The Cloud, Day 26: Too Much Cloud Can Be a Bad Thing

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30 Days with the Cloud: Day 26

On Day 25 of the 30 Days with the Cloud series, I spelled out why I believe that cloud-based data storage and syncing is becoming mandatory thanks to mobile devices and SSD drives. Today I’m going to put a caveat on there, though.

Am I backing off from the idea that mobile devices and smaller SSD drives make cloud-based storage mandatory? No. However, using too many cloud services at once cancels out the convenience and simplicity I’m using the cloud storage for in the first place.

I’m not even worried about data security. Well, I am worried about data security, and I realize that protecting the data I store in the cloud is my responsibility. Selecting a secure cloud data service is certainly one of the primary factors in choosing between the many, many options that are out there. But, the key is choosing one--not four, or five, or seven.

Google recently entered the cloud storage mix with Google Drive.
I understand the draw. Dropbox offers 2GB of storage with its free account. Amazon Cloud, Ubuntu One, Google Drive, and Sugar Sync all provide 5GB of free storage, and SkyDrive has 7GB. Box gives users 5GB with its standard free account, but it has also run a number of promotions that give users 50GB for free under certain conditions. By setting up free accounts with all of the above I could have almost 80GB of free storage online.

80GB would be awesome. My music files alone take up 60GB so…oh wait. None of the accounts provides enough free space to hold all of my music in one place—not even the 50GB account with Box. That means I can store all of my music online, but I have to put a few gigabytes here, and a few gigabytes there. Then, if I want to store photos, or documents, or other data online I’ll have to figure out which of my free accounts still have some space left and tuck the data away there.

I’m sorry. That’s more effort than I’m willing to invest in a technology that supposed to make my life easier. I’d much rather choose the cloud service that best meets my needs and spend a few bucks to get the storage capacity I need and just use one.

When I want to find a file, or look at a picture, or play a song, I don’t want to have to first figure out which cloud it’s in. I want to be able to take advantage of integration and seamless syncing across my PC, Mac, and mobile devices, and I want it all to just work.

Each cloud storage service has pros and cons, so choosing is a subjective exercise. Music files purchased from Amazon don’t count against the capacity for Amazon Cloud, so if I bought my music from Amazon it would make sense to go with Amazon Cloud. Likewise, Google Docs files don’t count against the capacity of Google Drive, so it would make sense to choose Google Drive if I work in Google Docs a lot.

After narrowing down the choices based on the types of data I want to store in the cloud, and the unique advantages offered by some services, it comes down to dollars. The pricing of the different cloud services varies widely, but so do the options available for storage capacity. Just as an example, if I narrow the options to SkyDrive versus Google Drive, SkyDrive is less expensive for storing 50GB or 100GB, but if I need to store more than 100GB I’d have to go with Google Drive because the biggest capacity available on SkyDrive is 100GB.

The bottom line is simple, though: pick one cloud and stick with it. The simplicity and convenience is worth a few bucks.

Read the Last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Windows Phone 7

Day 25: The Cloud Is Becoming Mandatory

Day 27: All the Rest of the Cloud

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