[CLOUD] Stashing Stuff Online?

Category: Cloud

Cloud storage has come a long way since 1983, when CompuServe offered its members 128 kilobytes of disk space to store any files they wished. Now it's common for cloud providers to offer multiple GIGAbytes of online storage for free. Let's take a look at the best places to store your files online...

The Evolution of Cloud Storage

Back in 1983, CompuServe cost up to $22.50 per hour - $53.54 in today’s dollars - and most dial-up modems ran at 300 bps. It would cost $60.35 just to upload 128 KB of data (less than half the capacity of a mid-1980s 5.25-inch floppy disk) if we still did things that way, and it would take over 73 minutes.

Fortunately, we now have broadband and a host of cloud storage services, most of which offer at least 2 GB of space free of charge. That’s 15,625 times more space than CompuServe offered, and at 25 Mbps (the FCC’s new minimum definition of “broadband”) it would take 80 minutes to fill it up.

AT&T introduced the “cloud” metaphor to consumers in 1994, when it launched the PersonaLink wireless data service for PDAs and portable computers, employing the term “cloud” in its TV commercials. But PersonaLink was based on a proprietary communications network, and never acquired more than 10,000 subscriber. In 1996, AT&T killed PersonaLink in favor of open Internet architecture.

Cloud storage options

Amazon Web Services (AWS) was launched in 2006, enabling on-demand rental of computing power and storage space. In 2007, Dropbox chose AWS as the backend for its consumer-friendly cloud storage service. Others have done likewise, including image-hosting service Smugmug, Pinterest, and the online operating system Synaptop. Other cloud storage services own their infrastructure.

Some cloud services, like Dropbox and Box, focus solely on file storage and syncing files between devices. Services like Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive, and Apple’s iCloud are just one of many products their parent companies offer. Generally, the former are platform-agnostic while the latter work best with their sibling products.

Free storage space is a popular feature. Dropbox offers 2 GB; OneDrive, 5 GB; Box, 10 GB; Google Drive, 15 GB. If you're a photo buff, you can get a whopping 1 TB (1000 GB) of free space at Flickr to store your pics. (Flickr was recently acquired by SmugMug, so we'll see if the free space offer continues after the merger is completed.) Beyond the basic free plans, it gets complicated.

Need More Cloud Storage

Most people don't know much about the safety and security of cloud computing. Are your files safe and secure in the cloud, or are they vulnerable to hackers and other threats? Get the scoop on cloud storage security in my article Cloud Storage: Is It Secure?

Amazon Prime subscribers and owners of Amazon Fire devices get "unlimited" photo storage space, plus 5GB for other files. The 1TB+ Digital Storage plan on Amazon Drive costs $60 per year.

Dropbox offers additional free storage in exchange for desired user behaviors, such as watching the “getting started” tutorial, referring friends, or contributing to the Dropbox community forum.

Google Drive users can earn up to 1 TB of free storage space by contributing to Google Maps Local Guides. Essentially, one earns points for adding a place to Google maps, uploading a photo, reviewing the place, fixing outdated info, and answering a few questions about the place (e. g., business hours, price range). When you accumulate at least 200 points, you get 1 TB of free storage space for two years. You need an Android or iOS device to participate in this program.

Microsoft OneDrive comes with Office 365 subscriptions, including 1 TB of “free” storage ($10/month sold separately).

Need more? The cost of just buying storage space ranges all over the map but levels out at $10 per month for one Terabyte. A 50 GB OneDrive plan costs $2/month. Google Drive sells 100 GB for $2 per month and 1 TB for $6.99/month. Box charges $10 per month for 100 GB, apparently its maximum allowance per account. Dropbox has two paid plans: $10 per month for 1 TB, or $20/month for "additional space." (Yes, the sales page is vague on that important point.)

Cloud storage is great for keeping files secure and available no matter where you are or what device you’re using. But if your file collection outgrows the free storage space, cloud storage can become a significant annual expense.

Are you stashing your photos or documents in the cloud for backup, easy access, or to free up space on your hard drive? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 24 Apr 2018


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Most recent comments on "[CLOUD] Stashing Stuff Online?"

(See all 30 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Beverly
24 Apr 2018

I use iCloud for personal stuff. I often need to work on files at home and at work. For that we have a paid dropbox. I agree with the comments on security however it's very convenient. I am careful what files I put up there.


Posted by:

Dwayne Hunt
24 Apr 2018

Like several of the other commenters, I am not trusting of "cloud" storage. The things that I consider important (music that I have mixed for other people, certain personal files and system data) is saved incrementally with Casper to several 1 TB hard drives daily. That provides me with a mirror image backup that is never over 1 day old. Works fine for me and I consider it about as good as it gets for no charge. This happens while I sleep!!!


Posted by:

Denise
24 Apr 2018

I use cloud services for files I need to access with multiple devices, such as current school work and things I am reading on multiple devices. I do not use it for backup or specifically for storage. I believe that this is a reasonable use for the space. My backups are on external hard drives (that are not permanently attached to the computer!) and once in a while on optical media.


Posted by:

SysOp404
24 Apr 2018

We mainly use Google Drive as a convenient way to share important encrypted files between several devices. To a somewhat lesser degree, (for sharing unimportant photos and misc. documents), we also use Microsoft's OneDrive, Apple's iCloud and Dropbox. By spreading files between services, it's been easy to stay within the limits of the various free offerings, (in part, because all our large back-ups are kept on local storage, rather than on any cloud servers.)


Posted by:

Mike
24 Apr 2018

I have tried OneDrive, Google Drive, Spideroak, and a few others. Google Drive seemed to give the most bang for my buck until recently.

I found an app called Degoo on the Play Store, which offers 100 GB free to start. Watching 30 second videos will earn you another gigabyte and downloading/running sponsored apps will fetch from a few hundred gigabytes to around 1.5 terabytes per app. You can upgrade if you want to skip all that and pay a monthly fee (not sure how much yet). Like I said I just found Degoo this week so we'll see how good free really is in this case.

Degoo also encrypts your files on your device before uploading, a boon for the privacy conscious.


Posted by:

Phil
24 Apr 2018

I have nothing in the "cloud" and never will. I rotate my backups monthly between two hard drives. I don't trust anyone outside of my front door.


Posted by:

Wild Bill
24 Apr 2018

For those needing that much data assurance, a pair of hard drives used for backup in alternating fashion, with one always off-site, would be a solution. Gets around the "trust" issue but does require physical time and effort. I suspect that for most users a local back-up plus cloud backup would be simpler although I think I would recommend encryption for sensitive information on-line.


Posted by:

Jim
24 Apr 2018

I trust the cloud for storage of my data. I also make local backups.
Google Photos has free unlimited storage for my pictures and videos.
I wonder if those who don't trust the cloud keep their money under the mattress?


Posted by:

Smoky
24 Apr 2018

Well Jim I keep my money under my underwear in the dresser drawer. I also keep all my back ups on my several drives on a shelf. Guess I am from the old school,trust very few with my personal stuff. Thank you just saying.


Posted by:

Larry Ray
24 Apr 2018

Who or what is to say that 6 months from now that some super-hackers will hack into the these so-called encrypted cloud storage sites and steal or have access to your info? There is a cyber war going on between some super powers with super smart humans in groups or individuals burning the midnight oil to break into the cloud-ware storage bins. And you know what? Sooner or later they will do it.


Posted by:

clyde
24 Apr 2018

I do not use or trust why would I need it or want it
I have my own


Posted by:

Sandy
25 Apr 2018

Hoping Google is looking after my photos. I teach Dropbox to elderly. Easy way to shift photos around.


Posted by:

Sandy
25 Apr 2018

Hoping Google is looking after my photos. I teach Dropbox to elderly. Easy way to shift photos around.


Posted by:

Richard
25 Apr 2018

I'm sure the reliability of cloud storage is increasing and the security is evolving more or less in parallel with the black hats' arsenals. Still, I have two main reasons for not using cloud storage.
First, I don't (yet) have internet access everywhere I go (and it's even a bit unreliable at home).
And I don't want to help Google or whoever get their hands on all the information they could extract from my files, especially not my calendar.


Posted by:

Old_Crow
25 Apr 2018

While I can agree with the premise that all on-line storage can be hacked. So can your personal computer. While I too backup my files locally the problem is that a copy of the backup should be kept off site which I don't do and I suspect most people don't, especially those who state that they keep their drives on a "shelf". My solution, make a local backup then encrypt all sensitive files and back them up to the cloud storage that you prefer.


Posted by:

James T.
25 Apr 2018

I use two cloud storage sites which has been very reliable for me. I also use two hard-drives connected by usb and an old seagate 1tb which is my main storage devise. It is about ten years old and I put everything off of an old windows 95, and my retired XP, best computer I ever owned.The segate is very easy to use and I use it every day.
JLT


Posted by:

Ed Tulloch
25 Apr 2018

Where does iDrive come into the mix? I believe it was sold on this site a couple years ago at a good price, and still bills me. I like having access when I'm in different places around the country and world. Only put stuff there I have backed up on an external drive.


Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
25 Apr 2018

No matter where you stash your data, it should not be the only place it exists. For data to be reasonably safe, it needs to exist in at least three different places. Usually, this means on the computer, on an onsite backup drive, and on an offsite backup drive. Good, paid, cloud storage can be used for offsite backups but it's usually easier and safer to use a paid cloud backup service, such as Backblaze.


Posted by:

mark
25 Apr 2018

I personally won't store anything on the a cloud, That's an issue I have with MS, Vorizon, and many other service's including some software that make's you rent the software and only use it online instead of being able to purchase it and keep it and all your data to your self. That's why I keep some old XP;win98;win7;computers alive and off line, and run my own home server and backup. I bought the progams for my use, and my data; not to be let out for it to be hijacked. My latest build is win10/win7 dual boot and when it's completed and set up, it's going off line. I'll use a cheep store bought unit for my online BS.


Posted by:

Susan
01 May 2018

I don't trust the Cloud either! In fact, after reading this article I deleted all my photos from Dropbox. I have a 1 TB external hard drive for backups. Thank you, Bob, for your excellent, informative articles.


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