Few things are cheap these days, and even fewer are free. So, if you can get your hands on an affordable, powerful tool for your business, hold on with all your might.
When it comes to remote file storage, businesses have several solid options. Some people swear by Dropbox, while others wouldn’t hear of using anything but Google Drive. Before you dive into any one cloud, consider your options carefully with the overview below.
From the old, reliable Google Docs cloud-based office software, comes Google Drive, with simple, easy-to-use file storage – Google-style. Similar to Dropbox, Google Drive automatically syncs with the cloud to keep all your files consistent across all your devices. Also, like Dropbox, it integrates with both Windows and Mac file systems, but it differs in that it does not support Linux.
With Google Drive, you can share and collaborate on any kind of file: documents, music, images, and videos. And, any content you create in Google Docs doesn’t deplete your storage quota.
What You Get:
Google Drive comes with 5GB of free storage. For only $2.49 per month, you can get 25GB, and 100GB will cost you $4.99 per month. And, if you’re especially data-greedy, you can even rent 16TB for $799.99.
Like the other cloud service choices, SkyDrive allows you to save, share, and access files. However, on most operating systems, you’ll have to use it through a browser. SkyDrive works very well, though, with the Windows 8 file manager, and it works perfectly with Microsoft Office.
SkyDrive comes with one feature that could also be viewed as a liability. It allows you to grab files from any PC that is associated with your account and pull them into the cloud remotely. While this feature works great if you’ve left your presentation at home, it could also open the door to your files for anyone who gains access to your Microsoft account login information and your phone (SkyDrive has a two-factor authentication code) – not so good if you like to keep your Quicken finance files private.
What You Get:
SkyDrive might make up for this by having more free storage than many of the other services. You get 7GB of free storage, and if you want 20GB more, it will only cost you $10 a year. For $25, you can get 50GB, and for $50, you can get 100GB.
While Apple iCloud only comes with 5GB of free storage, that storage can do a lot. You can store and stream music, apps, books, and TV shows purchased from the iTunes store, as well as your Photo Stream, and it won’t count against your storage quota.
iCloud also gives you access to Apple’s wireless services including contact synchronization, its own email service, mobile backup, and location awareness. Basic iCloud services are available via the web on any platform. It runs decently on Windows with the latest version of iTunes, but to really see its full potential, you need to be running a Mac with Lion or above, or an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch running iOS 5 or better. In other words, if your Mac is running Snow Leopard, you’re out of luck.
What You Get:
Again, iCloud users get 5GB of free space. You can purchase additional space for $20 per year for 10GB, $40 per year for 20GB, and $100 per year for 50GB.
Although not the first cloud-based storage service, Dropbox is the one that brought the focus to such services. Dropbox runs natively on almost any PC, including Linux computers or devices running Android or iOS. It doesn’t need a web browser interface, which makes it stand out on this list.
You can use Dropbox just as you would any other network drive, and with almost any file manager on any operating system, making it a flexible choice. However, Dropbox is a no-frills storage service, lacking the extras found on other services. But, sometimes, for some folks, simpler is better.
What You Get:
Dropbox comes with 2GB of free storage, but you can get more storage if you bring new users along with you. For $9.99 per month, or $99 annually, you’ll get 100GB. Deals are priced similarly, all the way up to 500GB. You can even get a Dropbox for teams that start with a shared TB of storage for five users; prices vary.