This week has brought some changes in the retail cloud storage scene. Google has come out with its Google Drive, offering 5GB of free space, and Microsoft has revamped the terms of service of its Skydrive facility.
MS used to give away 25GB of free space. That sounds nice, but the problem was there was a file size limit of only 50 MB, if I remember correctly. Happily, that problem has been taken care of, for if you install the Skydrive desktop program, for some reason the size limit vaults up to 2GB – which is a pretty big file size.
Take note, however, that along with MS’s revamping, the new free allotment of space is only 7 GB. And not only will all new accounts be that smaller size, but older accounts will be reduced to it too, unless the old 25GB limit is reclaimed within a certain period of time.
So basically, if you have an existing Skydrive account, you need to get over to live.com and reclaim that higher limit. And do it soon, or you’ll lose it.
And now a note on the services. To really condense this down to a few sentences, the Google and MS services are good, but Google is accessible only via the Web interface, and that means no automatic syncing with your computers. MS hits a lot of the right feature points, but you will find that its sync program is extremely basic. I also found upload speeds to be rather lethargic.
That brings us to the Dropbox/Sugarsync offerings. Dropbox is an excellent service, and if you can benefit by all the third party plugins that extend its functionality, it may well be your best choice. But if you want a better desktop engine, with more built-in functionality both in the local program and web-side (indeed there is a bit of a learning curve to how it all works), and if 5GB free sounds a lot better to you than 2GB, then Sugarsync is a better choice over Dropbox.
And let me add that if you use this promo link, you will get an extra .5GB for free from Sugarsync (it will say 5GB but it’s actually 5.5, and it’s permanent).
What I’m going to do is use both Sugarsync and Skydrive. Sugarsync will be for my daily syncing needs, and I will use Skydrive for plain vanilla deep storage, since it’s desktop interface is virtually devoid of options. I think that’s the best of both worlds, with the extra 25GB from Skydrive being like having your own small hard disk in the cloud.
And there is no reason you can’t set up local encryption with any of these services (save Google, which doesn’t sync at all). See my two articles here for how to do this using secretsync or boxcryptor.