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Internet 101: Choosing a Cloud

Internet 101: Choosing a Cloud

Choosing a cloud can be difficult. While cloud storage has been widely used for some time now, many people may not know its uses or really know what their options are. Cloud storage is one of the more popular types of storage these days, and if you’re concerned with keeping your files safe and secure, understanding the cloud is pretty important.

What is cloud storage?

The cloud is a service accessed through the internet, allowing users to upload their files to servers and later access them for viewing or downloading. With cloud storage, your files may not be on your actual device at all, instead uploaded on the internet through whichever service you choose to use. Cloud storage can be used through a browser or through a service’s app.

What are some pros and cons?

There are numerous pros and cons to consider when choosing cloud storage. Cloud storage might not be for everyone. It’s also very important to note that everyone should be safe about keeping their files backed up. Instead of simply relying on your files to stay safe in the cloud, you should consider also placing your files somewhere else, like on a USB drive (flash drive), before permanently deleting the files from your computer, phone, or tablet.

Pros

  • You can back up your photos and other files in an additional location in case your USB drive, computer, or other device loses the data
  • You can store your files on the cloud instead of taking up the space on your phone’s or computer’s internal storage
  • You can access your files from anywhere that you have an internet connection, even from different devices
  • You can often use your cloud service to share files with others
  • You can organize your files easily

Cons

  • Despite the major services implementing strict safety precautions, it’s possible your files could be compromised by hackers
  • If you lose access to the internet, you won’t be able to load your files
  • If the server has issues, your photos may be inaccessible for a short while

What options are available?

There are quite a few options when it comes to cloud storage. Some people buy new phones that have cloud storage apps pre-installed and are happy to stick to that app instead of looking into others. Many of the cloud services are very similar, so it’s no surprise that a person might want to stick to what they have. However, it’s always a good idea to know which options are available to you. Here are just five of the more popular cloud storage services you can choose from:

Amazon Drive

Amazon Drive is a service that has free and paid options. Amazon members can get 5GB of free storage. Amazon Prime members, on the other hand, get unlimited storage space for their photos and 5GB of other file storage, all for free with their membership. It can store all of your files and is a very straightforward cloud storage service. Amazon Drive can be accessed through a browser or through their app, and it is available through a computer, an iPhone, or an Android device. You can enable certain files or folders to be shared, creating a link to the specified file(s) and making them available to others. Amazon Drive has clear folder organization and makes it easy to organize your files and place photos in albums. You can even invite other Prime members into a shared “Family Vault” of photos.

Cost: 5GB of space is free; 5GB of space + unlimited photo storage is free for Prime members; other plans are available from $11.99 a year and up.
Go to the Amazon Drive website for more information or to sign up.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a storage service that has free and paid storage options available. With a free Dropbox Basic account, users get 2GB of space. (You can also earn more storage space by completing certain tasks.) It can store all your files, and depending on which plan you get, there are quite a few good features. With Dropbox Basic, you can make your files public for others to access, and you can create shared folders in order to work on files together. You can also let others upload files to your Dropbox even if they don’t have an account. You can star files for easier access, and there’s a search bar available. You can access Dropbox from a computer or from an app. On your computer, Dropbox creates a special Dropbox folder for you to drag and drop files you want to upload to the cloud. With other paid plans, there are extra features like more space and access to Dropbox Paper for working on documents with other people.

Cost: 2GB of space is free; other monthly plans range from $9.99 to $25.
Go to the Dropbox website for more information or to sign up.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a cloud storage service that offers free and paid storage. Google Drive users can get 15GB of storage completely for free. It will store any files you have, so that includes things like photos, music, documents, videos, etc. You can access the service through your browser or through an app. In addition to being able to access your photos anywhere, it also offers a way to share your files with other people. Your files are automatically private, but you can decide to invite other people to access your file and even make edits to the file with you. You can open up individual files or whole folders to people you want to have access. The service has a nice search feature (unsurprising, since it’s Google), and it can even search within images if it recognizes a certain object and search for words within scanned documents. Google Drive also works well with other Google services, like Gmail and Google Docs.

Cost: 15GB of space is free; other monthly plans range from $1.99 to $99.99; if you’re feeling crazy and need 30TB for some reason, they even have a monthly plan for $299.99.
Go to the Google Drive website for more information or to sign up.

iCloud

iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage offering. If you have an Apple device, this may be the storage plan that will work best for you. iCloud users can get 5GB of storage for free. It can store all of your files, including the usual photos, videos, documents, and any other files you have. iCloud can be accessed through the iCloud program on your Mac, through an app on your Apple device, or from any browser. This enables users to access their files wherever they have an internet connection. They can also let other people view, save, and edit certain files. iCloud also has family plans, so you and other family members can go in on a plan together and have a shared photo album in the cloud. (Don’t worry, you get to decide what’s shared to the family cloud.) iCloud will also back up your device every night so you can restore your data if a problem occurs. And the service works well with other Apple offerings, like your mail, contacts, and reminders.

Cost: 5GB of space is free; other monthly plans range from $.99 to $9.99, including family plans.
Go to the iCloud website for more information or to sign up.

Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is cloud storage that offers free and paid plans. A free account gives users 5GB of storage space. You can store all of your files privately, or open some up for other people to access. You can access it through a browser or an app. With a free account, you’re able to search through your files easily. You’re also able to edit and make notes on your files that you’ve uploaded, even using a mobile device. There are easily navigated folders and even a Recent tab for finding things you’ve recently interacted with. OneDrive also notes that it’s encrypted, emphasizing its security and the safety of your files. With paid plans, you can do extra things like set your links to expire after a certain length of time, access files offline, scan documents, or even get Microsoft Office programs like Word and PowerPoint included in the service.

Cost: 5GB of space is free; other monthly plans range from $1.99 to $9.99, and there are yearly plans, as well.
Go to the Microsoft OneDrive website for more information or to sign up.