Tech Report: Online storage options
Consumers have more choice than ever for their online storage needs. Whether you want to backup your entire movie collection or just upload a few photos, tech companies large and small are falling over themselves to offer you a personalized storage service.
Here are a few of the more popular options, including pricing structure and why each one might be the right choice for you:
Launched in 2008, Dropbox was one of the first publicly available online storage solutions. Dropbox has expanded rapidly over the past four years, adding mobile options and several other features, but its emphasis has always been on synchronization and sharing.
Pricing: Free for up to 2 GB of storage, although that free allocation can be extended to 18 GB through referrals and other promotions. Pro plans start at 100 GB for $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year.
Why it could be right for you: Dropbox has picked up a lot of fans over its short life because of its simplicity and reliability. Consumers without an affiliation to Apple or Google will continue to enjoy its independence, although power users may eventually tire of paying more than the competition for premium options.
SkyDrive is part of the Windows Live range of online services. Users can keep uploaded files private, share them with specific contacts, or make them publicly available. Microsoft recently released a SkyDrive desktop app for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X users, which allows users to create and edit Microsoft Office documents directly within a web browser. Changes are synchronized when users save a document.
Pricing: Free for up to 7 GB of storage. An additional 20 GB is available for $10 per year, with other options priced at the equivalent of $1 for every 2 GB of extra storage.
Why it could be right for you: Despite recently cutting back the allocation of storage space for new users from 25 GB to 7 GB, SkyDrive still offers the most free storage of any of the popular services. SkyDrive also integrates well with other Windows programs, including Hotmail. The universal popularity of the Microsoft Office programs will make it a convenient and effective sharing and collaboration tool for most PC users.
Apple's iCloud storage service allows you to store and sync all your music, photos, files, contacts, and other content, so it’s available on any Apple device you choose, any time you want.
All new Apple devices are already synced for iCloud. Owners of older devices are asked to opt-in to iCloud when they download iOS 5.
Price: iCloud is free for the first 5 GB of space, and additional storage can be purchased at the rate of $20 per year for each incremental 10 GB. Media purchased through iTunes doesn’t count against the basic 5 GB allocation.
Why it could be right for you: If you have an iPhone or any other Apple hardware, then iCloud is a no-brainer. Although it can also cater to the power user, iCloud is specifically designed for consumers, allowing them to access their photos, apps, and other files from any Apple device. And the beauty of iCloud is that it automatically syncs, meaning that no further action is required to backup and secure your data.
Google Drive allows individuals and businesses to store photos, videos, documents, and other files on Google’s servers so they are available from any web-enabled device.
Google has the advantage of being able to integrate Google Drive with many of its other services. For example, Google+ users will be able to post photos directly from Drive, and Google is also working on an option for Gmail users to attach files from Google Drive to their e-mails. Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, so you can work in real time with others on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
Price: Google Drive gives users 5 GB of storage for free. There is also a 25 GB option for $2.49 per month, or you can have 100 GB for $4.99 per month.
Why it could be right for you: The main advantage of Google Drive for most consumers will be the ability to store files and data and then access and share them from anywhere. You can install Google drive on a Mac or PC and download the Drive app to Android mobile devices. A Drive app for iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) is expected to be released shortly.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Billed as “your personal hard drive in the cloud,” Amazon Cloud Drive is available to store music, videos, photos, and documents. All you need is a web browser to upload, download and access your files from any computer. Once your files are uploaded to Cloud Drive, you can organize them into different folders, copy them, rename them, or delete them You can play your music from Amazon Cloud Drive on any device using the Amazon Cloud Player.
Price: Cloud Drive comes with 5 GB of free storage. You can purchase additional storage up to 1000 GB at the rate of $1 per GB per year. Purchases made from the Amazon music store don’t count towards your individual storage allowance.
Why it could be right for you: Although Amazon Cloud Drive is clearly designed to get consumers to buy more music from the Amazon music store, it also offers a straightforward backup and storage option for non-music files. While the cost of the higher storage options might be prohibitive, it’s another solid choice for anyone looking for free backup.
Can you recommend other online storage solutions? Share them with The Online Mom!