There has been a huge increase over the last few months in services offering storage in 'The Cloud'. It's all become a bit hazy; and if you're like me, you gobble up free storage like you would a free bag of pic ‘n’ mix. I've learnt, though, that having several different companies storing bits of information here and there in the Cloud gets a bit messy, so it’s much better to simply pick one and stick with it. With that in mind, here are a few of the current online storage options available and a few tips on how to get the most out of them.
Firstly, Google’s very own 'Drive'. Chances are, if you're a ‘googler’, availing of services such as Google Documents, Google Calendar and so on... you already have access to Gdrive. You start off with a healthy and free 5Gb of storage. In here, you can store mainly documents and files etc. If you need somewhere for pictures of your cat, the Piscana service from Google is your best bet. Storage on Drive can be increased, starting at $2.49 for 25Gb, up to a whopping 16Tb for an equally whopping $799. Sadly, there aren’t any current initiatives or options to increase your storage for free, but knowing Google, there quite possibly soon will be.
Skydrive is a new service from Microsoft. This one offers 7Gb of free storage, with various annually paid storage plans: 20Gb for $10 per year, $25 per year for 50Gb and 100Gb for $50 per year. There are also lots of integrated features with Microsoft’s many services, such as Bing, Hotmail, Office (web and desktop) Again, there are no incentives to increase your storage, although a lucky few who were early adopters could claim up to 25Gb free. Skydrive also integrates well with mobile devices, mostly Windows powered phones, such as the Nokia Lumia range (which you get 25Gb of storage free with. Lovely!)
iCloud is Apple’s answer to online storage although it's a little restrictive. Great for all you Apple nuts out there, it's geared more towards syncing all your idevices with each other. So your photos, notes, contacts et al will be safely kept on the iCloud servers; automatically backing things up if you have the option switched on in your iPhone/iPad.
Box delivers the same initial free storage as Google Drive, 5Gb. However they have lots of options for both personal & business users. They offer a substantial amount for very little indeed: - 1000Gb for a very reasonable £11 per month. There are more also options for unlimited space, however you need to contact them directly to get quotes.
Finally, Dropbox. This is the one I personally use the most and for many different reasons. Dropbox offers loads of free storage for doing different things. You start with the lowest free allowance of them all... 2Gb, but that's where the fun kicks in. You can earn more space by doing various tasks. So, for example, you can refer all your friends to Dropbox and earn up to 16Gb of extra storage (500Mb per friend)! If you link your account to Facebook or Twitter, you can get 250Mb for each, the same if you simply follow Dropbox on Twitter and write to tell them you love them. The “funnest” of them all though is their treasure hunts! Every now and again, these appear and you are required to carry out a series of tasks, answer a few questions, and voila! Even more storage! Recently, however, Smartphones have been offering lots and lots of free storage if you link them to your Dropbox account. HTC with Android 4.0 were the first to do this, offering a huge 25Gb for two years (with certain HTC phones). Samsung have followed suit with their incarnation of Android 4.0 on the latest Samsung Galaxy SIII, offering a whopping 50Gb for 2 years! For me though, what swung it for me was the automatic backup of photos and videos and the seamlessness between multiple platforms.
There are more and more services coming out all the time. Over the course of 2012, there will be a massive influx of companies offering to store your information in the Cloud. My advice is, don't jump on them all. Look at what you need them for, and pick one or two that work for you. Your decision may be influenced by the type of phone you use, the operating system of your computer, or even the email account that you use. Take your time and choose the right one!
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