If you’ve been keeping tabs on the tech world over the last 12 months you’ll have likely come across a new piece of tech jargon: Cloud Storage. While it has nothing to do with those fluffy things in the sky, it is the future of storage for all your important files – keep reading our guide and we’ll give you the low-down on all things ‘Cloud’.
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage isn’t anything to be scared of; if you own a computer you’ll have hard drives that keeps all your files safe. Cloud storage is the same principle, but the hard drives aren’t in your computer, but in a room thousands of miles away. You upload files through the internet and then download them at your leisure when you need to access them.
Well there are plenty. If your important files are uploaded to a cloud service then wherever you are in the world (as long as you’ve got the internet) you can access your files. Furthermore, if your hard drive fails the likelihood is your files will be gone forever, this obviously doesn’t happen with cloud storage, as companies like Microsoft and Google have massive amounts of space and multiple data centres meaning it’s the safest place to store your files.
Other benefits include the fact that cloud is basically infinite unlike your own hard drive. A hard drive in your computer has a limited amount of space, use all that space up and you’ve got decision to make: delete some files and make some space, or upload some files to a cloud storage solution or a portable hard drive.
Also, as the data is stored on a network it’s always there in case any of your devices get lost or broken. This means if your phone goes missing and you have to replace it, simply connect to the cloud and download all your data right onto your new handset
So where does all my stuff go?
All the data you upload to these services are stored in data centres which are liberally dotted around the globe. Naysayers might have you believe that cloud storage isn’t as safe as you might think. Afterall you’re giving all you most prized digital files to a third party to keep them safe. But companies like Apple and Google want you to trust them with your important files. The only issue we can forsee is if you are using these services to host pirated material. But if you just want to keep you prized family photos and videos safe then there’s no better way to keep them under virtual lock and key.
Where can I get cloud storage from?
Over the last 12 months almost all smartphone manufacturers are offering some form of free cloud storage alongside their handsets. You may find that each has different restrictions on how much storage space you’re allocated, or a time limit on how long you can keep it for, but most services offer an option to purchase more space or extend your contract.
Apple – iCloud
Apple were one of the first mobile manufacturers to offer a full storage solution. Called iCloud it’s pre-installed on all new iPhones, iPads and Mac laptops. iCloud allows you to synch your mobile phone, tablet or Macbook with Apple’s servers meaning if you take a photo on you phone it’s automatically uploaded to your iPad or laptop. The service works for email, contacts, calendar, bookmarks, notes, to-do lists and photo streams, music downloaded from iTunes and even movies downloaded from iTunes.
Extra benefits of having an iCloud account include the Find My Phone function, which allows you to lock or wipe your phone remotely if its been lost or stolen. Any person who buys an Apple device will get 5GB free iCloud storage as standard, but you can buy more right from your mobile if you need it.
HTC And Dropbox
Dropbox is the world’s leading independent cloud storage provider, and was chosen by HTC to partner its new line of smartphones. As standard you get a paltry 2GB of free space. But if you buy one of the new HTC’s you’ll bag yourself an impressive 25GB, which is ideal as HTC has begun to drop SD card expansion on their handsets. The only downside is after 2 years you will need to pay for your account to keep your files. The other handy thing about Dropbox is that it keeps a one-month history of your data, so changes can be undone, and anything you’ve deleted can be restored.
Sony/LG And Box
Sony has gone a similar way as HTC, by choosing a third party company to service it’s 7 million users worldwide. Called Box, it’s a similar story to DropBox. You can store all your files online and share them with whoever you like. If you own a Xperia you can get 50GB of storage for free. The Box comes with some nifty features: you can arrange your files into folders just like you would on your desktop. There’s a clever online collaboration feature allows you to create online work spaces so people can view, edit and upload files to one, easily identifiable place.
LG also uses Box for their Cloud Storage service, you can snag the same 50GB if you have one of LG’s handsets, which is available until the end of 2012.
Nokia – SkyDrive
With Nokia and Microsoft in partnership, it’s no surprise that Nokia handsets use Microsoft’s cloud storage solution SkyDrive. You can get a free 25GB of storage and all you need to access the file is a Windows Live account.