What Can Cloud Storage Do for You?
The very best cloud storage solutions play nicely with other apps and services, making the experience of viewing or editing your files feel natural. Especially in business settings, you want your other software and apps to be able to retrieve or access your files, so making sure you use a service that easily authenticates with the other tools you use is a big deal. Box and Dropbox are particularly strong in this regard.
In fact, most cloud services offer some level of backup, almost as a consequence of their intended function. It follows logically that any files uploaded to a cloud service are also protected from disk failures, since there are copies of them in the cloud. But true online backup services can back up all of your computer’s files, not just those in a synced folder structure. Whereas syncing is about managing select files, backup tends to be a bulk, just-in-case play. With syncing, you pick the documents you might need and keep them in the cloud for easy access. With backup, you protect everything you think you might regret losing. Easy, immediate access is not guaranteed with online backup, nor is it the point. Peace of mind is.
Free vs. Paid
Many cloud storage services have a free account that usually comes with some limitations, such as the amount of storage they provide or a size limit on files you can upload. We prefer services that offer some level of free service (even if it’s only 2GB) rather than a time-based trial, because that lets you fully integrate a service into your life for several weeks while you get a feel for how it works and what might go wrong with your particular setup.
There are many other reasons to pay for cloud storage, from getting a lot more space (a terabyte really doesn’t cost all that much anymore) to being able to upload really big files. That last benefit is relevant to graphic designers, video editors, and other visual artists who often host enormous files. Other perks of paying for your cloud storage often include increased access to file-version history (meaning you can restore an important business proposal to the version you had before your colleague made a bunch of erroneous changes), more security, or more features for collaboration and teamwork.
The Best Cloud Storage Services
Here, we highlight only the best cloud storage services among those we’ve tested. When we tests these services, we evaluate their feature sets, ease of use, stability, and price. There are many more cloud storage services on the market that didn’t make the cut for this article, however. If you love a particular service that we didn’t include, please be sure to let us know about it in the comments. Click on the review links below for more detailed information on each of our favorite cloud storage and file-syncing services.