Internet cloud storage is rapidly approaching commodity status, and commodities are basically sold based on price. So which of the consumer cloud storage services offers the best price?
All the services have pretty much the same client access, so a file stored here or there is as accessible on one service as another, right? Well, not entirely. Especially with prices plummeting, vendors are trying to use cloud storage as a hook for their other services: Google Drive comes with their Google Apps services; Microsoft's OneDrive with Outlook.com and a host of other services; even little Copy.com from Barracuda comes with access to their SignNow e-signature service.
Ed Bott argues that in an environment like this, the independent companies (most famously Box and Dropbox) can't survive. Such basic services are always (and should be) subsumed into the operating system, and now "operating system" means families of cloud services, such as those from Apple, Google and Microsoft. Microsoft is also including massive amounts of storage with their Office 365 services.
I looked at consumer cloud services about eight months ago and did a lot of price comparisons. Since then prices have gone down a lot, some vendors are out and most vendors have tended to simplify their plan offerings. For this story I decided to look at all the consumer services I could and compare them based purely on price, and specifically on price per gigabyte per month.
I am also not considering Apple's iCloud Drive because it won't be available until the fall and I'm not clear on pricing (although their pricing for storage for their current iCloud services isn't especially competitive).
First, let's look at the free plans offered by the consumer service vendors:
|Free Storage Plans|
|15GB (*)||Microsoft OneDrive|
|5GB||Amazon Cloud Drive|
* Dropbox and OneDrive have referral plans that give you an extra 500MB up to a certain limit, for each user who sets up the service.
Of course paid services are more complicated. Here they are sorted by price per GB per month, both monthly and annual plans. Note: I have not tested all of these services and make no representations as to performance or anything other than listed price:
|$0.0417||Amazon Cloud Drive||20||yearly||$10.00|
|$0.0417||Amazon Cloud Drive||50||yearly||$25.00|
|$0.0417||Amazon Cloud Drive||100||yearly||$50.00|
|$0.0417||Amazon Cloud Drive||200||yearly||$100.00|
|$0.0417||Amazon Cloud Drive||500||yearly||$250.00|
|$0.0417||Amazon Cloud Drive||1000||yearly||$500.00|
Obviously MediaFire is the cheapest by a mile. If price is your primary consideration then look no further. Bitcasa is also very competitive. I should note that they have an "unlimited" storage plan for $99/month or $999/year. I didn't put it in the table because dividing by infinity is problematic.
As they were when I looked eight months ago, Google Drive is a good deal at just less than one cent per GB for plans of at least one TB. Their 100GB plan costs about two cents per GB, but that's still a good price. F-Secure Younited, which emphasizes privacy and security, is also competitive, but only if you value their privacy guarantees. Copy.com is in this same range of three cents per GB, give or take, and Microsoft OneDrive ranges between three and four cents per GB.
Next up, at a flat 4.17 cents per GB, is Amazon Cloud Drive. Certain other Amazon services use this storage so they may make it more attractive, but based on price alone it isn't.
Finally we have the gratuitously overpriced Dropbox. They have taken the step of including deleted file recovery, what they used to call Pack Rat and charged more for, but nearly all vendors have this now. If Dropbox survives, it won't be because of price competition.