Some providers have their own data centers while others actually outsource their storage to another third-party cloud, often Amazon Web Services (AWS) or a similar Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) player. That's an important point to consider: Are you signing a service-level agreement (SLA) with a cloud provider that's directly responsible for the infrastructure or is the provider beholden to another party? If it's a third party, make sure to investigate that firm and examine its track record. Then, look at the levels of service it offers. For example, while all of the major offerings have some level of uptime guarantee, it is worth noting that location is an important factor. How many data centers does the third party have? And is your data distributed among them for better reliability or does that come at an additional cost?
Distinct from but overlapping in some cases with cloud storage are online backup services. Some of these, such as Carbonite, are all about disaster recovery, while IDrive combines that goal with syncing and sharing capabilities. If you want to bypass the cloud for your backup, you can still go with local backup software, which saves you the time it takes to upload and download your data.
OpenCloudMesh is a joint international initiative under the umbrella of the GÉANT Association that is built on ownCloud’s open Federated Cloud Sharing API taking Universal File Access beyond the borders of individual Clouds and into a globally interconnected mesh of research clouds — without sacrificing any of the advantages in privacy, control and security an on-premises cloud provides. OpenCloudMesh provides a common file access layer across an organization and across globally interconnected organizations, whether the data resides on internal servers, on object storage, in applications like SharePoint or Dropbox, other ownClouds, or even external cloud systems such as Dropbox and Google (syncing them to desktops or mobile apps, making them available offline).
By creating an account on Dropbox, you’ll earn 2GB of cloud storage, the lowest amount given by a major service. While the free tier, called “basic,” is just that in most regards, it allows you to collaborate in real time with others in Dropbox Paper, its word processor tool. It’s currently limited to text documents, though users in any tier can open and edit stored documents through Microsoft Office online tools like Word and Excel for free.
Before I get to the answer, a quick note. We’re reaching the end of the year for Lifehacker’s tech advice column, Tech 911, and the mailbag is looking like the inverse of Santa’s sack—which is to say, please send me any and all tech-related questions you have, especially if they relate to things you’ve received (or are about to buy for yourself) this holiday season. I am here to help you! Let me help you.

SugarSync has a slightly confusing usage model. Unlike, say, Dropbox, you can designate any file folders on your hard drive to be synced to the cloud; you don’t need to keep everything in a designated folder. To sync folders, you right-click them (after installing the SugarSync desktop client). But just in case you want a designated folder, the service automatically creates a syncing folder on your computer called My SugarSync (formerly Magic Briefcase). As of now, there are no collaborative editing tools – or even two-factor authentication, either of which could be a deal breaker for business users. Also worth noting: Aside from a free 5GB trial (good for 90 days), there’s no free plan.


Enterprise file storage used to mean hulking black boxes, magnetic tape and floppy disks kept safe under the watchful eye of the storage manager. These days, storage is much more fluid and ubiquitous, and most organizations need effective ways to enable employees to share their work and collaborate more easily with colleagues -- both inside and outside the organization -- without any risk of information theft.

Hightail helps professionals around the world securely share and control files from anywhere for more effective and efficient collaboration. Users can send files of any size from their computer or mobile device and control exactly who sees them. Users can also share "spaces" – project folders that are each assigned a unique link for sharing with clients and team members – and assign editing and updating permissions. Hightail offers unlimited storage space and both mobile and desktop apps so files can be accessed from anywhere.
Google Apps have gained popularity in businesses of all sizes, and Google Drive provides a place where employees can easily create, store, and collaborate on documents. Google Drive for Work, the business-class version of the tool, provides unlimited cloud-based storage to store all types of files and folders. It also provides effective functionality for backing up corporate information on the cloud, and it allows synchronization of corporate information across smartphones, tablets and PCs. Additionally, Google Drive for Work enables business productivity by providing the built-in capability of opening and editing documents without requiring an additional editing tool.

Sharing and content control features work well, too. You can share folders and specific files via links. pCloud lets you share folders by inviting others and granting “can edit” or “can view” permissions. Alternatively, you can generate an upload link which others can use to upload directly to your folder or a download link that enables them to download your files.

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