This post was written by Guest Contributor Dale Denham, CIO of Geiger and self described business geek.
The hype is in full force around Google Drive. While some of it is deserved, the biggest benefit of Google Drive is bringing your attention to the value of the service provided by existing competitors.
Google Drive is 5 Gigabytes of free storage in the “cloud” for your files. Essentially, this means that if you work on a document using one device, you can access it from any of your devices eliminating the need to forward yourself an email containing a document that you create in one location (work for example) and need to edit it or access it from another location (your iPad or home laptop, for example).
If you install Google Drive or other “cloud” storage application on a second device, it will automatically synchronize the files on each device (iPad, PC, phone and mac). So any file you save will always be available to you on any device–even if you aren’t connected to the internet.
I recommend Dropbox to most people. However, I will highlight some additional applications below to help you choose what is best for you as each offer some compelling features.
5 GB of storage FREE, $60 a year for 100GB.
Google doc users will benefit as Google Drive keeps a copy of your Google docs on your computer just like you are used to with Word documents. As your clients start to share their Google doc files with you, having GDRIVE will allow those files to be on your local laptop/pc/mac in the way you are most comfortable with. You must have a Gmail account (it is free) to use G Drive. It’s fine for the basics, but it’s not as good as Dropbox for ease of use and integration.
7 GB of storage FREE, $50 a year for 100GB
The service is not intuitive and although it works and has a good price, I use it the least of all the services. You must have a Microsoft Hotmail or live account (both are free) to use SkyDrive.
2GB of storage FREE, $199 a year for 100 GB
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Dropbox has the best integration with all the operating systems (Mac, PC, IOS, Android and Linux). The price is slightly higher, but given the ease of use and fantastic integration with iPad apps, you will be happiest with Dropbox. Just recently, Dropbox added a feature making it easy to send a link to someone to download files without having to send the files. Dropbox is more expensive for additional storage than others, so if you have large storage requirements, consider Sugarsync.
5GB of storage FREE, $149 a year for 100 GB
The best thing about Sugarsync that makes it worth considering beyond Dropbox is that it does not require you to use a predetermined folder to synchronize files (Dropbox requires you to store files you want to synchronize in the Dropbox folder). But Sugarsync requires you to pick the folders you want to synchronize between machines, making the initial setup a tad bit more complicated. Another great feature is the Outlook plug-inwhich prompts you when you send files and offers to “send via Sugarsync.” Recipients get a link instead of clogging up email with a bulky file. The main drawback, other than a slightly more complicated setup, is that Dropbox has better integrations with many applications in IOS.
5 GB of storage FREE, $100 a year for 50 GB
iCloud is mostly used to synchronize your contacts between your IOS devices, but can be used for more. Although with all the features and pricing of Dropbox, most people are better off with Dropbox–unless you are 100% Apple. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you are probably already using iCloud to synchronize whether you know it or not.
5 GB of storage FREE, $240 a year for 50 GB
Box.net is a great product with great features and a large number of integrations with applications but very expensive past the free option. One very cool feature about box for distributors is that when viewing EPS files on the web, you can see the rendered image in within the browser.
2 BONUS reviews–not quite the same but worth mentioning.
Amazon offers cloud storage but does not focus on your files and documents. For $20 a year, you can have unlimited music and movie storage with Amazon. Plus, wherever you are, you can listen to or play music on any device. However, I usually listen to Pandora and enjoy commercial free music for $36 a year.
Google+ offers unlimited space for your photos and the easiest integration with Picasa. Yes, you can do it with Facebook too, but Google+ and Picasa are so tightly integrated.
The bottom line is that all of these services are very helpful for storing files. If you are using multiple operating systems like me (windows, droid and IOS), having something like Dropbox or Sugarsync makes working with files seamless and gives the added benefit of backing up files. If you are using one and happy with it, stick with it. If you aren’t, go with Dropbox if nothing above caught your attention. Be sure to install the application on all your devices (using the same login) so you can get to your files from your phone, tablet, work and home PCs.