In the past few years there has been a war on, who can make the biggest capacity drives in the smallest size – pen drives, SD Cards, Flash Drives and so on.
I feel like this is coming to an end though for traditional consumers, after recently moving to Edinburgh and getting fibre broadband the true ability and direction of cloud storage has come through. I have 256GB of Flash Storage on my Mac and before I was running out of space but now I’ve got a full iCloud connection and decent enough speed to upload my data, physical storage doesn’t have as much meaning as it used to.
With cloud storage you simply pick up your laptop and roll
I used to have to try and optimise my storage myself by deleting and backing up files and eventually my backup drive failed and I lost files. With cloud storage though my storage is optimised for me. I take photos, add them to the Photos app and voila they’re uploaded to the cloud and the high resolution originals removed from my Mac although I still keep a copy on my SD card of all the originals. Same with my desktop and documents, they’re uploaded to my iCloud Drive and then ‘deleted’ from my Mac. Its more convenient too because I can access my files from other devices.
Your not going to go to a meeting in a cafe and whip out your 3.5″
Anyway, back to the point I’m trying to make, as our broadband gets faster and faster it becomes easier to use cloud storage services which are getting cheaper. Solid state storage is generally quite expensive compared to it. At the moment a 1TB iCloud plan is £6.99/month and a 1TB HDD is around £50. That’s seven months of usage before it becomes more cost efficient to carry a hard drive around. That too is a bonus of cloud storage, the more data we have the more drives we use, the more we have to carry around. With cloud storage you simply pick up your laptop (if you know your going somewhere without an internet connection download the files you need) and roll. Whereas if you had it all on a HDD you need to plug the HDD in, find the files which can sometimes be in manic places because we’re all useless at keeping our drives organised and then copy them over. But if you forget a file you’ve had it, with cloud storage you can download it. You don’t have that sort of convenience with a HDD. Your not going to go to a meeting in a cafe and whip out your 3.5″ HDD that you have to plug into the wall to use.
In terms of commercial deals though the storage war is far from done, companies want cheaper storage solutions to be able to lower their cloud storage costs and entice more customers. The other issue we have is data is getting big, like really big. Websites require a form of cloud storage and so do our photos and videos that we take on our phones, some now record in 4K and the file sizes are getting bigger. This is leading to us needing bigger storage plans and the companies appear to be lowering the prices when we hit that stage. In 2015, Apple dropped their prices and in 2014 Google dropped the price of Drive.
The other issue we have is data is getting big. Like really big.
I choose these two services for one big reason, integration. Apple’s iCloud Drive offers tight integration with all its devices for backups and file storage, storing game progress data too. Google Drive does the same thing, it can back up Android devices and cloud storage for your files alongside an online suite of office tools, the same as Apple offers.
The ‘Storage Wars’ then have very much turned into a price war as usual for normal consumers and the same can be said for commercial consumers but at the same time they want big physical storage for a low cost. Physical storage will never go away, all cloud storage does is give you access to your data from anywhere that is stored on a physical drive for, in the short term at the moment, a higher price.