Here at Media Components, we use a variety of cloud services to move files back and forth, share with each other, and keep in-sync across multiple computers and mobile devices. Cloud-based file storage is a great option for anyone at the personal or business level, and with so many options offering robust and free services, it’s a no-brainer to fit it into your workflow.
Cloud-based file storage is perfect for those with multiple devices, as it keeps your files in sync across as many computers as you have. In addition, it allows you to access your files on your mobile devices, and via a web interface on computers you may not work on normally. Most importantly, these services all keep a copy of your files on their secure server, meaning you’ll have an offsite backup in case your local copies or backups get corrupted or deleted. Here are a few of the most popular options and their pros and cons:
Dropbox – 2 GB free, up to 18GB with referrals
Dropbox is the most popular option, and one of the earliest to provide a user-friendly service. Dropbox offers a great sync app with deep integration with Mac and Windows, and apps for iOS and Android that allow you to view your Dropbox files and share them with others or edit them in other apps that support it. Many apps support editing and saving to and from Dropbox, with even better integration on the way.
Box.com – 5 GB free
Box is newer on the scene but has quickly matured. Though geared more at enterprise applications, they offer personal tiers as well, starting with a 5 GB free account. Box doesn’t yet have the large ecosystem of Dropbox, but they do offer a great web interface that competes with Google’s Drive service, allowing you to edit your Documents from the web, even if you’re not at your own computer.
Copy – 15 GB free, 5 GB per referral
Copy is also fairly new, but catching hold thanks in large part to its unmatched free capacity: 15 GB to start, with 5 GB extra for everyone you refer. If you’re successful in getting others to sign up, you could get huge amounts of free storage very quickly. Copy, like Dropbox, is multi-platform and has nice mobile apps; however, Copy lacks many of the small touches that makes Dropbox such a great solution.
Most of this is likely only due to the fact that Dropbox has had much longer to tweak its offerings and we can expect Copy to only get better. We at Media Components use Copy every day to share files between computers and from one to another. It allows us to all work on the same projects without the high costs of storing large files on other cloud services.
Amazon.com – 5 GB free
Amazon’s free cloud drive option is by far the least interesting option on this list: the apps don’t have the levels of polish as the other offerings, and their free offering and non-existent referral program mean that you’ll have to pay if you want to upload more than 5 GB. However, if you have an Amazon account, you already have a Cloud Drive account, so the one advantage they have is that you won’t need another username and password to remember.
Where Amazon does win is with it’s Amazon Glacier service. While not a direct competitor to these other cloud sync services, Glacier is a great, dirt-cheap option for storing a remote backup of all your files, designed for backups that you won’t access often, if at all. Prices start at just one cent per gigabyte.
What service is best?
Bottom line, each of these services will serve you well. Copy is the clear winner if you want to store a large amount of files for free, but Dropbox easily wins for popularity. Most people will be using Dropbox if they’re using any sort of cloud service, and sharing between Dropbox users is much easier than sharing between a Copy/Box/Amazon user and a Dropbox user. Box has one advantage in its cloud editing option, and Amazon doesn’t have much to offer except in the case of extremely cheap secure backups, which are always a good idea.