Home Cloud Providers…My take

My friend John Appleby penned a post on his blog (People, Process & Technology), waxing poetic about the different cloud providers he was using at home and his thoughts on how they were working out.  I started to write a pretty lengthy comment with my opinion, but it ended up being WAY too long for a blog comment.  But short enough for a blog entry!  Here we go…my take on personal cloud providers.

Music- iTunes Match & Amazon Music

I signed up for iTunes Match and it seems to work fine.  With a tween daughter, I am mainly buying music via the iTunes store because it makes managing music on her iPhone easy to manage.  Since I am an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Music makes pretty good sense since the 20GB Cloud Drive storage comes with Prime and music does NOT count against that limit.  I end up using Amazon Music as my ‘backup’ for iTunes.  Since my iTunes library lives on an iMac, I usually run the Amazon MP3 sync application once a month or so to upload/match everything to the cloud.  It also allows me to get to my library from my Win7 laptop (small SSD, so minimal music stored locally) and my Kindle Fire HD.  Frankly, I use Pandora One much more than my local iTunes library.  Then again, my iTunes Recent Purchases playlist looks like a Tween girl’s: OneDirection, Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift.  

File Storage: Many!

Ah..this is the doozy.  I have an account for all of the main players: Dropbox, Amazon Cloud, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive.  Dropbox is my main vehicle of choice, mainly for the super-swift syncing.  I have rarely had an issue with Dropbox syncing anything.  But I am almost out of room for the free plan and I am going to need to think about what to do.  Believe it or not, I am considering switching to Microsoft SkyDrive.  I have 45GB of free space there, (additional is thanks to my Office365 subscription) and I am currently using SkyDrive to backup my Dropbox.  The setup is kinda like ‘Inception’ for cloud storage providers: I installed Dropbox on one PC, then installed SkyDrive.  Next, I moved my Dropbox to inside my SkyDrive folder.  This works pretty well, but since I have it on my notebook, it’s not an ‘always on’ sort of arrangement. I may move it to my iMac at some future point.  The Windows client for SkyDrive has been pretty solid, but I need to test it out on the Mac to be sure if I want to a full switch.  Otherwise, I might just have to pony up and buy a larger Dropbox.

Photos: iPhoto, Flickr, Picasa

This is where John and I depart a bit.  I am not even an ‘amateur’ photographer.  So iPhoto, Flickr and Picasa work perfectly fine for me.  I use iPhoto on my iMac for the pictures, where I then upload them to either Flickr or Picasa Web Albums.  Picasa is usually the web albums of choice, as Staci and I can use apps on our mobile devices to see the pictures.  This just means that I have to actually download the pictures off the camera and upload it.  I just wish that there was an ‘official’ plug-in for iPhoto and Picasa anymore.  I don’t like using the actual Picasa app on the Mac.

Email: Gmail

Easy- Gmail wins.  My domain emails are Google App based, and I have a bunch of other Gmail accounts that get used.  On my iMac, Mail.app works alright.  On Windows, Postbox is the best $10 bucks I ever spent for email.  I have Outlook 2013, but I haven’t attached any accounts, as Postbox works so well with Gmail!  The only downside to Gmail is that the Gmail App is sluggish on my iPad2 and I don’t like that there’s not push available for Gmail on iOS anymore.  This is one of the reasons I’m actually considering going Android for my next phone. (But that’s a separate post that I’m working on!)

OK…perhaps I’m not using the cloud stuff as much as John.  And I’m OK with that.  I’ve got lots of local backups going on, but am worried about physical drive failure.  That’s why I’m adding another bucket here- backup.

Backup

While my iMac is using Time Machine and has been pretty solid, I’ve had to move a lot of my media (movies, photos, large download storage) to external hard drives.  I do worry about physical drive failures for those, so I’ve started to research online backup.  I’ve narrowed it down to two providers: JungleDisk and CrashPlan.  The geek in my like JungleDisk, as I can access my backed up files via Amazon S3 storage.  But there’s a cost to that access.  Do I really want to pay that extra to access files in the cloud that I can get to already via other cloud solutions (Dropbox/SkyDrive, LogMeIn)?  

The cost-benefit analysis lead me to CrashPlan.  CrashPlan+ Unlimited is only $4 a month for one PC, compared to almost double for JungleDisk+S3 (but with multi-computer access).  All of the drives I will be backing up are connected to one computer (the iMac), so the single PC charge is OK.  (I am installing DropBox on Abby’s Macbook to backup her files, since outside of schoolwork, she doesn’t have anything that doesn’t reside on the iMac.  I will fully worry about her situation when she gets to high school.)  

CrashPlan seems to get high marks, so I’ll be making use of it post haste.

Well, that about does it for this blog comment blog.  Stay tuned for a quick review of CrashPlan, as well as a post where I try to figure out whether to go iOS or Android for my new phone.