Best Cloud Storage Systems include:
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Learn More About Cloud Storage Systems
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage lets users store and sync their data to an online server.
Because they are stored in the cloud rather than on a local drive, files are available on various devices. This allows a person to access files from multiple computers, as well as mobile devices to view, edit, and comment on files. It replaces workarounds like emailing yourself documents. Cloud storage can also act as a backup system for your hard drive.
Cloud storage systems support a variety of file types. Supported files typically include:
The most user-friendly cloud storage systems integrate with other applications for easy edits, playback, and sharing.
Cloud storage is used by individuals to manage personal files, as well as by businesses for file sharing and backup. Some feature sets are very important to businesses but may not be relevant to individuals. Admin and security features, for example, are designed for corporate enterprises where data security and availability are concerns for files stored in the cloud.
Cloud Storage Features & Capabilities
These features are core to every cloud storage platform. Typically, file management capabilities include:
A search function to easily find files and search within files
Device syncing to update files connected to the cloud across devices
A web interface, with no install required
Support for multiple file types
Most cloud storage systems also feature collaboration functionality. Not all tools will have the same level of tracking and control. Collaboration features may include:
Notifications when files are changed by others
File sharing, with the ability to set editing and view-only permissions
Change tracking and versioning
Security & Administration
Security and administration features are important considerations for enterprises. Security is particularly important for storing sensitive, private data in the cloud.
Cloud storage systems offer different levels of security to address concerns. For example, Google Cloud Storage lets users set up two-step verification. CertainSafe is HIPAA compliant. Code42 lets users backup files in the cloud and on another machine. This is so that they are safe and available should something happen to the user’s local drive, even without internet access.
In addition to protection from outside access, users should consider the system’s security policy. Microsoft reserves the right to scan OneDrive user files. Google states it will not access user files on Google Drive unless prompted by law enforcement.
Possible security and administration features include:
Single sign-on with Active Directory/SAML based identity software
Two-step verification for added security
End-user encryption (for integrations)
User and role management
Control over file access, sharing and editing permissions
Storage limits for individual users or groups
Choosing where files will be stored, individual users’ storage management
Device management, restricting access to certain devices
File sharing is one of the most common uses for cloud storage. Most cloud storage software offers a mechanism to let users share files. The level of access, versioning, and change tracking varies by product.
Some cloud storage systems put a cap on file upload size. This is important for anyone looking to upload and share files larger than 2GB.
File sharing is executed in a few different ways:
Making users co-owners of files
Sending files to users
Emailing users a link to the file in the cloud
Cloud storage systems that prioritize availability and make file sharing easy often aren’t as strong on security. The reverse is true as well.
Cloud Storage Platform Comparison
The platform’s performance, reliability, and integrations are all important considerations for any business use case. Some enterprise cloud storage platforms monitor user activity and storage and offer reporting capabilities for platform administrators. International businesses can also find multilingual and multi-currency capabilities on some platforms. To more easily compare Cloud Storage Systems look for tools that accomplish the following:
Security: Don’t take security for granted with cloud storage software, and only store your data with reputable cloud storage providers (who have rock solid reviews, for example). Features you shouldn’t settle on including advanced firewall protection, data encryption, event logging, and threat detection. You also want to make sure that the cloud storage provider you work with provides details into how they manage their data centers and keep them secure.
Backup & Recovery: While it’s definitely important to keep your data safe from cyberattacks, 90% of data breaches are caused by employee error. Some cloud storage systems like Dropbox, for example, offer backup and recovery features for accidentally deleted files. Tools such as file recovery, version history, deletion confirmations, and automated backups are great options that should be on your shortlist of capabilities when looking for a cloud storage system.
Storage Limits: While many cloud storage systems have free storage options, there are caps on the amount of storage you can use for free. Free storage options can range from 5GB to 15GB depending on the cloud storage provider, and the types of files you’re storing. If you’re managing the storage of severan users, free options will not provide a high enough storage capacity. However, if each user manages their own cloud storage account, free options can be viable for professional use.
Cloud Storage Pricing Information
|Google Drive||Box||DropBox Business||OneDrive||EverNote|
Free Cloud Storage
Many cloud storage systems offer some amount of storage space for free. For example, DropBox offers 2GB of free storage, and Google Drive offers 15GB. Sometimes systems have a hard limit on free storage. Other systems, like Microsoft OneDrive, incentivize more storage with referral programs.
Free accounts do not usually include all the features available to paid customers. Cloud storage vendors with advanced security features do not usually have free accounts.
Paid Cloud Storage
For users who need to move beyond free options, pricing for cloud storage software is typically per user, per month. Plans usually have a fixed storage capacity, with prices increasing for more storage and/or added features. Users can find paid cloud storage options with monthly costs as low as $10 for 1TB of storage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some cloud storage providers offer a set amount of free storage, which can range from 2GB up to 15GB. DropBox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive all offer some level of free storage. However, this free storage usually doesn’t include all the functionality that comes with a paid plan.
Paid cloud storage plans can range anywhere from $2 per month up to $100 per month, depending on the number of people who need access to the online storage and how much storage space is available.