Cloud file sharing provides end users with the ability to access files with any Internet-capable device from any location. Usually, the user has the ability to grant access privileges to other users as they see fit. Although cloud file sharing services are easy to use, the user must rely upon the service provider ability to provide high availability (HA) and backup and recovery in a timely manner.
The availability, durability, and cost benefits of cloud storage can be very compelling to business owners, but traditional IT functional owners like storage, backup, networking, security, and compliance administrators may have concerns around the realities of transferring large amounts of data to the cloud. Cloud data migration services services such as AWS Import/Export Snowball can simplify migrating storage into the cloud by addressing high network costs, long transfer times, and security concerns.
Best of all, creating shared albums is simpler than uploading images to Facebook or Instagram, and safer, too: Your images and video stay private between your group, and you can take the album down at any time. If you want to reach a wider range of people, you can even create a public iCloud.com website to host your images for anyone with the link to view them.
We’d say Dropbox is foremost a functional solution – every second person has used it before, and has an individual version installed on their device. Discovering the outstanding syncing power of the system, the plethora of smooth integrations, sharing features, and dedicated support that are missing in the free package will convince you the Dropbox Business is probably one of the best transfer systems businesses out there can purchase. We recommend it especially because of its version history and unlimited recovery, priority emails, and remote account transfer.
Who doesn't use Dropbox? Sure, its free storage is only 2GB, but you can use it on any platform. You can get to your files from Dropbox's website, desktop applications for Mac, Windows, and Linux, their native files systems, and the iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Kindle Fire mobile apps. It's a snap to set up, and you don't need to worry about syncing files for a second.
Almost as important as keeping information safe is making information accessible across the diverse landscape of devices that users bring to the mix. The primary candidates are the typical: Microsoft Windows, Linux, and a variety of Android flavors, as well as Apple's iOS and OS X. For any platform to be effective in today's business landscape, web access is a must. In some cases, an authorized device is not always available. Being able to grab a quick document for a meeting or push a business-critical document from a remote computer can be a lifesaver for an ever-increasing distributed workforce—a lifesaver that users expect to be available to them.
SharePoint enables browser-based document management and collaboration to streamline access to relevant data. The platform can also be used as an information portal that can be configured to operate high-quality internet websites. It was originally launched in 2013 to serve Office 365’s distribution purposes, but has developed as a role model cloud software that is used by many third party vendors.
Dropbox business the upload/download speeds were 1/10th our bandwidth (we have 600mbps download and got 60, and 250mbps upload and got 20mbps on Dropbox – not a big deal for personal users with more typical Internet speeds.) The deal breaker was that we couldn’t embed a file folder listing inside our client dashboard web page like we could with Google Drive.
Another seriously powerful aspect of Drive is its search functionality, which uses Google’s image-recognition technology, or optical character recognition (OCR), to surface photos that are relevant to your search keywords. For example, when we searched for “cat,” it found documents that included the word “cat” and photos of one of our team member’s yorkiepoo (who apparently could pass for a cat).
Amazon Drive’s unlimited storage plan was discontinued last year. Even so, the service, formerly known as Cloud Drive, is still one of the best deals around, with a 1TB plan costing $60 a year. There are the requisite desktop and mobile apps for accessing and sharing files. But overall, Amazon Drive offers only basic functionality. You can sync your entire Documents folder from your computer, for instance, but you can’t choose specific folders within that folder to sync. Upload speed (nearly 8 minutes) was by far the slowest of all services tested. Amazon Drive is best suited for photo backup (with unlimited photo storage for Prime members) and basic document storage and file sharing for consumers on a budget.
Yes, there are a lot of things that could go wrong (take the Yahoo and Equifax data breaches, for example), but that doesn’t mean you have to live in fear of the cloud — just be smart with your data. Our top recommendations offer cutting-edge protection: two-factor authentication, facilities that are protected with 24-hour monitoring, and data that’s encrypted in “transit” (SSL and TLS) and “at rest” (128-bit AES and on).
You can also post photos directly from OneDrive to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social-networking sites, which is a nice, time-saving touch. The service also offers built-in remote access capabilities. From the OneDrive.com website, you can get access to any PC associated with your account that has the OneDrive client installed, even files not already uploaded to OneDrive.
Quick take: While Shutterfly is best known as a photo-printing service, it also offers free, unlimited storage for photos. (Sorry, no videos, spreadsheet documents, etc.) And as with Amazon, there’s no real limit to the size of the photos you can upload. But here’s the catch: Shutterfly doesn’t offer full-resolution downloading. Instead, you get a scaled-down 2-megapixel file, similar to those provided by Nikon’s service.
For instance, Amazon offers 100GB for $12 per year. That’s double the storage space available from Apple’s iCloud for the same price. However, if you own a MacBook, an iPad, or an iPhone, you may prefer to remain within the Apple ecosystem for access to apps such as Pages or Sheets. The same holds true for fans of the Microsoft and Google ecosystems. In the end, paying a bit of a premium might be worth it to keep things simple.
Because all of the company’s services are integrated with Drive, they dip from the same 15GB pot you get with the free account. For us, that’s not enough; one of our testers had amassed almost 10GB just in archived emails in his personal account over the past five years, which would leave him with only 5GB of space for everything else. If he were a photo-fanatic, that wouldn’t be a whole lot of space.
MediaFire is a lesser-known file sharing/storage service, but with a free plan offering 10GB of storage, it’s worth considering. The free service lets you upload files up to 4GB in size, and uploads are scanned with the BitDefender antivirus engine. You can share file links on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Blogger and generate a one-time download link. MediaFire is easy to use, too, with an intuitive interface.
Also known as mobile cloud storage, personal cloud storage is a subset of public cloud storage that applies to storing an individual's data in the cloud and providing the individual with access to the data from anywhere. It also provides data syncing and sharing capabilities across multiple devices. Apple's iCloud is an example of personal cloud storage.
No one is more aware of data breaches than cloud-service providers. Most recently, Adobe, Apple's iCloud, Dropbox, Snapchat, and others who rely on cloud access and storage have had not only passwords stolen, but also personal data—despite assurances from providers that their cloud is secure. Services assure users that data is encrypted in the cloud; however, the keeper of the encryption certificates is often a third-party provider. Intruders tend to target failures such as poor key management, lack of end-user training, or a failure of physical security (e.g., leaving your laptop unattended in a public place).
That sounds great, but it can actually be very confusing, even for dedicated Apple fans like Chris Maxcer of MacNewsWorld, who found that iCloud's constant syncing of files from all his devices with full read/write permissions and an inability to tell what was on the cloud and what wasn't, had him wanting to throw his "iPhone into the street", and then to run out in traffic so he could stomp it into oblivion. I feel his pain.
Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S... See Full Bio
Google Drive is a good option if you're already invested in the Google ecosystem. Chances are you already have a Google account and are already using it, but if you're not, then creating an account is free and nets you 15GB of space to start with. Google storage takes into account all of your stuff from Gmail, Photos, and Drive, so depending on how you're using Google services, it may fill up quick (Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides don't count). Google Drive's pricing tiers are as follows:
Keeping data safe is a bigger challenge today than it's ever been. What were once considered "advanced" data safety features, such as enterprise-grade identity management, redundant storage layers, and encryption both at rest and in transit, are no longer optional. These are now basic requirements for you to even consider spending money on a service. Fortunately, cloud storage providers seem to agree, which is evidenced by commonly available features and the fact that most IT professionals trust cloud security as much or more than what's available on-premises (64 percent according to a 2015 survey by the Cloud Security Alliance). The logic is fairly simple. Most IT professionals simply don't have the budget to research, deploy, and manage the advanced security capabilities that cloud service vendors can provide because it's key to their primary business. That's upped security in the cloud significantly over the past couple of years, which has had the pleasant side effect of letting many cloud services successfully comply with standards such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and ISO 27001.
iDrive starts its offers with 5GB for free. That's OK, but if you want to make the most of it for backup, the real deal is in its Personal iDrive offerings. These start at $52.12 for 2TB for a year or an even better deal of $74.62 5TB annually. There are also business packages with unlimited users, but the price goes up for less storage. For example, it's $74.62 for 250GB.
Signing up for an individual account at Box gives you 10GB of cloud storage, which is a good start. Similar to Dropbox, Box natively allows its users to create text documents that can be edited in real time with collaborators. This cloud storage service also offers the ability to edit text as well as other types of documents with Microsoft’s Office tools integration, which are like Google’s suite of productivity apps, but more akin to the legacy desktop apps that some are accustomed to using.
Tresorit is one of the newer and more expensive cloud storage options. However, it takes security very seriously. It features end-to-end encryption of every file uploaded to its service. Basic accounts get 1GB of storage. $12.50 per month earns you 200GB while $30 per month nets you 2TB. Additionally, the pro plans include far more security features than the free account. There are also additional options for businesses and enterprise use. It's a strong option for those who don't mind paying for it.
Once your files are stored online, depending on how the service works, the features you get might include the ability to stream videos and music, access the files from your mobile device, easily share the files with others through a special share link, download the files back to your computer, delete them to free up space in your account, encrypt them so that not even the service can see them, and more.
Data security is a growing concern, and no small matter. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that the average consolidated total cost of a data breach is $3.8 million. That number can represent the cost of lost business opportunities and patents, decreased customer trust, and a need for reputation management for your business. ShareFile cloud storage can improve the integrity of your data security by ensuring that all your important files are protected by our world-class SSAE 16 Type II accredited datacenters with up to 256-bit encryption.
The very best cloud storage solutions play nicely with other apps and services, making the experience of viewing or editing your files feel natural. Especially in business settings, you want your other software and apps to be able to retrieve or access your files, so making sure you use a service that easily authenticates with the other tools you use is a big deal. Box is particularly strong in this regard.