Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Microsoft OneDrive Fires a Shot Across the Bow of Other Cloud Providers

Microsoft announced a price cut and storage expansion for its' OneDrive cloud service to begin next month and this is very big. Just for singing up you get a whopping 15 Gigabytes of storage for FREE, up from 7 GB.


First, let me give a concise explanation of the cloud. The first thing you should understand about the cloud is that it is not a physical thing. The cloud is a network of servers, and each server has a different function. Some servers are used to store documents or deliver a service.

A Room of Computers - part of "the cloud"
When you upload photos to Facebook or Flickr, etc.; those photos are "in the cloud" or on servers like you see above. They are not on your computer but on very large computers.

For me, the cloud is important and most useful. In fact, I rely on it heavily for my everyday use of my PC, iPad and smart phone. I synchronize  ALL of  my documents, music and photos on the cloud. I do this because:
  • My smart phone photos automatically upload to my cloud provider so I never have to worry about accidently deleting them
  • The cloud is secure and a backup in case something happens to my laptop
  • The cloud allows me to use or see any of my documents or photos on any computing device I own; laptop, smart phone or tablet. I can even get to my documents from anyone else's computer.
  • My wife and I share all of our documents and photos because we use the cloud, thus they synchronize back and forth from our laptops to the cloud.

Basically, the cloud service synchronizes documents stored within specific folders on your computer and their server on the cloud. So your documents reside in two places, your computer and the cloud, and they stay synchronized.

I had a recent, and most favorable, experience of completely restoring my laptop to factory condition and then putting all of my documents and photos back on simply by logging into Dropbox, our choice of cloud service. Amazing!

Now, back to the main reason of this article--Microsoft's OneDrive cloud service. Below is a look at the most of the cloud services available today. I'm not going into great detail on each but a quick look at them...what they provide for FREE and how much 100 gigabytes of storage might cost if you need more than the free storage.

My family's cloud provider is Dropbox and has served us very well for the past 3 years. My wife and I share all of our documents using a single Dropbox account. In addition my wife and her real estate partner share their business documents using their own accounts. We each pay for 100 GB of storage space. Microsoft's new pricing makes OneDrive 25% less than Dropbox.

How Much Will a Gigabyte Hold?

I personally use Dropbox(family documents), OneDrive(OneNote), Google Drive(a few documents)  and Amazon Cloud Drive (my music) but primarily Dropbox and OneDrive. OneDrive because I use Microsoft OneNote everyday for managing notes, information, outlines for these articles, etc. and OneNote synchronizes with OneDrive. The major "players" are Dropbox and OneDrive with Amazon Cloud and Google Drive doing very well too.


Advantage / Disadvantage
  • Dropbox is the current market leader and many iPad/iPhone apps allow you to store documents here.
  • Microsoft Office for mobile ONLY allows document storage on OneDrive.
  • Sharing Dropbox folders with someone else requires the other person to have a Dropbox account.
  • Sharing OneDrive folders with someone else does NOT require the person have a OneDrive account. They will simply have a webpage to save for access.
  • The storage space of shared Dropbox folders counts against both person's storage allotment.
  • The storage space of shared OneDrive folders ONLY counts against the owners allotment.

Mary Jo Foley of All About Microsoft has written a great article and OneDrive and what Microsoft is doing with it if your subscribe to Office 365.

If you want to see how much cloud storage you might need, go to Windows Explorer (File Explorer in Windows 8) and right click on your Documents and Pictures folders and click Properties to see how much space they take up. (See a screen shot below)


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