Even a person with the most passing interest in cloud storage likely has a Dropbox account. When cloud syncing and storage was in its relative infancy, Dropbox was a miracle worker: a little piece of software that ensured you could stash and grab your files from anywhere without hassle.
These days, there are numerous Dropbox alternatives (Wikipedia lists a dizzying array of upwards of 25 right now) for you to choose from. So why would you move away from the comfortable confines of Dropbox?
Perhaps you’re worried because Dropbox was affected by Heartbleed, but then again almost everything was. Maybe you’re worried about file security, even though Dropbox is generally as safe and secure as most law-related computer storage methods. (Sadly, digging a bunker under the earth and burying your physical client files there is an unattainable choice for most of us.) You could be mad that Dropbox tapped Condoleezza Rice for its board. No matter what your reason, you can now jump ship and take your data with you. Here are five that you may consider.
Unlike Dropbox, Spideroak’s servers keep no unencrypted data. Spideroak calls it a “zero-knowledge” environment, which is just a snappy way of saying that their staff and the government can not see your data (because even if Spideroak gives it up, it’s just a pile of encrypted nonsense). That said, you also won’t see your data if you forget your password.
What Do You Get for Your Money
- 2 GB: Free
- 100 GB: $10/month or $100/year
- Extra storage can be purchased in 100 GB increments for $10 a month or $100 a year.
Did we say that Spideroak was for the security-obsessed? Spideroak is for pikers compared to MEGA, which namechecks Edward Snowden, boasts end-to-end encryption (where your data is encrypted on the uploading device before it goes to the internet and decrypts after it arrives on the downloaded device), and helpfully provides a list of the many ways your data can still be hacked.
However, your clients may dislike you using a New Zealand-based company run by Kim Dotcom, the founder of the now defunct MegaUpload, which allegedly shared a cool half-billion dollars of copyrighted material.
What You Get for Your Money
- 50 GB: Free
- 500 GB: 10 euros a month (roughly $11 a month at current exchange rates)
- 4 TB: 30 euros a month (roughly $34 a month at current exchange rates)
Cubby is part of the same company that makes the remote desktop client LogMeIn, so if you are using them as your remote client, Cubby dovetails nicely. However, LogMeIn got rid of their free remote access making Cubby a less attractive option than it once was. At the introductory price of $48 a year for 100 GB, Cubby comes in quite a bit below Dropbox’s $10 a month for the same amount.
If you are a person that likes to share a lot of files on the fly — especially big files — Cubby is an excellent choice. The desktop app allows you to drag and drop any folder into it and automatically turn it into a Cubby — a discrete storage folder that it will sync on the fly while maintaining your existing file structure. You can then right-click that folder (or any file within) to generate a shareable link. Cubby’s sharing options are less clunky than Dropbox’s, and there is no limit on the size (that we have found).
The iOS and Android apps are nicely done, but that is a bare minimum for cloud storage services at this point. Sadly, as nice as the drag and drop interface is, Cubby’s $48 a year intro price was aggressive two years ago but has now been utterly obliterated by the next choice.
What You Get for Your Money
- 5 GB: Free
- 100 GB: $4 a month introductory rate for one year and $7 a month after that.
- 1 TB and five users enterprise solution: $39.99 a month
Who should use it?
It was only a matter of time before the 800-pound gorilla of the Internet was going to slash its prices far below what most other storage services could offer. If you use Google Docs, you can not pass up using Drive. 15 GB is more than an ample amount of space for most actual document storage (and docs created in Google do not count towards the limit).
Some of that 15 GB is chewed up by your Gmail, as all Google services use the same bucket of data. So if you’re a Gmail power user or are just guilty of storing everything there (raises hand) you might want to spring for 100 GB. Like everything else Google, the online interface and the apps are aggressively utilitarian, but free is free.
What You Get For Your Money
- 15 GB: Free
- 100 GB: $2 a month
- 1 TB: $10 a month
There is likely no circumstance under which you will use 100 TB of data, but if you are going to, MediaFire will be there. This is the new big kid on the block, clearly positioned to fight with Google by offering a full terabyte for only $30 a year. The desktop app has a way to go, as things are a bit unintuitive. On the other hand, the web interface is gorgeous, clean, and easy to navigate, so if you don’t feel beholden to a desktop, the web interface is the way to go. MediaFire also allows you to “follow” files, which seems to be the same thing as Google Drive’s file sharing, but with more steps and a complicated explanation.
Once MediaFire works out the bugs, they could be a strong contender. However, it is clear from the site itself, which brags about unlimited downloads, download resuming, and zero wait times is still much more about file sharing than file syncing. They also make no mention of their security standards. At this stage, it isn’t quite ready for legal file storage prime time yet.
What You Get for Your Money
- 10 GB: Free
- 1 TB: $2.50 a month
- 100 TB: $3,750 a quarter
- 2014-04-14. Originally published.
- 2015-05-01. Updated pricing for services.