Remember when clouds were things you watched from a grassy hill on a lazy summer afternoon and swore looked just like a kangaroo or your Aunt Phyllis’ crazy hairdo? Well, those uncomplicated days of fluffy, white sky pictures are over thanks to the technological boom of cyber-storage services, cleverly referred to as ‘clouds,’ that allow users to sync information, stream data to mobile devices and even remotely collaborate on projects with others. To make sure you don’t end up behind the times or (even worse) losing all your data, here’s a guide to help you navigate the plethora of cloud options out there and find the one that’s best for you.
The big daddy of cloud storage, Dropbox allows you to sync files across multiple devices, share files with groups and its drag-and-drop process is nearly dummy-proof. Dropbox is one of the most developer-friendly storage options, with hundreds of developers creating apps that utilize it. There are limitations, though. Dropbox comes with only 2GB of free storage, and your only options to upgrade are $9.99/month for 50GB or $19.99/month for 100GB. It is also limited in that you have to keep everything you want to sync in one folder.
2. Google Drive
Google’s new cloud storage is sort of a re-vamped GoogleDocs that has its eyes on de-throning Dropbox. Drive allows you to open up to 30 types of files in your browser and syncs to a folder on your computer with the same drag-and-drop convenience of Dropbox. Drive provides 5GB of free storage, and upgrades start at just $2.49/month for 25GB of extra storage and you can get 100GB for only $4.99/month. Drive is currently available on the web and Mac, Windows and Android devices. While Drive doesn’t stream content like some of its competitors, it does include an option to turn on OCR text scanning, which makes any images you upload searchable and much easier to navigate.
iCloud is pretty limited in comparison to products like Dropbox, but if your main goal is to sync text documents and stream music or videos, it will suffice. Apps like Pages and iA Writer can sync with iCloud, saving your work after every keystroke and sending your changes instantly to Apple servers, which means that if you open up your document on any other Apple device you’ll be working on the most recent version. iCloud comes with 5GB of free storage and upgrades range from $20/year for an extra 10GB to $100/year for 50GB.
SugarSync is a fairly well-known alternative to Dropbox, being available on nearly every platform and even comes pre-loaded on Lenovo computers and some smartphones. One of the advantages of SugarSync is the ability to utilize multiple files and add password protection to files and folders that you share. You can even select which folders and files you want synced to which devices – it’s not an all or nothing setup. When you join SugarSync, you get 5GB of storage free, and can upgrade to 30GB for $4.99/month or go all the way to 100GB for $14.99/month.
SkyDrive is Microsoft’s entry in the cloud storage game. It offers the most free storage, giving you 7GB just for signing up. The experience is similar to that of iCloud, only for Microsoft products, excelling at syncing Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note documents. SkyDrive is also browser-friendly, allowing easy access to edit and create documents without leaving the browser. One bonus feature is that if you forgot to sync something you can “fetch” it from your home PC just as long as it is powered on. Upgrades range from $10/year for 20GB to 100GB for $50/year.
This guest post is by Edwin, a writer and content specialist for USDish.