TIME FOR THE CLOUD? Options To Sync Your Data
California, (September, 2011) — Many of us have the same data problem. We create data in different places with multiple devices. During our busy personal and professional lives we take pictures with our Smartphones, buy songs on our iPods, download movies to iPads, and create documents on our computers. All of these devices fragment our data, and taking the time to converge them together can take up a lot of our time.
The “cloud” (click here for an explanation of the term) may be the solution to the problem. Microsoft’s been promoting their “To the Cloud” campaign for over a year, Apple’s iCloud will launch this fall, and even Amazon has options. In an attempt to find the perfect answer to the data problem, NERDS explains each program’s benefits and limitations.
- The Cloud: Microsoft has been trying to get us to go “To the Cloud” for a while now. Windows Live Skydrive is an online data storage option, a digital locker per se. Upload your files to your Skydrive and you can access them from any internet-enabled device. Microsoft gives you 25GB for free and you can store anything, from documents to photos to music, so long as individual files are not larger than 100MB. Saved files can be categorized as private (only you can see them), shared (people you give access to can see them) or public (viewable by anyone). The main drawbacks are that you have to remember to upload files to your Skydrive, can’t get more space if you have a lot of files, and you can’t stream music or videos.
- iCloud: Let’s face it, we forget things…since we can’t always remember to back up files, Skydrive isn’t perfect. Apple’s iCloud rolls out this fall and promises to automatically sync all your connected devices using your Apple ID. Take a picture with your iPhone and poof! It will magically appear on your Mac or Windows machine. Use Pages on your iPad to create a document and you’ll see it on your Macbook, you get the idea. The big question is can you access a Pages doc using Microsoft Office on your Windows PC? Unfortunately, until it’s officially released there’s no way to know how nice iCloud will play with Windows devices. Initially you’ll get 5GB of free storage. Items purchased though Apple’s iTunes store and photos stored in iPhoto won’t be counted in your 5GB. Increase storage in packages of 10GB, 20GB or 50GB for about $2/GB per year.
- Amazon’s Cloud Drive: Simply put, the cloud drive is a hard drive in the cloud. Add data to your “Cloud Drive” (documents, music, photos, you name it) and then access your files using any Flash enabled device. This means that iOS devices that don’t use Flash, like iPhones, iPads, etc are unable to access stored data. Again, the first 5GB is free but additional storage is only $1/GB per year. Any music you buy from the Amazon MP3 store doesn’t count toward your storage limits.
- 1, 2, 3…Dropbox: What about households with, gasp, Apple AND Windows devices? Dropbox, once installed, looks like a normal folder on your computer or phone. Save any file to your Dropbox folder and it will show up in the DropBox folder app on your other computers, phone, tablet, etc. If you edit a file on one device, DropBox will sync all of your devices with the latest version. One of the best parts of DropBox is you can use it on virtually any platform, from iOS devices to Windows and Android, even access data from a web browser if you’re using a public computer. All this convenience comes at a price. While 2GB is free, additional space is $2/GB per year.