Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Cloud Storage Options Volume 3...
Cloud Storage. Your options have changed...Again...
Happy Sunday! When I originally created this blog about a year ago, the cloud scene storage scene was similar, yet very different. Since then most, if not all the cloud service providers have upped the ante and now offer more free storage and better options. CX.com, for some reason, has gotten rid of there free option. Box.com and Google have greatly enhanced their cloud options, so with all the change occurring I thought it would be a good idea to update the blog, yet again with the most current information for all my readers. So, here we go, again!
Well start this updated blog with the same five cloud options that I reviewed back in October of 2013. Those sites are Dropbox, Google Drive, CX, Copy and Box. Dropbox was one of the first players on the cloud scene, so I’ve been using it for a few years now. I like the ease with which it integrates with Mac OSX (and Windows), though it does have it’s drawbacks. CX and Copy are newer to the game. Copy offers more storage for free, and like Dropbox have a very good App for your iOS devices. CX no longer has a free option, which right off the bat would lead me no longer recommend it. Google Drive is one of the many tools to spawn out of Gmail. One of the great features of Google Drive is that, if you have a Google account, you automatically get access to Google Drive for free! The final option that I’m going to write about, Box, has also been around for a few years. Box is geared toward the enterprise, though anyone can sign up. Box now gives users 50GB of free storage, thats the most free storage offered. Also, like the other four, has the ability to upgrade to more storage for a monthly fee.
Let’s dig a little further into the options, we’ll start with Dropbox. Nothing has changed for Dropbox since the previous update in October. They have been around longer than the four others here (since 2004), that doesn’t however make them the best option. Dropbox has a very user friendly interface, and new users start with 2gb of free storage. It entices you to share Dropbox with everyone you know by offering you 500mb of free storage for everyone who joins based on your introduction, giving you up to 18gb of free storage. Dropbox installs on your Mac (or PC) as well as your iPhone or iPad (or android device). Once you’ve installed in on your Mac, you can easily transfer files using Finder (a very nice option), or you can log into Dropbox.com from your browser of choice and upload files through it’s friendly easy to use interface. Dropbox’s features are more limited than some of the others here, but it’s very good at what it does, which is provide you with either additional storage, as well as a place to back up and share your important files. If the 2gb you get for free (or if you can get your friends/family to join you and get up to 18gb free) isn’t enough, you can purchase additional storage, starting at 100gb for $9.99 a month, 200gb for $19.99 all the way up to 500gb for $49.99 a month. Dropbox’s iOS app has been updated to work nicely with iOS 7. It let’s you download or upload files from your iPhone or iPad, a nice addition and a great way to have access to the files you need, wherever and whenever you need them. Some other nice iOS features include the ability to share files (rather than having to email or message them to someone), create folders, send a file as a Facebook message, or post to Facebook as well as being able to share via Twitter. All in all, a nice easy to use interface, potential for 18gb of free space, but from a storage perspective, Dropbox is far behind Drive, Box and Copy.
Next up, Google Drive. Google is continually adding free storage, and they have really upped the ante with their latest offerings. Google drive has actually been around since 2005, when it started as Google Docs. What is now Google Drive, is a nice leap forward. When I last updated the blog, Google Drive had upped their offering to 15gb of free storage, plus the ability to create documents using Google’s web suite of applications, something not offered by Dropbox, CX, or Copy. Not too mention, there’s even an online store where you can add apps to your Google Drive, a very nice feature indeed, although let me point out this caveat, most apps require Google’s Chrome browser in order to work. So if you don’t use Chrome, most of those apps are not suitable for your browser! Similar to Dropbox, Drive has a nice, easy to use interface, as well as an iOS companion app that gives you access to all your files, wherever and whenever you need, also allowing you to upload photos or videos from your iOS device and share them. If the 15gb of free storage is not enough, Google has recently changed their upgrade options, yet again, and the changes are better! You can upgrade from 100GB for only $1.99 a month, all the way to 10TB for a measly $99.99 per month. In between those options, you can get 1TB at $9.99/month. Easily the best options of any of the cloud service providers. Drive let’s you share documents with other Google users (and vice versa), and in my opinion has the best integration companion, Google Hangouts. With an upgraded interface, tremendous storage options, Google drive is definitely a cloud storage option to consider.
Now onto CX. CX has changed things up, and in my opinion, not for the better. They have removed their free starter option (you do get to try the service for 30 days for free, but that really doest count!). CX gives you 10GB of storage for $9.99/year. Not a bad deal, but when your competitors are giving away storage, it's not a good deal by any stretch! They have 256 bit encryption for those of you looking to keep your stuff as encrypted as possible, they have redundant backups in case anything happens to their systems, and added firewall protection to keep you data safe, all killer features! Like Google Drive, CX has a group feature that let’s you collaborate with other people (team members, family, friends etc.), though it does not offer video conferencing as of this blog writing. It also has a nice feature where you can highlight some files as favorites for offline viewing when necessary. Like the other cloud offerings, Cx’s iOS app allows you the ability to upload photo’s directly from your iPhone or iPad. CX seems to like the Dropbox idea where you share with friends, and if they sign up you get additional storage, only where Dropbox offers 500mb of storage per person, CX is offering 300mb with the ability to earn up to 6gb additional free storage, giving you a potential total of 16gb free storage. Unlike Dropbox, CX’s integration with the Mac is not through Finder, rather it has an App you can download, run and pick which folder(s) you wish to sync (very easy to use). CX has great plans if you wish to add storage. I’m just going to cover the Personal Plans here, there are additional plans for businesses. CX's upgrade options have remained the same. A user can upgrade to 25GB for $4.99 a month. If that isn’t enough for you, you can go to 100GB for $9.99 a month, and if you still need more, for $21.99 a month you’ll get 250GB of storage! Seven months ago those options were very good. Today, with the options you are getting from both Google Drive and Box.com, they don't look all that good. Your options are not as numerous as with Google Drive, however if you are looking for a good online back-up of pictures or movies (or both), CX is a good way to go! All in all I still like CX’s online interface, but wish the Mac access was via Finder instead of having to run an additional app to sync your files. But sadly, I can no longer recommend CX as a viable cloud storage option. Sorry guys!
Very little has changed for the next cloud storage option, Copy.com. Copy was created by Networking security specialists, Barracuda Networks, so you can be sure your content will be as secure as possible! Similar to Drive, Copy starts you off at 15GB of free storage. Copy has both personal and business options, for the purpose of this blog, I'm only going to cover the personal options. Beyond the 15GB free plan, Copy now has only one other plan, 250GB for either $9.99/month or $99/year. They have gotten rid of their 500GB for $14.99/month or $149/year option, perhaps no one was using that much space? The two options are good, not great . Your options are more limited than what Google offers with Drive. The best part of Copy is still its referral plans. There literally is no option to how much free storage you can accrue! I've read review of people earning up to 600gb of free storage by inviting their contacts! That is absolutely amazing! Copy works across platforms, including Linux. Most cloud service providers are limited to Mac OSX and Windows. Copy is even now available on the Windows mobile platform, for those that have Windows mobile phones. Both Copy.com and the desktop client are very easy to use. The desktop client integrates with Finder (for Mac), which I love as it makes syncing files and folders a very easy and intuitive task. All in all (and certainly in my opinion), Copy is a viable cloud service options, that I would recommend.
The last storage option I’m going to cover here is Box.com. Box started selling cloud storage into enterprises before it opened up to consumers. Box perviously had been offering 10GB of free storage, which they recently bumped up to 50GB. There is a slight catch. You don't get the extra 40GB of storage until you install Box on your iOS device. But that's the whole point of these cloud storage sights right? Having your files in the cloud so you can have access to them on your devices. Like Dropbox, Box has great integration into Mac OSX, where you can access your files through Finder. Box’s big differentiator is still their ability to allow you to create a document using the Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) of tools. If you do not have a copy of Microsoft Word (or Excel or Powerpoint), it opens a cloud version for you, and automatically saves your work to your Box storage, not your computer. One thing I don't like about Box, is that it will not store your iWork files! So if you are a Pages/Keynote/Numbers user, you'll have to export your files to PDF format in order to store them on Box. To me that's a huge detractor. In Boxes favor, is that it let's you create a document in Google Doc format! Little by little we are getting away from the need to own copies of Microsoft Office (or any other office products for that matter). Because of it’s tight Microsoft integration, Box, in my opinion, offers a great alternative for those users confined to Microsoft Office. Box has, an easy to use online interface. Box’s iOS app is very similar to the others, with the same features. You can tap a file and make it a favorite, which will allow offline access. You can also upload pictures and video from you iPhone or iPad. If you are looking for additional storage, now a single user can upgrade to 100GB for only $5 a month. Not as good as Google Drive's offering, but still fairly reasonable. There are also many other options for businesses that I'm not going to cover here.
So quite a bit has changed. Most of it for the better, in CX's case, not so much. When you are trying to figure out which one is best, there may not be a best, like me, you may end up using multiple cloud storage sites. If you are looking for the most free storage, Box is now the way to go. If you are looking for the most mature product, Box is again the way to go. If you are looking for one with the most options, Google Drive should be your choice. Since all but CX are free, I recommend trying them all out and seeing which one suits you the best. I hope the updated blog helps, if you like it or even if you don’t, leave a comment I love hearing from you…
Until next time, Best to you and your devices.
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