The cloud storage world’s top dogs
Choosing which technological advancement has been the most useful for businesses is a tough one. Smartphones are awesome for communication and tablets are a great accessory for the boardroom (for more on tablets, click here). However, for sheer practicality we'd plump for cloud storage every time. The ability to access the same files from multiple computers is a simply invaluable one. For those just getting going, we're going to take a look at the standout cloud storage providers currently in operation.
All hail the king. Dropbox is probably the most widely recognised cloud storage provider and was certainly one of the earliest to popularise the idea. It is still more than ideal for beginners looking to get going. Dropbox supports virtually every single operating system (in both traditional computers and handheld units), has a host of extra useful features and has a substantial third party developmental community full to the brim with clever people doing what they can to make the app even more useful. Plans start with 2GB, which is more than enough for any company that relies mainly on documents.
Google docs (a frontrunner in the early days of document sharing) has been moulded into the Google Drive. Despite being relatively new on the block (it's still just only a year old) Google Drive offers a substantial amount of space – 15GB – right out of the door. It's obviously perfectly suited for all of the documents that would have previously been created in Google Docs (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings), but works fine with other files as well. There are also a number of additional plugins that can be added to make it even more powerful.
In the early days, Microsoft's sharing system was considered a bit of an embarrassment: clunky, slow and pretty tricky to use. However, it's been worked on and developed, and now integrates pretty effectively with Windows 8. If you use Office 2013, in particular, adding documents to the SkyDrive is a seamless process. There are also desktop clients that enable Mac users to make use the software if they want to. The space offered upfront is more than reasonable – 7GB, or 10GB if you’re a student. Like the previous two options, SkyDrive also has a third-party app option and open APIs, so additional capabilities will likely be added to it in the future. For Microsoft loyalists, especially, SkyDrive could well be the perfect choice.
We thought we'd go a bit leftfield for our final option. Bitcasa's Infinite Drive is named – as you might have guessed – after its capability to store virtually unlimited amounts of stuff. Seriously, we're talking terabytes here. There are syncing clients for both Windows and OS X, as well as mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows phone. This means that you can store whole movies and TV series directly to your mobile device. There's even a very cool plugin for Chrome that enables you to set BitCasa as your downloads folder. There is, of course, a slight cost for unlimited usage – 99 dollars per month – but for those that regularly need to access larger files, it's worth it.