Cloud storage is one of the newest big deals in the world of technology. In a nutshell, this service lets you store just about any size file without taking up space on your hard drive, and access your files from anywhere with an Internet connection—computers, laptops, or mobile devices.
The players: Top 3 cloud storage providers
As with most technology products, certain companies have risen to the top of the cloud storage game. The current heavy hitters offer a variety of service levels and solutions that can be tailored for anything from light personal use to complex corporate applications.
Google Drive, from the search engine giant, has plans that start with 5 GB of storage free, with more space available for monthly rates: 25 GB for $2.49, 100 GB for $9.99, a huge 1 TB for $49.99, and a few even larger plans. There are also discounts when you buy a year of service at a time.
In terms of accessibility, Google Drive is actually a program—so when you install the software on your PC, laptop, or mobile device, any files you store in your cloud drive are synced to all of your applications, and you can access them online or offline.
Microsoft Skydrive, like Google Drive, is also a program rather than a website, and can be installed across multiple machines for anywhere access to your files. The only exception is the mobile app—right now, there are just versions for Windows phones, iPhones, and iPads. To access Skydrive from an Android or other smart phone, you need to browse to the Skydrive website.
Microsoft Skydrive plans start with 7 GB free, and in April of 2012 the program introduced paid plans for “power users”: an extra 20 GB for $10 a year, 50 GB for $25 annually, and 100 GB for $50 a year.
Box, formerly Box.net, rounds out the top three as the only dedicated digital storage company on the short list. Box boasts six native mobile apps and more than 30 mobile partners for highly flexible on-the-go access.
Pricing plans for Box start at 5 GB free, and jump up to 1,000 GB at $15 a month for businesses, with larger plans available at negotiated rates for enterprise solutions.
The advantages: Flexibility, multi-platform access, and collaboration
With any of the major cloud storage providers, there are plenty of advantages for your business. These include:
- Flexible storage without the expense of upgrading hardware and servers
- Multi-platform access for increasingly mobile workforces
- Collaborative tools that let you set permissions and share stored files with anyone you choose
Taking advantage of the convenience and scalability of cloud storage is a smart choice for just about any company. It’s only a matter of deciding which service offers the best solution for you and your business needs.