Every computer user should ideally be utilizing the power and accessibility offered by Cloud Storage in 2020. If you are one of the few who still isn't exposed to thid technology, don't worry. We have created for you a detailed guide on everything you need to know about Cloud Storage and a few good service options.
Table of Contents
What Is Cloud Storage?
Cloud is an online storage system where your data is stored in an external internet server, instead of (or together with) your hard-drive. Cloud storage can provide up to a terrabyte (TB) and more of storage without having a physical device near your Mac.
Should You Get A Cloud Service?
Before purchasing cloud storage, you'll have to decide if it is right for you. Here are a few pros and cons to help you make your mind.
- Not having hardware means that you won't have to worry about malfunctions due to physical damage.
- Most companies back up your data at three or more places, which reduces the chance of losing it (i.e. high levels of redundancy).
- You can opt for a higher tier if you run out of storage, instead of buying a new cloud service.
- Highly secure, since the data goes through multiple layers of encryption and security to ensure no unwanted person has access to it (specifics depend on the provider, of course).
- Slow internet can result in a lot of time being wasted in loading/transferring the files, instead of using some form of a hardware storage device where the process would be instant.
- A cloud service company can have access to your precious data, and you may feel safer storing confidential backups on other devices.
- Cloud services can be hacked, or your passwords compromised.
Cloud Service Purchase Considerations
There are multiple factors that you need to consider when getting a new cloud service. These factors will dictate your choice of what service to purchase.
Most companies that offer some form of cloud service also provide a limited amount of free storage, which depending on your usage, may be enough, meaning you don't need to spend any money. This is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on what service you opt for.
If you end up spending money on your cloud service monthly, it can quickly pile up if you have an expensive service. Comparing the price to storage ratios of companies will help with deciding on which offer to choose.
Storage space is a significant factor when deciding on service, and sometimes the regular offer of a few TBs might not cut it for you. Whether your work requires a lot of digital space, run a business or are just a hefty user, we recommend looking for unlimited storage. Many of the cloud services offer some kind of business plan where you get unlimited storage.
Depending on which operating system you're running, this may also very well change your choice for a cloud service. A few cloud services do not support Macs or other devices (such as iOS or Android phones) in which case you'll need to look elsewhere no matter how excellent the service is. Your chosen cloud provider should support all the devices that you use.
Interface and Other Features
This may not be an essential factor as the personal appeal of a particular interface is highly subjective. But if you dislike a specific cloud service interface and its features, then you might want to consider a few of the alternatives out there.
Cloud Storage Services
Multiple cloud services make it confusing to choose the perfect one for you. We will break down three popular cloud services. At least one of them should cover the requirements of most people. This comparative guide will work out the exact features of each service and why you might want to buy or avoid it.
Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage, which won't be enough for anyone, so you'll have to divert your attention to their higher tier offers. They offer 2 TB for $19.99 per month, but if that is not enough for you, then there is an unlimited storage business offer for $20 per month, but you'll be required to have three users minimum (i.e. $60 per month).
Additionally, you can make all your files available offline for $9.99 per month and it provides you with a 180-day backup. While most companies offer their services for Desktop and mobile, Dropbox also (somewhat oddly) provides their services for smartwatches.
A disadvantage of Dropbox is that it can be challenging to use for a beginner.
Forbes has stated that Dropbox had approximately 540 million users at the end of 2018, which is a sizeable amount and just goes to show the popularity of this service.
If you own a Mac, you already might have the free version of iCloud and could be thinking of upgrading to their higher storage offer. 5GB of free storage, being an upgrade over Dropbox, is still not enough for most people and you might need to opt for their 50 GB model for $0.99 per month, or even 200 GB offer for $2.99 per month. The highest tier offers 2 TB of storage for the excellent price of $9.99 per month. For a Mac, then this has the best interface, and a seamless transfer system as iCloud has been directly integrated into your gallery and UI.
On the other hand, if you own a non-Apple device like an Android phone, along with your Mac, then iCloud would not be supported, so you'll have to look at other alternatives.
According to an analysis published by CNBC, iCloud has 850 million users, which isn't surprising considering that it's pre-installed, and anyone with a Mac, iPhone or iPad should not to miss out on it.
Google's cloud service is the most recognized among consumers. They offer a massive 15GB of free storage, which should be enough for light usage.
For those looking for a bit more space, you'll be happy to know that Google offers a wide variety of storage options. You can get 100 GB for $1.99 a month, 2 TB for $9.99 a month, 10 TB for $99.99 a month, and 20 TB for $200. If you want even more storage, then you can purchase an additional 10 TB for $100. Like all the other services, Google Drive also offers an unlimited storage option for $12 a month and six users minimum. Additional features include a 30-day backup and an intuitive interface.
Unfortunately, Google Drive is limited to Gmail, so you'll have to make a Gmail account if you don't have one already. Like Dropbox, Google Drive is also unavailable on the Mac Appstore and needs to be installed via its website. According to Google themselves, their cloud service has around a billion users, which is an extremely high number and proves how excellent a service it is.
Experience On A Mac
Google Drive and Dropbox
Mac and Windows users will have a similar experience using either of these two cloud services. Once you're done logging in and setting up your account, then you simply need to select which files or folders you wish to store in the cloud.
iCloud integration on Mac is unbeatable. Firstly, there is no need to download a separate app, since iCloud is pre-build in Mac OS. To setup, you'll just need to enter your Apple ID and password. Once done with this, you can choose some apps, and the data within those apps will automatically be backed up on the cloud.
Besides this, iCloud has many other neat features, like allowing you to store and backup things other than your typical media files - like contacts, backups, etc. Due to this, iCloud is an extremely viable option and fits perfectly into Apple's vision of making applications intuitive and easy to use.