Tag Archives | Online Storage

Microsoft’s Online Storage Curveball: Office 365 Now Comes With a Terabyte of OneDrive

Comparing the new plans to Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and others

Microsoft OneDriveStarting shortly, Microsoft is upgrading the storage plans it offers for OneDrive, the online storage service formerly known as SkyDrive. You’ll get 15GB of space for free, which the company says is enough for 75 percent of users to store all the files on their PC in the cloud. (Until now, freeloaders have received a base allotment of 7GB.) Paid OneDrive tiers will offer 100GB for $1.99 a month or 200GB for $3.99 a month, a 70 percent reduction from previous pricing.

All of this is nice, but hardly surprising: It’s unquestionably a response to the similar moves which Google made with Google Drive back in March.

But Microsoft has another piece of OneDrive news which is at least a trifle startling–and which nobody else can quite match. The company is radically increasing the amount of storage it bundles with the consumer-oriented versions of Office 365, the subscription-based version of the Office productivity suite.

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Apple’s iCloud Pricing vs. the Competition

Apple has announced pricing for its upcoming iCloud service. In typical Apple fashion, the company kept things simple. 5GB of online storage is free; 10GB is $20 a year; 20GB is $40 a year; 50GB is $100 a year. (Most other cloud-storage companies price by the month rather than the year, which makes it tougher to judge what you’re really going to shell out–if you find one of these services useful, you’re going to use it indefinitely, not one month at a time.)

So is Apple’s pricing a deal? Comparing prices for these services is tough. Different ones offer different capacity points. Some have lots of features (SugarSync and Box.net, for instance) and some are far more bare-bones (Amazon Cloud Drive and Microsoft Cloud Drive). Some have their own twists (YouSendIt, for instance, has a built-in digital-signature feature) and some (Amazon Cloud Drive and iCloud) don’t include purchased music in the capacity limits. And anyhow, iCloud isn’t an exact counterpart to any existing service. It’s going to be way more Apple-centric–betcha there won’t be Android clients–and is less about syncing and more about leaving your files in the cloud, period.

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YouSendIt Adds (Unlimited!) Cloud Storage and Syncing

Another your-files-in-the-cloud service? With Box.net, Dropbox, iDrive, SugarSync, and others in the game, and Apple’s iCloud in the way, my instinct would usually be to say we don’t need another one. But YouSendIt’s new offering is different. For one thing, it’s not a new service but a revamping and expansion of the big-file-sharing service that YouSendIt has been running for years–which is available in both a free edition and a paid one with hundreds of thousands of customers.

YouSendIt retains its signature feature: letting you avoid e-mail attachments and FTP servers by uploading big files to YouSendIt for downloading by other folks. But now it also has the standard suite of cloud storage/syncing tools: online space you can use like a hard disk, a syncing app, and apps for the iPhone and iPad. (There’s no Mac app yet–YouSendIt is working on one–or an app for Android.)

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Microsoft’s SkyDrive Gets a Partial Makeover

When a tech topic gets hot–such as, oh, storing all your files in the cloud–it’s rare for Microsoft not to have a relevant offering. But it’s quite common for Microsoft to have gotten into the game so early that by the time the result of the world is interested, whatever Microsoft has looks like a product from another time.

That’s kind of been true with Windows Live SkyDrive, Microsoft’s online storage system. It’s been around for nearly four years–longer than most of its major competitors, and definitely longer than Apple’s iCloud. But SkyDrive hasn’t changed that much over the years. It’s best known as the storage system that’s hooked into other Microsoft products, such as the Office Web Apps and Windows Phone 7.

Today, Microsoft released an update to SkyDrive. It doesn’t feel like a radical modernization of the service as it stood, but it does sport a bunch of improvements that are nicely done.

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Cloud Save: The Chrome Extension That Shouldn’t Be an Extension

I consider myself optimistic about Google’s vision for completely web-based computing, but it’s not going to happen without an online storage solution that can replace the act of saving files locally.

Cloud Save, a new extension for Google’s Chrome browser (spotted first by DownloadSquad), takes us part way there. The extension adds an option in Chrome’s right click menu that lets you save files directly to online storage services such as Box.net, Flickr and Google Docs. You grant permission for Cloud Save to access each of these services the first time you save to them, and a notification box pops up when your file has saved successfully.

On the most basic level, Cloud Save eliminates a step if you’re trying to move a web file to an online service. If someone sends you a funny picture, for instance, you just Cloud Save it instead of downloading and then uploading. But by skipping that step, Cloud Save also bypasses the need for local storage when saving files from the web. It’s the kind of feature that Google should bake directly into Google’s Chrome OS, the web-based operating system that will launch in notebooks later this year.

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SugarSync Bumps Up Its Free Storage

SugarSync, the nifty service that lets you store folders full of files in the cloud and sync them among PCs, Macs, and smartphones, has long given away 2GB of free storage as a way of introducing new users to its paid, larger-capacity tiers of service. That’s nice. This is nicer: It’s increasing free accounts to 5GB of space. SugarSync CEO Laura Yecies told me that the company thinks a more generous free version will actually help it make more money, since the 250% increase will make it easier to explore its potential before plunking down any money

The service’s paid options range from a 30GB account for $4.99 a month (or $49.99 a year) to a 500GB one for $39.99 a month (or $399.99 a year); there are also multiuser business accounts.

SugarSync’s closest counterpart, Dropbox, still offers 2GB for free, but with any luck, SugarSync’s move will set off a free-space war. (Microsoft’s Windows Live Mesh already let you sync up to 5GB of data into a SkyDrive account, but Microsoft doesn’t seem to be giving the service much love these days.) Other services such as Mozy, Carbonite, Norton Backup, and Google Storage make it possible to back up larger amounts of data to the cloud for less money, but they lack the syncing and other features that make SugarSync so versatile.

[Update: A representative of Box.net sent me a note to point out that it started giving 5GB of storage to users of its free version in October.]


Memeo Connect's Take on the GDrive

Memeo Connect, which my colleague David Worthington tried and liked a few weeks ago, is an app that lets Google Apps users sync their documents and other files to a PC or Mac so they can get access to them even when they’re offline. And as of today, it’s available in a beta of version 2.0, which lets you get at synced files not only in Memeo’s app but in Windows Explorer or the OS X finder, as well as in file open/save dialog boxes. The sync is two-way, so anything you drag or save into this repository gets moved back to Google Apps’ storage once you’re back online. And as before, Connect can handle files of all sorts and do conversions between Google Docs files and PDF and Microsoft Office formats.

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PC vs. Phone: Which Matters Most?

BlackBerry vs. LaptopVirtual file server company Egnyte is releasing BlackBerry and Android clients for its service, letting users of those smartphones get to the files in their online storage from their handsets. (The service already works on Windows PCs, Macs, and iPhones.) As part of the new rollout, the company commissioned a survey of small businesses about their smartphone usage.

Many of the results are pretty much of what you’d expect from a survey conducted for a storage company that’s announcing smartphone support: 74 percent of respondents, for instance, said that “accessing and sharing file server data via their smartphone would lead to increased productivity and better business decisions.” More surprising: 48 percent of the people who took the survey said that RIM’s BlackBerry is the most innovative smartphone, vs. 29 percent who said the iPhone is.

But one tidbit intrigued me the most: A quarter of the survey respondents said that they use their smartphones more than they do their PCs for business use. I’m not sure if that sounds low or high, but as smartphones get smarter over the next few years, you gotta think that many of us will come to see them as our principal computing devices, and consider traditional PCs to be the secondary, special-purpose gadget.

In terms of hours logged with each device, my laptop is still more essential to my work (and play) than my phone. Emotionally, though, I’m at least as attached to my iPhone as I am to any full-blown computer I own. When it’s useful, it’s exceptionally useful–and I sure spend less time futzing with it than I do with any Windows or OS X machine. And it gets the opportunity to save my bacon more often than my laptop does, because I take it absolutely everywhere. (As you may or may not know, I wear my phone around my neck on a lanyard so it’s always within reach and I never lose it.)

Your take?