The future of computing is in in the cloud — and looking at the advantages that come with it, it’s understandable why people are flocking there. Amongst other things, cloud services allow users to:
Save storage space on their devices. With your data securely stored and available through any Web connection, you can access those pictures of your Dad’s birthday party from anywhere — and they don’t have to take up space on your main hard drive anymore. (Always have a backup, though!)
Share Files with Others. With your data available anytime, anywhere, and from any web-ready device, it’s easy for you to collaborate with coworkers or partners on projects, working off the same document with each other.
Off-Site Storage = Safety. While it’s still important to have a local back up, accidents can happen. All it takes is a flood, a tornado, earthquake, or some other disaster to destroy your data. Backing up all you data to the cloud gives you peace of mind, knowing it is secure and available when you need it.
Knowing this, here’s a rundown of some of the major cloud computing service providers.
iCloud is Apple’s cloud service, and it blends seamlessly with Apple products. The service also keeps your email, contacts and calendars up to date across all of your devices without syncing. Although the service only works on Apple’s mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod), it will sync with both Apple laptops and Windows-based PCs.
What You Get for Free: Free storage up to 5GB (Note that your photo stream as well as your purchased music, movies, apps, books and TV shows don’t count against this number.)
Pricing for Additional Storage: $20/year for 10GB of extra storage, $40/year for 20GB of extra storage, $100/year for 50GB of extra storage.
Operating Systems & Devices: iCloud is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac computers, and it comes with any new Apple device purchase. It is also available for use on Windows-compatible computers that run Windows 7 or Vista and have iTunes and the iCloud Control Panel.
Google Drive is the cloud platform that replaced Google Docs. Google Drive allows you to share files and collaborate with users you have given permission to. Starting out with 5GB of space to play with, you can upload almost any file type to Google Drive, which can then be accessed by nearly any kind of Web-connected device.
What You Get for Free: Free storage up to 5GB.
Pricing for Available Storage: $2.49/month for 25GB of extra storage and $4.99/month for 100GB of additional storage.
Operating Systems & Devices: Google Drive is available for PC, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad.
Dropbox is a file sharing service that allows you to drag and drop files to a folder on your computer which is synced with the cloud, making that file available on other computers or devices you have Dropbox set up on. You can also share out the link to collaborators, making it available whenever they need. Since Dropbox syncs this folder automatically across similarly set up devices, you’ll have access to these locally-synced files even when you are not online.
What You Get for Free: Free accounts start at 2GB.
Pricing for Additional Storage: You can also purchase 50GB for $9.99/month or 100GB for $19.99/month. You will also get additional space for each referral with upgraded accounts. To earn additional free space, refer your friends. You can get up to 18GB for free (2GB standard storage with 500MB per referral).
Operating Systems & Devices: Dropbox is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile devices, including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.
Pogoplug PC lets you remotely access all the content on your computer via a smartphone, tablet or other computer using the Internet, essentially turning your PC into your own personal cloud. You can also install Pogoplug PC on multiple computers and have it automatically sync your files from one machine to another. This is a good solution for those who need to connect on the go.
What You Get For Free: Free 30-day trial. Pogoplug gives you 5GB of hosted storage for free so that you can keep an extra copy of your files offsite.
Pricing for Additional Storage: A one-time fee of $29.95 for Pogoplug PC.
Operating Systems & Devices: Pogoplug PC uses Microsoft Windows XP/7/8, Apple Mac OS X 10.6.8 & above. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android.
This is just a sampling of the many cloud-based computing services available. New platforms and tools are being added every day and rpricing and options are subject to change. If you’d like to discuss some of the options available, feel free to Chat with a Geek Squad Agent online.