Online Storage Wars
Although online data storage services probably aren’t interesting enough subjects for a reality TV show, like their real life counterparts in the form of Storage Wars and like shows, they are as critically important to business workflow at home and at the office. The ability to be able to backup and sync data, share it in multiple file formats and across multiple platforms, and implement changes in real-time is extremely important for most professionals who work in a tech environment. That said, before selecting an online storage tool, it’s important for you to know how much space you will need, what file formats will be involved, and what devices you will using to access the service.
Cloudme (previously known as iCloud) is fairly similar to Dropbox in that it also uses cloud computing in order to fuel both data storage and syncing. Cloudme offers 3 GB in the free version, and 100 GB in its premium version. The service also allows users to add on features to its already Microsoft Office/social networking-like tableau of services. This means you could plug in a phone number lookup web application to your plan if you needed.
Box.net offers 5 gigs for free, as well as features that make it easier to share file urls. But it doesn’t have access to Linux, which irks some users. Another drawback is the limited amount of storage per file. Additionally, only business accounts have the ability to sync files, which means that service isn’t free.
Dropbox, which probably enjoys the most name recognition of the bunch, offers 2GB of free storage (though premium users can wield 100 GB total). Dropbox taps cloud storage to allow users to share files across the Internet, which is why the service is popular both as a data storage and syncing service. As far as devices, Dropbox would appear to have the upper hand, as it is accessible from almost any device or client. Almost all file formats can be synced here, but as a drawback music can only be stored and transmitted, not played directly.
SugarSync, another service that specializes in data synchronization, gets you 5 free GB and the ability to sync with an impressive variety of mobile devices.
Crashplan offers offline access, which is another factor to consider, as some services can’t be accessed and utilized without an Internet connection. Crashplan also has the ability to gain access to files that are in use by another system. This can be crucial if multiple people are using the files simultaneously.
Skydrive gives you 25 GB of space but with restricted file types and relatively slow speeds that aren’t compatible with XP. If that’s your operating system, Skydrive isn’t for you!
As you can see, there are a windfall of services that allow you to store and sync data files, both online and offline. Weeding through the various restrictions and details of each could take some time but is probably worth the trouble, as it’s important to know what you can and can’t do with your data once you’ve backed it up.