The costs of cloud storage in 2014…

November 17, 2014 1:59am
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Despite being a lifelong computer geek, I’ve never really been very good about maintaining proper backups.

It’s always been something that was just off on the horizon – something that I was going to take care of soon, but not right now.

Thankfully I think I’ve only been bitten by this lack of preparation a couple of times … usually I’ve lucked out and been able to spin a hard drive up just long enough to pull data off after a crash, and I think I lost one drive a long time ago that was a repository for video files of TV shows and movies that got toasted and never recovered, but as far as I can remember, that’s about it.

That said, I know that I should do better and as I look towards upgrading to a new laptop here shortly in addition to just updating both of our phones, I’m trying to weigh my options as far as whose cloud all of this digital crap that we’ve accumulated should get stored in!

Just at a glance, we’ve got…

  • My Documents – 25 GB
  • Photos – 90 GB
  • Music – 85 GB
  • Video – 90 GB
  • Miscellaneous Other Stuff – 295 GB
  • iPhone / iPad data – 15 GB
  • Online Website Stuff – 5 GB

And granted, I think part of my problem in trying to devise a strategy for this all along is that I’ve always wanted one place to reliably backup all of this stuff, and a few years later now I’m looking back at it and thinking that maybe that isn’t really the right way to go anyways. Despite in total everything clocking in at barely over half a terabyte, now it’s all on different devices, and some of it I want to remain in sync on different devices, so more of a hybrid solution may very well be in order now that there are actually quite a few cloud storage options available.

The trouble is, picking which one! 😯

I’ve had a Dropbox account now for a couple of years, but I rarely use it because I didn’t want to install their app on some of the computers that I needed it on, and plus nowadays the storage capacity for a free account isn’t anywhere near what I need.

Google Drive is fine, though I’ve never used their app to really give it a proper workout. On the other hand, I’m quickly losing my faith in Google Docs because I kind of hate their word app and it’s by far the most important to me as a writer. Their spreadsheet app is ok, but I’m pretty experienced in Excel at this point and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve hit a wall saying, “But I know that I can do that in Excel!!!”

Which brings me to Microsoft OneDrive, which I honestly hadn’t even thought about until I just realized this evening that 1 TB of storage comes with any subscription to Office 365, which I’m going to have to get for $99/year with the new MacBook Air that I’ve had my eye on.

And then there’s also iCloud, which we just recently upgraded on both of our phones (at the lowest $0.99/month/device plan) to allow them to continue backing up as we moved to bigger devices because we were both randomly getting out of space errors with the last phones that we had!

As a side note, I’ve also been looking at a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud so that I can have Photoshop and Fireworks on the new computer, which comes with a free 20 GB of storage, but looking at the numbers above I don’t think that’s even worth thinking about at this point.

I guess at the moment I’m a little torn between OneDrive and iCloud – on one hand, OneDrive is essentially free with Office, whereas iCloud will run me another $10-20/month just for the laptop alone. And I think that’s what bugs me about iCloud is that ideally I’d like my wife’s phone and my own to share, but they still need their own accounts according to Apple despite now looking at $22/month just in cloud storage fees!

I think I still need to do some more research into this because from what I can tell, everything that iCloud can do, OneDrive can do, too, and if that’s the case, OneDrive will already be free for me!

The big takeaway that I’m looking for here is really simplicity and thoroughness – even though I’ll never write from my phone for the most part, the idea of having all of my Word docs available to browse anywhere I am is kind of appealing, just like it’d be nice if the photos I took from my phone could just magically sync to my PC instead of having to copy over the ones that I want to use in a blog post or whatever. And then there’s the whole media aspect of it – I know that I can’t have a couple hundred gigs stored on my phone at all times, but if all of my music and videos were in the cloud … even the stuff that I haven’t purchased from Apple! … that I could stream anywhere, be it traveling or whatnot, that would be a nice change from the messy file folders that I have today!!!

Granted, I know that I’m not going to solve all of these problems in one day. In fact, I don’t think I’m going to solve any of them until I’ve got my new laptop and I can install both of them and play around a bit with what they can do. From a cost perspective, obviously OneDrive would be ideal, and I think it might work with syncing phone photos if I install their iOS app like the website says (now if only my camera did the same thing!). If I could get OneDrive to handle documents, photos, and a simple cloud backup for media, that would be a good start … making them easily streamable to my phone or Sara’s iPad on the fly would be even better.

On top of all of this, I feel like I still need a good, solid local backup, too, which in the short term might be as simple as picking up a 4TB external hard drive for $150 to dump everything to as well as store some of the bulkier stuff (because my laptop will only have a 500 GB drive).

Ideally I eventually want to revisit my whole home server idea because in addition to shuttling files between phones and computers, I also want to see the media portion accessible via Smart TVs in the house … though that’s a taller order because I still need to sort out multiple sources (i.e. purchased from iTunes vs DVDs and Blu-Rays bought), co-mingling these all in one interface, and making them look pretty and easy to browse on the TV itself. At one point I thought that Apple TV might be a good front end for this, but now I’m not so sure. Additionally, I need a place where I can run scripted backups pulling down from my web server just to make me feel safer with a local backup on top of the network backups that they do today. All of these combined have been what’s steered me clear of a NAS box because I’m not sure how much actual functionality I could get from one aside from here are some drives for you to use.

Oh yeah, and I have to decide whether I still want a whole-computer backup for all of this crap as well, too, or if everything else listed above would be good enough!

Last year I paid for a subscription to CrashPlan on a Black Friday sale with the intent of finally backing up our photos, and a year later they’re asking me to renew and I never even installed the client software… 😛

Lots and lots of decisions, and I have a feeling that it’s going to end up being a phased approach simply because I can’t just go out and drop $1,000 on a new file server tomorrow like I’ve wanted to now for years! I want to avoid picking up lots of recurring fees because we already pay Verizon so much money just for connectivity at home and via mobile as it is … and yet, half a terabyte now more than ever, I’m starting to realize the value of the data we’ve collected over the years and just how much it would suck for any of it to randomly disappear due to a stupid disk crash again or something.

I’m sure this won’t be the last riveting post I write about the existing world of cloud storage – I’ll let you know what I come up with! 😀

(and good grief, I really need to come up with something to solve these problems this time…)

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