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I will be considering the following products:
- Dropbox - The incumbent. I'm looking at their personal plans only
- Google Drive
- Microsoft SkyDrive - Not SkyDrive Pro, their business service which is completely different
I'm leaving a couple major products out of my evaluation. Many people think of Apple's iCloud when considering cloud services, but it's not really this type of product. iCloud is more of a set of synchronization protocols. It's invaluable for users of Apple devices, but it doesn't solve the storage need and support for it off of Apple platforms is (to put it kindly) weak.
I'm also not considering Box, one of the more famous companies. The best reason not to consider them is that they are not really focused on the personal market. Yes, they have a free 10GB personal plan, but their focus is on businesses with teams of multiple users. I had tried Box in the past and hated their software. It may be better now, but that doesn't matter.
I'm also not considering BitTorrent Sync and a number of other services (some free) which require static synchronization. I only want the ones where the cloud works just like a local drive.
I have done no formal testing on these products, and performance testing of them would be quite a logistical challenge. I've used most of them in real world situations and the only times I've found myself sitting and waiting for files to synch was when I was moving many GB of data at a time. In other words, they're all fast enough for me, at least on my Internet connections.
I'm presenting the products in the next five pages alphabetically by name.
Copy.com, which the company says is still a beta, comes from Barracuda Networks, the security software and appliance company.
If you don't need a lot of storage, copy.com could easily be the best deal. At 15GB free they are tied with Google Drive, but they also offer 5GB per referral, making them the best free deal out there. After that, the pricing gets weird. They have only two plans: 250GB and 500GB.
Storage (GB) $ monthly $/GB monthly $ annual $/GB annual 15GB, 5GB/referral $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 250GB $9.99 $0.04 $99 $0.40 500GB $14.99 $0.03 $149 $0.30
The pricing of these plans is the lowest per GB of any cloud service here. But since their cheapest paid plan is 250GB, the least you can pay is $99 per year. If you need more than you can get from the free plan, but don't need anywhere near 250GB, it's just not a good deal.
They allow the user to select which files to synch and which not to, to move the Copy folder wherever he wants, they even have a Windows Phone app. What's not to like? The pricing. At least for me. If you actually need 250GB or more (or only 15GB or maybe a bit more), or money just isn't a problem, then Copy may be the best deal out there.There is a lot to like about copy.com: They have a "fair storage" policy, which means that the allocation for storage shared among multiple users is split among them. For instance, a 12GB folder shared by 4 people costs each 3GB of their budget.
Dropbox is the gold standard in consumer cloud storage and priced accordingly. Only SugarSync matches it in price (and is, in fact, more expensive per GB in the less expensive plans).
Dropbox has "Packrat" which allows you to undelete files, but it costs another $39 per year. Only Dropbox dares to charge extra for this. Oddly, the Packrat cost is fixed no matter how much storage you buy, so the penalty diminishes relatively the more storage you buy..
But Dropbox works really well and there are clients for a wide variety of platforms. The software on Mac and Windows is about as straightforward as can be. There is no official client for Windows Phone, but there are several free third party apps. It's a safe choice.
Storage (GB) $ monthly $/GB monthly $ annual $/GB annual 2GB (up to 18GB with 500MB referrals) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 100GB $9.99 $0.10 $99 $0.99 100GB + Packrat $48.99 $0.49 $138 $1.38 200GB $19.99 $0.10 $199 $1.00 200GB + Packrat $58.99 $0.29 $238 $1.19 500GB $49.99 $0.10 $499 $1.00 500GB + Packrat $88.99 $0.18 $538 $1.08