Lady Geek's Topic of the Day: Cloud Storage
Tales of the Lady Geek
Hello, Lady Geek here with today’s installment of the tales of my technological life. I must admit, it feels good to be back, and I hope you missed me as much as I’ve missed you. As of this writing, I am enjoying a purely non technical moment in time, relaxing in the “Mom Cave” that my children and husband gifted me with last month in celebration of yet another Geeklet to be. It’s so lovely and bright, freshly painted in different hues of greens and blues with my favorite chair positioned ‘just so’ right next to the shelves full of books, ready for story time or relaxation into another world.
At the well loved desk is my new computer chair, thoughtfully provided by my best friend and on the desk are my precious electronics, ready for my return to the fast paced world of computer repair and support at any given time. During my hiatus, a truly remarkable thing occurred in the technological world. Google has finally released the long-awaited entry into the cloud storage scene, Google Drive. Add that with Microsoft’s revamped SkyDrive and what we have before us is true competition to my favorite cloud storage program, Dropbox.
This Lady Geek is nothing if not thorough in her investigation, so without further adieu, my topic of the day.
Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. Microsoft SkyDrive: The Basics
I can’t start an article about these cloud storage options without stressing that there are many such services with different features and priorities, including privacy-protecting encryption and the ability to synchronize any folder on your system. I tested quite a few in the years before I discovered Dropbox and I encourage you, dear reader, to test and find what best suits your needs.
The reason I’m focusing on these three are very simple. I like Dropbox, I don’t like the other ones I’ve tested before Dropbox and these are new offerings from some of technology’s biggest players, Google and Microsoft.
Across the board, the basic concepts of Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive are the same. They are each web based file hosting services that use cloud storage to store and share files and folders with others using file synchronization. So the basics of these programs are all level in that they give you a way to store and save documents, pictures, granny’s secret sauce recipe and other assorted files through virtual storage systems. That’s a good start, wouldn’t you agree?
Let’s compare them individually, starting with....
For those of you who’ve read my earlier posts, you know that I’ve been a diehard Dropbox fan forever. Besides being one of the first to introduce cloud storage to the populace, it’s maintained a very simple approach via the uncomplicated simple folder that’s accessible with no fuss or muss through tablets, phones and computers.
A nice thing to note is that, unlike Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive, Dropbox is independent of the big guns. Nothing in it is tied to proprietary software, so what you store is what you retrieve in the format you stored it in which I find utterly convenient. One downside about Dropbox is that of the three, it offers significantly less free storage than the other two unless you refer a friend and it is a significantly higher price point in order to increase the amount of storage available to you.
Dropbox comes in four flavors of storage:
Basic: 2GB of storage for free (with referrals you can increase that to 16GB)
Pro 50: 50GB of storage for $9.99/month
Pro 100: 100GB of storage for $19.99/month
Teams: 1TB of storage that starts at $795 for five users.
Other Notable Information:
File Size Limit: Unlimited
Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Blackberry and the Web
What makes it standout for me is that the Public folder is an extremely easy way to share files. The other’s allow you to share files also, but with a bit of configuration and complications in my otherwise uncomplicated life. Another noteworthy thing about Dropbox is that it’s easy to sync files between other computers running Dropbox over a local network, this speeds up transfers and frees up your Internet connection a bit.
The big boys at Google are serious with this offering, ladies and gents and their vision of eventually replacing the need for desktop sync clients by becoming a web based hard drive is evident in this program. Google Drive is the next level of Google Docs, which already let you upload any file. The difference is that with Google Drive you get more free storage space, 5GB as opposed to Google Docs’ 1GB. Another cool thing about it is that it allows you to integrate with third party-web based apps. This means you’ll be able to install and associate apps with file types in Google Drive and that means Google Drive is a good, solid competitor in the cloud storage scene.
Google Drive also comes in four flavors of storage:
Basic: 5GB of storage for free
Additional Storage 1: 25GB of storage for $2.49/month
Additional Storage 2: 100GB of storage for $4.99/month
Large Storage: 16TB of storage for $800/month
Other Notable Information:
File Size Limit: 10GB
Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android and the Web
Something that stands out to me is that it has a deep search feature with ORC and image recognition as well as a web interface that can launch files directly in third-party web apps. Another thing I need to include in order to keep this article honest is that Google says that the iOS and Linux platforms will become available soon.
Okay, for those of you who are in the know, Microsoft SkyDrive has been around for quite a while now. Originally it was released in 2007 as Windows Live SkyDrive, but the day before Google Drive was launched, a totally revamped version, now called Microsoft SkyDrive was released. I like how easily it already integrates into my existing Office web apps and I also appreciate how with Windows 8 currently in Beta version it’s built into Metro (the new Windows interface style) by default.
Like the others I’m comparing and contrasting today, Microsoft Skydrive uses the single folder first brought to us by Dropbox. Also, of the three, it offers the largest amount of free storage at 7GB and has very comparable prices for additional storage.
Microsoft SkyDrive comes in four flavors of storage:
Basic: 7GB of free storage
Additional Storage 1: 20GB for $10/year
Additional Storage 2: 50GB for $25/year
Additional Storage 3: 100GB for $50/year
Other Notable Information:
File Size Limit: 2GB
Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Windows Phone, iOS and the Web
What stands out in Microsoft SkyDrive is that it has the ability to grab unsynchronized files from outside of the synced folders on connected PCs as long as they’ve been left on and that the rumor mill over at Geektown says how easily customized and ready to go it is between platforms. I also, of the three, prefer the price point of this program, 100GB for the price of four MMO’s. That’s reasonable to me.
I said it before about Dropbox, now I’m saying it again about all of these contenders. Using cloud storage for personal use is handy and less cumbersome than keeping everything in hard copy or worrying about where that pesky little thumb drive went off to. It allows you limitless access to your files, is useful for students, business people and Regular Joe’s who are savvy enough to want to protect their data from unexpected system failures. For businesses, cloud storage allows you to share your files easily with clients and colleagues thus giving you the ability to access your projects on the fly, see and make changes to your files instantly as well as keeping everyone on the same page with the progression of your projects.
Of the three options I just reviewed, I still like Dropbox but given the new options and price points, I’ll be transferring my files and pictures most likely to Microsoft SkyDrive. Which looks like the right option for you?
Written By: MaryAnn Paris