Recently my twitter feed blew up with the news of the newest competitor to join the personal cloud storage race, Google. While Google’s offering looks strangely simliar to nearly everyone else, we can gain one thing from this news. Google is taking the threat of cloud storage seriously. The reason being is that if Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft (yes – even Microsoft) gain market share in one area, they are likely to gain it in other areas. So, it was as good of time as any to ship Google Drive.
With all these cloud storage providers on the market, which one should you choose?
Here are the top players in the space (with Google being added based on their other properties and the prior adoption of Google Docs).
Dropbox was one of the top companies to this race and has gained considerable marketshare (over 50M users). The best thing I can say about Dropbox is that it is extremely simple to use. As someone who works with Dropbox nearly daily, training those that are foreign to it and sometimes not tech savvy at all, Dropbox is a king. It installs as a drive on your machine and works like it was meant to be there. You can also roll out links to share a particular file or invite a friend to an entire folder. If said friend is new to Dropbox, Dropbox tells you thanks by giving you some free additional storage.
Strangely enough, there are still companies (large and small) that do not utilize any sort of shared folders. Perhaps this is due to the lack of know-how, sense of need or a real desire to want shared storage. Needless to say, Dropbox gives you a really straight forward experience and after a few weeks of using it, you will forget what life was like without it.
Dropbox has also allowed for developers to build onto its functionality – creating their own apps, widgets, and tools that turn Dropbox into much more than a shared drive.
I have been a user of Box for a long time. That said, I have barely used it. The reason being is that it is not that useful. The UI itself is pretty simple, however I find myself having to login and navigate much more than Dropbox. Today you will find my Box account holding a ton of backup data as they tend to give away free storage 50 gigs at time – so why not using it as my own free version of Carbonite?
I will give Box lots of props for getting the app community out and active, integrating with many of the web 2.0 companies like LinkedIn, Salesforce, and Google Apps. My primary use for Box in the past was to host my resume in my LinkedIn profile while being able to track some basic analytics (location and time) on who downloaded this resume. As URL Shorteners like bit.ly and goo.gl became more prominent, this feature became less useful. The most genius thing that one-upped Box would have to be the add a friend, add more storage concept used by Dropbox. Coupled with a simple conversion/sign-up, enrolling in Dropbox is really a pleasant experience.
Box also offers some much more sophisticated sharing features that are nice touches when you are working on multi company/vendor projects as well as private labeling.
An immediate plus for Google Drive is that Google leveraged much of their already existent functionality in Google Docs and rolled it into a drive user interface. In fact, when Johnny and I first looked at Google Drive our immediate response was “they turned Google Docs into a drive.” Simple. This is a great thing unless you know Google’s track record for a lot of their products. Its honestly as if Google thinks that they own the internet and that when someone else is offering something that they dont have either they need to 1) buy them or 2) replicate them. Sadly, this looks a bit more like the second option. Don’t get me wrong, Google is great. Its just that there are lot of other really great innovations available that are better than some of the things that they build as a bit of an afterthought.
Backblaze Business Online Backup
Nirvanix Enterprise Cloud Storage
Online Storage by Rackspace
Windows Azure Storage
Zmanda Cloud Backup
Tips for selection:
1. Choose a cloud storage option that you can explain to other people. If you cannot easily explain it, it is likely overly complicated.
2. Choose a service that will give you want you need. Look for something that will give you what you need and grow with you. If you are looking for something for your organization, make sure it meets all of your internal security requirements.
3. Look for an option that will be seamless for you. With the growing popularity of cloud storage, there are plenty of reviews (like this one) that can help you out. Youtube will even provide you demos of people using each service.
4. Can you access your data when and where you need it? Is there a mobile app for this service and will that app actually allow me to use the data? Make sure you look at reviews and screenshots in each appstore before you make your decision.
5. Don’t be afraid to add another cloud storage service. This can be done for the sake of your own curiosity or creating redundancy.
Which one of these do you use and which would you recommend?