Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The What, Which and Why's of Cloud Storage

What is Cloud Storage?

Simply put, its a space on the internet where you can save your files. Imagine it as one big invisible hard drive present in all of your devices: phone, laptop, tablet, Xbox, kindle, etc.

Why use Cloud Storage?

For starters you don't have to worry about physical storage. I know of a neighbour who lost his flash drive containing all his tax documents and financial details; a friend's brother who forgot his external hard drive in a taxi loosing precious data and software under development for a project. I too have sheepishly lost the CD's holding the first two years of my niece's life in pictures (something my mom will never forgive me for!). In short, life would be much much simpler if we didn't have to remember where we put every little thing.
Cloud storage can't help you remember forgotten stuff, but it can help by storing all your files and documents in one place you'll never forget. All it requires is logging into the service from any computer and device and viola, all your data is right in your hands. It doesn't matter where you are, or whose computer you're on; all you need is your username and password.

Which Cloud Storage?

Today there are so many services available to back your files up online. Dropbox is undoubtedly one of the most popular and oldest of them all. Although it offers a measly storage space of 2 GB for free users, its popularity lies in the wide range of applications and websites it syncs with, and the fact that through simple methods like referrals and liking them on Facebook you'll get bonus space. [I did have a bad experience with it about six years ago when I backed up some photo albums, but when I checked on that account a few years later I found that Dropbox no longer remembered who I was. I did pen an angry letter to them but got no response there either, and had no choice to open a new account and stick with them until Google Drive came along. Although I still like its mobile app much better than Drive's.]

Windows 8 and Hotmail users must be quite familiar with Microsoft's Onedrive (formerly known as Skydrive). It is very conveniently tied into all Microsoft products like MS Office and Windows for the PC and mobile. Google pretty much throws Drive at you if you have a Gmail account or an android device. I'm not very fond of its mobile app, but I can't argue with the 15 GB and automatic backup of all my documents edited and sent online. Mega is unarguably the best choice if you want to backup everything for free with a whooping 50 GB free for new users. An upcoming and first choice for many businesses is Box, which prides itself on its secure encryption of files, but it's file size limit can put a damper on things if you're uploading large files like home videos and movies.

You may even be using cloud storage without realizing it. iPhone and iPad users use iCloud to sync photos, contacts, notes and more between different Apple devices. Amazon's Kindle lets readers read their books from any web browser through the Kindle Cloud Reader and has an amazing feature of syncing the page you last read across devices through Whispersync which (surprise surprise) is also a form of cloud storage.

For a comparison of the top five cloud services, refer to the table below:

Dropbox vs. Drive vs. OneDrive vs. Mega vs. Box

What's your favourite service to use and why? Are there any good ones I've missed. let me know in the comments or share this post using the buttons below or in the right sidebar. Follow by email to stay updated and thank you for reading!