Cloud has been a buzzword in the technology world for a couple of years now. It is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (e.g. Internet). Cloud storage services are the most common and there are multiple options for users today. You have Dropbox, Microsoft Skydrive, Box.net and Apple’s iCloud. While the buffet of choices might appear appealing, it could also be confusing to many. It is not uncommon for a person to use a number of cloud service providers and to have files mirrored across them.
I use the cloud storage for three broad categories and I will share how I manage my online cloud.
Cloud Storage for Phone & Daily Planner
This is basically for data like contacts and calendar, to do lists. I consider this set of information to be time critical and would need to be synchronized across all my devices and the frequency of synchronization would preferably be instant or at least within the hour. With my plethora of Android devices, it’s Google Sync for me. I use Gmail quite extensively and its synchronization services with the Calendar, contacts and maps are key plus points to me. Apple iCloud is a viable alternative but the service is known to be buggy. Also it is limited to iOS devices. Another viable option is Microsoft Outlook. I like how you can link different account types such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Contacts etc. But it has the same problem of being limited to Microsoft systems. Google services are cross-platform and can be accessed through an exchange server protocol. Read up more and on how to configure it at Google Sync.
Cloud Storage for Documents
The advantage of a cloud service to sync all documents means that the latest version of the file is always accessible. Previously, I used Dropbox. It had great features like sharing folders and background updating of the files. With the launch of Google Drive, I have since switched over to it. Thus in comparing Dropbox vs Google Drive, Google Drive provides the same level of functionality and throws in some added features too. It allows for direct editing of the files through the browser. The sharing of files allows multiple users to edit the file at the same time. Also have you tried out the web form feature? It works great to update or collate information. Now that I am on Windows 8, I am also tempted to switch over to Skydrive, with Office 365 providing online collaboration and while maintaining formatting and data integrity issues for Office documents. Google Drive does mess up the formatting from time to time, especially on Word documents.
Cloud Storage for Media
I consider media as photos, music, books/magazines. For media, what’s important would be the storage capacity. Speed of synchronization does not rank highly. I use Google Music, Picasa for photos and Dropbox for books/magazines. Google Music allows you to load up to 20,000 songs and can be played offline with an Android phone. iOS users would have to resort to a third-party app, gMusic. It is not free though, but you get features such as Airplay and Offline support. Picasa offers unlimited storage and I did a comparison with other cloud photo storage. I currently use Dropbox to store my ebooks and magazines. Sign up for Dropbox here for an additional 250mb. When I wish to read them on my Nexus 7, I would favourite and make the file available offline. Once done, delete it and I gain back the storage space. Another great feature is the ability to share folders and either party could load books and magazines to a common folder, although this might lead to concerns on copyright issues.