As we rush towards the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century (finally getting out of the…tens? Tenties? and into the twenties, a decade everyone knows what to call…!), you would be hard pressed to work in tech and not know about the Cloud. Indeed, it would be surprising to find anyone who uses email or works with a computer at all who didn’t at least have a vague idea of what cloud storage is, roughly how it works, and know some of the leading services on offer.
Consumers and businesses continue to look to reduce their local, physical hardware storage and infrastructure, and are therefore migrating to the cloud, storing files, applications and even, increasingly, software in cloud services. However, whilst everyone knows about the cloud, there are now so many different providers and options it is much harder to know who is providing the best service. We thought we’d take a look at the leading providers, and examine the pros and cons of each.
All the options we explore offer a free tier, however we should say that the free provision may not be the best or most appropriate option for you, depending on the needs of your business.
Dropbox is the old-timer of cloud storage services. Its longevity is probably best explained by its simplicity. It is easy to use, has great sharing facilities, and although its initial free offer of 2GB of storage is rather miserly, this can be upgraded quite simply by linking to your social media and referring friends. Pro accounts start with 1TB. A very decent option if you are looking for a simple storage solution.
Chances are if you are an Android user, you are already using Google Drive, as it comes integrated with Android devices and with all Gmail accounts. The free offer of 15GB is incredibly generous, and it syncs up brilliantly (obviously) with the rest of Google’s ever increasing services, including the aforementioned Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets and so on. Its best feature is its sharing and joint editing abilities, making collaborating on documents a breeze, which more than makes up for its slightly clunky web interface. Business accounts start at 100GB and are very reasonably priced.
Apple’s alternative to Google Drive offers you 5GB of free storage, and a similar syncing functionality across the Apple suite of apps and software (Pages, Notes, iTunes etc), but these days it can’t really compete with Google’s universality. It is definitely a great option if you are an Apple user already, but better options exist if you aren’t. Business accounts start at 50GB, and are as reasonably priced as Google’s.
Microsoft’s cloud storage services have improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and OneDrive now offers a really well-rounded option for anyone who doesn’t have a specific pressing reason to go with another provider. It is integrated into Windows 10, so you don’t have to download an additional app, and offers a really solid all-round package, linking directly with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, and it offers built-in remote access functionality. It allows collaboration in a similar fashion to Google Drive but with the added bonus of incorporating the Microsoft suite of applications, opening Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc seamlessly. To top it all off, if you’ve got an Office365 subscription you get 1TB of storage straight away.
Overall, we feel that OneDrive’s all-round performance means that unless you are already committed to Google or Apple, it is the one to go for, and offers the best bang for your buck.