As the percentage of users owning multiple devices like the smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc., goes up, the storage of documents, files, photos and videos are moving out of the traditional space on the physical PC or laptop to the versatile cloud on the internet that enables you to access them from anywhere, anytime. The ease of accessibility and services provided like collaborative work and automated sync facility make the cloud storage services a convenient and popular option. However, the options available are one too many and the user could end up in a soup of confusion to select the right one. Let’s discuss the features of some of the best cloud storage services for 2015 and we hope that by the end of the discussion, you’d be in a better position to pick the one meant for you.
Google Drive, the online service offered by Google, offers up to 15 GB of storage space across all services. While it does not add storage space through referrals, you can avail of the many promotions that offer a storage space (even up to 10 GB) on the download of Quick Office or on buying the Chromebook. If you are a business person and are looking for unlimited space then for a monthly fee of $9.99 you can get 1TB of space to store your documents.
The Drive has a local folder on the PC and it syncs all the files and folders to the one on the cloud. You can retain a previous version of the document and even collaborate with your team members in real-time. You can share files with anyone, even outside the Google circle, or edit files over the web on the iOS and Android apps. The app facility is sadly absent for Windows phone users.
Google Drive offers a security cover by encrypting the data in 128-bit AES. You can opt to have a two-step account verification to have an additional layer of security.
Apart from the usual platforms like Mac, Android, iOs and Windows, DropBox works well for Linux and Blackberry users too making it the only storage solution to do so. The kind of technology you use, therefore, will never be a hindrance if you opt for this solution.
While the free storage space offered is a measly 2 GB, the space that can be added through referrals can amount to 500MB each time a friend signs up with a total limit of 16GB. Other ways of getting additional storage are through link-ups to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, enabling the upload feature on the Smartphone camera and promotional deals. You can, of course, pay and upgrade to up to 1TB for $7.99 per month.
The files can be shared with anyone by links and one can also work in collaboration. The only drawback, though, is that the permission settings cannot be adjusted and hence anyone can edit the files. However, the saving grace is the backup facility provided that lets your older versions stay for as long as 30 days.
Data encryption is at 256-bit AES with an additional security cover through a two-level account authentication.
One Drive offered by Microsoft is very similar to the DropBox in terms of the system for additional storage via referrals and camera upload feature. The difference lies in the basic storage offer which is a generous 15GB with One Drive as opposed to 2GB with DropBox. The referral limit, however, stands low at 5GB, averaging out the total free storage to stand at 20GB and 18GB respectively. With a monthly subscription fee, the users can avail of 1TB of storage space.
The files can be created and shared on the web through various social network links. Again, One Drive differs with DropBox on the file sharing mode. You can set user permission while sharing file even on the free version whereas this is a premium feature with DropBox.
There is, however, no data encryption, although, Microsoft retains the right to scan the data for any objectionable content.
As we have seen so far, most storage solutions work more or less similarly in terms of storage and services provided for your data online, but when it comes to privacy and security, the measures fall rather short. If these are of utmost importance to you, then Mega comes as a perfect solution.
Mega provides encryption at multiple levels: at the local level, as the data moves to the cloud, and at the destination on the cloud. The key is with only the user, hence the data is protected even from the solution provider. What’s more: Mega functions across all platforms, covered by all the mobile apps, and is also supported by Chrome and Firefox with secure plugins.
There’s more to cheer with Mega with excellent storage, both as a standard free package (50GB) as well as a premium package (up to 4TB).
The slow speed and limited features work as the downside to an otherwise perfect solution package.
Not to be confused with DropBox, the Box with its granular user management functions, enterprise grade-security and scalability makes it a popular choice with professional users. While it does not provide a lot of free storage space: only 10GB of free storage and 100GB with a premium package, its file-sharing capabilities are exceptional with simple-to-use features like the one-click share and drag-and-drop feature for file uploads.
Box comes with a wide range of apps that are designed to appeal to professional customers. Apart from the Active Directory, Box can authenticate with Salesforce, NetSuite, Jive, and DocuSign accounts.
While Tim Peters, director of marketing virtual agent firm, IntelliResponse, is appreciative of the file permission settings, he opines that since Box doesn’t offer an easy way to preview files, this comes in the way of using Box as a repository of image files.
Things to keep in mind
The options we discussed have their own pros and cons and what might work for one may not for the other. The basic things to keep in mind while choosing storage solutions are:
- The amount of storage you require.
- The amount you are willing to spend for extra space.
- The kind of data you wish to store and the privacy and security levels required.
- Features required for a personal user and a professional one differ. So, identifying the ones that are essential for your work environment can prove to be a determining factor.