Saving your data to the cloud is crucial. The cloud provides what is probably the most reliable way of ensuring that, if your house burns down or your laptop gets stolen, your data won’t be lost too. Even more enticing is the ability to access your data from any location with an internet connection. Such features alleviate the need to carry flash sticks and portable hard drives when attempting to get your data for A to B.
A disadvantage does, however, arise in the case of slow or capped internet services. Many users will feel faint and frustrated when trying to negotiate these services and the result is often high monthly bills and failed downloads. Whatever the views of the most vehement critics of the cloud may be, this will change and all will eventually live on the cloud.
With distinct foresight we have compiled a list of some of the coolest cloud-based storage options currently available on the market:
Simple sharing on the cloud:
Dropbox is on of the most popular cloud storage services available. An incredibly simple service to use, Dropbox acts like a briefcase, synchronising predefined folders over any number of computers. It has great features for collaboration which allow you to share your data with friends and colleagues. With a well designed browser interface and a mobile app, you can easily access your files from any location with an internet connection.
Based on the freemium model, Dropbox provides 2GB of free storage and 50GB or 100GB for US$99 a year and US$199 a year respectively
Cloud App is a a great tool for sharing your files with a large audience. Simply download the application and then start dragging items you wish to share on to your OS X toolbar. Cloud App automatically uploads your files to the cloud and provides you with a short-url for easy sharing. A wide variety of plugins can be strapped on to the app, thus alleviating the need to leave your current application when you wish to share something. The one obvious drawback is that it is currently available on Mac OS X only.
The free version is limited to 10 uploads a day and 25MB upload limit. For US$45 a year you can upload an unlimited number of files of 250MB in size and share links using your own domain name.
The Cloud for your website:
Amazon S3 Storage
Harness the power of Amazon’s infrastructure with Amazon S3. Designed to host static objects that are frequently requested such as images and documents, Amazon S3 can take the pressure off your server and save you money. The service is highly scalable and you only pay for the bandwidth and storage needed. Both Tumblr, and the aforementioned dropbox use S3 for storage and transfer of data.
*With a little technical know-how Amazon can also be leveraged to provide a comprehensive backup solution for your computer that is insanely cheap. A number of tutorials exist which provide step-by-step guides to using S3 as a backup solution.
Competitors include: Rackspace
Collaboration on the Cloud:
Primarily aimed at the business community, Box’s product features are centred around sharing and collaboration. By consolidating your content online, Box lets users organise and access it on any device. With third party services like Google Docs, Microsoft Sharepoint, Salesforce and a customisable API built into Box, collaboration, sharing and integration with your business is a breeze.
Box provides an initial 5GB free and charges US$15 per user per month for their Business plan which provides a total of 500GB and a wide range of enhanced features.
Putting your entire hard drive on the Cloud:
Mozy is an online backup services that replaces the need for external hard drives or multiple CDs. It allows users to continuously backup data to the cloud, through manual or scheduled backups. Once the intial upload is complete, Mozy only uploads new or changed portions of files, saving both bandwidth and upload times. Your data is locally encrypted and secularly stored on remote servers. The biggest drawback is the initial upload of all your data.
2GB of storage is provided free and charged services begin at US$6 a month for 50GB on one computer and at US$10 for 10 for 125GB on up to three
Editing documents on the Cloud:
Google Docs is a online storage and office suite hybrid. The service allows users to create, edit and collaborate on documents online and in real time. Files of up to 1GB in size can be stored on Google Docs and 15 formats are supported from Zip to PSD files. Other features include automatic revision history, document editing on mobile devices and Google Cloud Connect which facilitates integration with Microsoft Office.