In the cloud storage, the remote service that allows one to store data on an “unnamed” set of computers online has shifted from an expensive and rather unwieldy (and insecure) type of service, mostly usable by corporations, to a type of service that anyone can use, with ease and at relatively cheap price. In the following article we’ll be looking at a few of the best such services, from the point of view of security, data storage capacity and other benefits.
Over the years new “players” have entered the market, while others have managed to keep their crown or even improve. So here are our top five best cloud storage providers, in no particular order.
Dropbox has been popular for many years and it continues to be one of the main players in the field of cloud storage. The service used a smart marketing technique that included referral links along with storage bonuses, this helped it become one of the most popular services for home users along with certain businesses. They were also the first to offer their services to anyone regardless of operating system, which further increased their popularity.
Having released an API, the service could be embedded in third party applications so that developers too could harness the power of remote storage and in doing so, furthermore increase the reach of the company. In regards to security it has fast become a leader of the market, and quite quickly, following a period where it was definitely not the most secure service out there. In terms of storage capacity, anyone can get 2GB for free, more than enough for home storage needs, while their more hefty offerings can scale to the needs of those with huge file collections or to businesses. Also, Dropbox offers discounts for .EDU websites.
While a service as Dropbox had to fight its way to the top, Google had it easier. The Google Drive service has had Google to push itself forward and even if it’s not been around for a long time, it still manages to stay on top quite easily. The advantage for on-the-go users is that Google Drive embeds Google Docs within the drive, so that editing basic business or other documents is easy to do. With 15GB of data offered for free, Drive definitely is at the top of the race when it comes to capacity. Availability also gets top marks, since the service can be accessed on any OS, mobile or not. The Drive can also be made better with the use of plugins that can extend its online capabilities. In terms of security Google Drive is on par with most other Google services. Passwords are hashed and “salted” and you can always choose to get 2 step verification in place, with which every time you log-in you need to check a code on your phone. Plus, with the added extensions you can customize the drive more than any other service to make it a live work environment on the go, not just a storage service.
Microsoft too has dabbled in cloud storage, as the potential for business is clearly huge. Their service, SkyDrive hasn’t been received with the same warmth that Google Drive received but it certainly managed to produce a hefty service in the end. The service was mostly offered so that the Office 2013 suite would have a host where to store information away from one’s hard drive. Also, Windows 8 and following OSes are and will be further integrated very closely knit with SkyDrive, seamlessly. SkyDrive works well with other OSes and offers integration with standalone Office services. An open API is also offered to software developers and also, the service is great security wise offering either classic one step password protection or two step protection via phone code messages. The service integrates into a common Microsoft service platform, so for each service, one single password is sufficient to access.
SugarSync is not the most value adding service if you’re looking for free high capacity drive space, however, in terms of syncing options it is definitely one of the best services around. It is built with syncing in mind and a service that makes backing up data very simple and very straightforward. The service is great in terms of backup, automation of backups, and more. Also, for every revision of files, the service keeps a revision history readily accessible so you can choose to use files in a variety of options and time frames. Security wise the service has built in tools that allow you to secure files any way you desire; you can choose to password protect individual files, online or on your desktop, you can choose to stream media to your mobile devices and more. The service is available on all major OS platforms. For those that are not satisfied with the starting free 5 GB of data offered, you can get a lot more for very competitive prices. Overall security is also tight, with a combination of simple and dual step password protection, with the addition of further password protection for individual files.
Kim Dotcom’s service is without a question the behemoth in terms of free space offered to each and any of its users. With 50 GB of data, even if you’re using the free version of the service you are definitely not going to run out of space. The other advantage is that within MEGA you can choose to share files within a closed network of users. After you upload a file in your account, a key and password is generated, and you can choose to share it with others. Basically, what MEGA does is create a sharing environment that is easy to control and also closed; nobody needs to know what you are storing as long as you don’t make it public. Within the service there is neither built in synchronization nor any continuous backing up option. However you get web access as well as native mobile access. The files you upload have no limits and unless you choose to permanently delete a file, deleted files are stored on a permanent basis online. In terms of extra services you get sharing of photo albums, which has yet to gain traction, and also, you get the ability to work on a folder via collaboration. A final word on the security of MEGA – files are encrypted with a 2048 bit RSA key which insures that force breaking into an account is practically impossible, this makes the service very secure.