We like to have our digital baggage available everywhere we go – photos from the latest vacation, files of a project at work, a collection of our favourite songs, a movie clip or a blog post in the works. Cloud storage websites make it easy to access, modify and even sync these files regardless of the user’s location. Here is a list of the five best cloud storage services. Some are free while some have free and premium versions. All of them offer file sharing services so that you can share and work on your data collaboratively with your co-workers or friends.
Log of Dropbox actions (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Abozoul)
Dropbox supports file hosting, file sharing and synchronisation. You can upload your files through a web interface or the Dropbox desktop application, quite like ‘dropping them into a box’, and neatly organise them into folders. The files get instantly synchronised across all your devices and the Dropbox website. You can also share the files with your contacts. Dropbox is available for Windows, Linux and Mac desktop computers, as well as iPhone and Android phones. Dropbox accounts offer 2GB of free storage upfront for personal accounts. You can earn free space by referring people. Dropbox Pro includes monthly and annual plans of 100GB, 200GB and 500GB for a fee. Dropbox for Teams is designed for businesses and schools. It offers 1TB of storage space or more.
Box.com formerly went by the web address Box.net. It’s a file sharing and cloud content storage service for enterprises, businesses and home users. Its features include content management, task management and feedback sharing between users. It follows the freemium model in which personal accounts come with 5GB of free storage. The largest file size supported on a free account is 250MB. Personal accounts can be scaled up to 25GB or 50GB for a fee. Business accounts come with a 14 day free trial, 1TB of storage space and support for up to 500 users. An unlimited number of users and unlimited storage space is allowed on Enterprise accounts. Business and Enterprise accounts have advanced security features. The service is available in a desktop version as well as mobile versions for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, WebOS and Windows Phone devices.
Formerly known as Windows SkyDrive, the service is a part of Windows Live. Users can upload their files, share them, sync them and collaboratively work on them from anywhere. It’s possible to edit, share, create and upload Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.) without having MS Office installed on the computer. New accounts begin with 7GB of free storage. Additional storage of 20GB, 50GB and 100GB can be purchased. Here is a comparison of plans and pricing between SkyDrive, Apple iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox, as put forth by Microsoft. The SkyDrive desktop application works with Microsoft Windows and OS X. Files to be uploaded can be dragged and dropped into the web browser.
Google Drive mounted in Chromium OS (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ NotinREALITY)
Google Drive allows for file storage, sharing and synchronisation in the cloud. Users can share and collaboratively work on documents that are synced across devices as long as Google Drive is running on the device. Google Drive offers 5GB of free storage space. Additional space of up to 16GB can be purchased through a subscription plan. Google Drive works on various versions of the Windows, Chromium and Mac OS. An app for smartphones and tablets is available for free on Google Play. Google Drive can also be accessed from the iPhone using the Safari browser or Google app.
True to its name, this new incarnation of the file hosting website Megaupload.com offers 50GB of free storage. Megaupload was taken down on charges of piracy and copyright infringement. Mega now professes privacy as its USP. Mega does not have a desktop application and works in the browser. No mobile application is available for Mega yet. Users need to upload encrypted files and also provide the encryption key for those who access the file. Within a day of its launch on January 19, 2013, it had gathered one million registered users. As additional storage of 500GB, 2TB and 4TB is available at monthly charges of around $10, $20, and $30 respectively, Mega is less expensive than the competition.
Honourable mention: MediaFire
MediaFire Android app
MediaFire deserves an honourable mention for the 50GB of free storage and file sharing capability it offers. Users can upload, edit and share documents. The MediaFire desktop client works across Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems. Mobile applications are available for Android and iOS devices. MediaFire does not support file synchronisation or bulk uploading. The service is free of cost.
Comparison of cloud storage websites
|Storage with monthly subscription (includes free storage)
||100 ($9.99), 200GB, ($19.99) 500GB ($49.99), 1TB or more (customised billing)
||25GB ($9.99), 50GB ($19.99). Business: $15/user/ month
|20GB ($10), 50GB ($25), 100GB ($50) [Annual charges]
||25GB ($2.49), 100GB ($4.99), tiers up to 16TB at ~ $0.05/GB. [Excludes free storage]
||500GB ($9.99, 1TB bandwidth), 2TB ($19.99, 4TB bandwidth), 4TB ($29.99, 8TB bandwidth)
|Largest file supported in free version
(300MB when uploaded through website)
|250MB (5GB), 1GB (25GB, 50GB), Business: 2GB, Enterprise: 5GB
(300MB when uploaded through website)
|Depends on file format, etc. Details: http://bit.ly/WzDt9y
||No restriction except for the 50GB limit of free storage
||Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, Symbian, BlackBerry OS, MeeGo Harmattan
||Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Web OS, Windows Phone
||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Mobile web, Windows Phone
||Windows, Mac,iOS, Android, Mobile web
||Windows, Mac OS, Linux
Let us know the cloud storage services you use and your experience of using them.
Cover image: Getty Images