Technology is bringing the world closer, both in terms of communicating with people around the world as well as in terms of how we access our data. Today, we are no longer restricted from accessing our work or personal data on our desktop. Tablets, smartphones and laptops let us sync data stored on one devices with all of our other devices, thanks to the wealth of cloud storage services that are available to us at better than affordable prices. This has even made sharing and collaboration a breeze, as you no longer have to chunk large files and move it around. In this post, we take a look at four of the best cloud storage providers of 2014 and what services they can offer you.
Top Cloud Storage Providers of 2014
Dropbox may not have an official Windows Phone app, but its services extend to Both Mac and Windows PC, Android and iOS devices with support for Linux and Blackberry too. The storage capacity of its basic free services is a modest 2GB, but a few referrals, using the camera upload feature and linking to social accounts could well and truly see your free storage space climbing up to more useful levels.
Even if you are a massive user, a 100 GB plan will cost you only $6 a month. Since Dropbox creates a local folder on your PC or device and syncs them to the online version whenever changes are made, you can be assured of having the latest information at your fingertips, even if you are offline. You can even comfortably edit files in offline mode, and be sure that they will be synched to the online version instantly.
Sharing files is also as easy as sending people a link, but the biggest disadvantage is the lack of permissions making the shared files vulnerable to alterations and deletions. The good thing though is that Dropbox tends to back up changes to the files for 30 days and in case you need an older version that hasn’t been altered, you can gain access to it. As far as collaboration is concerned, if two people work on a document at the same time, Dropbox will create two separate versions of the document, which may not be very ideal.
Dropbox’s security features offers two-step authentication and all files on the servers are AES 256-bit encrypted from Dropbox’s side. Overall, Dropbox is still the leading cloud storage providers, offering excellent cross platform functionality.
Google’s cloud service provider Google Drive is quite generous with its free offerings, a whopping 15GB to start off with and if you have a Google account, you don’t even need to create a Google Drive account. You already have one. The account syncs with all your Google services, so if you have an email with an attachment, or photos on Google +, it will be synced and count toward the 15GB space. While you’re not likely to get extra storage space through referrals, you can make use of their promotional schemes such as downloading apps, or buying certain devices to earn some free extra space.
Google Drive also makes a local folder on your PC but the tool offers version support making real-time collaboration a lot smoother. Furthermore, you can use third party apps to extend the functionalities of Google Drive. Google Drive is available for Android and iOS as well as the Mac and Windows PC, but a Windows Phone version is nowhere in the works.
Google Drive data is encrypted in 128-bit AES and Google states that it wont peek into your data unless required by law, plus it offers two-step verification for additional security. Google Drive is a good alternative to Dropbox, especially if your world revolves around Google’s services, but if you have trust issues, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
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Now if the Microsoft universe is where you live and do most of your work, OneDrive will be your best cloud storage tool of choice. There are apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Windows Phone and you do get a decent amount of free storage space (7GB) with the option to pick up up to 5GB more if you refer your friends. There’s also another 3GB waiting in the wings when you connect your phone’s camera roll to OneDrive.
OneDrive offers useful integration with Office Online and the options to set permissions on shared documents makes it easier and intuitive to share and collaborate on stuff. In fact, if you use Office 2013, you can directly save to the OneDrive folder and if you are away from the PC where office is installed, you can still make use of Office Online to get things done, all via the OneDrive app itself.
Another useful feature is Fetch Files, which lets users access files remotely on a different PC via the OneDrive website. As far as privacy is concerned, Microsoft reserves the right to scan your stuff to look out for objectionable content, so if you have privacy concerns, you’ll need to take note.
Overall, OneDrive is a pretty good option for anyone who lives in the Office and Windows Phone ecosystem.
Box has been around since 2005 but is probably not so popular on account of its focus on enterprise solutions. However, that does not mean that they they don’t offer personal solutions. In fact, its free service starts at 10GB but there is a cap on file sizes not exceeding 250MB. So comparing the 10GB limits of Google Drive and Dropbox and the 2GB limit of OneDrive, you might not like to be limited by what Box offers for you, especially if you’re into moving video files.
Another limitation with the free account is that you won’t be able to view version information, so backing up an older file is out of the question unless you go pro.
You could go for the Starter plan at $5 which will give you 100GB storage with a 2GB file size limit. Plus you get 25 lines of version history. The Box app itself is available for iOS, Android, Windows, & Blackberry and is designed for convenient creation, upload and sorting of files. Via the web portal, you can create documents in Microsoft Office, Google Docs, or web-based formats and even edit them using a plug-in. Its interface is also well designed for collaborative work.
Box comes with the standard 256-bit encryption on the servers, with SSL for data in transit. Box is a solid cloud storage service, but packs a punch only when you subscribe to one of its paid plans.
All these four cloud storage solutions offer excellent features in its very basic package, with the exception of Box. OneDrive is great if you’re a Windows and Microsoft Office user, while Google Drive is perfect if you’re the collaborative kind. Dropbox however still packs a punch with its cross platform compatibility, reliability and ease of use and is definitely a service worth using.
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