If you haven’t been under a rock for the last few years, you may have heard the term Cloud. Maybe you’ve better heard it as “Cloud this… Cloud that…” and everything seems to be about the clouds. May even be asking, why has everyone taken such interest in the weather and if it’s cloudy or why does it matter how much storage these clouds can hold, but what are we even storing in these clouds in the first place and should I be worried?
Good news, you’re actually not the only one who doesn’t really understand what Cloud technology is and yes it is related to computer technology. I can assure you, it has nothing to do with the current or future weather, so you can stop looking up in the sky now.
So, what exactly is Cloud technology? It’s really nothing more than internet-based storage and has been a thing for well, forever but we now label the internet the cloud, except when we reference the term Cloud storage, we’re normally talking about the process in which we take a binary (file) and transfer it from one place (normally our computer, mobile device, and so forth) and transfer it [in the form of a packet] to a remote destination via an established internet connection. As our file is now on this remote location, we are able to get access to it pretty much anywhere we have an internet connection and depending on the provider, can depend if we will need specialized software (e.g. Browser Add-ons, FTP Client, Desktop Sync Tools (i.e. Dropbox) or a single web page for access using a simple username/password login. However, a lot of the hi-end cloud providers may offer a single and simple login but some may offer an even more advanced approach using multiple layered authentication for access to your content…
It may sound insane but a few companies can offer the paranoid, a multi-layer login that use some pretty advanced and expensive methods. Well, some companies with a fat price actually offer the ability to use biometric methods (e.g. Fingerprint, Retina, or Facial Recognition — Which you must be nuts to use, if you ask me) or something a little more dumbed down and stable as using a generated and signed certificate-key based device pre-signed (e.g. USB Stick, MicroSD, and so forth) to access your content.
The good news is, more and more cloud providers are existing and a lot of them offer their service freely or for extended storage, they usually give a small fee that can allow you to store more content as-needed.
You may wonder however, who are some of the big names to trust for an everyday person (or even a home business)? I’ve listed a few well-known, easy to use providers you may be interested in trying and probably already have integrated in your everyday devices.
Apple iCloud – Storage: 5GB Free; Upgradeable: Yes
As the name suggests, it’s Apple’s baby. Sure a lot of people aren’t happy Apple has played around with the old-cloud solution that was once offered but that is sort of Apples schtick, to change things up when things are going “good”. You should also be careful as people have seen images disappear from their iCloud after 30-Days.
Microsoft’s SkyDrive – Storage: 7GB Free; Upgradeable: Yes
Don’t call it the LIVE SkyDrive or Windows LIVE SkyDrive as Microsoft is hacking off the “Windows LIVE” and “LIVE” term from all of their products.
Now, if the 7GB has you confused, it’s only because Microsoft recently downgraded the size of free storage offered. They are figuring most people never use 7GB’s with their service, so why offer more? Doesn’t make much sense but if you hurry and have been a previous user of SkyDrive, you can actually increase your storage in your control panel to 25GB for free.
Just to note, you will be seeing more from SkyDrive in the future as they have a fully open API that allows developers to include a feature in his/her website OR App and allow a “Save to SkyDrive” option but more importantly, SkyDrive is planned to be part of the Windows 8 Ecosystem as it has been with the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Devices. So, I would start to enjoy SkyDrive and get used to it.
DropBox – Storage: 2GB Free (Upto 18GB w/Referrals); Upgradeable: Yes
Everyone has pretty much heard of DropBox and I am NOT a fan. I not only dislike their service, amount of initial storage, but I am not a fan of the software they install on my computer but I am also pretty upset with the Terms of Service (TOS). For me, I recommend you drop your DropBox.
Google Drive – Storage: 5GB Free; Upgradeable: Yes
Of course Google had to come out with a cloud storage service. You didn’t think the road to becoming a Monopoly and trying to shut out small businesses, prevent possible competition wouldn’t have been on the Google TO DO List, did you?
Well, it sure was on the list but will they really succeed? Sure it’s Google, but hasn’t Google tried to mimic too many things now (in which some have been unsuccessful)? Only time will tell but offering only 5GB of Storage, it doesn’t really seem exciting enough to switch from our pre-existing services. Nothing about Google Drive is really exciting enough to need to drop everything and sign-up. However, Google has a bigger problem, the Terms of Service their service comes with.