In an earlier post I talked about using cloud based software. In this post I will discuss free and paid for cloud based storage Typically, if you have an account with Microsoft or Google to use their cloud based software you will already have some cloud storage available. For example, Google provides the Google Drive and Microsoft provides the OneDrive. Each of thees have a limited amount of storage that you will receive for free. A third option you may consider is Dropbox. I will discuss each option below and the pros and cons of each.
Dropbox: Dropbox is a very useful storage system and provides access through most, if not all, operating systems. It creates local folders on your hard drive as well as on the Dropbox servers. Information stored on Dropbox servers is encrypted end to end so there is little chance your information be intercepted. Dropbox comes with only two gigabytes of free storage but you can increase this by performing certain tasks such as liking on Facebook, inviting friends, etc. I was able to increase my storage to 8.56 Gigabytes by following these suggestions. Additional storage was available for a nominal cost but Dropbox seems to have changed their business model whereby the only plans are the Basic with the 2+ gigabytes of free storage or you can upgrade to the Pro Plan providing one terabyte of storage for $9.99 per month. Unfortunately, there is nothing in between. One terabyteis probably overkill for most users unless storing large amounts of media such as photos, videos, and music.
OneDrive: OneDrive, formerly known as SkyDrive, is Microsoft’s offering into the mix. OneDrive creates local folders on PCs and Macs giving you backup copies since you are storing in two locations, locally and in the cloud. You also have the option to store all or part of your files only on the cloud server, an option you may find useful if you have limited storage available on your computer. OneDrive has apps that will permit access to your files stored in the cloud on most portable devices such as IPAD and Android. Since your files are not stored locally on these portable devices, you cannot access your files if you do not have internet connectivity. OneDrive comes with seven gigabytes of free storage. This can be increased for free up to nine gigabytes of free storage if you agree to use OneDrive to store your photos taken with portable devices. Additional storage can be purchased for a reasonable fee. For example, you can purchase 100 gigabytes additional gigabytes for $1.99 per month. Also, if you avail yourself of the Bing Rewards program, this additional storage can be obtained for free by cashing in Bing points.
Google Drive: Google Drive is provided with a Google account, such as your Gmail account. Google Drive comes with 15 gigabytes of free storage, and can be increased for a fee. An additional 100 gigabytes can be purchased for $24.99 per year. If Google Docs is your software of choice for productivity than Google Drive is a natural fit. If you are using the Microsoft Online suite of software, storing to the Google Drive will be a little more difficult. However, it will work fine if using locally installed productivity suites such as Microsoft Office or LibreOffice. There are apps to allow you to access your Google Drive files from most portable devices such as IPAD and Android. Google Drive typically does not store locally on portable devices, but does give you the option to select files to store locally. This is useful if you anticipate needing access to certain files at time when you will not have internet connectivity.
All of the above are similar in functionality and price. In each case the cloud storage can be mapped as a local drive, and in each case the files are stored locally as well as in the cloud. This, of course, gives you the opportunity of automatically backing up your important files as well as having them available on all or most of your devices. I have used all and have settled on Microsoft’s OneDrive as the best bang for the buck, particularly since there is an option to obtain the additional storage for free via Bing Rewards (which I have done). One additional benefit with all three is the ability to share files with others. This is a secure way of providing access to files without the need to send them through email, thumb drives, CD’s or DVD’s. And of course, it is instant transfer as opposed to using one of the sneaker net options.
If you are not already taking advantage of cloud storage then I recommend you consider this option. The peace of mind provided by knowing all my important files and documents are automatically backed up is well worth the price, not to mention the convenience of having them everywhere on everything.
So there you have it, free software and free storage. Now if someone would figure out how to make the hardware and computers free it would be a beautiful thing. I guess the good news is that money saved not buying software and storage is money that can be used to buy an even bigger and better computer or that tablet you have been drooling over.
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