Competing Cloud Computing Options for the Individual (Part 2)
Much of the media attention directed towards free cloud computing storage has emphasized several options especially Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft Skydrive. This time, let us spend some time on Box, Dropbox and Minus as examples of free cloud computing services.
For the individual, Box offers 5 GB of free online storage (with a maximum file limit of 100 MB) with the option to upgrade to 25 GB (1 GB maximum file limit) or 50 GB (1 GB maximum file limit) for US$9.99 per month or US$19.99 per month respectively. Individual account holders also have the ability to edit documents online, obtain a mobile app, and make use of secure transfer and access notifications. Box is regarded as a good option for business as the Box for Business option (US$15/user/month) provides the means to synchronize desktop files to a Box account and to share edited files within a team.
Free Dropbox accounts provide individual users with 2 GB of storage space with the incentive of earning more storage space (up to 18 GB in total at the rate of 500 MB per referral) by referring other people to Dropbox. Users can upgrade to 50 GB or 100 GB for US$99/year ($9.99 monthly) or US$199/year ($19.99 monthly) with the ability to earn up to 32 GB of additional storage space at the rate of 1 GB per referral.
Dropbox retains a one-month history of one’s file work with the ability to undo changes and undelete files. Dropbox files are protected with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption. Mobile apps are available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry. Users can invite family and friends to access a folder and share its contents. Dropbox can be used offline. Dropbox saves useful bandwidth by uploading/downloading only those parts of a file that have been changed. Earlier versions of files are maintained in My Dropbox. Synchronized files can be access from the cloud on any workstation that has Dropbox installed thereon.
Minus offers a free user account with 10 GB of free space and a maximum file size of 2 GB. Minus allows the user to create public and private folders, create and share files as well as following friends to determine what they are sharing. Additional storage space can be earned by referring friends to join Minus. Mobile apps exist for Android and iPhone. Browser extensions are available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Files are kept indefinitely until the user decides to delete them. Minus uses Amazon’s EC2 and S3 cloud storage service. However, Minus does not provide encrypted SSL access for uploading files. Files marked private are simply hidden from Minus’ searching capability.