If you work from home there’s a good chance you use some sort of cloud-based software to store, share and edit files and documents. And following Microsoft’s re-branding of SkyDrive as OneDrive, it’s clear the big-hitters are taking the cloud very seriously.
So how do the different providers measure up against each other? Let’s take a look at some of the main players in the market – Apple iCloud, Amazon CloudDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.
The first thing to consider is what platform you’ll be working from and, as you might expect, all cloud services are available for Windows and Mac operating systems to allow for easy uploading and syncing of files to the cloud.
As you’d expect, each provider has bespoke apps for their own platforms, for instance Amazon Cloud Drive has a Kindle app and Microsoft has a One Drive app for XBox. However, if you work on both Apple and Android platforms, you won’t be able to sync your iCloud to your Android device.
And Microsoft may have got one over on its competitors by having a OneDrive app available for Windows phone where the others do not. And while Apple and Android currently dominate the mobile landscape, the Windows phone is the fastest growing mobile operating system – and this could give Microsoft the edge.
In a bid to get users on board, all providers offer a certain amount of free storage – and if you need a lot of storage space, this could prove to be the deal-breaker.
Google Drive offers the largest amount of free storage space, giving users a whopping 15GB when they sign up, then it’s Microsoft’s OneDrive which offers 7GB of free storage – which is still impressive but is dwarfed by Google’s offering.
Apple and Amazon are next with 5GB of free space and finally Dropbox with a pretty meagre looking 2GB. This could be a legacy thing as Dropbox was one of the first cloud storage services around, but it needs updating fast as it no longer looks like anywhere near enough.
One interesting feature of Dropbox , though, is that it offers up to 16GB of extra storage to users who ‘recommend a friend’ to the service. OneDrive also offers a similar incentive which offers an extra 5GB of free space for successful referrals, as well as an additional 3GB for enabling its auto-camera backup option.
Space isn’t the only consideration though, and you may require more features than just storage from your cloud-based service – and Apple’s iCloud is the most feature-rich package out there.
In addition to the basic functions such as iWork productivity suite and photo sharing, iCloud offers cloud access to apps, the ability to switch between devices when browsing on Safari, storage of passwords across devices and daily device backups that will restore your device where you left off, should it be wiped for any reason.
OneDrive and Google Drive, on the other hand, offer more stripped back services but still come with good, free productivity tools – and although Google apes some of Microsoft’s programmes, familiarity with Microsoft Office may just give it the edge.
Meanwhile, Amazon Cloud Drive syncs any music stored with Cloud Player while Dropbox offers an auto-camera backup facility.