The online storage service is fast becoming another essential service much like broadband Internet access, mobile phone service and more. The good news is that today, there is a huge number of service providers for us to choose from and that hopefully will keep service rates and quality in check.
Some of the main online storage service providers are Dropbox, Mozy, SugarSync, SkyDrive, Carbonite, SpiderOak, Google Drive. This only represents just a few of the very many service providers out there. So we really are spoilt for choice. How do we go about choosing the right service provider for our needs and budget? That takes a bit of time and effort but here are a few tips to help speed up the process.
Backup Or Sync Service : Some service providers are primarily an online backup service while others only provide a sync service. Some provide both pretty well. The difference is that the sync service usually designates a folder on your computer as a sync folder. Any files added, edited or deleted within this folder are kept in sync and available within all your computers and mobile devices where the service is installed. For backups, you’re looking more for a safe offsite storage for your data to protect against fire, floods, theft, earthquakes and other natural disaster. In backups your typically looking for different features like larger storage space, the ability to specify multiple folders & files that you want to backup, the ability to define backup sets or jobs, backup frequency, bandwidth throttling and more.
Service Rates : This is a good place to narrow down your search. Many offer a free basic storage from about 2GB to 7GB. When you exceed that, you normally have to get onto one of their paid plans. Some are very reasonable but some are really getting up there in their rates especially when you need more storage space after signup. Some don’t even want to publish their rates. Don’t go for the absolute cheapest but there’s no point paying more than what you need to either. Basically go for good value for money.
Platforms Supported : Most service providers support Windows and Apple Mac. If you need Linux support as well then you have to ensure that they have support for this.
Mobile Devices supported: You’ll want to access your files and media on your mobile devices like ipads, iphones, Android tablets and phones, BlackBerry’s etc. However, not all service providers support all these devices. So you need to check that your mobile devices are supported by your chosen service provider.
Security & Encryption : Whether any security or encryption technology is used when data is uploaded from your computer to the cloud server and also when it is stored on the storage server.
File And Folder Sharing : Many of these services allow you to share your files and folders with others. For example you may want to share some pictures with someone else. Instead of emailing as an email attachment (which might clog their mailbox), you can just provide them with a public link to the folder that contains these photos.
Terms Of Service (TOS) : Many of us have been guilty of signing up for services without reading the ten pages of fine print. This is one time though that I think we should read the Terms Of Service as it concerns our precious and maybe very private digital content. So read the fine print this time especially with regards to privacy and security of your data as different service providers have different terms with regards to this. Think about what you are going to store and make sure you are comfortable with the TOS. Note also that for very private content, there are ways for you to encrypt your data yourself before uploading to your online storage server.
Customer Service And Support : Is there any customer service portal or helpdesk? Is there a good FAQ or knowledge base so you can self help? Is there any video tutorials? Can you get help if you run into problems? Is there any email, chat or phone support available?
These pointers should help you make a more informed choice when you pick an online storage service provider for your needs. Happy hunting.