It’s completely understandable if you feel hesitant paying for cloud services. Not too long ago, cloud computing was this sort of mystical, abstract technology. Now, it’s practically a household term. And even if people aren’t constantly talking about the cloud, they are most likely using it every day with their devices at home. Well then, if you’re already getting something for free (whether you realize it or not), then what’s the case for upgrading to a paid cloud service?
That’s certainly a position many people feel comfortable taking. Hey, if Google is crazy enough to give me 15 GB of storage on Google Drive, that’s their loss. They’re not getting any of my money.
Before we consider the limitations of this kind of thinking, let’s begin by looking at some of the top dogs in the cloud services game.
What kinds of offers are out there?
There’s Amazon Web Service’s Simple Storage Service (S3) which is oriented towards businesses. For free, it offers users 5GB of storage (unlimited photo storage for Prime members).
There’s also Apple iCloud Drive, which matches Amazon’s 5GB free offering. Obviously, Apple’s cloud storage is the most compatible with Apple devices, although workarounds involving third-party apps do exist.
There’s Dropbox, which has perhaps the puniest free offering of all: just 2GB of free cloud storage. Still, it should be noted however that for $20 per month, Dropbox offers “as much space as you need.”
Google Drive, as we mentioned before, offers its users 15GB of free online storage. This limit includes any data associated with your Gmail account but does not include anything you created with Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Google Slides. Additionally, only large photos and long videos in Google Photos counts towards your storage total.
There’s also Microsoft OneDrive, which offers users 5GB of storage for free. This total is actually downgraded from 15GB which Microsoft provided users up until 2016. Microsoft incentivizes users to back up their camera rolls to OneDrive with an offer of 15GB more. There’s also a referral program where customers can get an extra 500MB per friend they refer (up to ten friends).
There are many, many more cloud service providers in the game, and all of them have different initial free offerings to tempt users. They all have their own pay-for-play tiers as well, and they’re worth checking out individually if you’re interested in upgrading your service. That brings us to our next question…
When should you upgrade from free cloud services?
Cloud services are a lot like caffeine. When you get your coffee in the morning, it comes pre-loaded with a certain amount of “kick” (around 90 mg, to be exact). So, when do you need to start paying for espresso shots? Simple: when the free stuff just doesn’t work anymore.
When you’re out of space in the cloud, you have a couple of options. For starters, you can free up storage by deleting old files you no longer need (just make sure they are actually counting towards your limit—Google Drive is particularly tricky with this). Alternatively, you can make another free account with a different cloud provider, though this could create a lot of annoying issues like remembering what you have saved where.
The last option is the one the cloud providers are counting on: you just sucking it up and paying for more storage. They understand that by offering some free storage to every user, a certain percentage will then desire more space and convert to paid users. This isn’t some dirty trick; it’s a tried and true business tactic.
The truth is that if your needs demand it, you’re just going to have to upgrade. What does it look like when someone needs more than the free storage amount? Well, if you’re regularly uploading anything more than light files or small-sized photos, you probably should upgrade to a paid account with whichever provider you’re using.
It’s worth noting that paid cloud subscriptions often come with lots of other useful tools as well. Better customer support, improved security, better collaboration tools—all of these are part of one cloud provider’s offering or another. Shop around and see what fits your needs best.
What’s more, if you’re planning on backing up multiple devices, you are probably going to need to upgrade from free storage offerings. A single backup can take up most if not all of your allotted gigabytes, and adding more devices increased your needs beyond what’s given.
Are you running a business? There’s you answer.
And if you’re running a business or an organization, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to need to pay for your services. The needs you have as a collective group of people, even with multiple free accounts, will far exceed what a non-paid membership will grant you access to. You need to consider not only your day to day storage and computing needs but also your tolerance for risk. Can you really afford to not back critical files and data backed up? In the event of a disaster, you would lose all of that information and have no way to recover it.
If you’re interested in learning more or getting started with the paid versions of cloud services, the team at Machado Consulting would be happy to help. You can reach us here or by phone at (508) 453-4700