Comparing cloud hosting providers can be truly frustrating. There are so many features to choose from and all of them seem just slightly different! If you’ve ever purchased a mattress, you know what we mean. It’s hard to compare the strengths and benefits without seeing them side by side. So poof! Here we go:
We’ve done our best to take some of the headache out of cloud hosting and break it down for you. Below we’ve written a summary of the major cloud storage providers.
Dropbox gives out 2GB available for its free account with a 300MB limitation per file for its web interface, none for desktop. This is less storage in comparison to other cloud services that typically give out at least 5GB. Dropbox is very developer friendly and consumer friendly with an open API and has a friendly user interface and great for sharing. It also lets you view images as a gallery which can be very useful. It has Facebook integration and works with Facebook Groups, which can be very useful for sharing files among open communities. Large storage pricing is on the expensive side with 500GB translating to $499/year.
Encrypted on the client side, Bitcasa is the best option when it comes to privacy and security. The company itself won’t be able to know what you’re storing, employees do not have the ability to see your data. All they see are encrypted bits. This solution is also good for those with huge data needs. There’s no limit per file size, automated backup, calendar-based file versioning (like a time machine) and media streaming is also available. Good for consumers who have a lot of media they want to stream across multiple devices. Bitcasa also wins hands down for pricing with $10/mo and only $99/year infinite storage. There are no limits! Bitcasa is compatible across all major desktop platforms, iOS, Android and also is one of the few that’s working on providing storage for linux. Linux was available during beta, but is not for the paid version and that has upset a few folks in the community. .
Best integration with Gmail which can make it very convenient for collaboration (especially if your company uses Google apps). Real-time collaboration can also be very useful, which is possible on the go with integration into Android and IOS. Pricing is fairly competitive with additional storage for $2.49/mo per additional 25GB . However, Google Drive does have a looser terms of service agreement when it comes to privacy. There have been many mentions about the lack of privacy. Google’s automatic conversion of your files to Google Doc files may also be annoying to some. You have to be comfortable completely living inside the mothership.
Good for business and cross collaboration, Box is very well known. It is very easy to share and create groups, set admin controls and set access permissions. Box is also integrated with popular CRM systems such as Salesforce. You can also preview files before download, which not every provider does. File formats supported for the viewing feature include PDF, Powerpoint, Microsoft Word, and Photoshop. Box is ideal for collaboration and small business use.
Easy to use across Apple products, but the service is not available on other devices and operating systems. There’s also a high number of people that have complained about synchronization issues. iCloud is also very limited when it comes to sharing as there’s no easy way to publicly share your file. It’s limited via iWork and it’s also very expensive. This is the best service to use if you are a consumer who uses Apple products. You have to be ok with living inside the Apple ecosystem, because that’s where you are confined.
Sugarsync is very seamlessly well integrated available across all mobile devices. They are one of the few storage providers that include the Windows phone in their mobile offering. Sugarsync also has the functionality of password protected files and streaming. It’s very intuitive to use with excellent file synchronization, great for people on the go who rely on mobile. However it is not the cheapest when it comes to storage pricing and you’re limited to only three users. This solution is idea for a small team, but not someone pushing huge files to the cloud.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Integration is available for kindle, however lack of integration with IOS devices will be limiting for some folks. A lack of features and expensive pricing leaves Amazon Cloud Drive falling behind others. It is a very reliable service with Amazon’s backbone and it is great for viewing photos.
Unfortunately, there’s also a fair amount chatter about the lack of usability. It is difficult to rename and move around files. You have to each upload by hand, because there is no auto upload.
One of the few options that supports Windows Phone. Sky Drive also offers real-time editing and remote access to files on the fly with a sleek interface. The integration with Microsoft Word is seamless, so if you are in their universe of applications this is an easy sell for you. Skydrive also gets points for social as it allows for easy sharing on Facebook and Twitter. Pricing is fair but still higher than Google.
Features and glossy interfaces are great, but it’s all about what you need. Simply ask yourself, what functions are the most important? For small business use and collaboration, Google Drive and Box are the best. Google’s pricing and free plan beats out Box, hands down. While Box is fun and pretty, Google has made it easy with Gmail integration and real-time editing, a pure bonus for those frequently using Google Apps. The most limited and expensive solutions seem to be iCloud and Amazon Cloud. If security and privacy is important, Bitcasa wins hands down. They have taken many steps with their convergent encryption to ensure your data is secured and they automatically do file versioning. You cannot overwrite your files. Also, kudos to them for storing unlimited data. Bitcasa’s plan is very simple to follow and competitively priced.
In closing, if you are looking for collaboration, Box or Google Drive may be better depending on your business needs. For media content, streaming, version control, and pushing large files Bitcasa is the best option. Dropbox is a great option if ease of use and Facebook group integration is important to you. However, it is not for people pushing big files up and down all day. Dropbox is limiting than the other services with its max storage size and expensive pricing.
We hope this helps make your cloud experience happier!