Cloud storage is one of the most talked about aspects of consumer technology at the moment, with the options having been stepped up somewhat following the advent of Google Drive in April this year. While there are many different companies operating in the field, what each offers is essentially the same thing. Rather than selling a product those operating in the sector are selling space, space in which you can store almost any digital content that you wish.
With the ubiquity of mobile phones in the developed world, mobile is an area that cloud storage firms have not missed out on. Many offer their services through phone-based apps, often conveniently bypassing the syncing software required to transfer files from a computer to a handheld device. Here, we take a look at which mobile cloud storage services offer the best options for consumers.
One of the best known names in cloud storage, Dropbox has done much to set the standard for similar services. While Dropbox only offers 2GB of free space to users there are options to gain extra storage by doing things such as recommending the service to friends. There are also limited offers that can gain a user a huge amount of free space – we were awarded an extra 23GB of storage simply for signing in to our account on a HTC phone running the Sense 4.0 user interface and even more when signing in on a Samsung Galaxy S3.
While an official app exists only for iOS and Android there are several unofficial apps for other platforms, including Windows Phone and Symbian, that give varying degrees of access to the storage service.
The latest of the big tech names to enter cloud storage, Google has incorporated its older Docs service into Google Drive. Offering 5GB of free space to the user, the service also benefits from being a part of Google’s wider ecosystem and works fluidly across mobile and desktop platforms. Apps are available for iOS and Android but there is no Windows Phone client yet.
Microsoft’s offering covers the basic of cloud storage, with files uploaded and arranged into folders and the service giving users an impressive 7GB of free space. As well as the more rudimentary functions, documents can be edited online, removing the need to download them to a computer.
Being a Microsoft service, SkyDrive is fully supported by Windows Phone and there’s an app available for iOS too. However, there is no Android app as of yet, although the service can be used via a mobile browser.
Like Dropbox, SugarSync isn’t run by one of the large tech companies, but follows the standard cloud storage format. With a fairly standard 5GB of free space offered it may seem that SugarSync doesn’t have much make it stand out. However, the service has one big advantage for mobile users – it is available across several major platforms.
iOS, Android and Windows Phone are all supported, as is Nokia’s older Symbian operating system, something of a rarity as far as cloud storage goes.
Lastly, Box differs from the other services we’ve looked at here since it has more of a corporate focus to its interface. The business angle has inspired some interesting features, such as the ability for users to set an expiration date for how long a folder is to be shared with another user, as well as additional apps to increase functionality, such as enabling the sharing of content via LinkedIn.
The service is compatible with a variety of operating systems including iOS, Android and Windows Phone, along with niche platforms such as WebOS. Overall, Box is interesting for taking a specific, business-based approach whereas other cloud services are far more general.
Overall, it is the small details which make the difference between cloud storage services since they all perform the same basic functions. While using those run by the major tech firm’s could leave users vulnerable to changes in policy by those same companies the more independent services could be pushed aside as the big names move into the market. As far as mobile cloud storage goes there are certainly plenty of options available and the concept provides an appealing alternative to the established methods of syncing files that exit for most mobile platforms.
This is a guest post by Chris Helsby of Dialaphone – the number one online retailer of smartphones.