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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
2022 Genesis G70 Launch Edition previews sport sedan refresh
Genesis has revealed the new 2022 G70 Launch Edition, the first of the refreshed versions of its compact sports sedan to land in the US, looking handsome with the automaker’s striking new design language. Announced last October, Genesis’ smallest sedan will debut initially in the form of the limited-production 2022 G70 Launch Edition, with only 500 expected to be offered.
Where the old G70 had a squared-off fascia, this updated version is a lot softer in its angles. The bottom edge of the oversized shield-shaped front grille now comes to a point in the lower fascia, rather than being flat, while that lower grille section is more muscular and contoured.
It’s the headlamps, though, which are the biggest departure. They get Genesis’ new signature quad-LED element, with dual horizontal daytime running lamp lines on each side. It’s something we’ve seen the automaker put to good use on its larger sedans, and on SUVs like the new GV80.
Genesis says the new G70 is lower and wider at the front end, while the profile of the sedan is sharper, too. At the rear, the trunk lid has been smoothed out, with a more distinctive integrated spoiler. The taillamp clusters, meanwhile, have a more angular appearance, echoing the quad LED light signature at the front. Altogether it looks tidier and more focused than the outgoing car.
Inside, meanwhile, the changes are more subtle. The dashboard shape in general has been carried over, with dedicated HVAC control knobs, a physical transmission shifter, and a multifunction steering wheel. However there’s now a new 10.25-inch HD display atop the dashboard, replacing the old 8-inch version.
That gets the graphics from Genesis’ more recent models, a huge improvement compared to the Hyundai-donated software UI in the last-gen G70. There’s both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the driver gets an 8-inch HD digital gauge cluster flanked by analog dials.
As for what’s under the hood, don’t expect a departure from the existing engines. That includes the optional 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, with 365 horsepower. The entry engine is a carry-over of the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, with 252 horsepower. An 8-speed automatic is likely to be standard; the six-speed manual gearbox Genesis once offered won’t be making an appearance.
Genesis will keep the options simple for the Launch Edition: it’ll only offer the sedan in Verbier White or Melbourne Grey matte paint. 19-inch black wheels will be standard, as will a red leather interior. Although you’ll be able to pick RWD or AWD, the G70 Launch Edition will only be offered with the more potent V6 engine, Car & Driver reports.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed, though the current G70 starts at just north of $37k. Reservations for the Launch Edition are open now, with the first cars set to arrive in the US come the spring.
GMC Hummer EV SUV reveal dated: Watch the electric pickup go sideways on ice
GMC will reveal its second Hummer EV variant in just a few weeks time, with the SUV version of the all-electric super truck promising an alternative body-style to the original pickup. The GMC Hummer EV SUV will be unveiled on April 3, the automaker confirmed today, though this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the new version.
Back in July 2020, in fact, GMC teased what we could expect from the SUV body. As you might expect, it’s the same bold lines and chunky styling from the front back to roughly the C-pillars.
However unlike the pickup’s roughly 5 foot long bed, the SUV will have an enclosed cargo area. That will allow for a spare wheel to be mounted on the tailgate. We’re still expecting to see removable roof panels, allowing most of the top of the electric truck to be opened up, though final cargo capacity will have to wait until the official reveal.
As for what’s underneath the sheet metal, there we’re unlikely to see GMC straying too far from the architecture of the Hummer EV pickup. Based on GM’s Ultium platform for electric vehicles, that includes up to three motors and 1,000 horsepower in total, depending on trim. Torque vectoring – where power is individually controlled in its delivery to each rear wheel – and a “CrabWalk” mode that allows the trunk to track diagonally at low speeds in off-road or tight parking lot conditions are also supported.
0-60 mph should come in around 3 seconds for the most potent Hummer EV, GMC has said, while range will be up to around 350 miles on a charge. 800V DC fast charging with support for up to 350 kW should mean 100 miles of range added in just 10 minutes.
While GMC is launching the pickup version with the limited-availability 2022 Hummer EV Edition 1 first, it has more affordable versions planned for 2022 and beyond. That’s likely to be the same strategy the automaker takes with the electric SUV, with premium pricing and a heavily constrained supply to begin with. Reservations for the SUV will open on April 3, GMC has said.
As for progress on the electric pickup, GMC says it has been undertaking winter testing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, making ample use of the snow and ice to see how the all-wheel drive holds up. That also includes testing of the electronic stability control and traction control.
Production of the 2022 Hummer EV pickup is expected to begin in the fall, GMC says, with initial deliveries before the end of the year.
Storm armored MPV runs on hybrid power and is amphibious
A company from Ukraine called Highland Systems is showing off an interesting armored vehicle at the IREX Defense Expo in Abu Dhabi. The Storm uses a hybrid powertrain and has fully amphibious capabilities. That means it’s able to operate on land and can operate in water as well. Interestingly, the company is working on a version of the vehicle that will launch soon that’s also submersible.
The Storm is a tracked military vehicle, and while it’s certainly not the first amphibious tracked vehicle, it is the first to use a hybrid-electric powertrain. The vehicle has an 18 to 36-hour driving range in hybrid mode with its diesel range extender running. It can also operate on battery power for up to 3.5 hours, depending on operating speed.
The vehicle is quite massive weighing 17,600 pounds, and it seats six people inside. Its hybrid powertrain produces 2500 horsepower. With that much power on tap, the massive vehicle is an impressive performer with a top speed of 87 mph on land or 18.6 mph and water. That’s as much as three times faster than other competitors in the segment. It’s also able to handle waves in the open ocean of up to 60 inches.
The vehicle has 20-inches of ground clearance, and its tracks are made out of durable rubber. It can climb vertical steps as high as 60-inches and move across an 80-inch wide moat. Its tracks are modular and designed to allow individual treads to be replaced rather than the entire track. That design element makes the vehicle up to 70 percent less expensive to operate than other tracked models.
Storm is also armored, providing protection from ballistics, mines, and IEDs up to STANAG level 1 or 2. The vehicle is also able to be run by remote control allowing uncrewed or autonomous missions. Currently, Storm is a prototype the company is working on, the submersible version and a wheeled version. The company does plan to move the vehicle into production, stating that demand is strong.
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