Cloud storage summary


Choosing and mixing cloud storage options for file send and sync.

Office-Watch.com received some great feedback after our features on sharing files with Dropbox or Skydrive.

Some readers pointed out other cloud storage services like BOX which offers 10GB free and has real-time updates on downloads etc.

Strangely, no-one mentioned Google Drive which offers 15GB free, Windows/Mac sync software and web based editing via Google Docs.

SugarSync has a direct method of sharing the link to a large file from the rioght-click Explorer menu.

GoodSync has no direct cloud storage but for a one-off price you can sync folders on multiple computers as well as other cloud services like Google Drive or SkyDrive.


Cubby

Cubby is a lesser known but interesting contender. Their cheapest paid option (currently $48 per year for 100GB of online storage, usually $84) offers a lot more than the advertised storage space. You can sync unlimited data between your own computers – for example desktop and laptop. Existing folders on your computer to be synced, instead of being locked into a fixed folder structure (i.e. Dropbox, Skydrive and Google Drive). However the mobile apps are limited.


File Sending services

There are also services intended just for sending large files via email.

Jack S. said “Another solution is Filemail. It even tracks delivery. http://www.filemail.com/

Andy B suggested https://www.wetransfer.com/ “The service is free and their notification process is a big help.”


What to use?

Andy and other felt that sharing via Dropbox or Skydrive seemed too difficult … “Like birthing babies” which is a comparison only a man could make . Our guides were necessarily detailed for a broad audience, but in practice the process is very simple.

Whether you use Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive or something else, we feel that these general cloud services are better than the limited services that just send large files. Cloud storage has many uses beyond just sending files like backup, sharing files between computers etc. Automatic synchronization of files between your computer and the cloud makes upload/download a lot easier too.


Mix them up!

You can definitely use more than one cloud storage service and many people do. We’ve seen people with four or more sync software services running on a single computer.

Skydrive storage is used for Office documents because of the online editing. Alternatively Google Drive.

Dropbox for photos and videos, taking advantage of the good support across different OS and devices, (notably Camera Upload). Since Dropbox is so popular it’s the easiest option for sharing a folder to exchange files.

Cubby Pro for the ability to sync folders between computers without cloud storage plus 100GB online at a cheaper price than Dropbox.


Wish List

Certainly the cloud storage systems could be better.

Dropbox-like notifications of new/changed files should be a standard feature. Users should not be expected to check manually for changes.

None of the services support multiple accounts (e.g. personal, hobby, work etc) in their sync software. The current workaround is to use different services for each purpose, for example Skydrive for document collaboration, Dropbox for sending/sharing large files.

Most services have a fixed folder structure that you must save to. Only a few let you sync existing folders on your computer.

The mobile apps have poor offline support. Generally you can mark individual files for offline access (though the methods aren’t always obvious) but can’t tag an entire folder for synchronization. These days mobile devices can carry 32GB, 64GB or even 128GB so there’s plenty of room for a copy of what you have elsewhere. The mobile apps should also support saving to secondary storage (e.g. microSD cards) that some devices have, but notably not Apple devices.

Almost all the services require files to be saved in the cloud before mirroring to computers/devices. With all the, justified, concern about security and privacy there’s a real need for the option to sync folders between computers with no ‘cloud’ copy retained. This was a wonderful feature in Microsoft’s Live Mesh which the company unceremoniously dumped because it didn’t suit their corporate strategy.


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