Cloud Storage 101: What All Agents Need to Know About ‘The Cloud’

by Tiffany Kjellander

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There are numerous options for agents to use cloud-based storage; which one is the best?

Unless you’ve been hiding in some remote rainforest for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of “The Cloud.” You might not know what that really means, so here’s a quick rundown.

“The Cloud” refers to any online service that provides document storage on their servers, so the documents don’t necessarily reside on your physical computer or tablet. So, essentially, you have 24/7 access to your documents from anywhere, at anytime, from any device that you have an active internet connection.

There are literally hundreds of cloud storage solutions. When choosing one, you must consider your storage needs. How much will you need? What kind of device will you use to access your data? One of the things you need to consider is the company providing the storage. Will they be around in two years? Or will they disappear from the landscape along with your data?

Cloud Storage Solutions Breakdown

Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the most popular storage solutions.

1. Dropbox – 2GB for Free. $9.99/mo for 100GB, $19.99 for 200GB, $49.99 for 500GB. Teams get 1TB for five users at $795 year and up, while enterprise solutions are available. *3.99/mo gets you the PackRat feature – unlimited history and restore of each document. This has saved my life in the past. Other features include:

  • Access your dropbox storage from any browser, or Windows, Mac, Linux applications and Droid devices including Kindle Fire, Blackberry and iOS devices. Desktop application syncs all documents to your hard drive, unless you utilize the selective sync.
  • Automatic high-res photo and video uploads available. Saves photos and videos to a “Camera Uploads” folder and adds an additional 3GB of storage to your account when activated.
  • Collaborate in the cloud by sharing direct folder links or share a single document.
  • Keeps a one month history of your document changes and allows you to rescue deleted documents or revert to previous versions within that time frame.
  • Allows many third-party apps to integrate to increase productivity, including Chrome.

2. Box – 5GB free. $9.99 for 25GB, $19.99 for 50GB, $15/user/month, 3 to 500 users; 1TB with password-protected sharing, access management and user administration. Enterprise edition: Custom pricing, unlimited storage, offers customer branding, group access controls.

  • Works with any browser, Windows, Mac, Linux applications and Droid devices including Kindle Fire, Blackberry and iOS Devices. Also, selectively sync some or all of your data with desktop apps.
  • Box supports seamless integration for many third party services like SalesForce and Google Apps.
  • Box has a full featured “app” environment, and includes many without charge. Free beta app called Box Edit allows you to use any Web browser to edit any file within Box, and Box for Office allows editing on the desktop and direct save to the cloud.
  • Collaborate in the cloud with folder and document sharing,  and track collaborators activities – or lack thereof. Includes Chrome integration.
  • With OneCloud, Box allows direct mobile integration with iAnnotate PDF, Docusign Ink and CloudOn productivity suite.

3. Google Drive 5GB. Google Docs and files converted to Google Docs do not count against storage limit. 1GB of free photo video storage in Picasa Web albums, unlimited storage of photos and videos (up to 15-minute videos) in Google+.

Extra storage: 25GB, $2.49/month; 100GB, $4.99/month; 200GB, $9.99/month; 1TB, $49.99/month; 16TB, $799.99/month.

  • Google Drive desktop app available for Mac, Windows, as an Chrome extension, iOS, Droid and Blackberry, but not on Kindle apps. Limited Selective Sync available for Desktop app.
  • Utilize a full suite of Google Drive-compatible apps, like Lucidchart, Pixlr Editor and Express, PicMonkey, Floorplanner, Hello Sign, Slide Rocket, Docusign and much, much, much more.
  • Tracks document changes for 30 days, unless you choose to save a revision forever.

4. iCloud – 5GB free, $20/yr for 10GB, $40/yr for 20GB, $100/yr for 50GB.

  • Available for PC, Mac and iOS devices.
  • Use with an AppleTV to access any media saved in iCloud instantly.
  • iCloud only syncs photos using photo stream, and allows access to the 1000 latest photos (or the last 30 days) so that your photo stream enabled devices can download them.
  • Allows for syncing directly from certain OS apps, like iPhoto, Keynote, Pages and Numbers.
  • No Android support. Ugh.

To wrap it up, I am a big Dropbox user. It’s accessible from the most platforms, including Kindle Fire (which, believe or not, I own a few of for the kids.) Box is my runner up; I think it’s better for collaboration, and integrates with third party apps much better. If you are a Google junkie, you are cursing me right now. That’s okay. I don’t love Google Drive. I don’t like Google Docs, and generally speaking,  I think that Dropbox and Box are far easier to navigate, and because they are available on more devices, it’s easier for me to access my 200GB of cloud storage whenever I need it.

Most people don’t usually need 200GB to begin their cloud storage journey, so the important thing is check out the options and pick one. Download one and see if it works for you.

If you have a favorite storage solution, feel free to comment below or send me a tweet @tkjellander.

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  • Jack Bobeck says:

    I know many people will throw tomatoes at me, but what about SkyDrive from Microsoft?

  • Tiffany Kjellander says:

    Hi Jack!

    No tomatoes here :) Go ahead and check it out – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/skydrive/download – Here’s the quick breakdown – skydrive’s free account starts with 7GB, and integrates with Microsoft Office Online Suite…You can get 20GB a yr for $10, 50 GB for $10, and 100GB for $50/yr. Its actually quite similar to google drive… so i think its a matter of choice.
    I haven’t tried it myself – mostly because i’m quite satisfied with what i’m using – but i think it looks quite usable and i like the office tie-in.

    Good Luck & thanks for the question!