The Best Cloud Storage Solution Is…

A question (and sometimes argument) going around IT circles lately is “What is the best cloud-based storage solution?” We have compiled a list of worthy cloud outlets, taking into consideration each candidate’s individual plans, business plans, memory, price, security and user interface, so you’re prepared when you go cloud shopping.

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User Interface

The DropBox interface is unique and friendly. People have reported that Dropbox’s clean and intuitive user interface is one of the best on the market, making Dropbox one of the easiest services to use.

Unique Features

The playful doodles in the interface are certainly unique, but Dropbox’s biggest selling point is how simple it is to share your files and sync them to your different devices. While other services may also offer this feature, Dropbox is the friendliest to users, with its simple, clean interface. This is its unique feature that makes it a great option for a wider public than some of the other storage options can boast.

But what two things tend to stop many people from using Dropbox? The first is the inability to collaborate on files — you can share a file but you can’t both edit it. The second drawback is that when you upload your files, you are creating a new folder structure which makes it hard to keep track of which files are where. However, these are small complaints compared to the rest of the positives of this service.

OneDrive

OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service. Formerly known as SkyDrive, it’s still a fresh face to the scene of cloud storage options. It doesn’t have all of the kinks ironed out of it yet, but it’s still worth looking at — especially for business.

Plans

OneDrive’s basic free plan starts with 15GB, and requires a Microsoft account. Their first paid tier starts at $1.99 a month for 100GB of data, and goes up to $6.99 per month, for one TB of data. This $6.99 plan includes Office 365. Their business plan is $5.00 per person per month, for one TB of data per person. This makes OneDrive pretty good for business, as many businesses use mostly Office products.

Security

With the OneDrive basic plans, data is encrypted in transit using SSL, and it remains unencrypted at rest. However, if you are a user of OneDrive for Business, OneDrive does encrypt your data at rest. Microsoft does reserve the right to scan your files for “objectionable content” (such as copyrighted material or explicit images), which, at that point, is up to Microsoft’s discretion to either 1) suspend your account for an undisclosed amount of time, 2) delete the “objectionable content” without your consent, or 3) delete your account altogether, which could lead to even more problems, as this will also lock you out of Office 365, and any other Microsoft products you may have associated with that account. This is something that drives some people away from using OneDrive as their cloud storage of choice.

User Interface

Microsoft has been working to continue to roll out improvements to the user interface of OneDrive. Their user interface is easy to view with different “grid-style” layouts.

Unique Features

OneDrive comes with your Microsoft account. Meaning, if you have Windows 8 and above, you have it already installed on your computer, and 15GB of cloud storage right there for the taking. Additionally, their $6.99 per month plan also includes Office 365.

SugarSync

SugarSync is your one-stop shop for both your computer backups and a cloud storage service, combining the two in a way that many users love.

Plans

SugarSync offers two packages for individual use. The first is for 100GB for $7.49 a month and the second one is for 250GB for $9.99 a month. If you’re staying a single user, SugarSync might be one of the priciest options. When it comes to the business option, SugarSync determines the price by the number of user accounts that will have access to the cloud. It starts out with 1000GB of memory for up to three users for $55.00 a month. As you add users, the prices go up. If your business requires more than 9 users to have access to the cloud, then there’s a custom option where you can work out your plan.

SugarSync offers two packages for individual use. The first is for 100GB for $7.49 a month and the second one is for 250GB for $9.99 a month. If you’re staying a single user, SugarSync might be one of the priciest options. When it comes to the business option, SugarSync determines the price by the number of user accounts that will have access to the cloud. It starts out with 1000GB of memory for up to three users for $55.00 a month. As you add users, the prices go up. If your business requires more than 9 users to have access to the cloud, then there’s a custom option where you can work out your plan.

Security

With SugarSync, you get two different types of encryption for all of your files. The first is the industry-standard, the other is a personalized one that SugarSync created.

User Interface

Some people using SugarSync may find that the interface is a little… ugly. Additionally, some features aren’t intuitive, which can lead to a lot of tinkering and clicking around, trying to get your wits around it. However, with a single right click, any folder can be added to SugarSync once the registration and setup process is done, making the actual sharing and syncing part of this service work very well.

Unique Features

SugarSync shares plenty of similarities with Dropbox, but they go a step further by letting you sync any files and folders while letting you preserve your computer’s folder structure. This means that you can upload a replica of “My Documents” from your computer to the cloud. You can use this as a backup to pull down and restore your data onto your hard drive, if you ever need it.  Finally, you can sync documents or files via your e-mail and SugarSync saves up to five different file versions.

OpenDrive

OpenDrive is great for individuals and businesses who want flexible cloud storage that enables them to easily edit and share their files. People who use it love its good functionality (and integration) with other apps.

Plans

OpenDrive offers a free Basic account with 5GB of memory. You can upgrade to their Personal account for $12.95 a month, it offers unlimited memory — which if you tend to have a ton of files, is pretty wonderful. The Business account starts at $29.95 per month for one user and you also get unlimited memory. If you need to add additional users to the account, it is approximately $4.95 per user. OpenDrive also offers a way to customize your personal and business plans where you can create a plan that suits your needs.

Security

Their security features are not detailed on their website, which is strange because the different cloud competitors were very open about their security protocols.

User Interface

OpenDrive has a bit of a disjointed user interface, which can be a bit confusing, especially for people who aren’t very good with computers. Additionally, the web version of its interface does not allow you to access your secured files — even though they are on the cloud. This can be frustrating if you have a secure document you need to access, but aren’t at your computer where OpenDrive is installed.

Unique Features

Its main advantages are that it includes an online Office Suite where you can edit your files directly in the cloud, that it saves up to 99 versions of the same file and that you can directly embed files into your e-mails from the cloud.

Box

Box has been making waves in the Tech industry by being easily accessible and usable, especially to users in businesses. This service gained traction by wiggling its way into user’s hearts and computers for their cloud storage solution for their jobs.

Plans

Box offers two personal options and three business options. The personal options are a free one with 10GB of space and a paid option at $10.00 a month for 100GB of space. The first business option is only $5.00 a month per user and offers 100 GB secure storage and is geared towards smaller teams of 3 to 10 people. With the second business option you get more users and unlimited memory space for $15.00 a month per user. You also have the added feature of the cloud integrating seamlessly with Office 365. The last business option is the “enterprise” plan where you can contact Box and create a custom plan that works for you business.

Security

Box encrypts your files, but also offers the added protection by adding a two-step verification process to enter your account.

User Interface

Box’s interface is very similar to Dropbox, with a couple major differences. One of those differences that might make it a selling point over using Dropbox, is that all files are available for previewing right in Box itself. (Dropbox only lets you preview photo and video files. With Dropbox, all other files download when you select them, whereas with Box you can preview them in Box itself.) However, some of the icons can be less intuitive than Dropbox’s easy-to-understand design, such as icons that don’t necessarily illustrate what they’re supposed to be communicating. Lastly, some users report that Box tends to lag when you’re using integrated apps.

Unique Features

Box offers the ability for team members to leave comments on respective files so all team members are up-to-date. Box also allows the users to create their own file rules.

Google Drive

Google Drive is brought to us by our overlords at Google, and while some people are worried that Google is becoming the real-life “skynet”, everyone else will find that Google Drive and its integration with Gmail and other Google services is incredibly convenient and easy.

Plans

If you have a gmail account, you have Google Drive. When you sign up, you get a free 15GB account that easily syncs with your gmail. If you’ve ever tried sending a file that’s too large, Google will actually store it on your Drive account and share it through there. Google Drive offers a Business plan that gives unlimited space for $10.00 a month per user. Once again, this syncs with a gmail account.

Security

It offers regular encryption as well as in-transit security and your data would be stored in top-of-the-line servers in an undisclosed location.

User Interface

Drive has a bit of a cluttered user interface, but it’s intuitive and isn’t incredibly complicated. However, it does have really varied upload times, which can be a pain and slow down your browser.

Unique Features

Real-time collaboration and online office suite. Teams can work and edit the same file at the same time.

The companies we’ve listed are amongst the most popular but there are new ones popping up every day. Our advice? Make sure that before you go cloud shopping you make a list of what you need. Is it ample storage? Impenetrable security? Or an emphasis on teamwork and file collaboration? Once you’ve zeroed-in on what you need, cloud shopping will be easier than a trip to the grocery store.

What cloud storage do you use and why? What would you like to see offered from the current services that you haven’t been able to find? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!

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