So I have been talking to a few friends about using cloud storage at home. It seems pretty popular and there are loads of services out there giving you free cloud storage with lots of other services attached to it. Services like accessing your data from a mobile device via an app or being able to post to a social network directly from the cloud solution you using.
I have recently gone through a period of looking for similar cloud solutions. I used to use Livedrive which was great value for money for what you got. Though the product just didn’t work. Their customer support was so bad I just didn’t trust them anymore. I had to move my data away from them before it was too late.
Based on my Livedrive experience I realised customer support was really crucial to me. You end up putting so much of your life on these services and even the thought of loosing all of it makes you feel so lost. Yes paying a low monthly fee as well as unlimited storage was also important. Not to mention the explaining I had to do telling my wife about where our sons videos of his first year had gone.
So I wanted to outline some of questions you should be asking yourself when looking for a cloud solution.
Make sure you know what you want the service to provide :- there are so many options out there, some work great for music but not so great for pictures. Some work great if you access the data from a PC but not from a mobile device.
Know how much data you going to be putting in the cloud :- this is key to know. As the cloud solutions are out there to make money at the end of the day. The initial free storage you get could very quickly be eaten up. Then you have to start paying for extra storage and this is where it can get expensive quickly.
Check social networks :- In this day check social networks to see what others are saying about the product. I am pretty sure if you see someone complaining continuously with no response. It’s clear something is up there. So stay away from them.
Do you need on demand access to all your data all the time :- This is a key, cloud services mainly provide quick and fast access to your data any time. Most of the time we just want a safe place to archive our data. I mean do you really think you going to listen to 18000 songs every day? Or look through 10000 pictures every month? Split things up so you have day to day data living on a cloud service with less storage available. Then the non day to day data is either backed up to the cloud or stored safely on several HDD for access when you need to.
Are you going to want to share your data with friends or family :- Emailing pictures or videos to friends and family is so old school. These days its alot simpler to just send a link that gives you access to what you need. Some cloud services do this well even plugging into social networks. So you don’t need to copy things over several times every time.
Lastly cloud services are developing at a rapid pace. Don’t think cause you have a great solution today it will stay that way tomorrow. Have a look around every now and then and see what is out there. For example Google have just released their first stab at cloud storage. Everyone was expecting this but not expecting how low cost the prices were going to be. So am sure Dropbox and Box will be running around trying to see what they can do to stop the wave of people leaving them.
Apple's iCloud is starting to grow but its still pretty limited to which applications can use it. But am sure it will open up more over the course of the year. I would recomend if you are using a few apple devices you look at the iTunes match cloud service. Works pretty well for a music cloud solution.
Microsoft Skydrive gives you some large storage upfront but its limited access via a brouser makes it not so simple to access your data quickly.
Also with internet speeds at home hitting close to the 100mb/s don’t over look creating your own cloud solutions using products like Pogoplug. Where you can connect several external hardrives via usb and have them accesable via pogoplug's cloud. Or using Crashplan to backup several of your computers to a PC at home.
Let me know if I have missed anything out. Otherwise share your cloud journey joys or frustrations with us here at TD. Oh and if you have Google drive aready, I am expecting a invite from you!
Update on 2012-04-27 12:09 by John Swart
So Microsoft announced a update to thier Skydrive this week. They also posted a nice little chart to show a good comparison to the 4 main cloud products out at the moment. These being Google Drive, Microsofts Skydrive, Apples iCloud and Dropbox.
For those with a Skydrive account its worth signing into your account ASAP to continue to keep your 25GB of storage. For newbies you stuck with 7GB but can always buy more if you need it. Microsft have also made Skydrive as accesable as Dropbox and Google Drive is. With mobile apps being provided too. The only down side of Skydrive I can find compaired to others is you dont have the abiltity to choose which folders sync down to your machine. Right now the entire cloud drive gets downloaded to your machine. Which can be a slight problem with people who only ahve a 128SSD drive. Though am sure an update will fix that in the near future.
But as it stands Skydrive rocks the free storage world right now giving you a nice 25GB is you have been a loyal customer in the past. So what you waiting for...