Cloud storage is a service that allows data to be maintained, managed, backed up remotely, and accessed from multiple distributed and connected resources that comprise a Cloud. Various Cloud storage providers have emerged in recent years, offering a variety of solutions for users to upload and sync files to cloud storage databases and then access and share those files from a Web browser or their local device. This article will describe briefly the solutions offered by 4 of the most notable providers: Google Drive, SkyDrive, Dropbox, and Box.
Introduced in April 2012, Google Drive is the cloud-based file-sharing storage solution offered by Google that enables users to “Keep everything. Share anything.” With GDrive users can keep their documents stored in a safe place “in the cloud” without worrying about what happens if their laptop crashes or their mobile device falls into the river on that kayaking outing.
The collaboration features are excellent: it’s possible to create new documents, spreadsheets, or presentations on the fly and share and update them with teammates and see changes instantly.
Since GDrive is also synced with all of the other Google features that we’ve come to know and appreciate, Gmail Users no longer need to upload lengthy email attachments. Just send a link from Google Drive in Gmail and everyone has the same file and version.
With the “Google Drive for PC” download you can also easily sync up any files from your computer onto Google Drive in the cloud. GDrive works with PCs, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.
Searching for your files becomes a snap with GDrive as you search by keyword or file type – essentially creating a personalized Google engine of your personal content.
Accessibility to Google Drive is easy, and is included in the ever-growing list of Google applications (Google Docs, Gmail, Google+). Your files are available anytime at drive.google.com. Everyone is given the first 5GB of storage space for free. Afterwards you can purchase another 25 GB of space or more, starting at $2.49 per month and $4.99/month for 100GB of storage; more options from Google
SkyDrive is Microsoft’s storage solution for cloud-based file-sharing. To activate this service, you first download the SkyDrive application to your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Windows Phone devices and a folder is automatically created, so that any file or photo you put in this folder will be synced to your other devices that have SkyDrive.
SkyDrive also makes collaboration with colleagues and friends easy and intuitive. There’s no need for them to download any software; just access any web browser to reach the SkyDrive.com site to retrieve the needed files.
Similar to GDrive and other solutions, SkyDrive has rendered obsolete the need for bulky email attachments. Instead, just email a link to photo albums or any other file on SkyDrive and the file is accessed in the cloud.
SkyDrive is also a freemium service and offers 7GB of free initial space . . . 2GB more than GDrive. The costs for further storage size increases to a modest $10 annually for 20GB, $25 for 50GB, and $50 for 100GB.
Founded in 2007, Dropbox has become one of the most notable Cloud Storage solutions on the market. Dropbox functions as both a Web-based and downloadable product, and also runs smoothly on Windows, Mac, Linux, as well as mobile devices including iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. Dropbox also focuses on revision history, so files deleted from the Dropbox folder may be recovered from any of the synced computers.
The Dropbox Basic plan provides users with 2GB of storage at no cost. You can earn more free space through referrals (an additional 500MB per person, up to 16GB) and by recommending the app through other social methods, such as connecting your Twitter account. If more storage space is need, you can sign up for one of the Dropbox Pro paid plans: $9.99 per month for 100GB (or $99 per year); $19.99 per month for 200GB (or $199 per year); or $49.99 per month for 500GB (or $499 per year).
Dropbox also offers a robust business solution through its Dropbox Teams platform. This option costs $795 per year, which provides 1 terabyte of storage for five users, plus an additional 200GB for every new user added ($125 more per year per additional person). Dropbox Team account holders get access to administrative tools, telephone tech support, and unlimited version history.
Founded in 2005, Box is a Cloud based solution focused on sharing, collaborating, and working with files that are uploaded to the site. The platform offers 3 account types: Enterprise, Business and Personal.
The personal account option allows storage and access of files online – anywhere, anytime, on any device: desktop, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, and files can be shared easily and efficiently by sending a link. Those who sign up for the Personal account get 5 GB of free storage. Then the price scales up to $9.99/month for 25GB and $19.99/month for 50GB of storage.
Box offers a strong suite of tools and services through its Business and Enterprise accounts. The company leverages itself as an alternative to the “FTP Drain” by providing efficient and secure file sharing among internal and external clients and vendors. The opportunity to consolidate all content into one location in the cloud means that IT operations can happen in real-time and in a streamlined fashion. Box can also easily connect to the leading SaaS applications you already use such as Salesforce, NetSuite and Google Apps, or integrate it into your IT infrastructure or custom build apps powered by Box to whatever your business needs. Additional features such as mobile content management on any device, extensive project and document collaboration, and a virtual data room . . . all within a secure environment make Box an appealing choice for the SMB.