A button with a cloud on it to represent cloud storage.

Cloud Computing: Is It Worth the Cost?

Cloud storage is a term for any service that allows you to save or access data that isn’t on your device but on a remote server.

These servers are owned and managed by several different companies and allow you to store huge amounts of data without using the storage space on your own drive. With this technology, companies and individuals can now store and access more data than ever. Some services that use this technology are free, but others will cost you. The ways in which you intend to use cloud storage will determine whether or not this cost is worth it.

Do You Need On-the-Go Access?

If you work from a singular location or device and won’t need to access those files from anywhere else, the cloud is not for you. It won’t hurt to use a service like Dropbox or Google Drive to have digital backups in case of data loss or corruption, but you could just as easily back up a small amount of documents using a flash drive or some other form of external storage. However, for someone who works from different locations or owns a business in which files need to be accessible anywhere, the cloud can be a huge help.

How Much Storage Can You Get for Free?

Free cloud services usually allot users a good deal of storage to start with: Dropbox provides 2 GB, Google Drive provides 15 GB,  Bitcasa provides 20 GB, Mega provides 50 GB, and a Chinese company called Tencent Weiyun provides a whopping terabyte of storage—that’s 1,000 GB! With such a multitude of free storage available, many people enjoy the benefits of cloud storage without having to pay a single cent. Be careful, though. If you exceed the free amount, some companies may send you a bill.

Do You Need to Pay for More Storage?

If you need more storage than you can get for free, you may consider paying a company to grant you more space. Pricing can vary. iCloud might cost you around $100 per year for 55 GB while Google Drive will only charge you around $25 a year for a full 100 GB—other companies might only charge you for the storage you use. Affordability is high, but necessity is what needs to be called into question most when you consider purchasing extra cloud storage. Do you really need the space? The 2 GB Dropbox may not sound like much, but if you’re just storing documents, 2 GB can go a long way. Additionally, these services with smaller storage often offer more for those who refer friends, allowing you to gain even more storage for free.

So, while you can pay for additional storage from some companies, you probably won’t need to. Many people use multiple services at once to accrue a huge amount of free storage. With multiple services, users can reserve each for different file types, saving only documents to one, music to another, photos on another, etc. In summation, get it while the gettin’ is good. Right now you can amass a huge amount of free storage. Try to get what you can without paying before you decide to spend your money on more space. You might be surprised by how little you actually need.