Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Apple just introduced iCloud in the first week of June 2011. Thus, we now have 5 big cloud services from Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Dropbox. Which one should we choose?
First, let me clarify “what is cloud service?” In simple words, cloud service allows us to store and access data anywhere, anytime, and any devices with an Internet connection. The data may include music, video, ebook, image etc.
Until now, each cloud service has its own advantages and disadvantages. You can see some characteristics of the 5 services in the following table:
|iCloud (Apple)||5GB free storage, picture, image and app sync, iWork, iBooks, contact, email, calendar. You need to pay some fee to get extra storage (unknown yet)||Macs and iOS based devices, Windows PC with PhotoStream service.||All music bought from iTunes will be shared with all your devices with same Apple ID. You can upload 25000 songs to cloud with 25$/year|
|1GB free storage for Google Docs, 1GB for Piccasa, 7GB for Gmail; supporting music streaming, data sync, calendar, email, contact. You can upgrade to 16TB with 4000$/year||All devices having web browsers.||Google Music Beta allows you to upload 20000 songs online|
|CloudDrive (Amazon)||5GB free storage. If you want to buy more, you can pay 1$ for 1GB/year||All devices having Adobe Flash||Cloud Player Music streaming app.|
|Windows Live (Microsoft)||25GB free storage and picture sync.||Windows, Mac, Windows Phone 7||No|
|Dropbox||2GB free storage. You can upgrade to 50GB or 100GB with 100$ and 200$/year, respectively||All devices having web browsers or Dropbox app.||Having online music player and Apple apps can stream music from this cloud.|
iCloud service looks very attractive. “It just works”. When you capture a picture by iPhone, this picture will be automatically uploaded and transferred to other devices using the same Apple ID. If you bought a song from your mac, you can download and play this song in other devices for free. There are many other wonderful features, such as data backup, email, …
Cloud Drive is a real online hard drive. You can put your data on this online drive. You can access your data from any devices supporting Flash.
Google supports many services but they look complex and distributed. You need to use Picasa for pictures, Gmail for emails, Music Beta for music, Google Docs for documents etc. For each service, you have at least 1GB free.
This service is similar to that of Amazon. You can have a very big storage, 25GB. If you take a picture with a Windows 7 phone, this picture will be uploaded to SkyDrive automatically. Furthermore, you can create and store your documents with MS Windows Live.
This service may be the most widely used now. You can connect all your devices with this cloud service. When you put one file on a shared folder, this file will be transferred to other devices connecting to this shared folder. Dropbox provides 2GB free storage.
- MS Windows Live give you the largest storage: 25GB, but is not easy to use.
- Google provides many distributed services with at least 1GB free for each.
- Dropbox is a good service for storing and sharing data but it’s the most expensive.
- Amazon Cloud Drive: you have 5GB free storage. If you use iOS devices which don’t support Flash, it’s not easy to access your data.
- iCloud looks very good but to use it efficiently, you need iOS devices or Macs.
You may try several services at once ^^ Good luck with your choice.