Cloud storage can be a confusing concept. Most people will tell you that they don’t fully understand it, and the majority of the others are lying. In the most basic sense, cloud storage is a digital filing cabinet. It uses different servers across the Internet to make the data available for users across multiple platforms. Individuals can use cloud storage to save important photos, videos, and documents that they want accessible across different devices. Businesses also use cloud storage as an easy way to do collaborative work with multiple employees. There are many different types of cloud storage, each with their own pros and cons. It can be confusing to decide which is worth investing in, and what program is right for your specific needs. Some programs offer a lot of free storage space with incentives to get even more, but some offer services that are worth paying for.
Here is a basic overview of 7 of the top cloud storage programs, with their best and worst feature, to make it easier to choose the program that is right for you.
One drive is a program from Microsoft, so you know it is going to be pretty good. Anyone can use it on the web, and it is available on many mobile devices. It is also included in the most recent Windows devices. They offer 15GB of free space, which is one of the highest out of all of the programs, and they offer a referral incentive to receive even more free space. It can store photos, videos, and documents.
- Best Feature: If you decide to pay the $6.99/month for 1TB of storage, then you also receive Office 365.
- Worst Feature: It organizes your files by type, but it is not always accurate. This can make it difficult to find specific files.
Dropbox is a favorite storage program. It’s easy to use and can be accessed by both Mac and Windows app users. It only offers 2GB when you sign up, but there are also other incentive programs to get more free space. Along with OneDrive, Dropbox can also be used to save photos, videos, and documents.
- Best Feature: Dropbox is easy to use, and works well with Mac, PC, Android and iOS
- Worst Feature: When using the free version, Dropbox doesn’t let you arrange files in the way that you want them to be displayed, which can make for a messy storage space.
3. Google Drive
Google Drive is another favorite, especially if users already have a Google account (Gmail or Google+). If you already have one of those accounts, then you have a Google Drive account as well. Google Drive also gives 15GB of free space. However, they have no incentives to get more storage for free. Google Drive also has a built in word processor, spread sheet app, and a program to make presentations.
- Best Feature: If you have a Google account then there is no set up.
- Worst Feature: The 15GB of free space is shared with all of your Google accounts. If you have a big inbox, then you aren’t going to have a lot of storage space in Google Drive.
Box is great because it is also available on Windows, Mac, the Web, Android, iOS, and Blackberry devices. It’s not linked to a specific service. They also offer 10GB of free space to users. An individual can use it to store any type of file, and is a great tool for businesses. The paid version offers many helpful features for collaboration and privacy for documents.
- Best Feature: Collaboration and privacy tools for businesses
- Worst Feature: Extra features aren’t with it, and they can be confusing and overwhelming to someone using it for personal storage.
5. Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon cloud is a great service to back up videos and photos. Like Google Drive, if a user has an Amazon account then they do not need to sign up again for this storage service. They offer 5GB of free storage, and have monthly and yearly plans for unlimited storage. There is also a desktop app available for both PC and Mac users. Amazon prime users get unlimited photos for free with their subscription.
- Best Feature: If you already have an Amazon account then you do not need to sign up for another service.
- Worst Feature: Only photos and videos are available to download on the mobile apps. Documents cannot be downloaded.
Copy is a service that works well for both individuals and businesses. The program gives users 15GB of free space, and they also have a referral program to gain more free space with every person who signs up from your recommendation. It has both desktop and mobile apps for users to make their data readily available.
- Best Feature: When sharing a file, users split the space that the file takes up. If the entire folder is 15GB and split between 3 people, then each user is only using 5GB of their storage space.
- Worst Feature: The website is not the easiest to navigate, but the apps are easier to use.
iCloud is an obvious storage choice because a lot of people already have it built into their devices. They offer 5GB of free space, and offer monthly fees for more space. Like most of the programs, it can be used to save any kind of file. It is easy and reliable to use when crossing over from a Mac to an iPad or iPhone. The features that are available are also made specifically with those devices in mind, so they work well together.
- Best Feature: It is reliable and works easily with other iOS/ Mac OSX devices.
- Worst Feature: Paid subscriptions are expensive, and only avid apple app users benefit from all of the features.
It is important to know these facts when choosing a cloud based storage program. Each one has features that will benefit specific users. For a more succinct view of the features, here is a table that highlights the more important services that each program offers.
Cloud Based Storage Program Breakdown:
|Free Storage||Opportunity for additional
|Paid Subscription||Available on:||Selective Sync||Best for|
|OneDrive||15GB||YES||$1.99/ month (100BG)
|Web, Windows, Mac, Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows Tablet, Xbox||YES||Personal use by Microsoft Windows users|
$99/ year for 1TB
|Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, Web, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Kindle Fire||YES||Personal use|
|Google Drive||15 GB||NO||1.99/month for 100 GB or 1TB for 9.99 per month||Web, Windows, Mac, Web, Chrome, Android, iOS||YES||Personal use by Google account holders|
|Box||10 GB||NO||$5 per user per month for 100GB of storage space||Web, Windows, Mac, Web, Android, iOS, BlackBerry||YES||Business and IT|
|Amazon Cloud Drive||5GB||NO||$12/year unlimited photos
$60/ year unlimited everything
|Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||NO||Amazon prime users|
|Copy||15GB||YES||$10/ month for 250 GB
or $99/ year
|Web, Windows, OSX, or Linux, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android.||YES||Personal and business users|
|iCloud||5 GB||NO||$19.99 per month for 1TB||Web, iCloud for Windows, iOS, OS X||NO||Apple User|