Cloud Storage: Which One’s For You?

by Dan

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll know something about cloud software. These kinds of apps are becoming a bigger and bigger trend in the world of business. When you use a cloud program, you’re able to tell why straight away! It’s so much more convenient and reassuring having everything stored outside a physical hard drive. Cloud technology has saved a lot of employees from handing in work late, and allowed employers to edit work with a few simple clicks. If you’re in the market for some cloud software, here are some brief reviews on three of the most popular packages.

iCloud

When cloud storage was first being released, you must have known that Apple was going to cash in sooner or later. Well, they’ve done a fair job at it, all things considered. Provided you have enough Apple products that it’s compatible with, this is probably the smoothest cloud software you can choose. Its basic function is similar to other cloud packages. It operates as an external hard drive, where you can store documents, music, images and so on. You just need to get your Apple devices synched up to it. Then, any file you create, upload or manipulate is automatically copied across the other devices. This is a benefit in itself, seen as many other services only let you access your files through the cloud. With iCloud, you’ll be able to access any of your files whether you have an internet connection or not. Other features include an email client, address book and calendar, which can also be synched across your Apple devices.

icloud

Source: Wikimedia

The only issue is the classic Apple one: total lack of versatility! If you want to get everything you can out of iCloud, you’ll need all of the main iWork apps. Those are Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. If you weren’t already aware, these are for presentations, word documents, and spreadsheets. When you create or edit these kinds of files on an Apple device, it’ll be copied across all your other devices. So what if you want to use other apps? I’m afraid the only way around this is to use an email account to save the files as a draft, or send them to yourself. To get the most out of your iCloud experience, it’s best just to get the iWork trio. These are fairly inexpensive, but having to pay more at all can be a big turn-off for many users.

icloud 2

Source: Wikimedia

iCloud’s biggest strength, perhaps, is media. With iTunes, Apple already has a pretty firm grip on digital media. It was no surprise to see that they’ve tried to integrate this hugely popular player with their cloud storage. If you have iCloud set up, any movies or music you purchase through iTunes will be wirelessly copied to your other devices. This has patched over a problem shared by a lot of Apple devotees. The wireless feature bypasses the hassle of having to plug in each separate device in order to synch up all of your media. You’ll still have to manually store things on a device if you want to access them without an internet connection. The majority of your files are stored on devices, and simply transmitted via cloud.

Despite these minor slip-ups, once everything’s up and running iCloud storage is brilliant! One major, overarching strength is the sheer simplicity of using the iCloud interface. There’s very little manual management required. Simply save the files you want to, and they’ll be copied across all of your devices. The only complications usually come in the initial set-up stages. Don’t worry though. There are plenty of support resources out there such as iCloud login.

Dropbox

Dropbox has a distinct advantage over other cloud software. It’s the only major cloud service which has clients for Linux and Blackberry. Many other providers stick to the usual Windows, iOS, Android list. They even have an official app for Windows phones. One of their major marketing points used to reel you in is that it’s free. By “free”, Dropbox means that it will give you a disappointing 2GB of storage. This free service is fine if you’re using your cloud solely for documents. However, when it comes to music, videos, and images, that 2GB is going to be used up extremely fast. They offer a 1TB plan for a reasonable £7.99 per month. After that you can bump up your overall space through a kind of pyramid scheme. With each friend you sign up to Dropbox, they’ll give you an extra 500MB of extra storage. The free storage doesn’t stop there. If you enable the camera upload feature, you get another 3GB. This will also automatically copy any of your tablet or smartphone pictures to the cloud. They run a range of other promotions and gimmicks. For instance, you could get 50GB for two years for buying a specific smartphone or tablet.

Dropbox

Source: Wikimedia

The way Dropbox works is fairly straightforward. When you install it, it will create a local file on your PC, which will sync up with an online version whenever you make a change. If you’re using a PC, this means that you’ll have all of your data handy whether you’re online or offline. The process is slightly different for mobile devices. If you want to be able to access files from an offline mobile device, you need to manually create offline versions. Obviously this is annoying to people who would prefer a more integrated experience. The offline editing offered by Dropbox is top-notch, however. The basic account will allow you to share files, but you can’t set permissions without a paid subscription. This means that files can be warped and deleted by other users. The basic account isn’t the worst thing in the world, however. Dropbox will automatically back up any changes to files for 30 days. This means that if you lose an older version of a file and need to get to it again, you’ll be able to.

If you’re using Dropbox in a professional environment, I strongly recommend a “pro” account. This allows you to set read-only permissions, password-lock links, and a variety of other actions. In summary, if you’re willing to pay, Dropbox is a solid and dependable cloud service.

OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive has emerged as a foil for iCloud. You can see why it would be tempting for many current Windows users. A basic OneDrive account will give you 15GB of free storage, and another 15 when you link the service up to your camera roll. If you buy Microsoft Office 365, you get totally unlimited space on OneDrive! As with any software, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. In November 2015, Microsoft announced plans to cut back on a lot of the free storage features included in OneDrive. Then, in December, they had a slight change of heart. Microsoft offered anyone with 30GB of free storage a chance to keep it after changes are made in 2016. This won’t be done automatically, as you can imagine. Users have to opt in for it by going through Microsoft’s own portal. After the change happens, any newcomers or people who didn’t opt in will only have 5GB of free storage. Those who have Office 365 will be cut down to a single terabyte, as well.

OneDrive

Source: Wikimedia

Obviously this is a big disadvantage. Microsoft being so ready to let their free storage fluctuate is a bad sign for anyone. There are a variety of good points about OneDrive too, though. This cloud program utilises Microsoft’s latest UI, which in my opinion is one of their smoothest to date. Whether you prefer the modern, boxy version or a more traditional file tree design, this interface will be able to accommodate. You can create files on the web, which are compatible with both Office and OneNote formats. If you have a Windows 10 PC, you can also use selective sync. This allows you to choose what will be synced automatically, and you won’t end up cramming your storage with every last file you create. If you’re particularly into social media, then this might be the cloud choice for you. You have the option to sync several social networks to your OneDrive account. This makes it much easier to share various things with your contacts. OneDrive seems to have an edge over Dropbox in terms of permissions. Even with the free version of OneDrive, you’re able to set files to read-only or full editing. Another neat feature allows you to remotely access files through the OneDrive website. This can be an absolute lifesaver if few of your colleagues have installed cloud services.

Sure, the changes which are coming this year may be annoying. However, a paid OneDrive subscription is very functional and pretty easy to use. There aren’t many distinguishing features, however a OneDrive service is more than enough for a lot of people’s use. If all you want to do is share small files regularly, and not spend too much, OneDrive could be perfect.

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