We are now in a time where physical hard drive space may be a thing of the past. Well, maybe not completely but hear me out. More and more businesses nowadays are looking to the clouds for their storage. So, what is this cloud storage everyone is talking about these days?
Cloud storage is basically hard drive space on the internet. For you. So, you could if you wanted to store all your pictures, files, music etc on cloud storage. There are many packages out there that offer a small amount of storage for free as well as some premium rate packages. And when I say premium rate I mean very reasonable rates.
Why would you want to move to cloud storage?
Well, this has many benefits. The first and probably most obvious benefit is that is does not take up your “actual” hard drive space on your computer. So you can use the storage effectively for running your programs rather than clogging it up with pictures, ebooks, PDFs etc.
The second benefit is the file sharing possibilities it has. Most cloud storage providers will allow you to share the individual files or folders to other people. Usually just an email address and you can send the files to your friend or colleague.
This is great if you are working in teams but may not always be in direct contact with each other. You can share files easily without having to send large files via email which is not always the best way.
But the greatest benefit in my opinion is the ability to access files remotely anywhere. This is fanatastic – no longer do you have to be sat at home on your desktop PC to view those all important designs, or no longer do you have to be at home to watch the latest training video you wanted. As the cloud servers are web based you can access your files from any PC with an Internet connection. Also, the top cloud providers will have their systems running across multiple platforms so you will be able to access your folders and files from not only PCs. But now you can get your data from your netbooks, tablets and smartphones.
So, let’s say an important video is made in the office of your company and one employee is on the train to an informal meeting at a cafe to talk about such video. He arrives, opens his smartphone and opens his cloud storage account and as if by magic the video is already in his folder. As the accounts match or the folders are set to be shared, the account will synchronize live if any editing is done to any folders within it.
What are the top cloud storage providers?
Dropbox has to be considered one of the top cloud storage providers, simply because it was one of the first of its kind. If you mention cloud storage to people they will most likely be familiar with this name. This could be to do with the fact that they offer a referral scheme which get the referrers more storages. We are users of Dropbox here at Bizzebee and whilst it is not my personal favourite it does a great job. The interface is simple, and it is very straight forward to use. There are no pre-requisites before joining and free accounts start with 2GB storage. I mentioned above that you can get more be offering referrals and using their apps and other features. Within a week of getting my free account I was able to bump my storage up to 52GB just buy using it on my mobile phone and referring a couple of friends. You do not have to do this obviously – it’s up to you.
It is very simple to share links and files, and the platform syncs really well with other devices. I use this across four devices and it all runs smoothly.
Here is a little video showing you inside the dashboard and how to share links.
The support is top notch too with teams supporting virtually every operating system, desktop and mobile device.
Next up is Google Drive – my personal favourite. Google is slowly getting (or rather already has) its fingers in many pies and it was not going to miss the opportunity of cloud storage once it hit the market. You get 15GB of storage absolutely free, which is very kind of them. The one thing that you need to have in order to have access to Google Drive is a Google account – this is no big deal, and with all the other great tools that Google have to offer you really should have a Google account by now.
This brings me onto the next point about Google Drive and that is the fantastic collaboration it has with its other tools, formally Google Docs to be specific. This is your docs, spreadsheets, presentations and drawing software. If you have this linked with your Google Drive and you have also shared your drive with other members in your team then they your documents can be updated live across all members devices. This is especially useful in accounting for example if a tracking spreadsheet is being updated, all parties will be on the same page and there can be no arguments over which version is updated!
Again, very user friendly and very generous free cloud storage. Even the premium plans start from $4.99 a month for 100GB.
Next up is SkyDrive. This is Microsoft’s entry into cloud storage. They have marketed it to work with the Windows 8 platform and Office 2013. Sure, it runs without these but the platform really comes into its own when it runs with them. It works really well and updates great with Office 2013 – either on the PC desktop or on the tablet devices. As well as the others above it also has its own mobile apps which all work well and sync with all the devices you have linked to it.
If you were lucky enough to get in while they were still beta testing this service you probably have a nice 25GB of storage – that is not to be sniffed at. However now for a free account they will give you 7GB.
As with the others too there is great potential with the API integration, and also with the SkyDrive app you get access to free versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote viewers in your browser so you can share your documents from your Office 2013 suite on the go and with ease.
Here is a list of some more cloud storage providers, perhaps not as well known:
· My Vault
With all the free storage around these days online you will be hard pushed to fill the amount of space available to you. You and your business is missing out if you do not get on board now.
Even if you just use it as backup.
Have you any experience of cloud storage? Which provider do you use? We would love to hear from you in the comments box below.