Cloud Storage: What Are My Options?
Cloud storage is an excellent solution to a lot of problems for mobile users, and even better than that, it’s quite often a free solution as well. That’s why we’re taking a look at what exactly cloud storage has to offer you, and what the best options might be. If you’ve ever found yourself emailing pictures from your phone so you can open them on your PC, or desperately trying to load that album onto your mobile, then read on to find out all about your cloud storage options.
What Exactly is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, and the idea is actually relatively simple. You upload data onto your cloud storage account (using whichever app you decide is appropriate for you). Then, rather than your data being stored on your phone or on your computer, it’s stored in the cloud. Basically, that means that your data is stored in a remote location, and it’s hanging out in the ether waiting for you to access it again. As long as you’ve got an internet connections (whether that’s mobile or home internet) you can access your data from wherever you are.
What are the Benefits of Cloud Storage?
There are a few reasons why you might decide to store your data in the cloud, rather than, say, buying yourself a hard drive and keeping it all there. Firstly, it means that you free up memory space on your other devices. On mobiles especially this is important, since the more crowded the limit storage space on your phone becomes, the slower your phone will run.
Cloud storage also means that you can access your data from wherever you wish. It doesn’t matter where you are or which device you’re using, you can get that document, see that picture, listen to that album whenever you want, simply by using an internet connection.
Finally, cloud storage also allows you to easily transfer data between devices. Opening mobile pictures on your computer is easy, grabbing that document you need when you’re at work is no problem. Rather than attaching cables and moving data directly from one device to another, instead you use your cloud storage as sort of a middle man. Upload the data from your phone to the cloud, then download it again from the cloud to your PC, or the other way around. Lost your phone? Reloading all your data to a new phone is no problem if you’ve stored that data in the cloud.
What Are My Options?
There are tons of cloud storage services out there, and the good news is that many of them will give you a certain amount of storage space for free. We’ve listed some of our favourite options below, telling you all you need to know. We’ve concentrated on cloud storage that’s suitable for mobile users, meaning in most cases there’s a mobile app that will help you do the work.
If you’re an iPhone user, then you’re probably already using the cloud without even realising it, since all new Apple devices come interconnected with iCloud. Your photos, downloads from iTunes and other apps will all automatically be uploaded to iCloud unless you switch the option off. This is really an iOS only storage solution, however, since Android and Windows users can’t automatically back up to iCloud (though they can get storage if they get an iTunes account).
In terms of space, you get 5 GB of storage free, and photos and iTunes purchases don’t count towards this limit. For iPhone users, iCloud is probably the simplest solution, since you’ve already got it.
Google Drive is probably the preferred storage service for Android users, though it’s open to anyone with a Google account (that includes Gmail users). There are apps for all phone operating systems, so compatibility isn’t really an issue here. The nice thing about Drive is that it allows you to share files with friends (simply add their email address and they’ll get a mail giving them access to the file), and also lets you edit word and excel files through the service too.
Space wise, Google Drive is the most generous storage service, giving you a massive 15 GB of storage for nothing. Watch out though, because attachments in your Gmail file count towards this limit, meaning you can fill up pretty fast if you don’t clear out your inbox regularly.
Microsoft’s cloud storage service is called OneDrive (formally known as SkyDrive), and as you might expect this is the obvious choice for Windows phone users, though there are apps for all operating systems. You can edit files, and there’s even a connection to popular messaging programmes that will allow you to share stored information via those rather than via email.
You’ll get 7 GB of free storage on OneDrive, though Microsoft offers regular deals on more free storage, including more space for every person you refer to the service.
There are of course other cloud storage services that aren’t attached to any one phone operating system, though the three options above tend to be the best choices depending on whether you’re an iPhone, Android or Windows user.
DropBox is a popular choice, offering 2 GB of free storage, though storage plans with more space are relatively cheap. This is also one of the only cloud storage services that offers support for Blackberry users, so it’s worth keeping in mind.
Box (not to be confused with DropBox) will give you a large 10 GB chunk of free space, but there’s a catch: there’s a limit of 250 MB for each file. If you’re not storing video, this limit isn’t going to be a problem, but if you like your movies and TV shows to be stored online too, then Box won’t do it for you.
Spideroak is an interesting choice, though again you only get 2 GB of free storage here. The selling point of Spideroak though is security. By running a special client on your PC and phone all you data is encrypted before it’s loaded into the cloud (meaning that the key to the encryption is only on your devices- not with the company). If you’re especially privacy conscious, or routinely handle sensitive information, then Spideroak offers what’s probably the most secure cloud storage available.
If you’re not storing your data on the cloud, then maybe it’s about time that you gave it a go. The convenience of being able to access your information no matter where you are isn’t to be underestimated. And since you’re getting free storage with all these services, you won’t lose anything by giving it a try.