Cloud Battle Escalates

The personal cloud storage battle escalated this week when Google released its Google Drive app. Google Drive works like the popular DropBox app to support storing files in the cloud. When Google Drive is installed on a computer, a folder is provided on the desktop that represents your Google Drive. Anything stored in that folder will be stored on Google’s server – in the cloud. Anyone with a Google account can use Google Drive to access a free 5 GB of cloud storage. Google Drive integrates nicely with Gmail, Google Docs, Google+ and with Android mobile devices.

Beating Google to the punch by one day, Microsoft announced a new personal cloud storage service on its SkyDrive offering 7 GB of space – besting Google by 2 GB, but failing to get nearly as many headlines. Microsoft’s SkyDrive integrates well with Microsoft Office and Windows desktop and mobile platforms. Not to be overlooked, DropBox announced that it is raising its free storage capacity to 5 GB matching Google Drive. SugarSync kept it’s cloud storage service in the news with an announcement of a new iPad app. SugarSync offers 5 GB of free storage. All of these services provide more storage for an additional monthly fee.

So why might a person consider using one of these cloud storage services?

  • Cloud storage provides a convenient method of backing up and securing your data – the cloud provider takes over the responsibility of keeping your data safe.
  • More than just backup storage, cloud computing can act as central storage for your data, allowing access to your files from any Internet connected device so you can work from anywhere anytime on any of your computers or mobile devices.
  • Versioning allows you to go back to previous versions of files when mistakes are made
  • Cloud computing is ideal for sharing files and folders with collaborators. You can assign users the ability to edit files or restrict them to read only.
  • Rather than having to attach files to email, you can simply share them from cloud storage by emailing a link to the file. Cloud storage web apps, allow many file formats to be accessed from within a Web browser.
  • Photos can be automatically uploaded and stored centrally on a cloud drive eliminating the need to copy photos between mobile devices and PCs – this also makes it easy to share photos and galleries with friends.
  • Some services allow you to stream music and movies from your cloud drive.

With all of these advantages, what may cause a person to decide not to use cloud storage? Privacy! There has been much controversy surrounding Google’s Privacy Policy which basically states that Google can do anything it wants with your files. While some believe that the policy is simply worded to protect Google from liability, others foresee Google using its user’s files for targeted advertisements or worse. This possibility exists with any of the cloud storage services. Still, Google’s new cloud drive sets the stage for a monumental shift in the way people store and access their personal data.