Why Do I Need Cloud Storage for My Computer and What Does it Really Cost?
Far more than just a buzzword, the cloud has emerged as one of the most integral aspects of modern computing and communication. One only needs to consider the popularity of streaming music, movies, and related services to see just how profoundly cloud computing has changed the world. On a more personal level, more people are turning to cloud storage than ever; the question, however, is which cloud storage service delivers the best features and value?
According to Gartner, the public cloud services market was expected to grow by 21 percent — nearly $33 billion — during 2018 to reach a total of around $186.4 billion. As concerns surrounding security and accessibility continue to rise among everyday users, and as more free services enter the market, cloud storage and backup are growing more popular by the day.
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Why Do I Need a Cloud Storage Service?
Like many people, you may be skeptical about the benefits of cloud storage. However, lots of people happily pay for the service, and many others get by with free versions of popular cloud-storage plans.
A few of the top reasons to use a cloud service include:
- Accessibility: Access your files anywhere — you just need an Internet connection.
- Security: Files are stored remotely, where they are safe from a variety of threats.
- Syncing: Sync files across multiple devices and platforms.
- Collaboration: Easily collaborate with others on documents in a secure environment.
- Convenience: From photo storage to music streaming, manage all your media and files with ease.
Why Do I Need Cloud Storage for My Photos?
If you’re like most people, you take a lot of photos. But what happens to those photos?
Often you leave them on your phone or computer, maybe uploading them to social media, but usually they sit in a folder for you to look back on when you’re feeling sentimental. Unfortunately, computers can break, phones can be stolen, and even physical copies of photos can be accidentally destroyed.
The easiest way to make sure that you keep photos of birthdays, weddings, and family safe is to invest in cloud storage. All you need is an account and you can continue uploading your photos for years and years to come so you know you can always look back on those moments that meant the most to you.
If My Computer Breaks, Will Cloud Storage Help Me?
Ask yourself this: If your computer was destroyed, how out of luck would you be? By signing up with a cloud service and using it to regularly back up your files to the secure cloud, you can rest easy in the knowledge that not all is lost — even if your entire computer is. With many services allowing you to set up automatic backups, the cloud lets you take the guesswork out of protecting and backing up your stuff.
What Does Cloud Storage Cost?
Like most people, you’d probably rather use a free service than to pay for one. For very basic cloud needs, in fact, most services do offer free versions of their cloud-storage plans. If you want to move beyond the very basic, however, including using the cloud to back up your devices, you will need to spend a little money.
On one end of the scale, Amazon Cloud Drive, which is free to Amazon Prime members, offers unlimited photo storage for $12 per month. On the other end, you can spend upwards of $225 per year for iCloud storage for iOS devices.
Which Cloud Provider Should I Choose?
So, which cloud providers are worth your consideration? Here’s the scoop on five especially popular options.
With an MSRP of around $90 per year, SugarSync is among the pricier of today’s options. However, the service offers well-designed mobile apps and a user-friendly, dedicated desktop interface. The base plan, which costs around $90 per year, gives you 100GB of storage. There is a plan for $119.88 per year that offers 250GB of storage and another for $227.88 that offers 500GB per year.
SugarSync offers great cross-device syncing and other features, but it lacks two-factor authentication, which makes it less secure than other options.
If you use Windows, you are undoubtedly aware of Microsoft OneDrive. Even the free version is quite robust, and you don’t have to be loyal to Windows because it is compatible across tons of different platforms and operating systems. You can snag 1TB of storage via an Office 365 membership, which costs $83.88 per year.
Powerful collaboration features and seamless integration with the entire Microsoft Office suite makes this an especially logical choice for people who rely on Microsoft products, but this cloud storage service has benefits for users of all needs and levels of experience.
Not to be confused with Dropbox, Box is an affordable and fairly robust cloud storage service that should suffice for the majority of regular users. The free account offers 10GB of storage, but a 250MB file-size limit is imposed. By upgrading to the basic paid account, which costs around $120 per year, you will enjoy 100GB of storage and the ability to upload files up to 5GB in size.
Like many services, it allows you to create a folder on your PC that then syncs whatever you put into it across all devices. Its online app also offers a nice array of tools that are similar to what you find in Google Documents, including a word document editor and a spreadsheet editor.
Averaging only around $69.50 per year, IDrive offers a great deal of value for most everyday computer users. The service’s personal plan is limited to 2TB of storage total, but you are allowed to have unlimited devices per account and can even perform bulk uploads and restores. Unfortunately, interfaces between desktop, mobile, and web are not consistent, which leads to confusion, and the service doesn’t operate as seamlessly or quickly as others.
CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box
If security is your top concern, you will probably agree that the $12 per user, per month that is charged by CertainSafe for its basic service is more than worth it. With powerful two-factor authentication and the use of MicroEncryption, which works like the AES algorithm that is relied on by the U.S. government, this cloud storage service is among the most secure around. Unlike many similar services, however, it is only offered as a desktop browser, and it does not currently offer integration with Microsoft Office.
You can try it out without providing a credit card for 30 days. Should you opt for a paid account, you will receive 100GB of shared, encrypted storage per user per month.
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