There was a time when the amount of storage available was a major factor in my device purchases. I needed lots of space to store all of my documents, photos, music files and more. Storage space is now much less of a consideration thanks to tremendous advancements in cheap and free cloud services. My 4-year-old Mac has 144GB of free space and runs very smoothly with these cloud services:
Everyone with an iCloud account automatically gets 5GB of storage for free. However, with this plan, you’ll soon start receiving notifications that your iCloud storage is almost full. At just $0.99/month, upgrading to 50GB of iCloud storage is a no-brainer. Even the $2.99/month price tag for 200GB is extremely reasonable. For the everyday user, 50GB is more than enough to handle your iPhone photos, calendars, notes, contacts, etc.
I was turned on to Google Photos about 6 months ago, and I’ve been sharing it with everyone who will listen since. Google gives you unlimited storage for free with this service. For someone like me who sometimes takes thousands of photos a week, this is a big deal. Google Photos also does a decent job of grouping your photos and making them easily searchable.
Of course, a service this robust comes with a few downsides. For one, uploading photos can be a long, tedious process. I usually start my uploads right before I go to bed and let the work get completed overnight. It’s not a big deal for me, since I don’t usually need to get photos turned around in a super short time period; but for people whose demands are more immediate, this could pose a problem.
There is also an additional cost ($9.99/month) if you want to upload RAW photo files. And there are privacy concerns with Google Photos because it has the ability to clear photos from your device to make room for new ones once its backup is complete. Melissa Perenson has a full write-up of the benefits and issues with Google Photos that is really worth a read.
Dropbox is the standard for free cloud services for a reason. It’s a very user-friendly platform that plays well with other programs and devices. I use Dropbox for work and personal use. Especially on Mac, Dropbox easily functions as an extension of your desktop.
I also love the new Gmail integration feature. Now I can simultaneously store and share files straight from Dropbox in Gmail, rather than sharing in Dropbox or downloading files from Dropbox to my computer before attaching to emails in Gmail.
Music services like Spotify and Apple Music aren’t primarily thought of as cloud solutions, but that is what they truly are more than anything else. When I got my first iPod, I began storing every CD I could find on my computer. When Spotify really took off, I had nearly 100GB of music stored on my computer. Not too long ago I went through the process of clearing all of those files off my computer. I use the Spotify family plan ($14.99/month), and now I’ve got all the music I could ever want available at all times. For my commutes, I download albums and playlists I want to hear before I leave, so I also save data by not streaming on the go.
That means that those 160GB iPods I had sitting around can also be repurposed as external storage devices. But with all of these cloud solutions, I just don’t have a lot to store on them.