Best Online Cloud Storage
Is it something you should consider?
Earlier, cloud storage was considered a buzzword only, just as cloud computing was considered a far-fetched idea in its early days. But today many people have started embracing its features as the safest and most secure place to store and backup their computer data for both personal and business use as opposed to hard drives on their local computer or server. Business cloud storage is now an option for any SMB or enterprise.
Google, Microsoft with its OneDrive service made file upload in the cloud with either a Windows or Mac a breeze. The industry expanded quite rapidly and now more and more services offer space in the cloud most notable Apple with its iCloud storage that anybody with mobile devices can use. Later to the game came along Dropbox which made the concept of having files anywhere a common concept. Not only can you upload files to a server but you can also use it for syncing and sharing of files.
According to a forecast by Statista, a leading online statistics company, the cloud storage industry is expected to generate over $4.04 billion revenue globally by 2016 (accounting for both desktop and mobile use). In another survey by TechTarget, 44 percent of respondents claimed to use cloud storage services and 46 percent plan to increase their usage. If given an option of being able to transfer only one application to the cloud, storage would be an inevitable choice according to another survey carried out by Cisco.
This is proof of how the industry has grown rapidly, and if you have not adopted it yet, you will be left behind. But finding the best online storage could be daunting if your objectives have not been defined. Your objectives will depend on what fits for you or your business well, including storage space, and security technology such as encryption or quick sharing ability. We realize your need, and so we’vecome up with a detailed comparison and reviews that make it easy to choose the right service that meets your objectives well.
A couple of cloud storage articles to get your started
Backblaze vs Carbonite: Who Has The Better Service?
Backblaze Vs Carbonite? That's right, we're comparing two industry heavy weights in a VS battle to see who has the better overall service. Care to join us?
Dropbox vs Google Drive
It's gonna be a tough fight between Dropbox and Google Drive, but we've got our top two contenders facing off in five rounds, just to see who's the best all-round cloud storage provider!
Best Online Storage Providers for Multi-Computer Access
Online storage providers make it easy to backup items and save them from being lost. Being able to access these files from any location is a benefit most people take advantage of, but who does it best?
Cloud Storage Reviews
Why Should You Be Using a Cloud Storage Service?
There are several advantages and features showing why cloud storage should be used:
- Access from Anywhere – This is the major feature of cloud: any file stored can be accessed anytime from anyplace. Most service providers have their own mobile apps that can be installed on a mobile device to access stored documents while on the move. There are a few providers that also offer browser extensions for their product that can be installed on browsers like Google Chrome, IE, or Firefox to let users access files. The documents can be stored, accessed and even edited or organized while on the go.
- Quick and Easy Share – This is another advantage that makes the cloud a popular choice. Usually, the other person the document should be shared with must be a user of the same service. No matter the type of document or the format, from video to game files to business documents, sharing is pretty quick and simple.
- Safe and Secure – Security is a major concern for all of us, and this holds true when it comes to choosing a company. Data can be lost, stolen or corrupted, and the reason could be anything from a sudden hard drive crash, accidental deletion, phishing, to a natural disaster. But no one can afford to lose their data, right? These events should not cause worry when the documents have been stored in the cloud, as the service providers take care of backup and recovery with multiple levels of security and an encryption system enabled to keep the data safe and secure.
- Unbounded Storage Space at a Low Cost – Most service providers operate on the freemium model, offering a certain amount of storage space and limited features with no cost and more when the need grows (also at cost-effective pricing). This reduces expenses drastically when compared to buying and maintaining a local server or hard drive as it requires skilled manpower and limits available storage space.
Some other advantages and features are:
- Easy synchronization
- Simplifies real-time analysis of information
- Efficient delivery of information
- Cuts down expenses associated with uncertain information workloads
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Best Cloud Backup
Getting Started – The Process
The process is pretty simple with almost zero learning curve involved. All that’s needed is to go to the website, choose the plan that best suits you, sign-up, key in all the information required, confirm for account verification, and that’s it! Your account will be created in no time and then you can upload documents, organize, edit, share, and so forth online.
You can also download the web app on the local computer and move files to the storage account directly from your desktop. Most of the providers offer mobile apps as well that make your job easier while on the move.
Online Backup vs. Cloud Storage – The Difference
Many people are baffled by the differences between online data backup and cloud storage and end up choosing the wrong product for their folders and files. The two types do not differ much, but knowing the operating procedure, the technology involved and significance of both can help in identifying how one may be more effective for your purposes (doesn’t matter if you’re using Microsoft Windows, Mac, iOS, Android or any mobile OS). The files and drives in your computer folders should always be protected with encryption independent from the providers you choose
Best Online Backup
Computer Online backup involves storing data online, but it’s not just data storage. The key difference with cloud storage can be identified in the name “backup.” Online backup providers allow their users to create and amend multiple copies of their data at different points of time. This is called “versioning,” which allows access to the previous version of a recently edited document for a specific period. Many providers offer 30days of versioning, but there are a few with unlimited options. It really doesn’t matter if your file is 2GB, 5GB or 15GB.
This feature gives the advantage of accessing the old document whenever needed and protects cloud documents from overwriting bad data. Another benefit is the automated cloud backup feature that backs up the files set for scheduling without any user intervention.
Best Cloud Storage
On the other end, cloud storage is more like having another hard drive or server on the cloud with an unlimited or large storage space at a cost-effective price. Any files or documents uploaded on cloud storage can be accessed anytime, anywhere and from any device if the provider supports these, from just an Internet connection. Basically, cloud storage is designed for day-to-day accessibility, and useful for those who work on multiple devices or in a team.
When using cloud storage the majority of providers offer you the ability to use file syncing and sharing. That means you can work with your tech team on one file or folder simultaneously. The company provides you with a specific Windows or Mac app for your desktop computer and you can start to invite people to it. All files that get added to these shared folders are available to any members of your tech team.
The Final Decision
As we mentioned before, there is not much difference, and which cloud should be chosen completely depends on your objective. If you want your data and folders available to you whenever and wherever needed, syncing then cloud storage is an obvious choice (this is the Dropbox like capability), but if you are more concerned about data loss, then online backup is good to go. However, it is advisable to avail yourself of both drive options to ensure better accessibility and security for all your important documents in the cloud.
There are several major cloud drive contenders, and choosing the best mostly depends on your requirements. Here are a couple of them you may explore.
Founded in 2010, JustCloud is a product developed by Just Develop It and a popular name in the storage and backup industry. It offers several plans depending on storage requirements, which start at $4.49/month for 24 months with 75GB space to $6.95/month for the unlimited plan. JustCloud also has a business plan starting at $35.94/month with 100GB storage space for 5 computers. The service also offers a customized plan based on the space required and the number of computers that need access.
Some interesting features it provides are:
- Automated backup
- Free mobile apps
- 256-bit encryption
- Linux, Windows and Mac compatible
- 24/7 technical support
MyPCBackup is a software that support various OSes to store your files in the cloud. While the name PC suggest that you can only use it for a Windows computer. This isn’t the case. Just like OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) it can be used for Mac and Windows computers alike. MyPCBackup is developed by Just Develop It, a company in the UK.
They operate in the same way as other services, for example Livedrive, pCloud, Mankayia, SpiderOak and Adrive (see also, recommendations based on PCMag and Techradar). MyPCBackup also offers unlimited storage for a variety of OSes, yet it comes with more restrictions than the top services recommended by Lifehacker magazine. Limitations are:
- file size restrictions
- Bandwidth throttling
- Syncing space is only 1GB (but can be upgraded to 10GB).
Dropbox is a famous name in the cloud storage industry founded by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi in 2007. It has more than 300 million users globally and serves both personal and business needs. Dropbox offers 2GB of free space under its basic plan. If there is a greater space requirement, then it has a pro plan that comes with 1TB of storage at $9.99/month. Dropbox is a great option for business as it offers unlimited storage space and file recovery at only $15/user/month.
List of useful cloud features it offers:
- User-friendly interface
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Compatible with all kinds of major devices and operating systems
- Easy and fast access
- 30,000 third-party apps supported
Founded in 2007, Backblaze is a prominent name when it comes to cloud backup. It has won several awards like the 2014 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 and the 2013 SIIA CodiE Award, and it’sbeen featured in major publications and media such as CNBC, USA Today, Forbes, TechCrunch , Yahoo Tech and many more. Backblaze offers unlimited cloud storage and backup with just $5/month for both PC and Mac.
Some of its popular features are:
- Backup and restore while on the go
- High-speed backup
- 256-bit transfer encryption and 128-bit AES storage encryption
- No file size restrictions
- Automatic update of backups
Carbonite is an award-winning online backup service provider founded in Boston in 2005 by serial entrepreneur David Friend. Currently, it has more than 1.5million customers and has backed up more than 300billion files. Carbonite offers several plans like Personal for individual computers starting at $59.99/year and Pro for unlimited workstations starting at $269.99/year.
Notable features it offers are:
- Unlimited backup drive storage
- Mirror-image backup
- 24/7 monitored security
- Remote wipe safety feature
- 90-days file versioning
OneDrive is the brainchild of Microsoft and one of the strongest providers. It offers 15GB of free storage with a referral incentive scheme to earn extra storage of 500MB on each referral with a maximum limit of earning 5GB storage space on referring 10 people. However, if the requirement is more, OneDrive offers 1TB of drive space at $6.99/month.
Some key features of OneDrive are:
- Microsoft Office integration
- Compatible with all kinds of devices and OSs
- Easy file-sharing
- Simple and easy user interface
Launched in 2012 by Google, this is one of the most widely used cloud data drives with an active monthly user base of more than 240million. Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage space, and the maximum allowed storage is up to 30TB at a price of $299.99/month. However, the storage limit is unbounded for Google Apps for Education users. Unlike OneDrive, Google doesn’t have any referral scheme in place yet.
Some useful features it offers are:
- Office Suite integration
- Google is compatible with all kinds of devices
- 99.9% uptime guarantee
- Up to 5TB file size limit for sharing
- Supports over 40 popular file formats
Now defunct services or renames
There is still a lot of confusion when it comes to looking at the plethora of storage providers and constant names changes don’t make it any easier.
Bitcasa, for example, used to be a very promising cloud storage service with unlimited backup and syncing. So it wouldn’t really matter if you had 10GB, 50GB or 100GB of storage needs. But they now switched their business model entirely.
Microsoft lost the name battle with their prime cloud storage product OneDrive. It used to be called SkyDrive before so a lot of internet users were left confused. Since their renaming they have revamped and upped the ladder for other competitors in the field.
Mankayia, alias OnlineStorageSolution.com has never been a real competitor in our eyes. They changed their name two years ago and purchased the new domain Mankayia.com the same time (we wonder that it isn’t hosted by some of the IDG brands that are not known for their speedy servers). So we say, stay away and rather look at IDrive or Mediafire as an online storage locker. Adrive could also be an option but their free plan doesn’t come with an SSL encryption, so it’s practically useless. Look at SpiderOak if you need secure file sync and only need a couple of gigabytes to sync between your (mobile) devices.
Tencent is the largest ISP in China and comes up with competing product for the US market offering terabytes of free cloud storage. Some users don’t feel comfortable leaving their files with a Chinese company but you have to be the judge.
Our Review Categories
Here are the parameters we use for our reviews.
- Usability – This category talks about how user-friendly each storage product is.
- Speed and Performance – Here we review how fast files can be transferred to the storage account.
- File Backup Procedure – Here we talk about how smooth the file backup procedure for each cloud storage service provider is.
- File Restoration Procedure – This talks about the file restoration process involved.
- Security – Every provider claims to be the most secure and so we review how secure each is.
- Features–This lists down main and other features and their pros and cons.
- Freebies – do you get any freebies such as an advertising coupon
Cloud Storage Reviews
Pitfalls to Avoid
Here are a couple of common pitfalls that should be avoided:
- Looking for a cheaper storage service
- Ignoring legal implications in case of data breach
- Overlooking the time and bandwidth required to transfer data, especially large sizes
- Buying the wrong package that doesn’t meet the business objective
- Not assessing app requirements, which can lead to buying multiple storage spaces to meet the need
- Short-term planning: thinking about what it can do now and not assessing how it can be beneficial for the long term
- Overconfidence in a storage provider’s security practices
- Not assessing the storage infrastructure performance capabilities
- Overlooking geographic issues like where the data center is located and whether it is established outside of the user’s country or territory, and how the service provider stands up to the laws and security or privacy rights of the foreign regulating authorities
- Ignoring the learning curve involved
- Not asking about how much downtime is involved and the history of the provider’s downtime
- Not having a Plan B for moving to another cloud service incase the existing cloud storage provider goes out of business or doesn’t appear to be a reliable one