We store important documents, cherished photo albums, treasured movie collections and music collections on external storage devices. But if that hard drive gets corrupt due to a virus, you will end up losing all your precious data and memories which you gathered down the years. Also, it is a hassle to carry your files and documents with you, where ever you go, or save it on your email. Cloud storage has been created to eliminate all that hassle. Your data is stored on the cloud storage provider’s remote online servers, from where it can be accessed anytime, anywhere. There is a bevy of cloud storage providers who offer a variety of services with varying features. We select the top 5 for you to choose from.
Google Drive, formerly known as Google Docs, is one of the most popular free online services by Google which combines office productivity and online syncing capabilities. Originally started as a competitor to Microsoft Office, Google Docs became Google Drive after it incorporated the local file syncing feature to its existing office documentation services. All you need is a Google account and Google Drive will start you off with a neat 5GB of cloud storage. You can upload files, create new documents, collaborate and share your files with other users. Google Drive supports a number of file formats like folders, Word files, Excel spreadsheets, JPEG image files, MP3s, PDFs, AMR audio files, an image resizing application (.exe), .mpeg, .wmv and .avi files. The built-in OCR (optical character recognition) feature for reading photos and images is a noteworthy feature offered by Google Drive.
WINDOWS SKY DRIVE
A close competitor of Google Drive is Windows SkyDrive. This online file storage and documentation service by Microsoft starts you off with a generous 7GB of free storage. If you are an old SkyDrive user, then you get a free upgrade of 25GB of storage. SkyDrive is especially helpful for Window’s users who can make use of SkyDrive + Live Mesh to sync any folder from their PC with their SkyDrive account. If you install SkyDrive onto your desktop, a dedicated folder is created which is synced to your online SkyDrive account. The two folders are synced and changes in folder contents are synced to all PC’s which have SkyDrive installed on them. Besides syncing, Live Mesh also acts as a remote access utility which will give you access to your files, even if they aren’t synced. Additionally, the Web App allows you to upload and edit Office documents. You can share photo galleries, but audio files aren’t supported by SkyDrive.
Offering superb file synchronization, Dropbox has become a hot favorite in the online file storage and syncing market. Dropbox gives you an introductory free storage of 2GB and you can earn more by referring Dropbox to your friends. Access your files from anywhere as Dropbox offers a score of third party apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and also mobile platforms like Android, iOS, BlackBerry. You can choose between public or photo folders to share your files, image galleries or any other files with individuals or larger groups. One of the most unique features of Dropbox is that it sends you an email notification when a file sent by you is accessed by the recipient. This feature is stands invaluable when you need to ensure timely deliverance of important material. Another lifesaving feature of Dropbox is that it gives you access to files which have been deleted or previous versions of files. With reliable servers which won’t let you down in time of need, Dropbox is easily one of the most user friendly file-synchronization services out there.
Another independent online storage service is Box, which offers a superb web-based productivity suite. Box gives you a generous 10 GB of storage space on sign up and comes with a web based and desktop interface. You can download the Box software to your PC and choose a destination for your Box folder. All files and sub-folders in the Box folder will be uploaded to Box’s online servers, which are then accessible from anywhere. The Box Sync app lets you sync your files with the web while the mobile app – available on Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and windows phones gives you anytime access to your files. Box also comes with an added online document viewer and editor, which also lets you share files with other users.
If you’re looking for purely storage purposes then BitCasa is worth a look. This online file storage provider gives you an introductory 10GB free storage and supports Windows and Mac operating systems. You can also access your files on BitCasa on the go as it is available for phones and tablets running on Android, iOS and Windows platforms. Like Dropbox and Box, BitCasa also encrypts your data before putting it on the online servers, for enhanced security. Store documents, images, music, movies, videos and access them anywhere. BitCasa is a no-frills online storage provider which gives you ample storage to fit your needs. If you still require more, then you can pay $99 and get unlimited storage for a year!