According to Wikipedia, a cloud is a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water and that has been the case since the beginning of time. The world we live in today has another definition for cloud, which is the idea of storing data securely on the internet in a way that allows you to access your data where ever you are. John McCarthy envisioned the concept of cloud computing back in the ’60s and today we are seeing his original idea become more mainstream than ever.
There are many uses for cloud computing and cloud storage both for enterprises and individuals. For now, we will focus on the current front runners. Back in 2004, Google hit us with G-drive, probably the first concept we saw of cloud storage and over the years, we have seen G-drive disappear and reappear in various forms.
In 2007, we saw Dropbox hit the scene and that same year, Microsoft entered the arena with Windows Live Folders, which is called SkyDrive today. There are other products available but these are the three platforms I want to compare.
Storage costs have declined over the years and the cost for cloud storage is actually quite reasonable, although not consistent across these various platforms. All 3 platforms offer some amount of free space as a carrot to lure you in, then an option to buy more. Dropbox starts you out with 2GB for free and Google offers 5GB for free. SkyDrive is the most generous in this game by offering 7GB, however if you were an existing SkyDrive user before this week, you were automatically bumped up to 25GB! For the average user, any one of these free offers is probably adequate, however for the power user of storage, you have options.
Google will sell you 20GB up to 16TB for $0.60/GB. That’s a lot of data for not a lot of cash on the table. Dropbox offers 50GB or 100GB for about $2/GB, however the cheapest player in this game is SkyDrive, at less than $0.40/GB for up to 100GB
All 3 of these platforms have an app than gives you a Favorites folder on Windows 7 so you can access it through Computer and transfer files back and forth. That is a very handy feature that makes your files easy to access. They also each have their own app for iPhone and Android devices and SkyDrive gives you an app that directly integrates with the file system on your Android device or iPhone so you can move files back and forth easily between your device and SkyDrive.
How To Choose?
SkyDrive is a great deal, with the online version of Office, which includes nearly fully functional versions of MS Word, MS Excel and MS Powerpoint. If you are an existing customer, then add 25GB on for free and you have a sweet setup. Dropbox gives you 500MB additional for free for every referral you make so that adds a great deal of appeal. Google is a giant in many ways online so that may be appealing to you for that reason alone.
This has been an exciting couple of weeks in the world of online storage, better known as the Cloud. Some have been anticipating the day when cloud storage and synchronization would be seamless and others keep their distance in well justified fear.
Where do you stand on cloud storage?