Cloud storage (some call it online storage) is a service which data is maintained, managed, and backed up “in the cloud”. It works just like the hard disk you have in your laptop – except that your data is better secured and can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.
In this post, we are going to take a closer look on this technology and check out (and compare) some of the most popular cloud storage services online. Enjoy!
Three Main Types of Cloud Storage Models
Generally there cloud storage services are categorized into three different models and quoting Tech Target’s article, here are the definitions for each:
- Public Cloud Storage – provides a multi-tenant storage environment that’s most suitable for unstructured data.
- Private Cloud – provides a dedicated environment protected behind an organization’s firewall. Private clouds are appropriate for users
- Hybrid Cloud – is a combination of the other two models that includes at least one private cloud and one public cloud infrastructure.
How can Cloud Storage Help?
There are endless ways to leverage the power of cloud storage services in your daily working/blogging/online marketing life. The following are two quick examples for your reference.
To Secure Data in Your Devices
Features that help (but not limited to): Automated backups, file sync
Commonly most cloud storage services come with automated backup and file synchronization features where your data will be backed up to a pre-set destination at scheduled intervals. Typical intervals include daily, weekly, or even hourly. If a provider does not include automated backups, you should move on with your search; it’s the bare minimum that you should expect.)
If you have multiple devices linked to your account, there’s a good chance you have some commonly used files; such as business documents, personal notes, and photos; which you’d like instantly accessible via a single folder. File sync makes this possible.
To boost Flexibility and Productivity
Features that help (but not limited to): Mobile app compatibility/ file versioning/file sharing
Ever wonder how bloggers maintained their productivity while traveling around the world? Cloud storage is the answer.
The ability to access and work on your data from different devices in different locations allows you to stay productive when you are outside. The world we live in is ever more on the go and for many bloggers; their work relies on not only PCs or laptops, but also tablets, smart phones, as well as other mobile devices (we love traveling around to see the world, don’t we?).
With versioning, rather than backing up and replacing all the files every time, the cloud storage provider only backs up future changes to files and new files. The software detects files that haven’t been changed since the last backup, saving time on the data transfer. Another benefit is that, with file versioning, you have access to the previous versions of your documents since it backs up a copy every time it detects a change to a file.
File Sharing is another “nice to have” feature that makes sharing data and documents oh so easy. We’re all familiar with applications that allow you to upload documents, then share them via a link or email; this feature is kind of like that, but even easier. A click of a button allows you to send large files – no more writing data to CDs or dealing with cumbersome emails.
More on data storage in the cloud – is my data safe?
The data storage process in the cloud is a simple, yet complex one.
Essentially, it involves your files copying to an external location at scheduled intervals to keep a backup record of your content. Quality back-up providers will encrypt your data using at a minimum a 128-bit SSL encryption technology – this protects your data during the transfer process. Once your data transfers to the external location the provider will take additional measures to further protect your housed data; 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) or 448-bit Blowfish encryption are the industry standards.
Many cloud storage providers then add an extra layer of protection via geo-redundant data centers, but this is a perk – not a given.
Who is the Best Online Storage Service Provider?
Just like web hosting services – I do not believe there is such thing as the “Best Cloud Storage Service”. Each cloud storage provider has its own included features and protocols. So these “best” questions are always best answered with another question –
“What are your needs?”
Do you work on multiple devices – PCs, tablets, and smart phones? How secured you need the data to be (encryption level)? How big is your data size? Do you need to keep multiple versions of the same documents (versioning) as you modify it? How often do you need the data to be auto-backed up? These are some basic questions to ask.
Ultimately, here are the primary features you want to compare when picking up the right online storage service provider.
- Storage size
- Real-time changes upload
- Backup flexibility (any folder backup)
- Auto sync files to special folders/devices
- Customized synchronization across different devices
- File access from various devices (iPad/iPhone/Blackberry/Kindle/etc)
- File size limitation (send files of any size)
- Folders sharing
- Sync shared folders between users
- Various platforms support (Windows XP/Vista/Mac OSX/etc)
- API for third party apps integration
- Security (encryption level)
- Use friendliness (drag-n-drop features and so on).
There are tons of data backup providers out there – far too many to introduce all here, but the following are some popular ones. I will briefly introduce each of these services here and attach a helpful comparison table at the bottom.
Google Drive offers a convenient and affordable free option, providing 15GB of free cloud storage to users who link their Google account. However, as an added bonus, videos less than 15 minutes in length and under a certain resolution do not factor into that free space. Of course, being part of the Google family comes with nearly seamless integration to social media, Gmail, and more.
Check out Google Drive
Formerly known as SkyDrive, the updated OneDrive offers integration with other Microsoft services, such as email and social media. This service recently upgraded its free storage to 15GB for Microsoft email account holders, with additional free space available as reward perks for referrals and other activities. Additional space is also available for purchase; 100 GB runs $1.99, 200 GB $3.99, or 1 full TB for up to five members of the family for $9.99.
Check out OneDrive
Like the name implies, this is cloud storage. With three plans available at three different price points ($4.49, $4.95, or $6.95 per month), there is something for just about every budget. This provider offers numerous features, including a mobile app, multi-device backup option, automated backups, and more. Of course, the free accounts of course come with limits, so there are unlimited accounts available for a fee.
Check out JustCloud
This provider offers numerous service plans, ranging from a $6 per month plan that includes unlimited space and anywhere access to your files to a Business plan intended for backing up data for full offices with multiple computers that includes multiple accounts, Web monitoring, free file restoration, file organization, military-grade encryption, and more for $37 or $125 per month (depending on level of service). There are two mid-grade plans as well.
Check out Live Drive
Sugar Sync offers numerous plans that range quite a bit in price and scope. The individual service is $7.49 per month and includes 60 GB of storage, while one of this provider’s main offerings, the Pro plan, comes in at $55 per month or $550 per year. That plan accommodates up to three users and includes 1,000 GB of storage. Just some of the convenient features that come with Sugar Sync include mobile access, multiple device flexible syncing, and disaster recovery.
Check out Sugar Sync
SOS Online Backup
There are three plans with SOS, ranging from the Personal Cloud to the SOS Business account. The personal cloud is $3.61 per month and the Family cloud is $16.11 per month – discounts are available for one or two-year contracts. This provider promises unlimited storage and includes data archiving and versioning and mobile access to your files among its features.
Check out SOS Online Backup
My PC Backup
Fully automated backups, free mobile and tablet apps, anywhere access to your files, and multiple device syncing are just a few of the features included with My PC Backup. Business plans start at $49.95 per month for 20 computers while there are not (seemingly) any upfront costs for individuals..
Check out MyPCBackup
Dropbox does give free storage, but for full backups, you’ll likely need to upgrade your service. It can be set up to automatically sync your files, though is not quite as robust in features as some of the other providers. That said, it is an easy solution that provides automatic syncing and anywhere access to your files.
Check out Dropbox
Plans with this provider range from $59.99 per year for individuals to $799 per year for server plans. Features depend on the exact plan that you select, but some of the features available include free apps, US-based customer service available seven days a week, external hard drive backup, and more.
Check out Carbonite
Mozy offers a plan for everyone, ranging from the individual user to full on corporate enterprises. With that, the features and costs highly vary, but most plans include file restoration, anywhere access, mobile sync and apps, and more.
Check out Mozy
Bitcasa places a high emphasis on its privacy standards, though additional features include unlimited space (for the Infinite plan), drag and drop, anywhere access, and more. Plans range from free service which includes 20 GB of space to the Infinite Plan with unlimited space for $99 per month or $999 per year.
Check out Bitcasa
This provider offers a free plan that includes 2 GB of space, a Professional plan that includes 100 GB of space for $10 per month, or a variety of Business plans that range from $5 to $10 per user per month. Features include multi-device syncing, anywhere access, unlimited devices, file restoration, and more.
Check out SpiderOak
This backup service includes completely automated backups, mobile apps, 24/7 support, and high encryption standards. Business plans start at $35.94 or $71.94 per month, varying in the number of devices supported and allocated storage space.
Check out Backup Genie
This provider includes a healthy amount of features, such as unlimited devices, file encryption, drag and drop, geo-redundant storage, 24/7 support, full device restoration, and more. Business plans start at $35.94 or $71.94 per month, varying in the number of devices supported and allocated storage space.
Check out Zip Cloud
The Big Cloud Storage Comparison Chart
Table #1: Google Drive, One Drive, Just Cloud, Live Drive, and Sugar Sync
|Cloud Storage||G. Drive||One Drive||Just Cloud||Live Drive||SugarSync|
|Max storage||15 GB||15 GB||500 GB||5 TB||250 GB|
|Max upload file size||10 GB||2 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited||300 MB|
|Files versioning||30 days|| ||7 versions||30 versions||5 versions|
|Apple iOS/Android app|
|Monthly cost||Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.||Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.||$5.95/mo||Starting at £11/mo||Starting at $7.49/mo|
|Learn more/order||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site|
Table #2: SOS, My PC Backup, Drop Box, Carbonite, and Mozy
|Cloud Storage||SOS||MyPC Backup||Drop Box||Carbonite||Mozy|
|Max storage||Unlimited||15 GB||500 GB||Unlimited||125 GB|
|Max upload file size||Unlimited||2 GB||10 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Files versioning||Unlimited|| ||30 days||90 days||30 days|
|Apple iOS/Android app|
|Price||Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.||Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $2/mo.||Free, upgrade to 100 GB for $9.99/mo.||Starts at $5/mo||Starts at $10/mo|
|Learn more/order||Visit site ||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site|
Table #3: Bitcasa, Spider Oak, Zip Cloud, Backup Genie, and Crash Plan
|Cloud Storage||Bitcasa||Spider Oak||ZipCloud||Backup Genie||Crash Plan|
|Max storage||20 GB||Unlimited||100 GB||100 GB||Unlimited|
|Max upload file size||Unlimited||Unlimited||5 GB||5 GB||Unlimited|
|Apple iOS/Android app|
|Price||Free, upgrade to 1,000 GB for $10/mo.||$8.33/mo||$35.94/mo||$35.94/mo||Starts at $3.96/mo|
|Learn more/order||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site||Visit site|