Cloud Storage Comparison: 5 Best Options for Business

Your business has lots of files to store, and to share with your team, your investors, and your customers. The most practical way to store and share files is to use a cloud storage provider. You can store files, sync them to multiple devices, share them with others, and provide download links when you need to send a potential investor your business plan or share a press release with a journalist.

Not all cloud storage services are equal, and depending on which computing platforms your business uses, some may be more compatible than others. In this article, we’ll compare the 5 most popular cloud storage providers and explain how to choose the best option for your business.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

Learn How to Work with the Cloud, in Take Control of the Cloud, Second Edition

Tc cloudTo some people, the Cloud is a hard concept to grasp; what does it mean exactly? For others, it’s the sheer complexity of the Cloud that is confusing; how to choose among the ever-increasing number of options. And for yet others, it’s the security of the Cloud that is a concern; do I need to worry that my data isn’t safe?

With Take Control of the Cloud, Second Edition, award-winning author Joe Kissell cuts through the confusion and gives his expert advice on how to make the Cloud work best for everyone, no matter their needs. From a detailed explanation of what the Cloud is, to his top picks for cloud products and services, to how to enhance privacy and security in the Cloud, Joe covers the topics that are crucial to a clear understanding of what the Cloud can (and can’t) do for you.

Cloud-related topics covered in the book include:

  • Basic concepts, like “cloud computing” and “personal cloud”
  • Storage
  • Syncing
  • Backups
  • Productivity apps
  • Entertainment apps
  • Virtual private servers
  • Computing engines
  • Privacy and security
  • Mobile devices
  • The personal cloud
  • Choosing cloud providers
  • The Internet of Things
  • Automation

As an added bonus, this new edition of the book includes a free webinar! Watch the presentation live and submit questions, or access the recording at a later date for advice and illustrations that go beyond the text of this book. (The webinar will be held twice—on July 6 and July 8, both at 10:00 AM PT.)

Get Take Control of the Cloud, Second Edition now.

The Next Track, Episode #34 – The Cloud vs Syncing: Pros & Cons

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxWe take a look at the pros and cons of syncing music to your portable device versus using the cloud to store your music.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #34 – The Cloud vs Syncing: Pros & Cons.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.

Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Downgrades Paid and Free Options – Digits – WSJ

“Microsoft is ending unlimited OneDrive storage plans, citing user abuse, the company said in a blog post late Monday. Current unlimited users will be capped at 1 terabyte. It also plans to eliminate 100GB and 200GB plans, and offer a reduced 50GB plan for $1.99 per month instead. Its free offering will be cut from 15GB down to just 5GB.”

“User abuse.” Also known as, users using a feature in a way that was intended, but not really, sort of. Microsoft explains that:

a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average.

It’s hard to feel any pain for a company that sells an “unlimited” service then is surprised that some people actually take advantage of it.

But what is very bad is that because of a few bad apples, Microsoft is punishing everyone by lowering storage amounts. Given how cloud storage quotas are generally increasing (except with Apple), this is going against the current.

Source: Microsoft Kills Unlimited OneDrive Storage, Downgrades Paid and Free Options – Digits – WSJ

Review: WD MyCloud EX2 Network Storage Device

There are lots of cloud storage services you can use: iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and more. While these are generally easy to work with, and great for sharing files with others, you may not want to store your files on someone else’s servers. Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2 (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) lets you create your own personal cloud, as well as have a home repository for files and backups.

You may be familiar with network attached storage devices (NAS); these are (to simplify) networked hard drives, which can be complicated to set up and manage. My Cloud EX2 is a type of NAS, but with a much more user-friendly interface. It doesn’t have all the features of a true NAS, but, if you want a device that’s easy to set up and use, the My Cloud EX 2 (and the other versions that Western Digital makes) is a solid device with a rich feature set.

Setup is just a few clicks, and, during this process, you also set up a “personal cloud” account. This allows you to connect to the My Cloud EX2 remotely, from a different computer, or even from an iOS device, using Western Digital’s apps. (There is no fee for this service.) You can add users to this account, and set their permissions – which files and folders they can access – from a web interface. The device’s software manages the network address translation, so all you need to do to access it remotely is connect it to a router.

After the initial setup, you fine-tune your device through your web browser. This allows you to set up RAID configurations (Raid 0, RAID 1, Spanning or JBOD; just a bunch of disks), You can add, remove, or edit users and groups; manage shares; configure cloud access; add apps, and more. While the Mac Cloud EX2 is very user-friendly, it’s still a complex device, and there are lots of settings available in the browser configuration pages.

Mycloud settings

You interact with the device in several ways. There’s a WD My Cloud desktop app, which you can use to view, upload, and download files. You can add files to the device by dragging them onto this app’s window; or you can mount the shared volume in the Finder, and add and manage files in Finder windows.

Mycloud

You can also access files using the My Cloud iOS app, whether you are on your network or remotely. You can view and download files, email them, and send email links so others can access them without being able to see your other files (similar to the way you share a public link to a file in a Dropbox folder). You can also link other cloud accounts, from Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, to this app, and transfer files from those cloud services to your personal cloud. And you can stream music or videos stored on the device.

One of the most practical features is the ability to use this device for Time Machine backups. My iMac is set to back up to a local disk and to the My Cloud EX 2, while my MacBook Pro backs up only to the remote disk. (You may not know it, but you can have Time Machine alternate its backups among multiple disks.) You can also connect an external USB drive to back up the files on the device.

The device has lots of other features, such as the ability to download files directly, via HTTP, FTP, or P2P. It lets you add apps, such as Plex Media Server and others. You can access media files via iTunes Home Sharing, though I found this to be unreliable. And you can access photos using a dedicated iOS app.

I was impressed by how easy this device was to set up and use. I’ve barely scratched the surface in the features I use – for me, it’s just for backups, and remote file access so far, but there’s plenty more that it can do. The My Cloud EX2 is an affordable way to add storage on a local network, have a backup disk for multiple Macs, and to have a free, personal cloud, without the limits of cloud services.

iCloud vs. Dropbox: Which is Better for Managing Files on Multiple Devices?

Over at the Mac OS X Hints website, which I edit, I posted a poll about using iCloud to store documents. With OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, iCloud is now a way for applications to store files in the “cloud,” or, more correctly on Apple’s servers. This is practical if you work with multiple devices: a desktop Mac and a laptop, or a Mac and an iPad. However, the limits in using iCloud make it more of a hassle than a useful tool.

The main problem with iCloud is that it is application-specific. If you create a document with TextEdit, and save it on iCloud, you can only access it with TextEdit. (You can get access to it on any computer linked to that iCloud account, but not on iOS.) So if I want to take a TextEdit document and work with it on my iPad, I can’t; there’s no equivalent app. I can’t import it into another application that supports its format. The same is the case for other apps that use iCloud for storage. If, for example, I use an iCloud-compatible text editor on my iPad, I can’t access its files easily on my Mac, unless there is a corresponding application.

Now look at Dropbox. All you do is put a file in your Dropbox folder and it’s automatically stored in the cloud and available on any other device or computer that can run Dropbox (which is pretty much every computer and mobile platform available today). No need to worry about having the right application to open a file, no need to go through convoluted processes to open or save files; the files are just there in the folder.

Not only does Dropbox allow you to sync files across devices, but you can also create shared folders for friends or co-workers. I have a number of them for projects I work on, and each person involved gets access to all the files, and can share their files easily with others. And, with Dropbox, you can put a file in your folder and right-click to get a “public” link, which you can use to share the file with others, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. I find that this replaces the iDisk file sharing that was part of .Mac, which I used fairly often.

So while iCloud is nice for syncing data from apps where you don’t save files – calendars, to-do apps, etc. – it is far less practical than Dropbox for storing documents. If you already use Dropbox, this is probably obvious, but if not, its worth trying.

Don’t use Dropbox? Get a free 2 GB account; I get a 500 MB kickback if you sign up.