Spring Clean your Files – Cloud Storage Comparisons
Spring is finally here! Time for crawfish boils, strolls in City Park, and Spring cleaning! But Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home or office. Your small business filing system needs an occasional deep-clean too. Cloud file storage is a great tool for getting your files organized, plus they allow you to share and collaborate with your team members without having to be in the same room. But with myriad cloud storage options available, which one is right for you?
Here at Get Online NOLA, most of our files are digital. That can make life easier, since it means that we’re not bogged down with paperwork, but it can also cause problems since messy files aren’t always in your line of sight and don’t get the attention they deserve. We recently decided to give our files a deep clean, and did a load of research about the top five online file storage solutions available. We decided to share our research with you! Keep reading to see our comparison of Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive & Apple iCloud.
1. Google Drive
Google Drive gives you 15GB of free cloud storage, giving you a lot of wiggle room for free. Google Drive integrates across all of your devices — PC, tablets and phones — so that you’re able to access your important files whenever you have an internet connection. You can also download drive to your computer so you can still have access when you’re offline. If you use up all of your free online storage, you can upgrade your plan to 100GB for $1.99/month or 1 TB for $9.99/month. Adding files to Google Drive is simple, and uploading and downloading files is quick and painless. You can also share files with other users via email and create spreadsheets and documents that your whole team can edit, which is incredibly useful if your company doesn’t have a physical office.
- 15GB of free cloud storage
- Very little setup if you already have a Google account, and if you use Gmail, it’s easy to save attachments from your e-mail directly to Drive
- fantastic collaborative tools including spreadsheets, a word processor, and presentations features
- Affordable upgrades
- Files and photos that you save in the drive will be added to the space from your Gmail account
- Unlike OneDrive, Google Drive won’t let you upload files and photos from your phone straight into the cloud
- You can’t earn extra free storage
Dropbox is a mainstay when it comes to the world of free cloud storage, offering 2GB of free storage at first setup. However, this 2GB can be easily expanded to up to 16GB of free storage if you refer friends (you get 500MB for each friend). You also get another quick 500MB by connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts, following Dropbox on Twitter and telling the company why you love Dropbox. It’s also easy to use, quick and painless, and has a premium plan of 1TB for $9.99/month or an upfront $99/year for some savings. Dropbox protects files with 256-bit AES and SSL encryption. You’re also able to restore a previous or deleted version of any file within 30 days, and you can access Dropbox on the go with apps for both iOS and Android. Photos, videos, docs and other files can also be sync’d across devices for easy access. And, there’s also a Business Plan that gives 5TB to 5 users for $750 per year, allowing your company to collaborate with ease from different locations around the world.
- It has lots of users, so chances are some of your clients / colleagues will use it too
- Works equally well on PCs and Macs, Android and iOS
- No restrictions on file size, and you can earn free space by referring a friend
- Anything goes into the Dropbox cloud – you’ll find OneDrive has some strict regulations as to what you can save in the cloud. Dropbox is more liberal
- Only offers 2GB of free space
- While simplicity is one of Dropbox’s better points, it is also its weakness. It just doesn’t have all the extra features available that other cloud storage services do
- It doesn’t allow you control the way your files are displayed or have collaboration options
Box is mostly geared toward enterprise clients but can be a good cloud storage solution for personal use too, offering 10GB of free secure storage. Unfortunately, upload sizes are limited to 250MB, so you’re less likely to find it as usable as Drive or Dropbox. If you want to save smaller files like pictures, documents or slideshows, Box is a good free online cloud storage website. You can also upgrade to 100GB of storage and 2GB file size limit for $5/month, and there’s a business plan that is $15/month for each user which gives you unlimited storage space, 5GB file size limit and requires a minimum of three users.
- It was built as a professional storing tool, and has many great features that are applicable to the workplace, such as task assignation, editing tools, and places to leave comments for your workmates
- Shared documents can be password protected, or only accessible to certain people in your company. In terms of privacy it’s the cloud you can trust
- It only offers 250MB of free space
- The service’s endless list of sharing and privacy features can be lost on someone who’s just using the service for personal storage
- It’s not as easy to navigate as other file sharing systems. It’s purposely intricate with its many features, and so likely not the best option as the cloud to play with outside of a business setting
4. Microsoft OneDrive
Microsoft’s OneDrive, formerly SkyDrive, is going to be a big part of the upcoming new Windows 10 OS. OneDrive offers 15GB of free storage and has the cheapest 1TB upgrade option available for just $6.99/month, which includes Office 365. Users can also earn 3GB of extra storage when they backup their camera roll, and another 5GB if they refer 10 friends (+500MB for each friend). With Windows 10 also coming to Xbox One later this year, it’s likely that OneDrive’s integration will be the best one for Windows users.
- OneDrive offers 15GB of free storage and has the cheapest 1TB upgrade option available for just $6.99/month, plus you can earn extra free storage
- It works seamlessly with Windows devices, as it’s made for the Windows operating system
- You can work on documents in real-time with other people with Office apps, actually seeing edits being made by others
- If you don’t have all Windows devices, OneDrive doesn’t have as much appeal. There are apps for other devices, but OneDrive is really meant for the Windows set
- It gives you access to Outlook, Xbox Live, and other Microsoft services whether or not you want all those extras
- Microsoft has a stricter code of conduct for the files you upload to OneDrive than any other cloud service
5. Apple iCloud
Apple iCloud provides a standard cloud service to all iOS users for free, allowing for 5GB of storage. Compared to other options, the upgrade tiers are uncompetitive, with 10GB running at $20 per year and 20GB running at $40 (compare this to Google Drive which has 100GB for less than $24 per year). You need an Apple device to get going with the service. If you happen to be using an iPhone, iPad or an Apple Computer there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make use of iCloud. If you need extra storage however, both Microsoft and Google provide much more compelling upgrade packages.
- For Apple computer and device users, iCloud is free
- It works seamless across all Apple devices users
- It’s attractive to end users and developers
- It is an excellent backup system for iOS devices
- The most challenging issue with iCloud is that it’s difficult to get documents out of the system. Since iCloud is designed as a walled garden for Apple content, sharing documents or collaborating with others – key features embraced by other services – require extra steps or just aren’t available
- It is more expensive for traditional non developer consumers
What am I getting out of it?
Today’s cloud storage provides simple file sharing, but also extends personal workstation file space, integrates document editing, includes real time backup and document workflow. These services offer a token amount of free space, with upgrades ranging up to paid plans for unlimited storage. They are cheap, fast, easy to use and require very little up front or long term end user investment. The most important thing is they provide a quick and easy solution to organizing your company documents and spring cleaning your files!
Have a great cloud storage solution that we left out, or want to share your opinion? Leave a comment below.