Cloud-based storage solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Businesses and their customers now rely heavily on cloud services as opposed to physical storage and hardware. I’m sure many of you can relate to this, perhaps without even realising it. For example, when you take a photo on your phone, these can be uploaded straight to the cloud. An example of this is Apple iOS users who use iCloud.
Cloud storage is used for a variety of reasons. According to Statista, the most popular use of cloud service storage is to protect against the loss of data (backups). Let’s look at the B2B and B2C revenues, the hosting, storage and computing cloud services market revenue in the United Kingdom for 2018. The turnover was around $8.3m and this is expected to rise to $9.7m by 2021.
There are absolutely loads of cloud storage services available. However, it’s not just a case of picking one and running with it as there are many factors to consider. If you’re running a business, you’ll need to choose wisely, taking into account storage, bandwidth, and security.
What Is Cloud Storage?
Before we jump in, it’s important to understand what cloud storage actually is. The so-called ‘traditional’ methods of storing data relate to the use of hard drives, USB drives, etc. Whilst they are handy, if your data gets corrupted or is lost, it’s almost impossible to retrieve the data again.
Cloud storage replicates what traditional storage does, but it does so on what’s known as the virtual cloud (or the cloud). At first it was quite a challenge to get businesses to move over to cloud storage. As with any new technology, the unknown risks associated with it can be scary. However, cloud storage is much safer and far more reliable.
Advantages Of Cloud Storage
Increased accessibility: Files stored on the cloud can be retrieved from anywhere with an internet connection. You can use your PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc. to access your files on the go.
Scalability: With cloud storage, you only pay for what you need. Most cloud services will allow you to upgrade as and when you need it. So if your business is small, you may only require a small amount of storage. However, as it grows, you’ll want your storage to grow too.
Data Redundancy: Many cloud service providers will use data redundancy which means there will be multiple copies of your data. In the unlikely event of your data being corrupted or lost, there will be backups of your data. There are also options to replicate your data across regions. If this is of interest to you, you’ll want to consider a cloud service that offers geo replication.
Cost: Cloud storage is very affordable compared to hardware. In some cases, this can cost nothing at all. Because the cloud doesn’t face issues of becoming outdated technology, it will also save you money in the long run.
Disadvantages Of Cloud Storage
Internet Speed: If you decide to run a backup during business hours, your internet utilisation could be affected. You may need to setup some bandwidth controls in order to assign only a certain amount of bandwidth to your backups.
Compliance Issues: Depending on which sector you work within, cloud storage may not be an option. Certain industries like Healthcare and Financial Services need to carefully consider their options before using the cloud.
Vulnerability: Although any business or individual can be vulnerable to security attacks, we do have to mention this. As with any technology, it is not completely flawless and hackers may find a way to access your data or information, although it is unlikely.
1: Google Drive
Google Drive allows any user to have 15GB worth of storage for free. All you need is a Google account (also free), and you can start storing your photos, videos, documents etc. In my opinion, Google Drive is the best free cloud backup service of 2019. Whilst many cloud services are very similar, I feel Google Drive has a much more personal touch to it.
If you need to access your data offline, Google Drive can help you view your files without any issues. If you have documents to scan, all you need to do is upload them and Google will do the rest. You can also share your documents with others, allowing for easier access and collaboration should you need it.
Access anywhere (from multiple devices)
Share files with others easily (and collaborate)
MediaFire allows you to store up to 10GB of data for free. If you refer your friends or complete certain bonuses, you may be able to increase your storage up to 50GB. MediaFire also offers premium services $3.75 per month which includes a whopping 1TB of space.
Similar to Google Drive, MediaFire will give you access to share your files and folders with other people. You can share what you like and allow others to collaboratively work with you. There’s also a mobile app to make the process easier, available to download on iPhone, iPad, Android, or Apple TV.
Large file uploads
No bandwidth limitations
10GB free (option to upgrade to 50GB)
Dropbox doesn’t offer as much storage space as other cloud services. You’ll start off with 2GB of free space, but this can easily be increased to 18GB by completing a few simple tasks. Whether you’re using a desktop or mobile, you can use the Dropbox app to upload your files from anywhere.
If you want to share your files with others, you can do so, and they don’t need a Dropbox account. For those of you who store Microsoft Office documents on Dropbox, you may be pleased to know that you can edit your documents for free using Microsoft Office Online.
Earn free storage
File and folder sharing
Retrieve deleted files
Although many of you may not have heard of MEGA before, they’re certainly worth considering. With a massive 50GB free cloud storage, you’ll enjoy end-to-end encryption with fast transfers. They also have a mobile app which can be downloaded on iOS, Windows, Android and many more.
MEGA boasts many security features, as well as secure communication. You can share your files with anyone of your choosing, as well as compiling messages, instant chat, and audio and video calls. If you decide you want more storage in the future, MEGA offers 2 premium plans which offer unlimited storage.
Plenty of storage
Mobile and desktop app
File sharing and messages
pCloud offers 10GB free online storage. Like many cloud services, you can increase this to 20GB by completing bonuses like friend referrals. pCloud have a mobile app as well as a desktop client. They also support remote URL file adding, where you can upload single files or whole folders through your browser.
You can send and share your files with anyone you choose. When you sign up to pCloud you’ll be given your own unique email address so you can receive files directly from others to your pCloud account. If you share a lot of images on your social media accounts, you can backup these with pCloud for free.
No file limits
Earn additional storage
Box (formerly known as Box.net) offer 10GB of free online cloud storage. Their mobile app can be downloaded on iOS and Android and allows you to upload (as well as share) your content. They also have a desktop app for Windows and Mac; the client is really easy to use and makes uploading files very simple.
If you require your cloud storage to be able to share files and folders with people, Box won’t let you down. Simply choose the files or folders you want to share and Box will present you with a shareable link. Box’s security tools are second to none, regardless of the type of compliance you need to meet.
Bulk file downloads
10GB free storage
If you’re new to FlipDrive, you can bag yourself 10GB free cloud storage. Like many other free cloud storage services, you can earn more storage for every friend you refer to FlipDrive. You can choose whether to use FlipDrive’s website or app to upload files. If you use their website, you can upload entire folders at any given time which is very handy.
Sharing files and folders with others is easy too. Your friends/family don’t need a FlipDrive account to be able to access files, but they will need one to view folders. Similar to other services, you can give people access to write, edit, and delete files and folders should you wish. There’s a limit of 25MB for shared files, and overall it’s not as easy to use as other services we’ve tested.
Plenty of free storage
File sharing permissions
8: Yandex Disk
I’d never heard of Yandex Disk before now. Yandex is a Russian company who provide multiple helpful tools like Yandex Search and Yandex Email. Customers choosing Yandex Disk will get 10GB free cloud storage once you’ve created an account with them.
Yandex have similar features to other cloud storage services like public and private file/folder sharing. They also offer some unique features like social network photo imports, bulk downloads, and automatic mobile uploads. Whilst they may not be as well known as other services, they certainly don’t scrimp on useful tools. There’s a mobile app available to download for Android and iOS.
Automatically upload mobile images
10GB free storage
Sync offers free cloud storage of up to 5GB when you sign up for free. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any offers to increase the storage through referrals etc. unless you sign up to their pro version. However, when you upload files with Sync, you’re reassured they are 100% secure and private.
You can share files and folders with others; they don’t have to be a Sync user. They also offer a feature called vault which is a folder on Sync which isn’t shared across your devices. This is handy if you need to store files away for a rainy day but don’t necessarily need access on all your devices. Sync is available on Windows, iOS, and Android with both free and pro versions.
Upload via web
Collaborate with others
Vault storage for archived files
iCloud is a cloud storage solution suited to Apple users. You’ll get 5GB of iCloud storage for free, allowing you to store your documents, files, contacts, etc. safely and securely. It’s a very simple application to use and you can share your photos and videos with others, and even across your devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad).
The useful thing about iCloud is that you can free up your device’s storage by automatically uploading your files to the cloud. For Apple users, this can often be very handy as you can’t upgrade iOS storage like you can with other devices like Samsung phones. More storage can be purchased at a small cost of 79p per month for up to 50GB storage.
Easy to use
Automatically upload photos from your device
Share with family and friends