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With the advances in modern technology, our smartphone and tablets have evolved to become an even bigger part of our daily lives. We no longer need to lug around multiple devices and gadgets when we go on vacation. It’s hard to believe, but it wasn’t that long ago that we would take pictures with a camera, then come back to develop them and see the final product.
With our smartphones always on us, we have the ability to snap pictures and record videos to our heart’s content. But even though devices are smaller and more compact than ever before, what do you do if you run out of local memory? You back your data up to the cloud of course!
This, however, creates a whole new set of problems. Which cloud storage service do you select? And how do you go about deciding which one is best for you? There are many services from which to choose. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox are just a few of the dozens of options available.
So let’s walk through a few things to consider as you try to determine which cloud storage service suits you best.
When cloud computing and cloud storage services come to mind, someone is likely to bring up security. Whether you’re moving pictures you are planning to share with the world or sensitive or financial information, it’s important to give security the attention and consideration it deserves.
With security in mind, it’s essential that you know where your data is kept, what backup plans each service has in place, and whether or not the appropriate logical and physical security is available.
Of course, you want to consider reputation when looking at security. If the service is protecting and storing your most valuable data, then you want it to be protected by a service you trust. Do some research on whether or not your selected service has been hacked, what contingency plans it has in place, and whether or not it has failover options.
Additionally, it’s important to determine how your information is protected and recovered in the event that your account is hacked. How do you prove that you are who you say you are in order to access your data? Many storage providers only require a password to login to your account, however, others use two-factor authentication to validate your identity.
In addition to security, you may want to have your privacy protected as well depending on the types of files you need to store. While it’s important to ensure that all your files are secure, it’s also imperative that they are kept private and protected from prying eyes. The ability to keep your files private is key when accessing your cloud storage service, so be sure to do your due diligence as you make your selection.
If you’re going on vacation and have a layover to get to your destination, you know that a late arrival from the previous city could cause a missed connection. In much the same way, poor network capabilities can result in a slow performance by the cloud storage service.
By checking on the performance of the cloud storage service, you’re ensuring that your uploads aren’t lagging or failing to upload when you need them to. Of course you always want to be sure your files are on the cloud before deleting them, but mistakes happen, and if lag occurs, you might lose a very important picture or piece of information.
You’ve successfully uploaded those fantastic pictures and videos from your family vacation and now it’s time to download them to your external for safe keeping. The only problem is, the storage service you chose doesn’t have a desktop application, so now you have to figure out how to move them by connecting your phone to your PC.
The big players in the cloud storage service offer a simple method to easily transfer your data from one place to another. For instance, some people like making calendars for their friends and families for the holidays, so they must move their pictures from their cloud storage service to their desktop in order to use the photographs. This only works if the service offers a way to get those pictures easily moved.
Additionally, there are multiple mobile and PC options that people use. My wife uses a Mac and I use a Chromebook. What good does it do us if we can’t view the data or access it through both platforms? And what if one of you have an Apple device, while the other has an Android? Again, it’s important to be sure that the cloud storage service you select offers cross-platform capabilities.
Automatic syncing is a feature cloud storage services provide that loads your files into the cloud automatically. This feature might seem like a no-brainer, but ensuring that your cloud storage service offers it comes with several benefits.
First, it gives you the ability to sync files seamlessly with other family members. We talked about desktop solutions in the previous section and with auto-syncing, you can access your files via desktop as soon as they are uploaded to the cloud storage service. Additionally, files saved will show up on any other application with the same account.
This also means that anyone in your family that is signed in to your account will have immediate access to files and data as soon as it is uploaded to your cloud storage service. For many cloud storage service providers, this is an automatic feature, however, there are some capabilities that might set some apart from the others.
For instance, some services allow you to customize which folders sync automatically. If you disable auto-sync, then none of your files and folders will synch, however, many providers include the ability to select which folders auto-sync. Google Drive and Dropbox are two such cloud storage services that fall into this category.
Some cloud storage services make it possible for you to access your files even when you don’t have internet. With offline access, you can save your backup files to a local location and to the cloud which provides additional security and accessibility.
Backing up all those videos and pictures, not to mention any additional files you need to keep, take up quite a bit of space on your cloud storage service, mostly due to the amount of data they have. Fortunately, several cloud storage service options provide flexible storage options.
What this means is that you have the ability to choose the amount of storage that works best for you, as well as the option to scale to your needs in the future. Circumstances and events happen and may dictate that you increase or decrease your storage space on a monthly basis.
The problem with choosing a cloud storage service with too little storage is the possibility that you might need to make a switch in the future. Before you make the choice about which cloud storage service you want to use, you might consider a few additional things:
Knowing how much space you’re currently using helps you make the proper determination as to what you currently need. It also helps to narrow down your options when making your selection. Future needs may not be an exact science, but it at least makes you consider what you might need and plan accordingly.
Remember, unplanned circumstances can create problems further down the line. Be sure to choose a cloud storage service that provides you with some wiggle room so that if you need additional storage in the future, it’s easily available.
While cost may not be the first thing that comes to mind when consider cloud storage service, it’s something that should be given thought. Thankfully, cloud storage is getting cheaper and cheaper, which means you should have an easy time finding a storage service that works within your budget.
Of course, as with most items you purchase in bulk, the more of something you buy, the less it costs per unit. With the vast majority of cloud storage services, the more storage you purchase, the lower the cost per GB. While most users won’t be impacted much by this since they won’t require more than a terabyte, if you store movies or large data files, then cost may be a factor.
Some cloud storage services provide integration with other apps to make transferring or sharing files with others much easier. For instance, Google Drive works well with Slack, the messaging app. So if you’re talking with someone in the Slack application, and you need to share a document, a picture, or a file, you can easily do so by integrating your Google Drive account.
Another example of integrating your cloud storage service with an application is the ability to connect Dropbox to Asana. If you’re not familiar with Asana, it’s a project management tool, so you may not use it much aside from for business purposes. With Dropbox, you can simply sync the two together and have your documents automatically attach in Asana so you don’t have to worry about dragging and dropping or uploading them.
There are simple cloud storage services and there are complex cloud storage services. It might be fair to say that the complex ones don’t have near the longevity of the simple ones. Why? Because users want simple and easy to use interfaces and processes. If uploading or downloading files requires too many steps, users become frustrated and stop using the service.
So before you decide which cloud storage service to select, try to find a how-to guide or walkthrough that will show you exactly how easy (or complex) it is to move files around, to share them, or to download them to your computer. If you don’t, you might wind up regretting it a little further down the road.
File versioning may not be at the top of the list for many people looking for a cloud storage service, but it might be important if you use the service for documents or spreadsheets. File versioning is a feature that some cloud storage services offer that lets you keep multiple file versions at the same time within the system.
In the majority of cases, file versioning occurs when a file within the system has been edited. This feature lets you return to the previous version of the file in the event that it is deleted or corrupted. It also provides a simple way to compare versions of the same file to one another, and it comes in very useful if you ever need to ensure that you’re getting the latest version of a file.
Certain cloud storage services are among the most popular for a reason. Many of the ones listed here offer all the features you need, along the flexibility and simplicity that you’ll enjoy. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more well-known cloud storage services.
The natural choice for Android owners is Google Drive since it’s already a part of the platform. With Google Drive, you can store high-def photos with the Google Photos app, as well as use Google’s office suite. Google does offer a desktop app which allows you to easily drag-and-drop files as needed.
Dropbox is considered the grandfather of cloud storage and is used to collaborate on work or share your files with family and friends. You can purchase additional features like versioning and recovery if you feel like those are add-ons you need.
iCloud is a cloud storage service primarily for those with Apple products. If you have an iPhone, iCloud might be the ideal cloud service for you. You can store any files you want on iCloud and any documents you create in iWork are automatically synced to iCloud. iCloud also offers a Windows client, so PC users can sync their files if needed.
Mega offers a great free option along with an easy to use drag-and-drop user interface. You can also use Mega’s mobile application which will allow you to upload and sync files and photos as needed. All of the data stored on Mega is encrypted, so you don’t have to worry about security breaches.
Microsoft’s cloud storage service is known as OneDrive. It integrates with Windows 10, which means you don’t have to mess with downloading a desktop app. It’s there including in the operating system right out of the box. Like Google, Microsoft offers a Photos app that you can use to sync pictures on all your devices. OneDrive also has an app for both Android and iOS, as well as a desktop option for Mac users.
While Box is ideal for businesses users, it does offer plans for personal cloud storage service. The service has been available for a while, so it is supported by several mainstream applications. For instance, Office 365 and Google Docs both offer integration with Box cloud storage. Additionally, Android users can download an app if they need their files on the go.
IDrive is a cloud storage service that continuously syncs your files, even if they’re on a network drive. With the web app, you can share your files through Facebook, Twitter, or email. IDrive keeps files on the server, so if you accidentally delete a file on your computer, it’s easily recoverable.
The service offers a cool facial recognition feature that automatically organizes pictures for you. Additionally, IDrive offers a service called IDrive Express. If you lose your data, the service will ship you a physical hard drive so you can restore everything that was backed up.
SpiderOak is a zero knowledge cloud storage service. This means that once you install the client, your data is encrypted prior to syncing. The service does offer a client for Mac, Linux, and Windows, as well as options for both iOS and Android. Users can also use a web interface, however, this method isn’t as secure as the client.
pCloud is a cloud storage service that you can use on desktop, mobile, and web platforms. It doesn’t have a file size restriction when syncing large media files, which is nice if you’re uploading large media files. The company is located in Switzerland, which is a country known for its privacy laws, so you know your data is safe with the pCloud storage service.
There is no perfect cloud storage service available, however, the best one for you will be the one that works best for your needs. If you don’t have a lot of extra local storage, it might make sense for you to select a cloud storage service that offers the best price on the most amount of storage. This might be especially true if you’re looking for something that will integrate seamlessly with your Mac or PC.
Whichever cloud storage service you choose, using a personal cloud is a simple way to upload and access the files and data you need no matter where you are.
Cloud services are ubiquitous these days. It seems like every app has in some way migrated to the cloud, and promises continuity and synchronization across all your devices, whether it’s your tablet, computer, or smartphone. Read here about the best guides, reviews, and comparisons about Cloud Storage.