Cloud Storage Compared: Choosing the Right Online Storage

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Cloud Storage Compared: Choosing the Right Online Storage
Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Online, or "cloud" storage has replaced the floppy disk as a way to share files, and it's also a handy way to back up files and sync them with your various computers and mobile devices. Here's a look at the various cloud storage services and what they have to offer. Read on to compare services and find the best storage solution for your needs.

Dropbox
Photo courtesy Dropbox

Dropbox

One of the biggest names in online storage is Dropbox. Offering free, Pro, and Team accounts, Dropbox starts at 2GB (free) and goes up to 1TB (Team). Pro accounts offer 100GB of storage for just under $10 per month. But few people have to settle for the minimum storage; you can easily earn free storage by completing tasks such as going through the getting started guide, connecting your Twitter or Facebook account to Dropbox, inviting friends, and using Dropbox's camera upload feature on your phone.

Related: How to get free space from Dropbox

More Dropbox Details
Photo courtesy Dropbox

More Dropbox Details

Dropbox offers desktop and mobile options for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Linux. The free apps can be found on Dropbox.com or in the respective app store. Once installed, Dropbox adds a folder where you can keep files in sync with the cloud (and your other devices). You can share specific files and folders with other Dropbox users as well. There's no size limit for file uploads, either. Dropbox also keeps a version history for every file stored with the service for 30 days.

Related: Dropbox

Box
Photo courtesy Box

Box

Box (formerly Box.net) offers free and paid accounts. Free accounts come with 5GB of storage. Sign into Box through one of the current promotional devices to receive a free upgrade of storage space -- up to 50GB. File uploads for the free account are limited to just 250MB, which increases to 1GB if you switch to a paid account. For $10 a month you get 25MB of storage, and $20 a month gets you 50GB of storage. Business and Enterprise accounts are available as well.

Related: List of Box promotions for free space

More Box Information
Photo courtesy Box

More Box Information

Box offers desktop apps for Mac and Windows, along with mobile apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10, and Windows Phone. You can sync and share specific files or entire folders with fellow Box users. Box also allows you to embed a file in your website, and place restrictions on who can print or download an embedded file. Version history is also included with the free account, making it easy to recover changed or deleted files.

Related: Box

Cubby
Photo courtesy Cubby

Cubby

Cubby is a storage service offered by LogMeIn. Free accounts start with 5GB of space, and you can earn up to 25GB of free storage. With each successful referral, 1GB of space will be added to the user's account. Paid accounts start at just $7 a month for 100GB of free storage. There are no file upload limitations.

Related: Information about LogMeIn

Using Cubby
Photo courtesy Cubby

Using Cubby

Free iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac apps are available to help keep your files in sync and provide access on the go. Unlike other services, Cubby allows you to "make any folder a Cubby," meaning you don't have to move files and folders around just to sync with the service. With a paid account, Cubby users get access to DirectSync. This feature allows you to sync unlimited amounts of data directly between computers, without counting it against your cloud storage allotment.

Related: Cubby

SkyDrive
Photo courtesy SkyDrive

SkyDrive

SkyDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage service. It originally launched with 25GB of free storage, but new users get a more modest 7GB. There's no way to earn free storage. To increase your limit, you can subscribe for as little as $10 per year, upping your account by 20GB. Twenty-five dollars a year will get you 50GB, while $50/year gets you another 100GB. SkyDrive has Windows, Mac, iOS, Windows Phone, and Android apps available to keep your files in sync.

SkyDrive's Killer Feature
Photo courtesy SkyDrive

SkyDrive's Killer Feature

Perhaps the most intriguing feature for SkyDrive is the ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents using the SkyDrive website. There's no need for Office to be installed on your computer; you can create and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents, then save them to your computer for free. You can then share the document with a public or private link, require the user to sign into SkyDrive before viewing and track who makes edits directly from the website.

Related: SkyDrive

SugarSync
Photo courtesy SugarSync

SugarSync

SugarSync offers both free and paid accounts; the free account comes with 5GB of storage. You can earn up to 32GB of free space by referring friends and coworkers to the service. Standard paid accounts start at $7.49 per month for 60GB of storage, $10/month for 100GB and 250GB for $25/month. There are also larger storage allotment plans, as well as business plans available.

Related: Earn free space from SugarSybc

More SugarSync Details
Photo courtesy SugarSync

More SugarSync Details

SugarSync offers the standard Mac and Windows apps, along with mobile apps for iOS, Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, Win Mobile, and an Outlook plugin. SugarSync takes the same approach as Cubby by allowing you to sync any folder with the service, instead of forcing you to move files and folders to a specific spot. Version history is included, saving the last five versions of a file. Public and private sharing are also possible.

Related: SugarSync

Amazon Cloud Drive
Photo courtesy Amazon

Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon offers its own storage service called Cloud Drive. Cloud Drive allows you to store any file type -- except for music. A free account earns you 5GB of storage, with no way to increase the free file storage allotment. Paid accounts range from $10 per year for an additional 20GB, to $500/year for 1000GB.

Amazon Cloud Player Music Storage
Photo courtesy Amazon

Amazon Cloud Player Music Storage

Also included with the Cloud Drive is Cloud Player, a music storage account that allows you to upload up to 250 songs for free. If you purchase music directly from Amazon, the allotment increases free of charge to make room for the new music, or you can pay $25/year for 250,000 songs. You can stream your music through the Android and iOS apps. Or access your file library through Mobile Safari on iOS, or the Cloud Drive Android and desktop apps Desktop on Mac or Windows.

Related: Amazon Cloud Drive

Google Drive
Photo courtesy Google

Google Drive

Google Docs was rebranded as Google Drive some time back, and offers users 5GB of free file storage. In order to upgrade from the 5GB free plan, you're looking at $2.49/month for 25GB or $4.99/month for 100GB. There's no file size limit for uploading content, as long as your account has the room. You can access your Drive account, and even edit some types of documents, directly from Android and iOS mobile apps. Of course, there are Mac and Windows apps as well.

Google Drive and Third-Part Apps
Photo courtesy Google

Google Drive and Third-Part Apps

Google Drive allows you to share, restrict access, and collaborate in real time on documents with fellow Google Drive users. If you're an avid Gmail user, you can send a Google Drive document link directly from Gmail. Third-party developers can build apps to integrate with Google Drive, allowing users to do things such as sign important documents without having to manage and move files around from service to service.

Related: Google Drive

iCloud
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images

iCloud

Apple's cloud storage service is called iCloud. iOS and OS X users get 5GB of free storage, with no options to expand on it unless you pay. An additional 20GB will cost $40 a year, and an extra 50GB is $100/year. iCloud will back up your iOS device(s) automatically, store documents and settings for apps, and keep items in sync between iOS and OS X. There aren't standalone apps for iCloud, unless you're a Windows user, as this is an integrated service in recent Apple products.

More on iCloud
Photo courtesy Apple, Inc.

More on iCloud

You're not able to just drop any file or folder into your iCloud storage. Instead, developers have to integrate the service into their apps. If an app doesn't have iCloud, you're likely going to need another cloud service to sync files. More iCloud features include a photo stream service, free email account, contact and calendar sync and Safari tab sync. Apple's iCloud service is convenient if you're an iOS or OS X user, but Windows and Android users will be hard pressed to find worthwhile functionality.

Related: iCloud

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