Beating out portable hard drives, USB portables, and burned discs, cloud storage has been on everyone’s mind lately.
And truly, the cloud storage phenomenon has no shortage of supporters. Everyone from Google to Microsoft has made a move into the world of the cloud.
But if you compare and contrast the available cloud services, you’ll quickly find that they are far from one size fits all solutions. Each option has distinct strengths and weaknesses that make them the perfect fit for one person but a total mismatch for someone else.
So which cloud storage platform is right for you – Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive or SugarSync?
There are a few unique features that make Drive worth a look for anyone. For example, Drive can open more than thirty different kinds of files right inside of your browser. Similar services like Dropbox cannot say the same, often being forced to load external galleries to view content. While the load time for a gallery window may not seem significant at first glance, it can become a serious problem when you’re trying to thumb through a series of files.
But what else can Drive do? For one, it has complete support for OCR text scanning. This means that Google can scan your uploaded images and text in order to make them searchable straight from Drive. And if you like the drag-and-drop syncing that has made Dropbox so popular, you’ll love Drive. Not only can you drag and drop your files to sync, you can even choose which Drive folders that you want to sync to.
With 15 GB of storage for free and 100 GB available for as little as $4.99 per month, Google Drive is a well-rounded solution for your storage needs. And if you’re an existing Google user, you’ll appreciate that Google Drive integrates completely with Google+, Android, Gmail, and all the other Google services that support file uploads.
Around the world, Dropbox has long been the go-to solution for cloud storage and mobile file sync. And it’s easy to see why! Dropbox is incredibly easy to use, it takes only a few seconds to master, and there’s no confusing settings or options that can cause you any problems. Dropbox is also built on a popular PAI that has enabled hundreds of independent developers to create apps that utilize Dropbox for just about every type of device.
Unfortunately, the free version of Dropbox only offers 2 GB of storage by default. While this can be expanded to 18 GB by referring your friends to Dropbox, you’ll have to refer almost 30 people to get that much storage. 100 GB is also available for $9.99 per month, making Dropbox considerably more expensive than Google Drive.
Probably the second most popular cloud service in use today, SugarSync is becoming so standard in the world of cloud storage that today it comes pre-loaded on many computers and smart phones. One reason SugarSync has become so popular is that it’s available on virtually every platform, gets updates constantly, and it allows users to micro-manage how they sync files.
With SugarSync, you can choose files and folders from all over your computer and then decide to which devices those folders will be synced. Unlike Drive and Dropbox, SugarSync does support password protection for files and folders that are shared publicly. This makes SugarSync a go-to solution for anyone who wants to share files through the cloud. And you can get up to 5GB of storage on a free account, and 30GB more for as little as $4.99 per month. While it hasn’t reinvented the wheel, it’s hard to say anything negative about SugarSync.
SkyDrive is Microsoft’s official entry into the world of cloud storage, and it lives up to its parent’s reputation. Free users can get 7GB of storage for free, which isn’t alarmingly large, but still beats out SugarSync and Dropbox handily. The paid storage is equally impressive, with as much as 20 GB for only $10.00 a year. And SkyDrive is a file sharers dream, because you can share public or private links to your content and then delete these links at any time. While this doesn’t quite constitute password protected file sharing, it’s a good alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to bother with passwords.
Much like Google Drive, SkyDrive lets you edit documents in your browser for free. With support for media streaming, multiple folder sync, and download to mobile, SkyDrive is a great option for anyone who needs a multifaceted cloud app. It’s also the clear choice for anyone who is already thoroughly invested in Microsoft products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote, because of its full integration to all of those products.
Although Box isn’t quite as popular as Dropbox, it comes close. Because both are built on a popular user API, Box and Dropbox actually have quite a lot in common. For example, professionals have been turning towards Box as an alternative because of how easy it is to integrate into your existing programs. For a SkyDrive user, it makes most sense to work with Microsoft products. The same can be said for Google Drive users. But because Box has been designed to integrate well with your existing programs regardless of what they are, the transition to Box storage is as painless as possible.
In regards to features, Box combines the kind of wide integration you get from Google Drive with the collaboration and sync features that almost everyone wants. From file sharing to folder control, Box has you covered. And for the fiscally minded, Box makes sense too. The free version of Box offers 10 GB of storage with a 250 MB file upload limit. For just $5 a month, that can be increased to 100 GB storage and 2 GB file size limit respectively.