Keepin’ it in the Cloud

I try to keep my blog generally focused on marketing, but today, as ice is covering the streets of middle Tennessee, I find myself in organizing mode. My MacBookPro is filled with client files, 650 gigs of iTunes music and movies, and 100+ gigs of work and personal photos. If they had a show like Hoarders for digital files, I’d be the focus of the episode with the highest ratings, the catalyst for the reunion show and the spin-off series, Intervention.  In the past, I’ve just relied on external hard drives, often duplicating content over multiple drives in the interest of security. But external storage is incredibly inconvenient, and in many ways less secure and reliable than the Cloud.  But with hundreds of options for Cloud storage, where do you even begin?  Here’s our top list of cloud services in use here at Barker & Christol.

 

Drop Box Screen ShotDropBox – probably the most well-known brand in cloud storage, but not for storage itself, but instead for file transfer. While it’s not our preferred cloud, it’s hard for businesses not to adopt it into their processes due to its popularity. Like Microsoft Word, it’s not the best, but it gets the job done and it’s hard to eschew it. Free accounts includes a modest 2 gigs of storage, but the company’s referral program helps add more flexibility. 2 gigs is sufficient for most uses as long as you maintain it appropriately.

Box.com Screen ShotBox.com –  While Mick Jagger screamed Get off of my cloud, we’d rather be inviting everyone to our cloud. Box, in our opinion, is just better. Why? We don’t know. It just feels better. It provides the same basic file management and transfer service as dopbox, but it just feels better for business. Box is a great tool for organizing files up to 250 mb. More than enough for 90% of business use. One feature I love is the ability to create and edit notes and documents within the browser. While you don’t want to trust the application to edit a highly formatted report, it is sufficient for documenting notes between parties and facilitating smoother projects.

Google Drive Screen shotGoogle Drive – While the common joke is that Google is SkyNet, we’re somewhat reluctantly drinking the Kool-Aid. While Google hasn’t quite got the robust and refined functionality of Microsoft’s Office suite, the integration of email, word processor, spreadsheet and presentation, as well as cloud storage is a rudimentary, but effective. As a matter of fact, this article is drafted in Google Docs. As a cloud drive, I find Drive limiting. I love the collaborative opportunity within Drive, but clients and partners haven’t yet adopted the tool into their work flows. Microsoft is blazing a deeper path in the Cloud Collaborative playground…but good luck getting that adopted by a bunch of Mac users!

 

How oDrive worksOdrive – I am a newby to odrive, but I might be in love. Odrive is a great aggregator of cloud drives. Box, DropBox, Facebook, FTP, Gmail, Google Drive, Oxygen, OneDrive and more are easily accessed and maintained through this simple desktop app. Mutliple accounts for each platform are easily separated and accessing files is a much more streamlined process without trying to log in and out of the sites you use. It also provides drag and drop functionality making uploading files super easy.

Microsoft OneDrive – 15 gigs on sign up, Office online….or $70/year for Office 360 and 1 TB of space…Microsoft may be going for the value approach, but I think they might win. I’ve not tried it, to be honest, but I’m signing up soon in hopes that I’ll be overwhelmed and impressed.

Honorable Mentions

While these aren’t cloud storage, per se, they certainly offer some value in the form of file sharing.

YouSendIt.com – OK, it’s actually HighTail.com, but I still believe in YouSendIt.  Simple file sharing.

BaseCamp – while it’s not our project management tool of choice (we are evangelists for ProWorkFlow), we use BaseCamp in conjunction with some of our partner firms. One aspect of BaseCamp I do like is the ability to connect files to projects in an intuitive way. While ProWorkFlow offers file storage, it’s not as easy to use, especially for big files like we produce at Barker & Christol. With BaseCamp, you still pay by the size of storage you use, but with good management skills, the prices are reasonable enough to justify the cost per project.

Your Own Web Host – Most times, your web hosting company will offer pretty good storage with your annual account. We prefer HostMonster and BlueHost (actually, they are the same company), and they have cloud storage partners that offer reasonable storage options within the contract and more 1s and 0s for a few more dollars a month.