One of the more encouraging trends of the past year has been the speed with which Cloud-storage fees have plummeted.
Clearly, as the Internet of Things (IoT) movement gains momentum, an affordable and easy means of storing and sharing data and content between devices is paramount to a satisfying user experience, and it looks like we’re almost there.
Microsoft made the most recent announcement in this regard behind its OneDrive platform, where monthly fees for 1TB of storage now start at $6.99. On Monday, that got even better for Office 365 users, with the offer of unlimited storage capacity for most Office 365 consumer subscriber plans in coming weeks and months.
But Microsoft’s latest move is just one of a growing list as the Cloud-storage wars escalate among Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon and others.
In addition to storage, each service offers a variety of features that appeal to different target user audiences.
On top of that, prices have also continued to get more and more attractive for physical in-home storage devices, from portable hard drives to wireless NAS systems, offering better peace of mind (whether real or perceived) that your data is less vulnerable to hacker attacks.
But it’s hard to beat Cloud services for convenience in storing and sharing data and content between multiple devices from any location in the world where an Internet connection is possible.
The following is a sample of what some of the larger services have recently offered in the way of expanded features and lower pricing. Many other cloud services are also available:
Apple’s iCloud securely saves content like backed-up photos and videos from an iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and uses iCloud.com to access features like Photos, Find My iPhone, Mail, Calendar, Contacts, iWork for iCloud and more.
Up to six family members can share online purchases, along with family photos, calendars, locations, etc., thanks to iCloud's Family Sharing feature. Apple offers 5GB of free storage to start with tiered pricing for 20GB (99 cents per month), 200GB ($3.99 per month), 500GB ($9.99 per month) and 1TB ($19.99 per month).
Google Drive offers similar storage functionality but works with Gmail and Google+ Photos and other Google products to save attachments and back up photos, content and data.
Google Drive has its own Cloud-hosted productivity suite, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Drawings, among others. The Google Drive app is free and allows drag-and-drop syncing with the ability to work offline. It is built into Chromebooks to automatically back up files and photos, which are also available to view offline.
Users get 15GB of free storage to start with and larger capacity plans run: 100GB ($1.99 a month), 1TB ($9.99 a month), 10TB ($99.99 a month), 20TB ($199 a month) and 30TB ($299 a month).
Microsoft OneDrive is a similar service built into Windows 8, offering access to features like smart syncing, camera roll and PC backup, and Windows Store integration.
OneDrive is accessible by multiple devices to store any kind of file in the service, including photos, videos and documents.
OneDrive also works with Microsoft Office apps. OneDrive offers 15GB of storage free to start, and has larger capacity plans for: 100GB ($1.99 a month), 200GB ($3.99 a month) and 1TB ($6.99 a month).
Dropbox is a Cloud-storage service that allows uploading any type of file, works offline, and allows creating shared folders for such purposes as collaborative photo galleries.
Stored files are easily shared across multiple devices by dragging and dropping them to a Dropbox website folder or using mobile apps.
The service offers 2GB of free storage to start with. Other plans include 1TB ($9.99 a month) and unlimited ($15 month).
Amazon Cloud Drive offers similar service as Dropbox, with storage space accessible from up to eight specific devices, including mobile devices, computers and different browsers on the same computer.
The service has a variety of storage plans, beginning with 5GB free to start; 20GB ($10 a year), 50GB ($25 a year), 100GB ($50 a year), 200GB ($100 a year), 500GB ($250 a year) and 1TB ($500 a year).