111111
  • Build it and they will come?

    If you're talking about a website, it's not likely! Build it, keep it fresh, and tell the world.  That's the way you get traffic to your website.  And you can do it in as little as 15 minutes a week.

Online Storage Options

Storage Units

To the cloud! I swear I hear that phrase every day. Someone is always wanting to store data in "the cloud." Well, ya know, there's a reason for that. In a mobile world, we need our data, our documents, even our family photos accessible to us no matter whether we're sitting at our home computers or sitting on a park bench. Have you ever had to run home to email a document? Or promise someone that you would do that but then, of course, you forget? Having all your files at your fingertips -- via the cloud -- solves those problems and more.

Of course, the next problem is which online storage solution is best? With the vast array of options available, it's not always easy to choose. We'll look at some of the best options available and why you might, or might not, want to choose them.

Pros and Cons of Online Storage

Before we look at specific services, let's pause to consider the benefits and the problems of online storage of your files.

Pros

  • Access your data anywhere from your phone, tablet, or someone else's computer
  • Disaster recovery via online backups - if your computer dies or even it's just temporarily incapacitated (maybe thanks to a jostled cup of coffee,) you can still get to your files
  • Easily transfer files to a new computer

Cons

  • No internet connection, no files - if your router is down or your Internet provider is having issues, you can't access your files
  • Privacy - via things like the US Patriot act or North Korean hackers (a la the buzz around Sony's The Interview,) people can get access to your files, if you're worried, encrypt them before you store them

Online Storage Options

Dropbox

The Basics

  • Free Version: 2GB (500MB additional space for each friend you invite, up to 16GB)
  • Paid Options: 1TB (1000GB) for $9.99 / month
  • Sync With Local Folder: Yes
  • Online-Only Folders: Yes
  • Access From: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Kindle Fire

My Thoughts

Dropbox has long been a favorite of mine, especially since many webhosts will automatically back up your website to Dropbox and then the backups get sync'd to your hard drive. However, the web interface is lacking in overall ease of use. I'm currently on the free version but have used the paid version in the past. Ease of sharing files makes this one a winner.

Microsoft OneDrive

The Basics

  • Free Version: 15GB (500MB additional space for each friend you invite, up to 5GB)
  • Paid Options: 100GB for $1.99/month, 200GB for $3.99/mo, and 1TB for $6.99/mo
  • Sync With Local Folder: Yes
  • Online-Only Folders: Yes
  • Access From: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Xbox

My Thoughts

15GB free is hard to beat. Also, when combined with online Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, OneNote, etc,) you can go a long way with OneDrive's functionality. If you're entrenched in the Microsoft camp (Windows PC/tablet/phone,) this is an especially attractive option because it's built into all of their operating systems. If you're not a Microsoft OS or Office user, that's OK, it's still a good deal.

Google Drive

The Basics

  • Free Version: 15GB
  • Paid Options: 100GB for $1.99/month, 1TB for $9.99/mo, and options up to 30TB for $299.99/mo
  • Sync With Local Folder: Yes
  • Online-Only Folders: Yes
  • Access From: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

My Thoughts

If you have a Google account of any kind (Gmail, YouTube, etc,) you already have access to your Google drive. So you might as well use it. Plus Google's online productivity apps (Sheets, Docs, Slides, etc) are built in for free. In addition, images smaller than 2048x2048 do not count towards your storage limit. Sharing is easy and intuitive. My only complaints are that photos from my Android phone are backed up to Google+ instead of my Google Drive and it doesn't integrate with my automatic website backups the way Dropbox does. If those two were fixed, this would be the hands down winner.

Box

The Basics

  • Free Version: 10GB
  • Paid Options: 100GB for $5/month, Unlimited for $15/month (yes, they say unlimited online storage)
  • Sync With Local Folder: Yes
  • Online-Only Folders: Yes
  • Access From: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone

My Thoughts

Document versioning. Holy cow. That's nice! With the paid plans, every time you save a file, Box creates a versioned backup of it. If you accidentally delete a bunch of pages from your novel and then save it, you can still recover them from a versioned backup (as long as you don't overrun your version count ... different numbers of versions based upon the amount you pay.) Also, can you say unlimited? Dang. I don't think I need unlimited, but in 1996 I never thought I'd fill the 200MB hard drive in the first computer I built. I have only toyed with Box, but you can bet I'll be doing some serious playing soon.

Amazon Cloud Drive

The Basics

  • Free Version: 5GB
  • Paid Options: 20GB for $10/year, 50GB for $25/year, 1TB for $500/year
  • Sync With Local Folder: Yes
  • Online-Only Folders: Yes
  • Access From: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

My Thoughts

For Amazon Kindle and Phone users, this is a no brainer: quick and easy storage of photos. However, while you can store documents in the Amazon Cloud Drive, you cannot get them to pull up on your mobile devices. It's simple and easy to use, but just doesn't feel as rich as some of the other options.

Copy

The Basics

  • Free Version: 15GB
  • Paid Options: $4.99 for 250GB, $9.99 for 1TB
  • Sync With Local Folder: Yes
  • Online-Only Folders: Yes
  • Access From: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android

My Thoughts

I have barely used Copy, I just ran across it in my research. The website interface is kind of weak, but it seems like a solid online storage and sharing platform. The price is nice, too.

Other Online Storage Options

Carbonite

I use Carbonite as my backup system. As much as I like it, it's really a backup of your hard drive and not an online storage system. Although you can access your backup files via their web interface.

Evernote

Evernote is a fantastic tool for storing just about anything. However, I don't think I'd try using this as my online storage solution. The interface, while great for note keeping, is not really designed for online file storage and retrieval in the same way that these other products are.

Apple iCloud

iUsers will certainly enjoy the iCloud, but Android users are left out in the cold. Since it's not as universal as the options above, I left it out of the main list. If you're an iPhone, iPad, and/or Mac user, though, this is probably a great option for you.

The Quick Takeaway

Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive have the fantastic benefit of productivity apps built right in. If you need to edit documents on the go, these are probably your best bets.

Box is looking super cool, but the best features only come in the paid versions. Of course, the prices are very nice.

Dropbox, one of the first online storage solutions, has great features and is simple enough for anyone to use. The only drawback, in my opinion, is that the price jumps from free for 2GB to $10/month for 1TB. I need something in between for my personal and business storage needs, and would prefer a price that reflected my need.

With so many options having so many great features, it's hard to choose just one. In fact, I'm using Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive (as well as Carbonite and Evernote, but I'm not really counting those) right now. However, I do hope to consolidate most of my online storage into a single option in the near future. I just have to pick one. 🙂

Featured image "Storage Units" by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Posted in Cool Tools, ReviewsTagged , , , , , , , ,  |  Leave a comment

Leave a reply