Published on: 02 May 2013
Every cloud - a guide to online storage
HERE is a conventional wisdom within the IT community which is “If your data doesn’t exist in three places then it doesn’t exist at all” so, this month, we have decided to take a look at three of the most popular cloud-based backup services.
The great thing about cloud backups is that they store your data in a ‘server farm’ where copies of your data are shared across multiple servers giving a level of resilience that used to be reserved for multinational companies that could afford all of the kit involved. Nowadays even home users can have this peace of mind for just a few pounds per month.
This service ties in with your Google Account and works by having a folder on your PC desktop that you can copy your most valuable photos, videos and other documents into. The folder then synchronises back to Google’s server farms where they are safely stored away. Because the folder exists on your PC, as well as in the cloud, you have full access to your data whenever you need it and any changes will automatically update into the cloud when you save your files. Google Drive offers five gigabytes (5GB) of data storage for free and then charges are from around £1.50 a month for 25GB.
Dropbox was one of the first cloud storage services available in the UK and it is still a firm favourite with a lot of people who like the simple online interface and friendly ‘community’ feel of the service. Like Google Drive it creates a local folder on your PC for your data but unlike Google Drive you can claim extra storage space by inviting friends and family to sign up for the service. A Dropbox account starts with 2GB of storage space but a referral bumps your space up by 500MB (megabytes) each time you invite someone new who creates an account. This makes the maximum storage space available on a free account a healthy 18GB!
SkyDrive is the ‘new kid on the block’ in terms of cloud storage but the service is provided by software giants Microsoft. With a massive 7GB, SkyDrive offers the most free storage space of the three. It is also the cheapest (at the time of writing) to upgrade your storage space. Not only do you get more storage than the other two but the service also allows you to use simplified cloud versions of all your favourite Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook.
Although we have focused mainly on storage space here these services offer options when it comes to sharing files with friends and family, collaboration on documents and all three have good quality smartphone apps for even more sharing across all of your devices.