Stashing Your Stuff Online?
The cloud storage market 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 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 5.25-inch floppy) 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.
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, Box and Copy, 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 and Copy, 15 GB. If you're a photo buff, you can get a whopping 1 TB (1000 GB) of free space to store your pics. Beyond the basic free plans, it gets complicated.
Need More Cloud Storage
Amazon Prime subscribers and owners of Amazon Fire devices get unlimited free storage space for photos only; otherwise, unlimited photo storage costs $12 per year. An Unlimited Everything account on Amazon Cloud Drive costs $60 per year.
Dropbox offers additional free storage in exchange for desired user behaviors. Just sitting through the “getting started” tutorial gains a new user 250 MB, and probably saves a lot of customer support time. Each person you refer who opens a Dropbox account is good for another 500 MB, up to a maximum of 16 GB. Activating the automatic photo-uploading feature of the Dropbox app adds another 3 GB to your free allowance. (total, not 3 GB per device).
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 $10/month. Copy provides 250 GB for $5 per month or 1 TB for $10. Box charges $10 per month for 100 GB, apparently its maximum allowance per account. Dropbox has only one paid plan: $10 per month for 1 TB.
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 21 Jan 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Stashing Your Stuff Online? (Posted: 21 Jan 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved