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Pavel Andreev
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Cloud Storage: Pick The Best Option

Looking for cloud storage for personal or business use? This guide compares four of the most popular and relevant cloud storage options available today.

The modern enterprise workplace includes an abundance of mobile devices and computers that generate a serious need for safe, accessible, and convenient storage and sharing of data. Cloud storage provides the flexibility of accessing files from anywhere in the world, with the benefit of knowing that important documents, images, videos, and other data and software are securely stored and available at all times.

Cloud storage is used both by IT professionals and simple users for saving all kinds of data and exchanging information. Large companies are experiencing a heavy increase in demand for this technology for internal documentation and nomenclature storage. While it is not difficult to check the price per gigabyte and the level of security each option offers, the trick is to find an optimal combination of these and other factors that are important to your business. It is ultimately up to IT manager to prioritize these criteria and communicate them to users. 

In this guide I will compare four of the most popular and relevant cloud storage options available today. The goal is to help set you in the right direction to identify the right solution for your business as well as your personal cloud storage goals. 

First, let's identify the main advantages and limitations of cloud services.

Advantages include the following:

  • Cloud services relieve customers from having to create and maintain storage infrastructures
  • All storage and data backup procedures are carried out without client participation
  • The customer pays only for the actual volume used, which eliminates the cost of buying extra hard drives
  • The information is stored in the cloud, accessible via the client application or the web on any supported device, anywhere in the world
  • Data may be shared with one click

As far as shortcomings, the main concern is security, followed by processing speed and transmission of data to the user. Connection speed problems mostly relate to the quality and capacity of the customer's Internet connection. It is also worth noting that the user could lose all of his data in of the event of a cloud service closing, if not warned of the impending shutdown ahead of time.

Now for the fun part -- benchmarking. For the purposes of this comparison, we've chosen Google Drive as an Android native storage, SkyDrive as a Windows phone receptive, and iCloud as the most convenient iOS platform storage. Dropbox is included as a progenitor and first of its kind. We have evaluated each of these solutions based on the following criteria:

  • Free account volume
  • Price in dollars per gigabyte
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Security aspects
  • Other features 

The chart below provides a summary of our findings. See the next pages for more details. 

Pavel Andreev is a quality assurance team lead with A1QA, an independent software testing company. His current responsibilities include analysis of technical and functional requirements, test documentation development, functional testing, GUI and usability testing, ... View Full Bio

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pavel andreev
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pavel andreev,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/19/2014 | 9:38:46 AM
Re: Cloud storage and company policy
Adam, I am grateful for your note, it's  really helpful. The only thing I would say  in my own defence is what I tried to review storages both used  for business and domestic the same time.
pavel andreev
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pavel andreev,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/19/2014 | 9:29:58 AM
Re: NSFB(Not safe for Buisness)
Paul, I totally agree one should be smart while using cloud storages, what's for sure. In fact your hard disk is much safer but does not provide you possibilities and features of clouds, so it's up to you to decide.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Strategist
5/17/2014 | 3:04:34 PM
NSFB(Not safe for Buisness)

One must ask if using these cloud services is safe for your business, if using them for that. Personal use is a different story. There have been many stories about data breaches. As long as you know the risks and don't store confidential info on them, in other words be smart about it.

adamfirester
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adamfirester,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/15/2014 | 1:03:39 PM
Re: Cloud storage and company policy
Pavel, while it's fair to state comfort with particular services and the reason for coverage, I feel the opener to this article is rather misleading in that it essentially suggests the 4 cloud file services focused on are equally appropriate for both personal and business use.  For some of the reasons cited here in the comments, most notably security, I would be hard pressed to consider any of these appropriate for the workplace.  Businesses need to retain control over their IP, and when we're talking regulatory data, it's game over if you've chosen a system that essentially allows for data loss/leak without any reasonable administrative controls such as auditing and reporting to tell you who is sharing what with whom.

You've also neglected to note that Microsoft has both consumer AND business offerings available (rebranded to OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, respectively).  The latter gives IT teams further control to restrict movement, and shortly, DLP according to MSFT if you're brave enough to take on that beast.  For those of us who are a bit gunshy of full-on DLP implementations, both Box and Citrix (Sharefile) offer very viable services that provide auditing/reporting capabilities, a well as the granular controls over files/folders that you would expect with an enterprise-class software system. (n.b. while DropBox does technically have a business offering, it is not nearly mature and robust enough for me to seriously consider it).

I have piloted all 3 of these services I've mentioned, and all are, in my opinion, far better suited to business use than any of those that have been discussed in this article.  If I were an SMB, I might possibly find them cost prohibitive and feel pressured to compromise with use one of the freely available consumer services and stringent corporate policy controls in place, but it is far from my first choice.  Becoming front page news in the end is far more costly to a business than what they might spend on a good CFS.

That's not to say that nobody out there is using DropBox, Google Drive, and consumer-grade OneDrive for work purposes behind the backs of their IT team; we've all heard of shadow IT.  The key here is to offer a service that is as easy to use as those are, yet provide the security, stability and integration features you would look for with any other business solution.  
pavel andreev
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pavel andreev,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/15/2014 | 7:49:33 AM
Re: Cloud storage and company policy
James, thanks for your question.

The problem was the following: Dropbox has a 'Refer' function, that enables the transition to a different site directly from the document or from information stored on the Dropbox website. And this feature allows you to see the name of your file and track it. Of course, this does not let attacker to gain passwords or information about the users, however, some information regarding  actual files stored in Dropbox, attackers still could get. Fortunately, not all files are at risk but only documents that contain hyperlinks.

Dropbox has fixed this problem and now all  information in redirection to third-party sources will be encrypted.

So, as for me, I still trust the service.

 
James Lokhart
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James Lokhart,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/15/2014 | 5:26:47 AM
Re: Cloud storage and company policy
Pavel, thank you for valuable research you've made.

Do you beleive storages like Dropbox are "making a hole" in security being used by business? We heard a lot of horror stories in these latter days describing damaging leaks ... 
George12357
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George12357,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2014 | 3:42:38 PM
The COPY service is not mentioned

 Why use copy.com?

15 GB initial free storage

Best referral program: 5gb for both, each referral

Advanced security & encryption: storage controlled by Barracuda, AES-256 encryption

Fair sharing program: split the bill on storage like splitting a bill in restaurant

Cross platform (Android, iOS, Windows)

Details at: https://techlib.barracuda.com/copy

It is working seamlessly

 

You can use my referral link to apply and get your first 5gb referral bonus +15gb initial (all free), and help me too: https://copy.com?r=bqt9V2

Register, install the PC, mobile (or both) app, and
reply COPY verification Email (in updates tab in Gmail)

pavel andreev
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pavel andreev,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2014 | 11:53:04 AM
Re: Cloud storage and company policy
Susan, thanks a lot for your interest!

Box cloud is a pioner of cloud technologies and we can surely include it in the list of the best cloud services.

Unlike its main competitor Dropbox, which is more focused on individual users, Box.com relies on corporate use, providing convenient tools for document management within small and medium-sized companies. This service is used by companies such as Procter&Gamble and Panasonic. Regarding to safety, you can be sure that you data placed safely. In practice I have never used this one. Dropbox and GDrive are more comfortable for me.

Since A1QA has some experience in testing cloud storages my participation  brought me understanding that all of the most popular cloud services have a good security level, and wide list of internal tools. So, IT manager determines what is more important  for  him/her & the company- safety or volume, price or internal features.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Strategist
5/14/2014 | 9:35:41 AM
Cloud storage and company policy
This is an intersting topic -- as an IT pro, you probably feel one way about cloud storage, but as a user, you may feel another. I actually use four of the platforms mentioned here for different things. Two of them are work related, although not technically supported by my IT team, plus I have a corporate Box account. That's cumbersome for me to manage, and probably not very secure. What's your experience?
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