No one wants to pay for cloud storage, especially since there are so many no-cost options available. However, free services are often limited on what they can hold and in order to backup a lot files, you may have to open multiple accounts.

This is when cloud storage becomes a hassle; maintaining different accounts with different log-ins is a nightmare. No one enjoys logging into dozens of accounts each time just to find what they are looking for.

Enter The Cloud Manager

In the event that you have to move a file from one service to another, the task becomes an even bigger challenge. Now, you have to re-download the information to your system in order to login to a different site and re-upload it.

Moving around several files in this way can take hours at a time. In order to solve the problem, several different companies have emerged to handle the task. They are a portal to all your accounts which can be accessed through only one log in. From there, you can see everything and reorganize data without struggling with multiple log ins and outs.

Cloud storage managers work by allowing users to setup logins multiple accounts. You just need to set up an account with one of these managers, then add your various storage accounts. Please note that not all providers are supported by all managers.

If you have service with one of the lesser known cloud companies, you may not be able to use a manager effectively. Once all the services are synced, you can then use the manager as a one stop login to play around with everything. It is a fairly simple process, however, you must remember that each provider is slightly different, so some may not be as straightforward as others.

In order to help you best manage your cloud accounts, we have taken the time to test a few different management software providers. All have the ability to add multiple accounts, however, they offer different levels of service.

Unifyle

Unifyle is an ideal manager for those with Apple or Android devices. The service can also be accessed via a web browser for anyone running a Windows operating system.

This online hub allows users to not only access all of your cloud storage services, but also indicates any file changes which have occurred in the last 24 hours. At the dashboard, users are greeted with information divided into documents, photos and e-mail.

In addition to being a centralized location for storage, Unifyle also allows e-mail management from various sources. This unified form keeps you from having to check multiple message accounts for updated information. As with document changes, the dashboard will show recent email activity.

These alerts let you know exactly which accounts have changed. In addition to adding cloud and email accounts, you can also use Unifyle to link social media accounts. Allowing a user to access activities and photos which have been saved in various accounts.

Unlike some services, Unifyle does offer a free account option. If you do not have many cloud storage services, this may be enough. As this is a free platform, there are a few restrictions. For starters, it’s limited to only 10 accounts, and applies to the total number of storage, photos, social media and e-mail providers.

You do get additional backup storage through Unifyle; however, it is limited to a paltry 1GB of backup space. Despite these restrictions, Unifyle has some good features both paid and free account holders can take advantage of. Those with multiple accounts with the same provider can link all of their services through this portal.

All users can also take advantage of simplified file moving. By dragging the data in one location and dropping it into another, moving is much easier. There is no need to the whole download/re-upload dance just to move the file it into a different cloud storage location.

In addition to being able to move files with ease, Unifyle also has advanced search features to allow specific file location. You can use the search function and seek the file by content, name and date range (created or saved).

This service uses 256-HTTP encryption to protect information backed up and accessed through their application. Unifyle is compatible with 39 different service providers including cloud, social, and email. One thing the service lacks is the ability to open and edit Evernote documents within their platform.

Users will have to log into their Evernote application in order to make any changes. The only other restriction that could be of some concern is that, while it has 256-HTTP encryption, it lacks OAuth ability. Unifyle has paid plans starting at $5 a month or $50 a year. With these accounts, you get more backup space. In addition, the account limiter is lifted.

JoliCloud

We found that one of the simplest cloud managers to use is JoliCloud. You have some of the same abilities as with Unifyle; however, instead of being able to access email from this centralized location, you can access social feeds from Google+, Facebook and Feedly.

Essentially, with JoliCloud, you have two separate areas. The first being your social feed, which is known as Home. To access your cloud providers, you have to go to your Drive section. You can manage your files in this area. Unlike Unifyle, you are able to edit your documents inside the service without having to log out and go into the individual platform to do any work.

This can be a big plus for those who are interested in doing all of their work from one location. Users are also able to view videos and open PDFs while working in their cloud manager; an added bonus.

The problem lies in moving files from one area to another as the process is not as simple as it is with Unifyle. Some users with free accounts have felt there is no way to move documents from one provider to another. We did manage to move files from one spot to another, however, it was difficult and cumbersome; it was not a process that we would recommend to the average user.

If you upgrade to the paid services, you will be able to simply drag and drop your files without problem. Probably one of the biggest benefits in using JoliCloud is that you can easily keep track of how much storage you are using and how much room is left in each account.

Even though JoliCloud still has some kinks that will turn some users off, security performance is pretty good. Unlike Unifyle, this service uses OAuth for log in purposes. Which means that you do not have to input all of your login credentials for every service.

JoliCloud does not have access to them and will not store this information. It provides better overall security for those who are just not comfortable parting with sensitive data. JoliCloud has free services available for online access and it has an iOS application available for Apple devices. Pro accounts start at €5 a month or €50 a year.

Pro accounts come with drag and drop services that allows you to move files around without a hassle. You can also attach multiple accounts from a single provider. Free account only allow one account per provider, but there is no limit to the number of providers.

Neither the free nor the paid accounts offer backup space.

Other Cloud Storage Managers

Cloud storage managers are not something new. These services have been around almost as long as the cloud itself. There are several to choose from apart from the two that we spent most of our time testing. This list includes:

  • Otixo: works with over 25 service providers and support for OAuth. Allows for drag and drop moving and includes file sharing features. Only has a limited time free trial, after which you have to pay for a lifetime membership. It does not have online editing abilities.

  • CloudHQ: works with Basecamp, Evernote and Gmail in addition to several other cloud storage providers. Unfortunately, to use this system with Evernote and Basecamp, you will need to have the subscription version of this platform.

  • Cloudii: is an Android alternative which works well at managing and syncing cloud accounts. You can set up multiple accounts with the same service provider if needed. There is no need for an application on your mobile device for each of the cloud services added. This service is completely free.

  • OwnCloud: For the highly technical minded people, there is an option to download the open source cloud, OwnCloud. This service can be set up to access each of your cloud accounts seamlessly. However, it is not for the novice as it must be coded a certain way to work with multiple cloud accounts.

Many other providers will work. However, they do not offer as many features or abilities as the ones we’ve listed. Some are strictly a moving service that will allow you to transfer files seamlessly between services, but do not offer any features such as sharing or editing.

Cloud Manager Tips

When it comes to choosing a cloud storage manager, you want to make sure the provider will provide what you need. As we pointed out, some providers allow you to easily drag and drop your files from one to another, while others don’t. Although most of the providers we mentioned had little problem connecting to all the major services, they did not all connect to the same exact list.

There are many free services available if you are interested in saving some money. However, you may find that these providers do not have all the tools needed to quickly perform the tasks you want. These also tend to connect to fewer services than others.

Security is another thing you should be aware of. Using OAuth is the most secure method of accessing all your available accounts. It is also important to note that not all cloud management services offer this ability.

In order to ensure that your files are still safe, you have to be careful on the type of security verification the program uses. You do not want to worry about giving the company access to your login information.

Conclusion

If you do not mind paying for service, consider Unifyle. Not only does it give unfettered access to your cloud storage accounts, it allows for e-mail consolidation as well.

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For the cost, it is one of the best programs available. If you are interested only in using a free service, JoliDrive is the best choice, although there are some restrictions to using it.

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9 thoughts on “The Best Services for Managing Cloud Storage”

  1. Sharon, you’ve done a great job chunking this overwhelming concept of Cloud storage.
    One of the major concerns – passwords – seems to be ably handled by oAuth. Let’s talk about three more:

    1. Control of Data
    2. Security of Data
    3. File management

    First, control of data. If Dropbox dropped out of existence or SkyDrive fell out of the sky, I would not want to lose my data. I’m not talking about mergers, acquisitions and sunsetting, I’m talking catastrophic termination. I won’t worry, because I “mirror” and / or sync all of my files.

    Second, security of data. Not just in transit from your devices to theirs, but while the files reside on cloud servers, can you be sure that they are safe from prying eyes? I use SpiderOak cloud service for my most private data. For Dropbox and everyone else, I use CryptSync, an open-source desktop encryption utility – which doubles as a mirroring facilitator.

    Finally, file management. Jolidrive really helps you think about where to “put your stuff”. Still, if you have a lot of projects, documents and related files, you need a strategy.

    Even though I don’t use PrimaDesk anymore, one of the things I liked was the cross-service file search. That’s okay, in a pinch, but for bullet-proof automation of file management, CryptSync is great. Any file stored in one of its source folders will be mirrored (or synced, if you choose) to the cloud storage folder you specify.

    Me being me, I’ve taken this a step further. I use Karen’s Utilities to continually backup my files from working folders to CryptSync source folders. AND, finally, I use LifeHacker’s Belvedere to move files automatically from folders like \Downloads, to \images, where Karen’s utilities will take over.

    The only chink in my armor is that I’m not currently using an external hard drive for near-line backup. My Western Digital 3TB Mybook drive died a grim death and I don’t have the confidence to replace it with another physical device.

    Now, Thanks to your series of articles, I can finally consolidate my cloud storage initiative. Thanks!!!

    Cheers,

    Mitch

  2. Cloudwards.net

    Thanks for this detailed insight into your strategy, Mitch. My usual setup of SugarSync, Google Drive and an external hard drive works pretty well for backing up writing work, and I think Jolidrive is a good way to make it all more manageable. I avoid keeping really personal data anywhere, so all I have to worry about is retaining full possession of my faculties. 🙂 I like the sound of those two utilities you mention, though. I’ll see whether they can be useful for my setup.

  3. That was so interesting. I wanna know about the free services like Jolidrive. Can you please mention the best Cloud Service as an alternate of Jolidrive.
    Thank You

  4. I also use my synology NAS to backup my cloud accounts. That way if the cloud service disappears, or my internet goes offline, I have a network accessable sync.

  5. Sharon,

    Thank you for the mention. Wanted to clarify that we do use OAuth for all the providers that support OAuth so we are not any different other providers when it comes to storing credentials. Also since we have a good background in security whatever we store is stored very securely. Also we are the only service that has secondary authentication, which we did right from day one. With other providers if someone steals your password they can log into your account and have access to all your content however with us that cannot happen.

    This is an evolving area of technology so thanks for taking the time to write about it and spread the word. We appreciate it.

    Regards,

    Venky

  6. I agree with the above — very useful comments! However, I would caution against using CloudHQ. The team actually has access to your data and can choose to access it at will — I wonder whether they have any knowledge that this is unacceptable practice in the much needed cloud services.

  7. Interesting comparison. I have been using jolidrive for some time now as well, but lately I have tested out Koofr and it seems to be a bit more in active development (something weird is going on with joli, even the homepage no longer allows for signups). So I am thinking of switching over to Koofr now, anyone familiar with it?

  8. Is there a CloudMgr that replicate gmailbox in a local folder as .eml file extension. I use 5 PC & portable I had write a small utility for backing files, in idle time copy all new and updated drive to one drive, as soon I connect external backup disk, move onedrive content to it, then it check is content with local directory and copy back files less than 8mb and drop a link for larger files. So all disks of participating portables are quite full. A quota of empty space 10% is maintained, by copying and deleting the largest & oldest files, I call this infinity feature.

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