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No Vacation Required Podcast

For fulfillment fanatics interested in traveling deliriously, living deliberately, and working virtually.

Cloud Storage Showdown

NVR Guys

Recently, we powwowed with other Microsoft Ambassadors here in Seattle. We have a lot to say about everything we saw, learned, and did (it was amazing!). For now, though, we want to share the results of our cloud storage showdown.

It is hard to believe that there was once a time – not that long ago really – when managing file syncing was a major pain-point in our lives. With several computers and a lifestyle that allows us to work from the road more than half the year, we used to spend a significant chunk of time simply managing our data.

Thanks to the rapid evolution and simplification of consumer facing cloud storage solutions, we’ve almost forgotten the days of cables and external hard drives. However, just because cloud storage is significantly less complex than old data management processes, that doesn’t mean it was easy for us to decide on which solution made the most sense for us.

We’ve put all of the major solutions to the reality test – working around the world, sharing large files, collaborating with clients. In doing so, we’ve identified what we consider to be the major pros and cons of each. Here is what we’ve found:

Microsoft OneDrive

There was a period when, as Mac users, we couldn’t justify transitioning from classic Microsoft Office to Office 365. Microsoft was not yet offering upgraded Office apps for Mac users, so shifting to the subscription model didn’t make sense. Those days are gone. Not only is there a suite of new office apps available (several are still in preview), the 1TB of included OneDrive storage with an Office 365 subscription made the $99 per year a no brainer. 

Capacity and Pricing: 15GB (free) / 1TB ($99 per year) 

What we like: 

·      Unparalleled value

·      Cross-platform

·      Access to both web and installed Office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on PC, Mac, and iOS

·      Seamless integration with Office 365 apps

Where it falls short for us:

·      Some peculiarities with naming conventions (no support for some characters supported by Mac, which can lead to some frustration when migrating files).

·      Currently no support for tags in Mac OSX

·      No file sync indicators

Apple iCloud – 

Apple is known for delivering outstanding user experiences, it is why we are such big fans. However, cloud services have long been the company’s Achilles heel. Having endured the dark days of .Mac and Mobile Me, we were very cautiously optimistic about the introduction of iCloud Drive in OS X Yosemite. While we appreciate that Apple are finally providing a more robust native cloud storage solution, the pricing and lack of functionality have made it a non-option for us. Trust us, we wish we could say differently. 

Capacity and Pricing: 5GB (free) / 20GB ($0.99 per month), 200GB ($3.99 per month), 500 GB ($9.99 per month), 1TB ($19.99 per month)

What we like:

·      Native, seamless integration with the OSX

Where it falls short for us:

·      Not fully cross platform

·      No iOS app for iCloud Drive (which seems just crazy!)

·      Unnecessarily expensive

·      Lack of robust sharing options

·      Unreliable file synchronization / confusing sync indicators

Dropbox –

We started using Dropbox not long after it became an option; back when the very idea of cloud storage was disruptive. The storage solution has been part of our workflow ever since and, broadly speaking, we’ve been happy with it. However, recent performance issues – massive CPU usage during syncs, unending “file list” updates, and disappearing files – have made it almost unusable. There is still a lot that we like about Dropbox, but we can’t lean on it as our primary cloud storage until the company addresses some of the crippling performance shortfalls. 

Capacity and Pricing: 2GB (free) / 1TB ($9.99 per month or $99 per year)

What we like:

·      The fullest feature set of sharing options

·      Excellent integration (contextual menu options, tags, etc.).

·      Clear file syncing indicators 

Where it falls short for us:

·      Relatively expensive and paltry amount of free storage

·      Overwhelming CPU usage at times

·      Unreliable file syncing 

Conclusion: While each has unique benefits and areas of opportunity, OneDrive stands out as a clear winner for offering the most flexibility and bang for your buck, especially when you consider the value that access to the full suite of Office 365 apps represents.

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