This week, Amazon unveiled new unlimited plans for its Cloud Drive personal cloud storage service. How do these new plans compare to other cloud services for individuals, especially OneDrive?
On the surface, the Amazon Cloud Drive plans are certainly reasonable. There are two new choices:
Unlimited Photos Plan. This lets you store “an infinite number of photos in Cloud Drive” for just $11.99 per year. This includes existing photo collections, which you can upload from your PC with a Cloud Drive app as well as all future photos you take with smart phones or cameras. Additionally, this plan provides 5 GB of additional storage for videos or other documents and files.
Unlimited Everything Plan. This plan lets you store “an infinite number of new and existing photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music in Cloud Drive” for just $59.99 per year.
It should be noted that Amazon Prime subscribers—like me—already get unlimited photo storage, as well as an additional 5 GB of Amazon Cloud Drive storage, as part of their subscription (which costs $100 per year). So if you’re already paying for Prime, the Unlimited Photos plan is superfluous.
So, these are good deals, obviously. But this isn’t a slam dunk for Amazon.
Microsoft doesn’t offer OneDrive storage plans that compete with this, but it doesn’t have to thanks to Office 365. You can get Office 365 Personal for $69.99 a year—just $10 more than the Cloud Drive Unlimited Everything Plan—and that provides unlimited cloud storage plus a fully working copy of Office 2013 on PC or Mac and full functionality for mobile Office apps on Android, iOS, Windows and Windows Phone. Or you can pay $99.99 per year–$40 more than Unlimited Photos and get full Office and unlimited storage for up to five family members.
Adding to OneDrive’s advantage, most people who start storing their photos in a cloud service are likely doing so because it integrates with their smart phone, and aside from the few people using Fire Phone, there isn’t a big audience for Amazon’s Cloud Drive mobile apps. Amazon does make this app available for both Android and iPhone as well, but not Windows Phone. Meanwhile, OneDrive is available on all mobile platforms—Amazon, iOS, Google Play/Android, Windows Phone and Windows—with automatic photo backup, and it’s on PC and Mac too.
As for other personal cloud storage services, none are truly competitive.
Google Drive supports Android and iOS only and provides 1 TB of storage for $120 per year. There is no unlimited plan, but if you’re willing to pay $3600 per year, you can have 30 TB of space.
Apple iCloud supports only iOS mobile devices (there are PC and Mac clients though) and provides 1 TB of storage at a cost of $240 per year. There is no unlimited plan.
Dropbox supports all major mobile platforms, and PC and Mac, but it’s expensive: 1 TB of storage (Dropbox Pro) costs $120 per year. An unlimited plan (Dropbox for Business) is $180 per year.
Ultimately, while price is obviously a concern, another central part of this decision involves the platforms you use. And if you’re a Windows user at all—even if you use Android and/or iOS devices too—or a Mac user, for that matter, Office 365 plus OneDrive is simply the best deal there is. Period.
My advice? If you’re an individual, subscribe to Office 365 Personal for $69.99 per year and enjoy full Office on PCs, Macs, and devices, unlimited OneDrive cloud storage, and automatic photo backup on your phones. Or, subscribe to Office 365 Home for $99.99 per year, and get the exact same benefits but for up to five people. That’s five people getting unlimited cloud storage.
It’s a no brainer.