So many companies, so many plans, so many tariffs, this is a typical description for cloud backup market today. Just like there are so many companies in the cellular field, so are there in the cloud back up service field too, including several big names like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and so on and just like the cellular plans, they are of a wide range. Now, some plans may be good for some and be a complete waste to others. In cloud backup services there are some plans which might not be at all of any use to an individual while for other it may be the single most used feature.
The problem is that cloud backup service being essentially a very new and not too popular field, is very easy to get misguided and end up on a very bad deal. Here we try to explain how to choose the right vendor and the right plan by analysing the different kinds of needs and the services offered to tailor match each individual requirement.
The first step is to identify the personal needs. The following parameters should be used while making such a decision –
1.) What kind of data is to be stored (images, videos, text etc.)?
2.) How often the data needs to be retrieved? (daily basis, monthly basis or yearly basis)
3.) What is the amount of data to be stored?
4.) The speed of your internet connection and what is is the downloading/uploading charges?
Most of the service providers usually provide two kinds of rental plans, namely monthly plans and yearly plans.
A monthly plan in a long term usually tends to be more expensive than the yearly plans, but this is no reason to discard them off completely. If in case you’re backup requirements are highly dynamic, i.e. it tends to grow or reduce in a very short span of time, then monthly plans may actually be much more cost effective that the yearly ones. It is because, in monthly plans, the user actually tends to pay for only what he actually uses. In yearly plans, the user also pays the rent for the space which he might be using at a later stage.
However, that’s not the complete story. In case if the user wants to use his cloud backup service only as a long term one time deposit, i.e. on a store and forget basis, the yearly plans become visibly much more cost effective. For instance, if the user just wants to backup his holiday trip photographs, a onetime yearly cloud backup is the best option. In such cases, you simply archive your files and it stays there forever, safe and secured.
Sharing is another very important aspect of cloud backup service. It is a feature that gives it an extra edge over the traditional methods of backup. Some of the data, are highly classified, even on the personal basis. However, often there are data, like your holiday pictures which you would like to share with your friends and family spread across the world. E-mailing data worth gigabytes is definitely not a feasible option and sharing on social media sites also have many limitations, for one, reduced image quality, limited storage space , lack of privacy and so on.
There are some cloud service providers, like BOX.COM who specialise in sharing of backed up data. These service providers give the users a wide array of sharing options to minutely control who sees what and how much editing can one of the viewers do.
When it comes to workgroups, this feature of sharing becomes predominant than any other. There are options that allow you to share entire documents and excel sheets with a large number of peers just by a single click. Some of the service providers like SUGARSYNC also offers features to give the author of the file the right to allow other users from view only to complete editing. This features become of significant importance when it comes to work groups.
The speed of internet connections and the costs associated with it are by far one of the biggest concerns when it comes to backing up data on the cloud. Previously, a user was supposed to mark off the files that were to be backed up. The software from the service provider then used to upload the data bit by bit. This had a few very major flaw. First of all, it used to eat up all the internet bandwidth clogging down the entire connection off for days. Secondly, the process was a highly expensive one. Certain newer service providers like MOZY gives the user the flexibility to set bandwidths for the process, also to pause and schedule it. Using such features, a user can pause the backing up process when he required net connection for certain other purposes and boost up the speed during off load times. This feature becomes of paramount benefit in case if the user has an internet connection whose ISP allows free browsing for certain period of day. For example, BSNL broadbad, one of the most highly used ISP in India, gives its users free uploading and downloading from 12:00 AM to 8:00 AM. In such cases, the user can pause his uploading task during the day and resume during these times thus uploading all his data for free.
The amount of data to be stored is another aspect to be taken care of when it comes to cloud storage. This is because usually, there is no linear dependence between the amount of data stored and the costs involved. Indeed there is an exponential decay. As the amount of data stored increases, the costs involved per unit of data goes down significantly. Now the catch here is the actual amount. If your data requirements are only a few gigabytes, it’s better to go for combo plans offered by service providers like DROPBOX, BOX, MOZY etc. However, if in case you need to store a huge amount of data spanning across several hundreds of gigabytes, plans offered by providers like AMAZON S3, JUNGLEDISK etc should be considered. They have highly flexible palns for large amount of data which usually ends up in large cost savings.