10 GB or 1 TB: How to Choose the Right Storage Capacity for You
When you stop and think about it, the tremendous drop in price for digital storage we've witnessed over the past decade is truly mind boggling. These days, a terabyte of external USB storage can be had for less than $100. The next great leap in storage technology is the move to the cloud. Despite a few risks, the pros of cloud storage greatly outweigh the cons. What usually confuses consumers is the question of how much cloud storage is enough for their needs. This is often a tricky calculation that will ultimately depend on four important factors at a minimum.
Personal or Professional
How much online storage you'll need is first and foremost greatly influenced by your intended usage. If you're interested in cloud storage for your personal data, you'll simply need space for whatever can't be backed up to an external USB drive. If you're in need of space to backup important business files, provide syncing functionality or possibly allow for collaboration between yourself and colleagues, the issue becomes a bit more muddled. Audio and video files from iTunes can be easily recovered if your hard drive crashes. Business critical files, on the other hand, should be covered 100%.
File Backup vs. Integral Tool
Another consideration that should be accounted for when determining capacity requirements is the manner in which it's utilized. For some people, cloud storage is a highly flexible way to safeguard against hardware failures or theft. But for an increasing number of individuals, teams and organizations, cloud storage is a tool that's used equally for backup and for collaboration. Having one central repository for files that change frequently allows businesses and entrepreneurs to become more efficient and mobile. If you use cloud storage as a productivity tool, you'll need an increasing amount of storage as time goes by.
Software Environments & Infrastructure
Furthermore, the amount of cloud space you'll need is impacted by the operating systems and programs that you or your company run. For instance, an installation of Windows takes up a lot of disk space with things like configuration files that drastically expand your storage needs for backup purposes. To a lesser extent, Mac OS X also includes a lot of hidden files that can take up more space than you might think. For simple backup purposes alone, one should probably have at least 50% more cloud space than their actual PC or laptop to be completely safe.
Future Data Growth and Overall Value
Lastly, you must carefully consider the rate at which your cloud storage requirements will grow in the coming months and years. A somewhat accurate estimation of your future needs will affect the value proposition of cloud storage. Essentially, you'll get significant discounts by simply opting for a higher volume of space such as 1TB right off of the bat. If you're going to be needing it sooner rather than later, you might as well lock in a great deal at the outset. That way, you'll get the best bargain on cloud storage for your own particular situation and have peace of mind as well.
Making the Final Call
These four primary considerations will no doubt give you a lot to think about when choosing a cloud storage plan. Of course, some people won't ever need to buy storage as free accounts from the likes of Microsoft's SkyDrive and Dropbox are more than enough for them. For the rest of us, cloud storage will play an increasingly crucial role in our work and private lives. Now is the time to figure out how to leverage the cloud for maximum benefit. Assessing your current and future storage needs will help you to get the most from this rapidly evolving technology.