Cloud Storage

In 2004 Google launched Gmail with a (then) whopping 1GB of storage for your email. This was arguably the first cloud service and it offered users the tantalising opportunity to “never have to delete your email” everything would always be there for you to search and you’d never have to regret deleting an email again. Since then, cloud service providers have taken off in a big way offering users storage for their data, services like email and video calling, web publishing, and much more.

Where these services really excel is when they manage to integrate their services into the mainstream user environment allowing you to take advantage of their service without having to think about it. Dropbox are a great example of this. Their folder synchronisation allows users to store data in a local folder on their computer that is silently replicated online with just the changes and updates being replicated. This allows you to gain access to your files wherever you are. Since then everyone and his dog are starting to offer cloud storage for user. Most companies offer users a modest amount of online storage with a tiered pricing allowing users to buy more if they need it on a monthly basis.

Well now we are on the verge of a storage revolution. Microsoft has recently announced that anyone who has an Office 365 subscription will have their complementary 20GB of storage increased to 1TB (that’s 1 Terabyte!). This is not only for existing users, but anyone who now buys Office 365 will have 1TB of online storage available to them. This is a massive amount of storage and for most people will be more than you will ever need.

To make this even more compelling, OneDrive functionality is built into Windows 8.1 allowing you to set the default locations for office and applications to your online storage. In addition, you can set Windows to locally “cache” the contents of your OneDrive.

What this means is that  you get the ability to use the files as if they were locally held – fast and offline on your PC when you are not connected to the internet AND you can gain access to them wherever you are in the world AND you can edit them in an online Office if you are not near your machine.

Lastly (as if that wasn’t enough) most home users have a ‘sketchy-at-best’ backup regime. If their computer fails, is lost or stolen then its goodbye to their “digital life” – photos videos, documents & music. However OneDrive is like having an online back saving your files in the event of a catastrophe.

So for £7.99 a month you will get the full version of Microsoft Office on 5 computers (enough for the whole family) with 1TB of OneDrive online storage for each (yup thats a total of 5TB of storage) and the ability to edit your documents online. This will surely set up the whole family.  Alternatively for £5.99 a month you can get the package for a single user and computer.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect. It’s doesn’t backup multiple coipies of your files at different times and if you delete a file from OneDrive it will be gone, but it still provides a level of safety and convenience that’s currently unparalleled.

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