With the recent announcement by Google that users will soon be able to upload any type of file to Google Docs (up to 250MB each, with 1GB of free storage, additional storage for a fee), I figured I would revisit the topic of cloud file storage. There are a variety of services out there, all with different options and features.
Google Docs – you can upload any type of file (up to 250MB each) and you get 1GB of storage free. You can purchase additional storage at $0.25/GB/year, which is a good deal. There is no automatic sync built in. Google Gears can currently sync your Google Docs so we’ll have to see what will happen with the new file types. There are also some 3rd party applications that you can use (like GDocBackup, which I use.)
Dropbox is a service that allows you to sync your files on your computer with their system as a backup. This also allows you to access the files anywhere. You can also sync the files across multiple computers. This means that you have automatic backup of your files and 24/7 access to your files. I have it set up to sync a folder on my home computer and school computer so I don’t have to worry about having multiple versions or forgetting a flash drive.
There are also Dropbox apps for iPhone, Android, iPad and there is one coming for Blackberry. There is an independent app for Palm webOS, but you can also access the mobile site from any web-enabled phone. Imagine being able to access all of your files on your smartphone!
One feature that is very nice is the fact that it works with network drives like we use in my district. Some of the other cloud file storage and sync systems can’t work with network drives. I was very happy to see this was able to be done with Dropbox.
SugarSync – This is my main service. What’s great about Sugarsync is that you can have it back up your files on their server, and sync the files among multiple computers. So, my files on my home computer are synced to my laptop and my school computer. You can also access these files through any web browser, and there are apps for smart phones. You can even access them with a mobile web browser if you don’t have an app. You get 2GB (UPDATED 5GB free as of 11/10/10) for free and there are fee based plans with more storage (next level is $4.99/month for 30GB). I can access my files anywhere, on any device, which makes it very convenient. You select the directories that you want to be backed up. The “Magic Briefcase” is the directory or folder you pick to be automatically backed up and synced. As soon as I save a file to that directory, it is uploaded to their servers.
The Websync feature is also nice. If you are accessing your files through the website, you can select “Edit with websync” and a Java program will download a temp copy of your file, allow you to edit and save it and then upload the new version. You can also share files with others through email or the web.
Sugarsync came in very handy for my wife. 1 week after setting it up on her computer, her hard drive died. Completely dead and no data was recoverable. If it wasn’t for Sugarsync, she would have lost over 2 weeks of work (since her last backup). The automatic sync and backup is wonderful.
Zumo Drive – is another sync and sharing service with similar features to Sugarsync and Dropbox. I use this also. A great feature is being able to stream music from Zumo Drive to your mobile device. There is a free 2GB version. Zumo Drive actually works and looks like another drive on your computer. 25 GB is $6.99 / month.
Box – is similar to the others. The free version only has 1GB of storage, but you can purchase more storage ($5.99 per month for 5GB – not great!)
What do you think about these?
What do you think about cloud storage?
Are there other services that you would recommend?