So you're browsing the cloud storage marketplace, on a quest for the big warehouse in the sky for your firm. Offerings from behemoths, such as Amazon, Apple and Google, compete against the usual (and familiar) suspects, like Mozy and Dropbox. Plus, other third parties, including OpenDrive and Livedrive, are also vying for your storage dollars. One size doesn't fit all, as you'll discover.
Before you look at the various providers' ins and outs, you need to determine your own specific priorities. If your company is comprised of collaborating telecommuters, for instance, who hop from PC to iPad to smartphones galore -- and back again -- you need a platform-agnostic sync-friendly service, with mobile apps up the wazoo.
If you shuttle gargantuan files back and forth, consider a storage plan with some serious capacity. You need to look for a plan that either does not cap file size below your norm or one that has no file size restrictions. Some providers offer unlimited storage. Note that this all-you-can-eat approach will typically have a limit of its own -- such as the number of users. And of course, you will pay for each additional seat.
Overall, cloud storage services do a solid job of protecting your data. Many of the companies we looked at encrypt your files while they are en-route to the cloud andguard your files while in storage. Not surprisingly, with some premium business and enterprise plans, you're paying for more sophisticated security. To please customers whose data is super sensitive, some vendors now also offer plans where the customer -- and not the storage provider -- holds the encryption key.
While some services offer 14- or 30-day free trials, many of them reel you in with free storage accounts, which are ideal for your personal files, like music and photos. Expect the gratis accounts to run from a couple of gigs up to 7 GB of storage. Obviously, taking advantage of the freebies is an easy way to get familiar with the interface and check out its sharing and syncing procedures first-hand. At the same time, you can figure out whether it's worthwhile to pay for the vendor's business plan.
Your colleagues and clients can wax lyrical all they like about their cloud storage vendors. And that's great: Their feedback can help you decide on your chosen one(s). But remember that no matter which cloud storage service you select, you're essentially putting faith in another party to safeguard your files. Keeping that aspect in mind, read on for our latest snapshot of reliable cloud storage options.