Cloud storage providers often fail to provide the solution demanded by geeks like me. The majority of services are more complicated than they need to be. With Google soon to launch Google Drive and Microsoft to overhaul the mess that is SkyDrive/Mesh what exactly is a perfect cloud? I look at what’s on offer before casting my verdict.
Windows SkyDrive is another confusing service. It offers 25Gb free, no options to get more space, and like Box no desktop client. There is Windows Mesh (a desktop client) but that more or less works independently and only gives you 5Gb space with no room to increase size. It’s another rubbish solution. The SkyDrive interface looks very cheap and clunky and gives no pleasure to use whatsoever.
Another cloud storage company, another blue logo. Unfortunately there is not a lot I can say about Box other than to call them a bunch of time wasting idiots. Harsh words but nether-the-less justified. This company has successfully run a campaign where anyone can get 50Gb space for life just by signing into / registering using their updated Android app. Great, or so I thought. The major catch – no desktop syncing unless you are on a business plan. Biz plans are $15 per month but you have to have a minimum of 3 users. As Hugh Grant’s character says in the film Mickey Blue Eyes “forget about it”.
LiveDrive will backup five computers (unlimited storage) and give you a virtual drive for £14.95 per month. What’s more the virtual drive gives you a whopping 5TB (yes you read that correctly!) of space. The catch? You cannot buy the virtual drive (they call it a briefcase) separately. Unlike Dropbox you cannot seem to access virtual drive files without an internet connection and the rather resource hungry desktop client running in the background. Files are stored virtually rather than locally and then synced. This means that if you run out of dosh and your subscription payment fails you lose access to your files (with Dropbox you would still have the local version). Brilliant for data, amazingly good value, but if your internet connection goes down, or your subscription lapses you are screwed.
Dropbox is the king of cloud storage because it is simple. Setup is quick and it just works with no fuss. It’s arguably the most refined, useful and user-friendly product on the market. It comes with 2Gb free and gives further small handfuls of free storage for testing new features and referring friends. It works on all devices and will now even backup your camera photos on your smartphone.
It also simultaneously defies business logic. If you want extra space you have to upgrade to a plan – either 50Gb or 100Gb. Want more than 100Gb? Tough! That’s all you can have. Want to be able to run several Dropboxes on your computer? Tough! You can only have one. It’s for this one reason that Dropbox is not a perfect solution – even if you want to part with more cash for more space (over 100Gb) you are not able to. This is why Dropbox defies business logic – a legion of fans and you stop them from buying as much storage space as they want. Click here to join Dropbox.
Horrah! A cloud service without a blue logo! This one’s called SugarSync and for many it is considered a major competitor to Dropbox. Their website says Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal highly rate their service so what’s not to love? They give a 30-day free trial (on any plan) and are cheaper than Dropbox – $9.99 gets you 60Gb rather than Dropbox’s 50Gb. 100Gb is $5 cheaper than Dropbox coming in at $14.99. They are also a bit more business savvy than Dropbox allowing you to select plans that give you 250Gb ($24.99) or 500Gb ($39.99) space. There’s still that upper limit but 500Gb is a big chunk of data. They also offer a free 5Gb plan.
They have mobile apps on all major platforms. According to their blog (here) they beat Dropbox to the post with camera upload. Their blog is actually quite open and friendly to read – they even acknowledge than Google Drive exists and could be a real competitor (of course they also argue their case strongly too!). Unlike Dropbox you can select any folder to sync (Dropbox makes you have a “dropbox” folder) and you can share folders and set passwords and permissions. Both of these are major pluses.
Their referral scheme is amazingly generous – if your friend opens a free account you BOTH get 500Mb extra for free (can earn up to 32Gb free) or if your friend opens a 30Gb or larger account you BOTH get 10Gb for free. Now you’re talking! Click here to join SugarSync and get extra free space using my referral code!
The future: Google Drive
It doesn’t yet exist but Google Drive rumours are buzzing round the interwebs. No real idea on what it’s going to do yet but it may replace Google Docs, it looks like it will have third party app support, and it will follow the clear new Google style interface. I am secretly hoping this will be a game changer.
It’s easy to see why Dropbox is the king of the clouds. They tick all the right boxes and have a brand which we know and are comfortable using. However, out of the above options SugarSync is my current best solution. You can store more data, it’s cheaper and it’s more flexible. I shall be making the move over to the green cloud very soon but despite this I shall not give up my free Dropbox as I still love what they have to offer.
I want my data to be completely stored in the cloud. It makes having the same music library across computers easier and means I don’t have to worry about backups. It also means my family can have a virtual space on the web where we can share files and rest safe in the knowledge that if the computer explodes those files are safe.
There isn’t yet a perfect cloud although SugarSync comes close. The idea of having rigid plans is, in my view, overly complicated. I would rather a service provide me with some free storage then charge me a monthly / yearly fee per bundle of gigabytes. I also want to be able to buy as many, or as few, bundles as I think I need. The ability to sync my smartphone and tablet files to the cloud is a must. The interface must be clean and it should just work with no fuss. I love the referrals for space idea – SugarSync does this exceptionally well.
If Google Drive offers a simple service, like Dropbox / SugarSync that combines Google Docs with cloud storage I shall consider moving to the Googles. Every sign points to this becoming a reality – unless they are stupid Android integration will also be very good. I also expect they will offer a good amount of free storage allowance and that the service will play nice with Chromebooks too. For now I am happy moving from Dropbox to SugarSync. You should give it a go too. Oh and while you’re at it please use my referral code so we can both get extra free space!
Agree with my verdict? Want to share your opinion? Comment below!