Monday 16 September 2013

Seven Best Cloud Storage Services

Cloud Storage is an offering that allows users to back up data to a server; hosted by a cloud service provider. This data is then available through any Internet-connected device via a user interface that is provided by the cloud vendor. Physical data storage, such as an external hard drive, can be lost or damaged. The physical data is at constant risk. Data in the cloud however, exists somewhat abstractly and cannot be fractured.

There are two types of storage technologies available through cloud storage. These technologies are available for traditional storage systems, also:
  • File Storage: file storage is the most common type of storage, due to its ease of configuration. Raw files can be stored easily, but there is a lack of customization. File storage is all-encompassing.
  • Block Storage: block storage creates storage volumes. Each volume can be formatted separately and thus mimic an individual hard drive.
Now Cloud Storage is gaining it’s popularity among its users. Free cloud storage is easy to come by these days—anyone can give it out, and anyone can give out lots of it. However, the best cloud storage providers give you more than just storage. They offer availability, multi-platform support, security, app integration, and more.

Now there are various Cloud Storage services available for users. Here's a list of the best Seven.

Amazon Cloud Drive:
Amazon Web Services (AWS) leads the way in terms of developers using cloud compute and storage services, with AWS on an equal footing with Microsoft as the product of choice for relational database management system (RDBMS) services. “Never worry about losing a precious memory or not having access to your important files on the go. Amazon Cloud Drive makes storing your photos, videos, documents, and other digital files in the Cloud quick and easy,” the Amazon Cloud Drive page states.

Amazon Cloud Drive provides 5GB of free storage. When it was first introduced, you could also use it to stream music. Now that functionality is in a separate service: Amazon Cloud Player. With this latter service, you can upload and steam up to a rather minimal 250 songs to Windows PCs, Macs, and Apple and Android devices.

You can access Amazon Cloud Drive from either the web or use a Windows app (Vista and 7 only, it currently has neither Windows 8 or XP native support), Mac, or Android devices. This app though, only adds the ability to upload files. For most of your file work, you'll still be in a web browser.

If you want more storage, Amazon offers several tiers of storage, ranging from 20 to 1,000 gigabytes at a price of 50 cents per gigabyte. So for instance, 20GB will run you $10 per year.

Box is the popular enterprise cloud service started by Aaron Levine at the age of 19 and funded by Marc Cuban. Although the app is targeted at business, users can sign up for personal accounts starting at 5GB of free storage. Users have the ability to share files and folders with other Box users and create links to share external.

Box offers 3 account types: Enterprise, Business and Personal. Depending on the type of account, Box has features such as unlimited storage, custom branding and administrative controls. There are 3rd party integrations with applications like Google apps, NetSuite and Salesforce.

The business versions of Box include access to a variety of work programs, which are integrated with Box's cloud storage and services. These include Box OneCloud, for improved mobile work-flow, and Online Workspaces. There are also a variety of business-specific apps.
The personal editions also offer 25GB for $9.99 a month and 50GB for $19.99. Business edition starts at $15 a month for a whopping 1,000GB of storage.

Apple iCloud:
iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple Inc.

iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple, and comes with 5GB of free storage. The service allows users to store data such as music and iOS applications on remote computer servers for download to multiple devices such as iOS-based devices running iOS 5 or later, and personal computers running OS X 10.7.2 "Lion" or later, or Microsoft Windows (Windows Vista service pack 2 or later).

Apple iCloud also works hand in glove with iTunes Match. Match, which is built into the iTunes app, lets you store your entire music collection, no matter where you got your tunes, for just $24.99 a year. Even if you didn't buy the music from Apple, it doesn't count against your storage limits. In addition, Apple's iCloud gives you not just storage and an online music server, but Apple's wireless services as well. These include contact synchronization, its own email service, mobile backup, and location awareness.

It also replaces Apple's MobileMe service, acting as a data syncing center for email, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, reminders (to-do lists), iWork documents, photos and other data. Additional space is priced at $20 per year for 10GB, $40 per year for 20GB, and $100 per year for 50GB.

Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer is used to view it. Files placed in this folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications.

Dropbox only comes with 2GB of free storage, but you can get more storage by bringing new users to Dropbox. If you want more room, Dropbox charges $9.99 a month, or $99 annually for 100GB, and similarly priced deals for up to 500GB. There's also a Dropbox for teams with variable pricing that starts with a shared TB of storage for five users.

Support for virtually every operating system, both desktop and mobile, experimental and beta builds that add tons of useful features, and a vast third-party developer community taking advantage of its open APIs to build applications on top of it make Dropbox a great cloud storage service, whether you use it for your files and just sync with the desktop clients, or you have another favorite app that uses Dropbox to keep your files synced across devices.

Google Drive:
Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service by Google. It is now the home of Google Docs, a suite of productivity applications that offer collaborative editing on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. For Google Drive to synchronize files on the user's computer in the cloud, the Google Drive client software must be running on the user's computer. The client will communicate with the Google Drive online, and ensure that files are synchronized in both locations.

Like Dropbox, Google Drive automatically syncs with the cloud so that everything is consistent across all of your devices. Also, like Dropbox, it integrates with Windows and Mac file systems. I'm sorry — and annoyed — to report that, despite many promises, Google Drive still doesn't natively support Linux. Come on, Google, get off the stick! Google Drive does, however, support Google's own Chrome OS, Android, and Apple's iOS.

Another nice feature is that Google Drive enables you to share and collaborate on any kind of file, including documents, music, images, and videos. Any content you create in Google Docs doesn't count against your storage quota.

Speaking of storage, Google Drive comes with 5GB of free storage. 25GBS will run you a mere $2.49 a month, and 100GB will cost you $4.99 a month. And, if you really wanted to, Google will rent you as much as a mind-boggling 16TB (that's terabytes folks!) for $799.99. Google also offers business storage options. An user can get additional storage, which is shared between Picasa and Google Drive, from 100 GB up to 16 TB through a paid monthly subscription plan (US$4.99 per month for 100 GB).

MediaFire is a free file and image hosting web site that started in 2005 and is located in Shenandoah, Texas, United States. The domain attracted almost 60 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.

MediaFire provides up to 50 GB of storage (starting at 10 GB then increased by as much as 40 GB if various activities like sharing on Facebook and Twitter are done) and a limit of 200 MB per file (100 GB, 200 GB, or 500 GB of storage and 10 GB of file size limit for Pro users and 1 TB to 100 TB of storage and 10 GB of file size limit for Business users).

MediaFire also provides users with the ability to create image galleries from folders of images and view and share common document, presentation, and spreadsheet file types inside the web browser. MediaFire's free account service does not require download activity in order to preserve files, and is thus often suitable as a temporary or secondary backup solution although MediaFire does not officially support free data warehousing (long-term storage for inactive accounts).

On the plus side, MediaFire supports Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows on the PC side of life, and Android and iOS on devices. Alas, even with its MediaFire Express program, it doesn't integrate with your file system.

Microsoft Sky-Drive:
SkyDrive is a file hosting service from Microsoft, that allows users to upload and sync files to a cloud storage and then access them from a Web browser or their local device. It is part of the Windows Live range of online services and allows users to keep the files private, share them with contacts, or make the files public. To share files publicly do not require a Microsoft account to access.

However, SkyDrive does work hand-in-glove with the Windows 8 file manager. It also works well in partnership with Microsoft Office. Like Google Drive, it comes with its own cloud-based office software: Office Web Apps.
The service offers 7 GB of free storage for new users and, for one year, an additional 3 GB of free storage to students. Additional storage is available for purchase. If you want 20GB more, it will cost you $10 a year. 50GB is $25, and 100GB is just $50 annually. The service is built using HTML5 technologies, and files up to 300 MB can be uploaded via drag and drop into the web browser, or up to 2 GB via the SkyDrive desktop application for Microsoft Windows and OS X.

For Windows users, SkyDrive has become the cloud storage solution of choice. The price is great, it works really well with Windows 8 and, along with Box, it's the only service that works natively with Windows phones. Just be very careful when you use that ability to download remotely from your PC.

There are several reasons why these cloud storages are an increasingly attractive options. Key benefits include monetary savings, convenience, flexibility, and scalability. The costs associated with keeping the storage local are capital intensive; therefore, many firms look to the cloud to cut costs. This is especially true given the pay-as-you-go business model often employed by cloud storage providers.

And among all of the above services, Dropbox is still leading the position. Though it provides very less storage space as compared to others but it allows the user to create, add, delete, move, copy, edit, whatever file and directories just as if they were any other file on my system. It doesn't matter whether the user is using Linux, Mac, or Windows, or most smartphones or tablets; it just works with the device's native interfaces.