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What's the best deal in the cloud?
[Correction: An earlier version of this story stated (on page 6) that SkyDrive did not provide access to deleted files. It does, in fact, have a Recycle Bin available through the web interface. I apologize for the error.]
Later this month my 200GB annual subscription to Dropbox will expire and I've decided it's time to play the field. Come with me as I evaluate the major personal cloud services for price and features and see what works best for me.
No two ways about it, Dropbox has been good to me and has drastically changed by computing habits for the better. It no longer matters what computer or device I'm on; I always have access to almost everything I might need. I even install certain programs (such as the Sysinternals tools) in my Dropbox folder so that I can more easily have access to the current version from any Windows PC.
But in a very important sense, all the major cloud services are the same:
- They all give you storage in the cloud
- They all have a free option with a few GB up to as much as 18GB
- They all create a local folder which is mirrored with the cloud storage (although some allow flexibility for which folders to replicate locally)
- They all support multiple platforms, but some support more than others
- They all support undeleting of files
Clearly there are feature differences, but there are vast pricing differences which I will explore in more detail.
I want to consider all the factors, but the choice I make in the end may not be the right one for you. My platform support needs and my price-sensitivity may be very different from yours.
On that subject, I think there's a case to be made that, in very large part, cloud storage is a commodity, and therefore price is the dominant factor. It's not the only factor for me, but it's definitely the dominant one. If all you need is a few GB then any of them can be free and then features and platform support become more important.