Jill Duffy is a contributing editor, specializing in productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the weekly Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life. Her first book, Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life is available for Kindle, iPad, and other digital forma... See Full Bio
A client syncs (sends) copies of files over the Internet to the data server, which then saves the information. When the client wishes to retrieve the information, he or she accesses the data server through a web, desktop or mobile client. The server then either sends the files back to the client or allows the client to access and manipulate the files on the server itself.
Why have we included Egnyte in our list of top file sharing websites? What we really like about this app, and we believe you will like too, is that the system allows you to create and personalize files. Using it, you can rely on the fact you’re working in a 100% protected system which responds to the highest encryption standards, and backs up both your synced originals and the copies you’ve shared with your contacts. Pricing is once again flexible to suit the needs of users with different financial capabilities.
This cloud storage service used to offer an unlimited plan. But Amazon dropped that plan in 2017. Today, Amazon Prime member get 5GB of storage for use with Amazon Drive and unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos. If you want more, Amazon's current annual storage plans start at 100GB) for $11.99 and 1TB for $59.99. At most, you can get 30TB for $1,799.70.

European cloud storage company Tresorit gained recognition with its hacking contest a few years back, offering $50,000 to anyone who could hack into its servers. Tresorit claims no one succeeded. Clearly, the company is going after the security-conscious, promising end-to-end encrypted file sharing and syncing, HIPAA and GDPR compliance, the protection of Swiss privacy laws, and other security measures.
Google Drive offers centralized storage for any type of file. It offers 15GB of free storage for three Google products: Photos, Gmail, and Drive. Paid plans include (a) $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage, (b) $10 per month for 1TB, and (c) a data-storage plan of $100 per month for 100TB. Google is upgrading the data service to a new product called Google One. It will offer storage as well as access to Google experts.
On the whole, the interface across the apps is intuitive. You can choose specific files to be available offline on the mobile versions, and these can be edited - if they were created in Google Docs - then synced when you connect to the internet again. For other formats (such as Word) you’ll need to open them in another app - thus creating a duplicate copy.
Cloud storage isn't just for storing files; it's also a great platform for real-time collaboration. Google Drive offers 15 GB of free cloud storage as well as access to Google's Web-based productivity suite. The business version of G Suite comes with unlimited storage as well as additional business features for Gmail, Google Hangouts and Calendars. Users can save, edit and invite others to work on Docs, Sheets and Slides right on Google Drive itself. The business version starts at $10 per month per user. drive.google.com
Total Cost of Ownership. With cloud storage, there is no hardware to purchase, storage to provision, or capital being used for "someday" scenarios. You can add or remove capacity on demand, quickly change performance and retention characteristics, and only pay for storage that you actually use. Less frequently accessed data can even be automatically moved to lower cost tiers in accordance with auditable rules, driving economies of scale.
Like most of the cloud services, SkyDrive lets you save, share, and access files, but on most operating systems, you must use it through a browser — IE by choice, but it will work with others. However, SkyDrive does work hand-in-glove with the Windows 8 file manager. It also works well in partnership with Microsoft Office. Like Google Drive, it comes with its own cloud-based office software: Office Web Apps.
To add a further level of security you can enable two-step verification, so even if someone steals your laptop or ID, they’ll need your phone to access the data. The servers are also based in the EU and governed by Swiss privacy laws which should keep it out of the hands of any invasive national agencies that feel it is their right to purloin your personal information.
It's a daunting task for a user to keep up with the litany of passwords required across all apps without reducing security in some way. Single Sign-On (SSO) solves some of this by having one secure password, such as the one used for a Windows Azure Active Directory or Google account. Some solutions offer this capability as a first-class citizen while others have partnerships with third-party products. Either way, from a small business perspective, this is an important feature since password management is often given low priority when compared against getting business done.
Upthere Home is one of the newer cloud storage apps on mobile. It's by Western Digital, the hard drive manufacturer. It works similarly to Google Photos rather than other types of cloud storage. It features automatic uploads of photos and videos with a UI centered around viewing such content. However, it does support other file types as well. This one also has simple pricing. The app features a single pricing option at $1.99 for 100GB of storage. It's simple, it works okay, and it's cheap. That may be good enough for many. Western Digital also has a My Cloud app that works with most of their hard drives. It's another decent option for home-made cloud storage.
Quick take: While it’s a bit sparse on helpful photo features, OneDrive might appeal to Windows users. Whether or not you use Microsoft Office, you can access and share photos using the OneDrive app, which does not require an additional download for computer use. If the 5GB of free storage is too slim, you can pay about $2 per month for 50GB or $70 per year for 1TB.
Carbonite is the best outlet for unlimited storage space — perfect for anyone who has thousands of high-resolution photos, or large collections of movies or other media. This cloud-based service automatically uploads all the files you want (under 4GB — anything bigger must be uploaded manually) to the cloud from a variety of devices. Automatic backups will keep your recent photos and files secure.
Carbonite is the best outlet for unlimited storage space — perfect for anyone who has thousands of high-resolution photos, or large collections of movies or other media. This cloud-based service automatically uploads all the files you want (under 4GB — anything bigger must be uploaded manually) to the cloud from a variety of devices. Automatic backups will keep your recent photos and files secure.

You can use Box to easily create, edit, and review documents with other users in real-time or on the go. The vendor uses protection measures like customer-managed encryption, activity logs, granular permissions, and mobile security to provide good security for the stored files. Plus, the service enables you to comply with e-discovery requests, data retention policies, and regulatory policies. It also enables global compliance by assisting your organization to meet regulatory and business requirements.
When you set up purchase sharing, the songs, albums, movies, TV shows, books, and apps purchased by family members are immediately available to everyone else in the group. New content appears in the Purchased tab in iTunes, Apple Books, or the App Store for each family member. Just select the family member whose collection you’d like to browse, then download or play the content you choose. Other family members can access your collection in the same way. If you want to keep some purchases private, you can choose to hide individual items.
Box protects all of your content with advanced security controls, encryption key management and complete information governance. Whether you need to comply with GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, GxP, FedRAMP or other major requirements, Box provides you with frictionless tools built for the most regulated industries, as well as data residency in nine countries. That way, you meet the most demanding global compliance and privacy requirements while protecting the flow of information throughout your extended enterprise.
On the whole, the interface across the apps is intuitive. You can choose specific files to be available offline on the mobile versions, and these can be edited - if they were created in Google Docs - then synced when you connect to the internet again. For other formats (such as Word) you’ll need to open them in another app - thus creating a duplicate copy.
Google also recently introduced Google Photos, an online photo locker, where you can organize photos into albums. Google Photos is built into Drive in a separate tab, but you're really better off going straight to googlephotos.com to see and organize photos. However, you don't need to download the Google Photos app on your phone or tablet to back pictures you take there. The Google Drive app can take care of that.
OpenDrive offers an unlimited storage plan that may benefit businesses with large files or high storage demands. OpenDrive offers support for backup from an unlimited number computers, no file size limits, unlimited backup bandwidth, 256 AES custom encryption keys, file versioning, and an administrator console for user management. The platform also offers a simplified user experience, with a file and folder structure that stays the same whether an employee uses OpenDrive with an Internet browser or with its client-side application.
One of the primary benefits of having information in the cloud is that it can be part of a larger ecosystem of connected apps. This capability lets businesses create custom workflows and business processes, often without having to hire contract programmers. For example, it's not unusual or difficult to configure your employees' note-taking apps to automatically drive input to task-tracking apps. That way, decisions made in meetings are automatically reflected in your project management toolkit. Those apps might, in turn, drive a need to store reference material. Integration-oriented application programming interfaces (APIs) help reduce the barrier to making apps work together, especially when your IT staff has some development talent. While many the most popular cloud storage solutions, such as Dropbox Business and Box, offer a rich set of integration options, some others, such as Jungle Disk, opt to primarily focus on the storage aspect. So, before buying, consider exactly how you want these solutions to fit into your business and what it will take to make that happen.
Mega is the sequel to the now-defunct Megaupload, a cloud storage service that was taken down by the authorities a couple of years ago. Mega is an up-and-coming service that gives users 50GB for free. That's the largest sign-on bonus we've seen among all of these cloud storage apps and services. It comes with a range of storage options that span from 200GB to 8TB. The app is quite flashy but there are a few bugs here and there that some people have experienced. Its biggest feature is that it encrypts all files uploaded to it for added security and protection.
Drive is more than a cloud storage service; it’s a powerful, collaborative office suite that wraps all of Google’s services into a neat little package — we considered it one of the best file sharing and storage sites. You can create spreadsheets, documents, presentations, Google Forms and connect to a whole slew of third-party apps — everything you do syncs conveniently into your account as long as you have an internet connection. And if you don’t have a connection -- all you have to do is enable offline access and use the Google Drive extension for Chrome.
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.
Block Storage - Other enterprise applications like databases or ERP systems often require dedicated, low latency storage for each host. This is analagous to direct-attached storage (DAS) or a Storage Area Network (SAN). Block-based cloud storage solutions like Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) are provisioned with each virtual server and offer the ultra low latency required for high performance workloads.
^ Kolodner, Elliot K.; Tal, Sivan; Kyriazis, Dimosthenis; Naor, Dalit; Allalouf, Miriam; Bonelli, Lucia; Brand, Per; Eckert, Albert; Elmroth, Erik; Gogouvitis, Spyridon V.; Harnik, Danny; Hernandez, Francisco; Jaeger, Michael C.; Bayuh Lakew, Ewnetu; Manuel Lopez, Jose; Lorenz, Mirko; Messina, Alberto; Shulman-Peleg, Alexandra; Talyansky, Roman; Voulodimos, Athanasios; Wolfsthal, Yaron (2011). "A Cloud Environment for Data-intensive Storage Services". 2011 IEEE Third International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science. doi:10.1109/CloudCom.2011.55.
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