Considering Your Cloud Storage Options

Posted on November 5, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in OneDrive with 0 Comments

Considering Your Cloud Storage Options

Many are understandably outraged by Microsoft’s decision to scale back on the capabilities of OneDrive. But what are the alternatives for Windows users? And how do they stack up to the newly defanged OneDrive?

To be clear, these are tier-one services only, since I would never trust some unknown company with my data. There are also services for consumers/individuals only. And for mobile, I am not considering the needs of Amazon or Blackberry devices, like most people.

Microsoft OneDrive

Free storage: 5 GB
Paid storage: 50 GB for $2 per month ($24 per year)
Paid storage: 1 TB for $70 per year (Office 365 Personal) or $100 per year (Office 365 Home, up to 5 users)
Camera backup: Windows phone, Android, iOS (full quality)
Advantages: Built-in to Windows 10, broad coverage on mobile devices.
Disadvantages: Unreliable. Poor performance. No way to access folders you don’t sync in File Explorer.

Dropbox

Free storage: 2 GB
Paid storage: 1 TB for $10 per month ($120 per year)
Camera backup: Windows phone, Android, iOS (full quality)
Advantages: Fast and reliable. Excellent sharing capabilities. Broad coverage on mobile devices.
Disadvantages: Relatively expensive. A bit harder to configure desktop sync to only include certain folders.

Google Drive

Free storage: 15 GB
Paid storage: 100 GB for $2 per month ($24 per year)
Paid storage: 1 TB for $10 per month ($120 per year)
Paid storage: 10 TB for $100 per month ($1200 per year)
Paid storage: 20 TB for $200 per month ($2400 per year)
Paid storage: 30 TB for $300 per month ($3600 per year)
Camera backup: Android, iOS
Advantages: Lots of free storage, can pay for as much storage as you need.
Disadvantages: Google is untrustworthy. No Windows phone client. No 1 TB incremental tiers.

Apple iCloud

Free storage: 5 GB
Paid storage: 50 GB for $1 per month ($12 per year)
Paid storage: 200 GB for $3 per month ($36 per year)
Paid storage: 1 TB for $10 per month ($120 per year)
Camera backup: iOS only
Advantages: None.
Disadvantages: Apple is an unknown in cloud storage. No Windows phone client. Apple-centric service only works well for those who buy completely into the i-ecosystem.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Free storage: n/a
Paid storage: Unlimited photos and 5 GB for files for $12 per year (or “free” as a perk with Amazon Prime, which is $99 per year)
Paid storage: Unlimited everything for $60 per year
Camera backup: Android, iOS
Advantages: Unlimited storage is crazy inexpensive.
Disadvantages: Amazon is untrustworthy/it’s unclear if this pricing will remain if Cloud Drive is ever popular. No Windows phone client.

A couple of thoughts here.

I personally factor out Apple and Amazon because I don’t trust these companies with my data, and neither supports Windows phone. But it’s hard to overlook Amazon’s unlimited offering, which is just $60 a year. In fact, that would be a logical replacement for OneDrive for people who really do need more than 1 TB of storage, if only for archival purposes.

That said, the 1 TB tier is clearly the sweet spot for most. Here, Google and Dropbox are priced identically at $120 per year. But for just $100, you can get 1 TB of OneDrive storage for up to five users as part of Office 365 Home, and full Office on up to five PCs (plus other perks). That is incredible, and while we’re all still really burned about OneDrive, come on: This is still a no-brainer for most Windows users.

If you do go the Office 365 Home route, you could consider setting up different accounts for yourself, and use them for different storage needs. I don’t actually do this, but I could for example have [email protected], [email protected] and so on, each with its own 1 TB of space.

You don’t have to use just one service. I use Dropbox for critical, time-sensitive work files (and other important things like books I’m writing), but use OneDrive for archival purposes. So I get the performance and reliability of Dropbox when I really need it, and then just dump stuff into OneDrive when I don’t need it, and if it takes a while to sync, it doesn’t matter. I also backup photos to both OneDrive and Google Photos on my iPhone and Android handset (and to just OneDrive on Windows phone).

On that note, I’m going to stick with what I’m doing and see how OneDrive evolves over the next year. When it comes to OneDrive and Windows 10, it’s fair to say things can only get better at this point.