10 Must-Have Apps For Cloud Storage10:00 AM EST Tue. Mar. 19, 2013
With so many cloud storage services to choose from -- all claiming that they keep data secure -- deciding which one is most deserving of our businesses often comes down to the access client and its integration with existing workflow. The CRN Test Center has looked at dozens of cloud-based storage solutions. As part of Storage Week 2013, here are 10 of our favorites.
Bitcasa Infinite Drive provides an "infinite" space for users to upload an unlimited number of files. Developed by venture-funded startup Bitcasa, this storage platform safely protects data while allowing instant access to all files.
Bitcasa "mirrors" a selected file to what the company calls the Bitcasa Infinite Drive in the cloud, creating a copy of the file. What's great about Bitcasa is that it uses a patented algorithm to reduce actual storage which can speed up the streaming of all documents, photos, videos and music to all your synced devices.
Files also are organized by type, which makes searches quick and easy. Files can be shared, no matter the size, with whomever -- recipients don't have to have Bitcasa installed to open a file. Bitcasa also guarantees security by encrypting all files to the cloud, so only the owner can have access. Deleted files can be recovered by using the option to "rollback" to previous versions of a file as well. Bitcasa offers 10 GB of free cloud storage or unlimited cloud storage for $99 per year.
This Cubby doesn't hold juice boxes or crayons. Instead, Cubby digitally stores all your files in the cloud, keeping them easily accessible. Developed by LogMeIn, a provider of remote-connectivity solutions and can be downloaded and used on desktops as well as Android and iOS platforms.
Although this storage service is free, allowing for 25 GB of cloud storage, users can upgrade to Cubby Pro for $6.99 per month for 100 GB of cloud storage. Data in a cubby can be secured with a Cubby Lock; this feature requires an account password to use or share a particular cubby.
Cubby also has a "cloud off" option called "DirectSync," which acts as a peer-to-peer system that syncs from one device to another without using cloud storage.
Cubby is a simple yet strong candidate when it comes to choosing an online storage tool.
No need to sugarcoat anything here. SugarSync Manager is an adept cloud storage application for professionals to back up, sync, access and share their music, photos and documents. Instead of dragging files into one folder to sync, this backup storage system automatically keeps multiple devices in sync, mirroring changes on any one device to all other devices so configured. Developed by online storage and syncing service SugarSync, this cloud storage backup is reliable, secure and easy to use. It's available for download for Android, BlackBerry,iOS, Mac OS X and Windows 8.
SugarSync implements the same level of encryption technology used by government and financial institutions. Files are shared by posting a public URL in an email, social network or blog. There's also a gallery section to store and share photos that keeps stats on how many clicks a link receives. The free service includes 5 GB storage; 30 GB costs $4.99/month ($49.99/year); 60 GB costs $9.99/month ($99.99/year); and 100 GB is priced at $14.99/month ($149.99/year).
Dropbox is a simple and reliable tool for easily accessing photos, videos, music and other synchronized files. DropBox can be downloaded for Android, Blackberry, iOS, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, and SSL encryption keeps data safe.
On systems with a mouse, DropBox works with a single folder using drag-and-drop. Once dropped, files are immediately visible to other configured devices. A default "public" folder accepts files for sharing, and right-clicking presents a link for sharing the file with others with or without a DropBox account. Another method of sharing is by right-clicking any folder and entering email addresses. DropBox provides 2 GB of free space, and through referrals users can gain 500 MB per person. The pay service costs $9.99/month ($99/year) for 100 GB, $20/month ($199/year) for 200 GB and $49/month ($299/year) for 500 GB.
When time is of the essence, Google comes to the rescue with a sturdy document-creation and collaboration system. Google Drive provides a browser-based way to "create, share and keep all your stuff in one place," or so goes the company slogan. This cloud-storage application includes clients for Android, iOS, Mac OS X, Windows, and allows uploaded or newly created files to be edited, easily shared and collaborated on in real time. When used with the desktop component for Mac OS X or Windows, Drive files can be bulk-downloaded, edited offline and synchronized when a connection becomes available. Files dragged from the desktop and dropped into the Drive folder are automatically uploaded and accessible from any browser. Drive can import and save files in a variety of formats, including PDF, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Google Drive supplies the first 5 GB of storage space for free. The pay version costs $2.49 per month for 25 GB; $4.99 per month for 100 GB and $49.99 per month for 1 TB. Google Drive is a simple file storage that integrates well with Gmail, but offers no password protection for synced files.
While DropBox is designed mainly for individuals and small businesses, Box.net offers features designed more for large groups and the enterprise. Beyond DropBox's file repository model, Box.net also allows users to collaborate on documents, add comments, assign tasks and make changes online. Files also can be easily shared by sending a link, and file collaborators can receive email notifications when files are viewed, edited or commented on. The first 5 GB are free, after which a personal plan starts at $9.99/month for 25 GB, a business plan starts at $15 per user/month for 1 TB and the enterprise plan offers unlimited storage. Box.net is available for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows platforms.
Initially designed for photo storage, Carbonite is an online backup solution that provides completely unlimited storage for various types of files. After downloading Carbonite software, users can choose a nickname for the specific computer for online backup. Files can either be manually selected or using Carbonite's preset for files to be automatically selected. Once connected to the Internet, backups also can be scheduled and automatic backups initiated for any changes made to an existing file or an addition of new files.
There are some strings attached. While many other services offer syncing for a number of devices, Carbonite's service starts at $59 per year per computer for unlimited cloud storage capacity and backups. Carbonite can be downloaded for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows.
SpiderOak puts data privacy and security above all else, priding itself on the fact that no one -- not even the company itself -- has access to client data except the client. Great for government agencies, financial institutions and other highly security-conscious organizations, SpiderOak also stands out for its "zero-knowledge" policy. A developer of de-duplication and central storage repository software, SpiderOak combines encrypted cloud storage with the ability to back up, sync, access and share any type of data. SpiderOak is available for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
Once signed up, an encryption key is issued that's unique to each user, and only their password will provide access to it. The first 2 GB are free; after that, SpiderOak costs $10 per month for 100 GB or $600 per month per TB for an unlimited number of users. This is one, secure cloud-based storage service; just don't lose your password.
JustCloud isn't just any type of cloud storage service. Launched in 2010, this storage service offers unlimited online storage space, immediate backup, and automatic synchronization and security, all for free for the first 1 GB, or $4.95 for unlimited online backup. JustCloud offers clients for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
Five dollars a month for unlimited space is well worth it for this easy-to-use online backup solution. Instead of hitting the button to "backup now" every day, JustCloud automatically backs up data using SSL encryption during the transfer. Users can also schedule daily, weekly or monthly backups; there's even an hourly backup option. For sharing individual files, permissions can be set for editing or viewing only.
Microsoft's SkyDrive allows Windows Live users to upload or create files and share them with others on Mac OS, Windows desktop clients and on Android, iOS and other mobile devices, even if they lack a SkyDrive account. SkyDrive's interface is attractive, sleek and simple, and integrates tightly with OneNote documents and Microsoft Office files such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There's never a worry about compatibility of file formats. SkyDrive also allows documents to be created and edited on a web browser. Files can be accessed offline on any device that has the SkyDrive client installed. SkyDrive is available for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows 8.
Collaborative features allow users to work on projects with multiple users simultaneously. If a user forgets to sync a file and a home PC is left on, users can "fetch" their files. SkyDrive also encrypts file transfers to prevent data loss in transit. The free SkyDrive account includes 7 GB of storage space; an additional 20 GB costs $10 per year; an additional 50 GB costs $25 per year and an additional 100 GB costs $50 per year.