The most common place today’s computer users store their documents and pictures is on their hard drives. But did you know that you can back up your files somewhere so that if your computer ever dies, you’ll be able to access a second copy of them? In recent years, online cloud storage has become incredibly important The Cloud, as many people call it, is not actually a cloud. The Cloud is a “massive, physical collection of interconnected information technology servers that are easily accessible by a user through a network”, as State Tech Magazine defines it. There are servers located all over the world, around 50 million of them, kept in massive rooms with special air conditioning and recirculation technology to prevent overheating.

So, how do you access these servers and take advantage of them? Different companies own different servers, and offer cloud storage services that utilize these servers. These companies have different plans you can sign up for, with different storage sizes. If you’re planning to store pictures, you’ll probably want a larger storage plan than if you’re just storing documents. Here’s a list of well-known cloud storage websites and how much space you can get:

  • OneDrive (by Microsoft): 15GB free, 100GB for $1.99/month, 200GB for $2.99/month
  • Dropbox: 2GB free, 1TB (1,00GB) for $9.99/month
  • Google Drive (free with Gmail account): 15GB free, 100GB for $1.99/month, 1TB for $9.99/month, 10TB for $99.99/month, 20TB for $199.99/month, 30TB for $299.99/month
  • Carbonite: Unlimited storage for $59.99/year, $99.99/year for additional external hard drive and mirror backup
  • Amazon Cloud Drive: 5GB free, 20GB for $10/year, 50GB for $25/year, 100GB for $50/year, 200GB for $100/year, 500GB for $250/year, 1TB for $500/year
  • Box (personal): 10GB for free, 100GB for $10/month

There are many other cloud storage providers out there, but these are among the most well known. Cloud storage can be a great way to sync all your documents and pictures across multiple devices, as many of these services have app versions that work on tablet and phones. It makes transferring documents from one device to another quite easy, as you can log in online from any device and download the files you need.

And if you own a business, cloud storage is something you can also take advantage of in a corporate setting. Many of these storage providers offer business plans as well. Your employees can store important documents online, so multiple people can access them easily and without fear of losing them on a personal machine. Cloud backups are ideal for anyone who wants to safeguard against accidents. Even if you have an external hard drive, having online copies of your documents adds another layer of protection, and provides a peace of mind.