The Best Cloud Solution for End Users - OneDrive

Fact be said, there are just too many cloud solutions out there right now. They all promise great things of which sync your files to the cloud is the most common one. Let's list down the famous ones:

  1. Google Drive
  2. Dropbox
  3. Box.com
  4. Microsoft OneDrive
  5. Apple iCloud Drive

So which one to choose? There are quite a number of factors to consider. Let's start with the basics - the basic thing that we all want from the Cloud services is the file-syncing service. Important documents, pleasing memories and in some extreme cases - important evidences of certain life-events need to be synced. The importance of those files depends on you but that's the basic thing we need from a cloud service. But there are a lot more things we want. Below, we tell how OneDrive addresses them and excels at them.

Amount of Free Storage Space

Google-Drive-Storage.png Dropbox starts with 2GB (only). Google Drive starts with a 15 GB account but that accounts for your GMail storage as well. So if you get a 20 MB attachment in your GMail, you lose 0.025 GB from your 15 storage in your Google Drive storage. With Box.com you start with 10 GB. Apple's iCloud - just 5 gigs.

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OneDrive gives you 15 GB to start off with. They say, if you download their mobile app and activate auto picture upload, you get 3 GB more. Now, that's a lie! Any person I know who did that got 15 GB extra! So that makes it 30 GB. If you are into referrals-n-all, you can crank it up by 5 GB - that's 35 GB total of cloud storage - for free!

Even in worst case, you still have 15 GB of storage and that does not count your corresponding outlook.com email address.

File Format for Documents

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So, all of them let you upload files and create online documents. With Apple including their iWork suite of tools on the web in the iCloud offering, the scene is hot. OneDrive however is already ahead of the game because of the company it belongs to - Microsoft. When you create documents elsewhere, you get a version of document which is editable only on the web. This is especially true for Google Drive.

OneDrive-can-edit-word-files-online.png

At the same time, Apple's iCloud and OneDrive let you create documents on the web and edit them on your computer. While iCloud allows you to create .pages files for a document format, OneDrive would create your online documents as .docx. Similar file extensions are used for other office files (.numbers and .key by iCloud and .xlsx and .pptx by OneDrive). The downside of Apple's formats are obvious - you need an Apple device to open those files. At the same time, Microsoft Office documents are supported everywhere; even the iWork apps can open them and so can LibreOffice - the office suite installed on most Linux distributions.

Again, OneDrive lets you collaborate with others on a project online just the way Google Docs does. With the file format support by OneDrive, it is a much better option than anything else out there.

Integration with Other Services

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Of all cloud service providers, 3 of them - Google, Apple and Microsoft have a lot more services up their sleeves. Microsoft is the largest on PCs and Laptops, Google, currently the dominant ones on Mobile and Apple has got the most loyal ones (supposedly with deeper pockets). While Google has got a phone OS (Android, yes) to demand attention, Microsoft has that too! So when you use OneDrive, you (can) get an account whose email service, contacts service and notes service (bet, you ignore notes all the time!) are available at your disposal right away. Needless to say, you can also use those services via apps on other platforms. So, with OneDrive, you have everything you would have with any other provider, on any other platform. This is a significant advantage against Apple's closed garden setup.

While OneNote was a terrible product when it started, it has got some amazing stuff right now and is heads-on with the most famous note-taking app - Evernote. That being said, I am not very interested in Google's Keep or Apple's Notes. They are quite kiddish against OneNote as far as features are concerned. OneNote has got clients for Web, PC, Mac, Android, iOS and Windows Mobile. OneDrive is where OneNote saves its contents and you can easily change sharing of your notes from there as well!

The recently released Outlook app for mobiles is a wonderful one too. (Reviews of these two should be here soon)

Multi-Platform Support

OneDrive-Clients-Available.png You might have a Mac, an Android tablet and a Windows Mobile phone or another setup which is full of diversity. What it might be lacking is the unity - the unity to get your job done in the easiest possible way. Fret not mate, OneDrive to the rescue.

  1. On Windows: OneDrive Client and OneNote clients are built in. You get a more superior OneNote client when you get yourself Office 2013 (or Office 365, if you want to call it that).
  2. On Mac: You have a OneDrive files client and a separate, and a-bit-less-capable-than-the-Office-OneNote client to help you out.
  3. On Linux: Well, sorry, nobody cares enough, least of all - Microsoft. You will have to use the web browser for anything, but hey, they do have the support.
  4. On Android: You have OneDrive files client and OneNote client as well.
  5. On iOS: You once again have OneDrive files client and OneNote client.
  6. On Windows Mobile OS: Well, what do you expect, those two are most definitely here.

Also, you have an Outlook app for all those platforms (barring desktop Linux) so you know you've got things working well, and in sync! Though Box.com's app and Dropbox are great in supporting multiple platforms, I guess, additional features just blow them away.

Pricing

15 GB would suffice for most of us and 30-35 GB would be spacious for more than most of us, but what if - just, what if you wanted more storage? You would buy some, right? And here is where many or most providers would lose the battle. Let's see what price others offer their services at. We are only mentioning the paid plans at per month rates in US Dollars for middle level and 1TB plans. Also, there are enterprise offerings with unlimited storage plans which we will not compare because we are talking about the home user here.

iCloud Storage:

  • 200GB: $3.99 (2 cents per GB, per month)
  • 1TB: $19.99 (2 cents per GB, per month)

Tell you what, these guys are a bit costly.

Box.Com

  • 100GB: $6 (6 cents per GB, per month)

Even this plan is for teams of people only. So it's 6 cents, per GB, per user, per month (yeah, bit complicated here). This can be thought of as a 'home plan'. Costlier than Apple. Now that's something!

Google Drive:

  • 100GB: $1.99 (2 cents per GB, per month)
  • 1TB: $9.99 (1 cent per GB, per month)

There are higher storage plans available till 30 TB without decreasing the rates any further.

Dropbox:

  • 1TB: $9.99 (1 cent per GB, per month)

Once again, the unlimited plans are for enterprise users only.

...Drumroll...wait-for-it...OneDrive:

  • 100GB: $1.99 (2 cents per GB, per month)
  • 1TB: $6.99 (0.7 cents per GB, per month)

Do you see it? The price per GB for the 1 TB plan is below the lowest offered by any other company. But there is a 'free goodie' we have not talked about yet - the 1 TB plan comes with a free Office 365 subscription. This raises the value of paid storage plans way beyond offerings from other companies. But wait, there is more. This was only the personal plan.

If you go the other way around and get yourself a 'Home Subscription' for Office 365, then you are entitled to:

  1. 5 Microsoft Office 365 licenses (can be installed on 5 tables, 5 phones and 5 PCs or Macs in total)
  2. 1 TB of storage for each license - so that's 5 TB total of storage divided into 5 accounts.
  3. The price is $9.99 per month for all of these.

So the effective cost comes down to: 0.2 cents per GB, per month.

Now that is at least 5 times cheaper than the cheapest out there for home users and it comes with 5 licenses of a software suite which is otherwise costly. This puts the final blow to other options we all were weighing service providers on.

OneDrive-with-Office-365-Home-Subscription.png

The Champ!

OneDrive has got everything you can ask from a cloud service. An affordable cloud storage platform which can be used to share content or collaborate with others in family, is available on almost every platform, comes with the world's most popular office suite for free, is secure and in hands of a company you know is here to stay. Though it excels in almost every aspect against other players (exception being - dropbox file sync client is available for Linux desktop), the combined value of all of those makes OneDrive an almost irresistible offer. This cloud rains! The free Office 365 subscription is the sweet spot Microsoft has hit silently upon.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Cheers.

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