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​What’s the best cloud storage for you?

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In 2007, Drew Houston, Dropbox‘s CEO, got sick and tired of misplacing his USB drive, so he created the first personal and small business cloud storage service. It was a radical one in its day. Today, everyone and their uncle seems to be offering cheap or free cloud storage.

Also: How to sync multiple cloud storage services for free TechRepublic

That’s great! Except, well, how do you choose which one is right for you? It used to be that most people decided simply on the basis of how much free storage space they got. That’s simple, but it only tells part of the story.

The real value from a cloud storage service comes from how well it works for you. As you’ll see, some work much better with some operating systems and business plans than others.

Amazon Drive

Amazon Drive.


It’s odd. Amazon does a great job with its cloud storage service Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for developers and IT. But Amazon Drive for personal and business users has never been a first-tier storage service.

Mind you, it has gotten better. At long, long last, Amazon Drive has sync services for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Alas, it doesn’t have a Linux client.

Also: How Amazon and VMware are building one cloud for both

On the plus side, Amazon moves files by using block-level file copying,” aka “differential sync” or “delta sync.” With this method, which Dropbox uses as well, when you sync a file you only send and receive the differences, the delta, between files. This makes syncing files much faster on these services than their rivals.

Amazon Drive also includes features taskbar notifications. These enable you to keep an eye on your file transfers, It also enables you to throttle sync speeds when you’re busy with say a bandwidth hungry video-conference in the foreground.

This cloud storage service used to offer an unlimited plan. But Amazon dropped that plan in 2017. Today, Amazon Prime member get 5GB of torage for use with Amazon Drive and unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos. If you want more, Amazon’s current annual storage plans start at 100GB) for $11.99 and 1TB for $59.99. At most, you can get 30TB for $1,799.70.

My bottom line is, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Drive is worth it. If you’re not, keep looking.

Box

02box.png
Box

Sure, you can get a free Box cloud storage account with 10GB of storage, and for $10 a month with the Box Personal Pro Plan, you get 100GB of space, but that’s like using a Rolls-Royce to pull a U-Haul trailer.

Where Box really shines is as a groupware or work-flow application. Used that way, it enables you to share files with colleagues, assign tasks, leave comments on someone’s work, and get notifications when a file changes.

Also: Box, IBM intro new services for building Box Skills with Watson

The Box Business Plan for small and medium-sized businesses offers unlimited storage integrates with Google Docs and Office 365 and costs $15 per month per user.

Besides unlimited storage, the Business Plan lets you have files as large as 5GB. It also works with Active Directory (AD) and single-sign on (SSO).

Box excels at file privacy and data encryption. You get full read/write permissions control over your files and directories. In addition, you can also hook up Box to numerous business applications such as Salesforce and NetSuite. This really is a cloud storage service for business users.

Like the other services, you can use your files via Box’s website and even create basic text documents. To make it shine, you’ll need the Box Sync and Edit apps for Windows or Mac OS X. It also comes with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone apps that will enable you to view, upload and share files. Box is also now integrated directly with Google’s Chrome OS or Chromebooks users.

Box is best suited for a business IT buy. Its real value comes if you deploy it in your company not just as a way to store and share files but to run team projects.

Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox


Who doesn’t use Dropbox? Sure, its free storage is only 2GB, but you can use it on any platform. You can get to your files from Dropbox’s website, desktop applications for Mac, Windows, and Linux, their native files systems, and the iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Kindle Fire mobile apps. It’s a snap to set up, and you don’t need to worry about syncing files for a second.

It’s also easy to add free storage for nothing. Take the Getting Started tutorial, and you get 250MB more room. Get a mobile app and turn on the automatic photo upload feature, and ta-da you get 3GB of extra space. You can also earn 500MB for each friend you get to sign up for Dropbox for up to 16GB in all.

Also: Dropbox bolsters smart search capabilities with automatic text

If you need more storage — a lot more storage — Dropbox Business plans starts at 3TB for $12.50 a month. If you need even more Dropbox offers unlimited storage starting at $20 per user per month. All these plans comes with a 30-day free trial.

Where Dropbox shines the most is its sheer simplicity — and the simple fact that you can use it on almost any platform you care to name.

If you value simple, fast, and easy, Dropbox should be your first choice. I don’t need to tell you that. You’re probably already using it.

Google Drive

04googledrive.png
Google Drive

Google Drive used to be just storage. But then Google took its online office suite, Google Docs, and pasted them together. Now, for simply having a Google account, you get 15GB of free storage and an excellent office suite. It’s good enough that many businesses and every Chromebook user is now using it as their complete cloud-based office.

Still wedded to Microsoft Office and not Google Docs? No problem. With a Google Chrome extension, you can view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Also: Google Drive comment functionality now includes Microsoft files

Need more storage? No problem. Google Drive storage prices starts at $1.99 per month for 100GB, or for $2.99 a month you get 200GB a month. For a 1TB, you pay $9.99 per month, and 10TB costs $99.99 per month. You can go all the way up to 30TB for $299.99 a month. With all these plans, you can share your storage with your family.

In addition, if you buy a new Chromebook you can get more storage. With any Chromebook you’ll now get a free 1TB of storage for two years. If you buy a high-end PixelBook, you get free storage for three years.

After the free deal expires, you still get to keep the storage you use. So, for example, if you use 500GB of your free 1TB, after a year and a day, you will still have 500GB of free storage.

If you want to build your business around Google Drive, you can do that too. Google Drive for Work includes unlimited storage for files, folders, and backups for $8 per user per month plus $0.04 per GB. With it, you can sync all your business files, including Microsoft Office files, across your computer, smartphone, and tablet to access your work whenever you need it.

There are apps for Google Drive for Android, iOS, Mac OS X, and Windows. Annoyingly, there is not a Linux app, even though Google Drive is built into Chrome OS, and Google has promised us a Linux app for years. There is a third-party app, InSync, which I highly recommend, but I still want a Google Drive native Linux app.

Recently, Google updated and renamed its macOS and Windows application to Backup & Sync. This gives you the power to sync or backup almost any file or folder on your computer.

For G Suite users, there’s Google Drive Stream. This storage service streams files to a machine from the cloud rather than syncing them between the device and the cloud. This service turns Google Drive into more of a hard-drive replacement than a cloud storage service add-on.

If you’re a Chromebook or Google power user, I don’t need to sell you on Google Drive. It’s the best cloud storage option for you. Personally, while I’ve use all these storage services, Google Drive is the one I use every day.

iCloud Drive

​iCloud

iCloud

Apple’s cloud entry is awkward. iCloud Drive shows to its best advantage when you use it with Apple’s latest and greatest gear, but even there it’s quirky.

Apple’s iCloud comes with 5GB of free storage, if you’re using it from a Mac or an iDevice. If you’re using it from Windows, you can get 1GB. For 99 cents per month, iCloud offers 50GB. For $2.99, you get 200GB, and 2TB costs $9.99 per month.

Also: How to enable Messages in iCloud on your iPhone

Like Google Drive, iCloud Drive is also integrated with an office suite, albeit it’s only Apple’s beginner’s office applications: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

Unlike the other services, there is no business version of iCloud Drive. While it supports Windows, it also, even now, doesn’t support Android.

Perhaps, iCloud most annoying “feature” is the confusion between iCloud and iCloud Drive. They’re not the same thing. For example, Contacts, Notes, Photos, and Reminders get backed up to iCloud, but TextEdit, iMovie, and Mail data lives in iCloud Drive.

In addition, iCloud Drive, in my experience, is prone to be slow and quirky. I’ve had trouble syncing files between my Macs and iDevices. Eventually, I think iCloud Drive will be for Apple users what OneDrive already is for Windows, but it’s still having teething problems. However, as a business solution? It’s not there now, and I doubt it ever will be.

Nextcloud

Nextcloud

Nextcloud

Nextcloud is an ownCloud fork. Both are open-source programs that enable you to set up your own cloud storage service using your existing hard drives.

In short, if don’t trust your data to Apple, Google, Microsoft, or anyone else, this is the the do-it-yourself way:

Also: Nextcloud 14 rolls out with two major security features

You can use Nextcloud to set up your own cloud storage either on an office server or off your own external servers. NextCloud, while easy to set up for a Linux power-user, might prove a challenge for some. Still, if you want real control, it’s hard to beat.

Nextcloud comes in both a free and a business edition, Nextcloud Files. This version offers basic support for up to 50 users for 1,900 Euros a year. The code’s all open source, so if you feel up to the challenge, you can run it all yourself.

How much storage can you get with it? How much do you want? I have a 4TB Nextcloud drive in my office and another terabyte off my co-hosted server rack. There are Nextcloud desktop clients for Linux, macOS, and Windows and mobile apps for Android and iOS. You can also use the WebDAV protocol to directly integrate Nextcloud drives into your local file system.

Nextcloud is more than just an easy way to set up a private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud. The Nextcloud suite of programs also include Nextcloud Talk for private web-conferencing and NextCloud Groupware, for e-mail, calendaring, and contacts

This cloud storage solution is for anyone who wants the maximum amount of control over their cloud and doesn’t mind doing some extra work to get it just right.

OneDrive

OneDrive

OneDrive

Formerly SkyDrive, Microsoft’s OneDrive is what Apple wants iCloud Drive to be when it grows up. Starting with Windows 8, OneDrive is baked into the operating system.

As far as a Windows user is concerned, OneDrive is just another directory in the file explorer. Talk about it easy! Anyone can use it on the web, with a desktop app for Mac and earlier versions of Windows, and with OneDrive apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Xbox. Yes, Xbox.

Also: OneDrive tips and tricks: How to master it

OneDrive comes with 5GB of free storage. Office 365 users get an extra terabyte for starting with the $6.99-per-month subscription. If you’re an Office 365 user, this is a no brainer. You can also add 50GB to OneDrive for $1.99 per month. Like Google and Chromebooks, Microsoft also offers free storage if you buy a Microsoft Surface device.

OneDrive’s real selling point is, besides working hand-in-glove with Windows, it also works closely with Microsoft Office programs. With Office 365 you can also collaborate with others in documents and spreadsheets in real time with your partners.

If you want to take OneDrive into your business, Microsoft stands ready to help with OneDrive for Business. This is not a storage plan, per se. But, like Google Drive has been merged into Google Docs, OneDrive for Business is a marriage of OneDrive and Office 365. With Office 365 Business, Business Essentials, or Business Premium plans, the prices start at $5 a user per month with an annual commitment. With any of these packages, you get 1TB of storage per user.

There’s no question who will get the most from OneDrive. It’s anyone who’s wedded to Windows and Microsoft Office. If that’s you, starting using it already. You’ll be glad you did.

What’s the best cloud storage for you?

It depends on what you use and what you want to do with it. All of these services give you more than enough free or cheap service for small business purposes. In short, don’t be distracted by how many free gigabytes of storage you get; it’s not that important.

Personally, I prefer Google Drive and Nextcloud, but then those meet my needs best. For you, it may be a different story. To sum up:

  • All-in-one office/cloud/workflow: Box, Google Drive, or Nextcloud
  • Apple users: Amazon, Dropbox, or Google Drive (until iCloud Drive matures)
  • Ease of use and multiple devices: Dropbox
  • Google users: Google Drive
  • Linux users: Nextcloud
  • Users who place high value on having data control: Box or Nextcloud
  • Windows users: OneDrive

So, get out there, find a service and start saving and backing up your files to the cloud. It will make your life much easier.

Previous and related coverage:

Why iCloud makes the Apple retail store experience a total mess

Apple’s consumer cloud storage doesn’t just make backing up your device inconvenient. It also makes for a very negative in-store experience.

Dropbox bolsters smart search capabilities with automatic text recognition

The company is rolling out an automatic image text recognition capability that performs optical character detection on photos of documents, including receipts and field reports.

OneDrive tips and tricks: How to master Microsoft’s free cloud storage

If you haven’t checked out OneDrive lately, you’re missing out. Over the past two years, Microsoft has methodically added a raft of new features that can help you back up personal files and photos. In this post, I show you some of the most useful options for saving and sharing files and folders.

Google Drive paid consumer storage plans become Google One

The update, with some cheaper pricing and more perks, makes Google’s consumer storage plans more competitive against options like Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive.

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Street Legal 2017 BAC Mono lands at auction

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Some sports cars are made for comfort and cruising long distances, and some are more built for days spent at the track. The BAC Mono certainly falls into the second category. It’s a track day god and one of the highest performance single-seat cars you could ever own. The coolest part of the BAC Mono, in this case, is that it is registered and legal to drive on the streets in the US.

The car is finished in white with a red wrap over the top and a black interior. The seat appears to be done in leather and the car has an open cockpit complete with a digital steering wheel that looks straight out of an F1 car. The car up for auction has only 3,000 miles on the odometer.

The Carfax report shows no accidents, and it features 17-inch wheels and AP Racing brakes. The Williams harness inside the cockpit is FIA approved. The car was constructed in England and then assembled in the US. The seller is a dealership and says that the only modifications to the car are a red wrap over white paint. The car was originally orange.

It does have aftermarket stickers on the sides and a GoPro mount above the seat for recording track day festivities. Power for all BAC Mono cars comes from a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder that makes 280 horsepower and 207 pound-foot of torque. The engine is from Ford and was modified by Cosworth. Power goes to the rear wheels via a 6-speed sequential transmission shifted with paddles behind the steering wheel.

The AP Racing calipers squeeze carbon ceramic brakes. The car appears to be ready for the track or streets. It’s sure to be one of the fastest rides at the track day. The car has three days to go at cars&bids and is at $85,500 right now.

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2022 Acura MDX Type S revealed as Acura heads to Pikes Peak

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The Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb is going on soon as automakers and racers from around the world converge on Colorado Springs to race up the mountain. Among the many automakers participating in the event for 2021 is Acura. The automaker has revealed the 2022 MDX Type S as the tow vehicle for the Acura race team.

Acura has confirmed that it’s entering four different racecars into the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that are all going to be driven by the Acura R&D engineers. All four of the vehicles are production-based and will race up the mountain on June 27, taking on the challenging 12.42-mile 156-turn mountain course.

The hill climb is one of the most dangerous races that automakers can participate in as cars have been destroyed and participants have been killed during the event over the years. It’s not drivers in cars that face the most danger during the race. Motorcyclists are much more likely to die during the event. The 2022 MDX Type S is being used to tow one of the TLX Type S cars from the team shop in Bremen, Ohio, to Pike’s Peak, Colorado. The SUV will also be used to support the Accurate team during the competition.

The MDX Type S is a high-performance version of the company’s SUV featuring a turbocharged engine. The vehicle is the first Acura SUV to wear the Type S badge and is the fastest and most powerful SUV Acura has ever built. It will go on sale later this year. For now, Acura is mum on any performance specifications for the MDX Type S.

Acura has historically done well at the hill climb and currently holds the hybrid class record set last year by driver James Robinson in the “Time Attack” Acura NSX at 10:48.094. Acura also holds the open division record at 9:24.433, set by Peter Cunningham driving the Acura TLX GT racing car.

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Toyota foils leakers by offering an official image of the 2022 Tundra

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Earlier this week, leaked images were going around claiming to show the next generation 2022 Toyota Tundra. Automakers never like leaks, and often they simply deny that the images are of their vehicle or ignore the leak altogether. However, Toyota used a different tactic when images of its 2022 Tundra leaked, choosing to release an official image of the truck.

2022 Tundra TRD Pro

With Toyota’s move, talk of the 2022 Tundra has moved from the leaked images to Toyota’s official image. However, it’s worth noting that Toyota only offered a single image of the TRD Pro version of the Tundra and offered no details on the truck. Last month, SlashGear posted a review of the 2021 Tundra TRD Pro, highlighting that it was the last hurrah for the current generation of the truck.

However, it does offer a nice opportunity for us to compare the exterior of the 2021 model to the 2022 model. What we see is significant changes on the exterior of the truck. While the overall profile remains virtually the same, the 2022 has a completely new front end that closely resembles the style used on the Tacoma and 4Runner SUV. That means a large black grille with hexagonal openings and bulky Toyota branding on the grille.

It’s unclear if non-TRD Pro versions will have the same front-end treatment. Another interesting tidbit that is easily seen from the official Toyota photograph is that the truck is equipped with an LED light bar underneath the Toyota logo in the grill and what appear to be LEDs underneath the grill on the front black portion of the bumper. The headlights are much smaller and appear to be LED.

2021 Tundra TRD Pro

The truck has modest black fender extensions and rolls on very attractive black wheels. We also note that the truck has integrated sidesteps to make it easier to get in and out. Unfortunately, there’s no indication of what changes might have been made to the interior or under the hood of the truck at this time.

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