I’m starting to wonder why own a file server anymore?
With mainstream applications going to the cloud, such as hosted email, CRM, and collaboration
software services, the next big ticket item is storage solutions.
As always, you have to define what you want first. Do you need the following:
- one shot backup
- continuous file sync
- share files via links, instead of attachments
- integration with Google Apps and/or Salesforce.com
- content collaboration, version control, and trying to get rid of your Microsoft SharePoint implementation
Here are some of the key features you need to look for:
- do they offer a free account?
- file max size, and total storage size
- integration with Google Apps or Salesforce.com
- remote and mobile access
- public and private file sharing
- continuous file sync
- scheduled backups (of course!), both full and differential
- web interface and/or drag and drop interface
- support for Windows client, Apple client, iGoogle Gadget
- SSL encryption, password protection, multi-level security
The big factor is performance. Most home high speed lines have lightning download speeds but crippled upload speeds.
In an ever changing competitive niche industry, I’ll try to summarize some scenarios. This list is a moving target. Prices range from Free (free is good), and between $4.99 to $9.95 per month. (Business or Enterprise level are much more expensive)
If you are a Hotmail or Live user
Consider using Windows Live Skydrive with 50Mb file sizes max and 25Gb total storage. This service works well with the exception of hosting your videos, which is generally larger than 50Mb!
If you just want a one shot backup
Acronis Online Backup offers 250GB for $5/mo, so it’s not a bad deal to host your “ghosted image” or a complete set of your data files which may include documents, music, photos and videos.
Another honorable mention is ASUS with 500GB (free for the first year when you buy a netbook or notebook), though performance has been a problem in the past.
If you want integration to Google Apps and Salesforce
So far, Box.net is the winner but expect competition very soon. You’ll also need 3 accounts for a Business plan at $15/user/mo for $15 Gb/user. For Saleforce.com integration, you’ll need to speak to a salesperson to get a quote.
If you own your own servers
Though technically not a true cloud solution, but if you own your own file servers, consider using Expandrive as it uses SFTP and not FTP. The end user should not care where the files are stored.
Other Storage Solutions (Top 6)
Here at CRM Helpdesk Software Labs, we’ll be stress testing the above services for a future article. If you have a company to be added to the mix, please comment below.