The year is quickly coming to a close, and that likely means you have accrued a slew of new photos, important documents and much more.
In fact, InfoTrends estimated that 2017 brought in a total of 1.2 trillion digital photos worldwide, with 85 percent of those originating from a smartphone. We’re probably all guilty of edging a little too close to the data limit on our phones, forcing us to delete photos, texts, music or that danged movie you’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t gotten around to yet.
The reality of it is it’s not just smartphones. You pile up photos and videos on your DSLR memory card, calling for the occasional photo dump; have different versions of documents stored on your computer hard drive from any collaborative work you’ve done in the last year; and maybe even loaded up that laptop or tablet with music and movies, so you can have entertainment wherever you are!
So, what do you do with all that data you’ve acquired from the past year?
It’s a real quandary for some, who may collect (maybe even hoard) digital files. In the not-so-distant past, many would run out, buy a USB or an external hard drive, load it all up with those precious items and call it a day.
But, there is another increasingly popular option: send them to your free cloud storage.
Unlike saving to your computer’s hard drive or an external device, cloud storage lets users to place their data in a remote database, accessible through the Internet. And it’s one of the most advantageous reasons to use cloud storage.
What are some of the other reasons folks are moving to cloud storage?
- Sharing and collaboration capabilities: You can share certain files with individuals of your choice. Many also allow for collaboration, meaning one person can edit a photo, as an example, and have the edited photo ready for everyone else.
- Online backup and recovery: For particularly important documents — or even items that you’ll want to keep forever — back them up online. Cloud storage houses any information in data centers, which are redundant to ensure that you can access it at any time, even if one facility is down for upkeep.
Wondering if there’s a downside? Consider these:
- Internet reliant: If you’re somewhere that has no Internet connection — and you get no cellphone signal — you won’t be able to access your stored information.
- Security: We live in a world in which a hack occurs every 39 seconds on average, so it’s only natural to a little wary of storing your data — especially ones that contain sensitive information — online. Most cloud providers have several ways to buff up security, though, including encryption, authentication and authorization, or even all three.
- Limit to free: While many providers offer free cloud storage, there is usually a limit. As an example, iCloud — the popular online storage system for Apple products — provides users with 5 GB for free, while Samsung Cloud gives users 15 GB for free. Online backup for all of your devices also has its limits. Dropbox, one of the most popular for file sharing, caps users to just 2 GB for free. You’ll have to take into account the types of files you’re adding to the cloud, what format those are in, and other factors to see if you might even come close to pushing that limit.
Strongly considering moving some of those files to the cloud? Now, let’s take a look at some of the best cloud storage systems.
IDrive has a free version, which will store up to 5 GB of data, but it also has paid options for personal and business use. IDrive Personal greatly expands the amount of storage you can hold, with options for 2 TB and 5 TB. This provider also allows for an unlimited amount of devices, including your mobile ones, and will sync up your data across all devices in real-time.
Got different versions of the same document? IDrive will automatically identify the modified parts of those documents and back it up in real-time. And, you won’t have to worry about accidentally deleting something from your computer hard drive, as data is not deleted from your online account unless done so manually or through Archive Cleanup.
2. Google Drive
Similar to Samsung Cloud, Google Drive stores up to 15 GB for an account holder. (If you need more, you may want to look into Google One.) Those who have a gmail email account will be able to use the same login to start saving information onto Drive. Those who don’t can easily create a Google account. This solution is a great one for those who are already constantly using the rest of Google’s Suite, including Google Photos, Google Sheets and others.
With pCloud, you’ll start off with 10 GB of storage for free. It also offers a Premium 500 GB and a Premium Plus 2 TB package — both of which you can pay monthly or a one-time “lifetime” plan. This provider also allows you to “unlock” more free space with certain offers and customer referrals.
This service will let you upload any files, regardless of size, and includes features such as a built-in video player, HD streaming and music playlists.
Backblaze is a perfect tool for all you digital hoarders out there. The service does not offer free cloud storage — all plans are paid — but the real draw is unlimited data. Plans are affordable, though, at either $5/month, $50/year or $95 for two years. Like pCloud, Backblaze allows for online backup of files of any size and includes “auto-threading,” in which the service will automatically detect the right settings for you, depending on your Internet speeds and other factors.
If you’re a Microsoft user through and through, you might want to look into OneDrive, which includes integration of other products from the tech giant. Users will get 5 GB of data without any costs, but you can upgrade to a paid plan with a minimum of 50 GB and a maximum of 6 TB. (Terabyte storage can come with Office 365, Microsoft Office’s cloud-based suite, which includes Word, Excel and Powerpoint, among others.)
Find the best cloud storage service for you? Don’t forget to take a good, hard look at your Internet services. If you’re finding that your Internet solution isn’t cutting it, consider Kinetic Gig, which will not only give you the unlimited high-speed Internet you crave but also the necessary upload speed you’ll want for the continuous backup loop. See if Kinetic Gig is available in your area!