machines. It was then developed to mini disks, hard drives, flash drives, etc. And of course, there are these further choices part from clouds. After the list containing the more popular and so called best cloud providers, there are alternatives you could opt to in lieu of the mentioned cloud storage solutions.
If you wish to spend less compared to monthly fees for cloud usage, you may pick your choice in this row of cloud substitutes. Varying from self-hosted clouds, online servers, personal storage, and many other options you may choose from.
Free Storage: Absolutely FREE, no other fees
File Size Restriction: None
Distinction: Self-hosted cloud, Personal Control & Security, Offers an amazing no limit free storage, File Syncing and Sharing, and Includes built-in plugins.
OwnCloud has been long around while undergoing series of developments. This open-source & self-hosted cloud is now on its 8.1 version and with the other options for your kept files, OwnCloud could give you more than file storing. Aside from being free (yes, with no monthly fees), OwnCloud has no storage limit, allows file syncing and server sharing and, provides some helpful pieces like Calendar, Contact Manager, PDF viewer, Text editor, Music player and other apps.
Going into details, OwnCloud’s sharing means server or even personal sharing. File sharing to users on the same server or with those from a different server is possible. This goes well also with external sharing through sending off public links with certain limits and protection. Like sharing, collaboration on OwnCloud is possible as it allows number of individuals or a team do collaborative editing of their documents.
In the case of Control and Security, OwnCloud does not limit you in any way you want to organise and manage your files. So it does with securing your files by its process of encryption of data in secured https connections. Be it for personal or for business use, OwnCloud gives users the freedom to personalize their OwnCloud, with their information (that appears to others) and of course with their file management. You could make hidden folders or could keep data only visible with you or put it restricted to specific users. The exchange is that it requires you log ins that you should always keep but that is something reasonable right?
Compared to other cloud alternative solutions, some may find OwnCloud to demand more time with getting used to it. Since it also includes some apps or plugins and is downloadable, process or certain functions may need you to spend longer time. Available video tutorials and helpful guides can be found on their YouTube channel or on OwnCloud’s website. This may be considered the slight fall of OwnCloud since other providers might just take you few minutes to understand their whole picture.
You may think if this OwnCloud is legal or just a scam since it is offered to be free. Well the answer is OwnCloud is legal and no worries since this cloud provider became available under an open source license that allows users to make changes and sharing to it. This is developed by an international community and accepts contributors who are interested to be part of its team.
Free Storage: Absolutely FREE, no other fees
File Size Restriction: Unlimited
Distinction: Free/without extra fees, permits no file size restriction, offers Personal and FileCloud (with fees) for Business and Enterprise, Works universally, Create your own Branding or Identity.
Crosses platforms, and works as an server perfect for accessing, storing, sharing and syncing, Tonido is one cloud alternative you may need to take a look. Beating the limited free storage of famous cloud names, Tonido lets users enjoy unlimited free storage and file size restriction. This self-hosted cloud can also perform other functions like Mounting or Mount as Drive, Automatic Camera Uploads, Branding and Automatic Media Oganization.
Compared to other cloud solutions, Tonido don’t require users to upload and download files for them to access those files in a different platform. With Tonido, it only takes to have your account, which becomes part of the URL of your computer and through that; you may be able to access your files in any platform you want. It’s like Tonido allows you to have that direct access of your data on your computer. No need for setups, it’s just as easy as to remember your ID.
You might ask if the same files could be kept in sync with other computers like among multiple ones with Tonido. The answer is yes. Tonido provides convenience by protecting files of a single folder in multiple computers in sync with your main pc. It’s only the server software and the Sync Client software that needs to be installed on your main and other computers.
Another thing is file sharing. Tonido lets users share large files with no mess and no uploading. Links could be created for public sharing. Tonido maximises sharing with unlimited number of shares and guest account. There’s also an option for private sharing, allowing authorized users and protecting it from unauthorized ones. Not only with its browser, has sharing also worked with Tonido Mobile or via Mobile apps.
Branding is also a unique feature Tonido has. Let your company/group be more known with Tonido’s amazing Branding feature. Also, have the ease of accessing and editing files with Tonido Drive and WebDAV. This Mount as Drive feature allows users work with any platform and without the need to download some office suite tools.
Free Storage: None since Storage limit depends on the devices’ storage space
File Size Restriction: None
Distinction: Syncs file and don’t save data in a cloud, Peer-to-peer file sharing, Files are not uploaded to the third-party server, faster file transferring, Continuous synchronization, Security in sharing, Folder Access Control.
Another alternative cloud which technically is not cloud storage is the BitSync or BitTorrent Sync. Sync is actually more of a file syncing service, and does not have like those other clouds the capacity or setting to keep your files in backup. BitSync works by peer-to-peer file sharing to sync files between devices.
What are the perks of using BitSync? Well first is of course of the fact that it comes for free. No monthly, yearly and upgrades. Second is that your files are safe with your device and with others’ device/s you allow to share to. Though this may also be a disadvantage in case you or all of you mistakenly deleted a certain file, this secures your files or data privacy. It’s not uploaded to any third-party server but only on your device/s. You don’t need to worry if confidential documents will be seen or might be viewed by the cloud provider or other file syncing programs. The life of your files relies on your computer or mobile and with the other devices you permit to share with. Next advantage is that this cloud alternative works on all platforms. There’s no need to worry about compatibility between devices’ OS or platform.
Transferring of files may lose your patience but not with BitSync. Matched to cloud services, Sync has an edge of being 16x faster in sharing files. Another plus, BitSync works with sharing of large and/or many files with other users. Together with BitSync being free, this is a great deal as you don’t need to worry for friends or co-workers to distribute important documents or project files.
On the contrast, BitSync should be installed in all of your devices and also with other users you or you will share files with. A secret code you create is also necessary upon sharing. It’s not like those others that work with just a link and don’t need people to install on their computer or mobile. With respect to easiness on usage, some may find BitSync difficult to use. Maybe it’s due to the different ‘usual’ process or with its certain specifications as a tool. Also, as there were many reported occurrences of users having problems syncing and sharing files, you might also encounter this with BitSync.
Free Storage: 50 GB
File Size Restriction: None
Distinction: Security for your Privacy, Huge Free Storage (50 GB), File Sharing,
Beating Google Drive and Copy’s 15 GB, MEGA amazingly offers 50 GB for free cloud storage to users. This alone makes this great deal, as who wouldn’t like to have that sure 50 GB for free. Another important feature of this cloud is that it highlights users’ privacy, this New Zealand based company strongly believes privacy is a right and should be enjoyed by users. The encryption process is different as Mega don’t hold your information; users hold their own encryption key. It’s only the user that can see or view the files he/she stored thru MEGA as the company does not store their users’ passwords. So if you opt to this cloud, you better make sure you keep a secondary backup of files stored in the service.
When it comes to sharing, MEGA allows file/s or folder/s sharing from your account to others users. Collaboration is also secured since changes within files are on display by updates in real time. Uploading on mobile, by whole folder, pausing and controlling of speed of files are all possible with this cloud option. It also supports Zip file downloads for multiple files and folders. You might wonder if MEGA fits on your mobile or your platform. Well, this storage works with Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile applications are available for iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry and Android users.
One more unique feature MEGA has is its specification with bandwidth limit. Though this is something you can control within your account settings, this limit is mostly seen as this cloud’s snag. The standard 10 GB bandwidth limit is not that really worst since it refills for every 30 minutes but if you’re working in a shorter time, you will surely wish it would be better.
Started as being beta, MEGA has developed into an updated version. There were browser extensions or MEGA browser apps for faster loading process. Another new feature is the email and chat perfect for more effective collaboration and communication.
Home servers / NAS (Network Attached Storage)
Free Storage: Depends on your server’s capacity
File Size Restriction: None / Depends on your server’s capacity
Distinction: Personal Storage, Security and Control.
Since we’re talking about storage, another option is by having a home server. You may found this one a bit odd since home servers are technically known as personal storage or a bulky machine that is a server for private use in households. Yes, it’s not a program or a web-based tool unlike the mentioned ones but this comes to be the basic thing when it comes to ‘extra’ storing. How about NAS?
Also with NAS (Network Attached Storage), it is a component used for storage for a network of multiple computers or devices. Though NAS has many kinds and uses, compared to home servers which you could create your own out of an old computer model or spare parts of, NAS is a separate machine, could be set up at home more like a cabinet containing hard drives. NAS is a fixed box, and cannot be made just at home. Home servers don’t need much computing power since home networks don’t support large computers unlike NAS. Another thing, a home server allows users to share media and files, remote access to computers, centralize backups etc. while NAS is used more for storage of network files.
Part from home servers and NAS’ difference, this two could also be another choice for your storage. Since this two initially has the storing purpose, the main advantage of preferring either of the two compared to the above mentioned clouds and alternatives is security and control. Security is an upper hand since your data is monitored by your own server, your own storage. Confidential documents or client data is secured and is more restricted with viewing and editing. The limit of storage is something you can more control, as well as with files and folders. Control also entitles this storage option more personal, literally because it is situated at your personal space and also it works more from your arrangement. Similarly, the storage limit of your server capacity depends on your choice. And to cut it short, control also supports security since privacy with your data is also under your hands.
The downfall with the use of NAS or home server as your storage is that it requires a real space. Since this is a component or a home box, this is entitled for a slot in your space. Also, it needs physical maintenance like your PC. And that maintenance also leads for a budget, could also refer to be like an upgrade to clouds, only but it might be less pricey, depending on your server’s health.
Have you decided where to store your data? We don’t expect you guys to totally or even partially agree with what we refer as the ‘best’ or the more popular cloud storage solutions as well as with the alternatives. Since there have been and will be, many more options you could choose from, it’s also possible for further developments with the mentioned solutions so better check their websites for latest improvements. You may let us know in the comments below what do you think.