Background so far with online storage
I have been using DropBox to store files in the cloud and used it for sharing files too. Love the way that you can have 2GB for free right from the start and then by telling people about it you can get extra space up to a maximum of 10GB. I also have Mozy which gives me free space to store files as part of my back up routine. I started that one when I only had a small amount available on DropBox, I set up a folder in which anything I put in there would be sucked up into the cloud storage for me, automatically. Then there is Box.net which does a similar thing. Not made so much use of it as I found that I have enough with the other two, but your needs might be different, you might want to have more files backed up online. As we all know by now, that it is not if, the hard drive fails but when.
You could say there is a new kid on the block, Amazon Cloud Drive
Not so new really, Amazon is offering 5GB storage for free too. I say not really new, because they are not new to online storage, they have had Amazon S3 storage, that you could pay for, for some time. Cloud Drive gives 5Gb of storage for anything digital and not just the music you might buy from Amazon. This is a nice chunk of free digital space. If you buy an album from Amazon you can upgrade that five gigabytes to twenty GB. If you buy music anyway then you could consider that extra 15 GB as being free also.
What is so good about using Amazon Cloud Storage?
Having unlimited access from any computer is a very useful benefit for sure. You could be away from home and need a file. Ask for the use of, for example, you mom’s computer, or go into to a CyberCafe and get access to your file. It is securely stored so you don’t have to really worry about privacy too much. No one else can access your files. You would take precautions if using an internet cafe though. I personally, would change the password on the account when I got back home or to a computer that I considered to be secure.
With Amazon Cloud Drive you can upload your files from your computer easily, it can be music, photos, documents like spreadsheets and Keynote or Pages files from your Mac or Windows PC. You will know they are safe if something happens to your computer, such as a hard drive crash or if something bad happens to your laptop. It could get stolen or consumed by a fire or run over by a car. Anything could happen whether you are paranoid or not. We talk about this sort of thing on Mac20Q Podcast all the time.
How Does Amazon Cloud Drive Work
Getting started was really easy, I was already logged into Amazon and on the page for Cloud Drive there was a big button saying Get Started Now. I hit that button and I was in to a web page with another similar looking button this time sayingUpload Files. To the left of the web page there are two panels, one headed Lists. In that I can click to see All Files - Your Uploads - Your Amazon Purchases - Deleted Items. Under that there is a panel for Folders, the default folders are for Documents - Music - Pictures - Videos. Under that there is a gauge showing your percentage usage of CloudDrive.
After using the button to upload files I had to read the terms and conditions and confirm that they had been read, then fill in a Capcha to prove I was human. I was last time I looked! Then there is a window with Step one - Chose the destination for the files you want to send. I chose eleven files from a dialogue Finder window, hit OK and the files were then on the move. I chose small files because I was in testing mode but there is a limit of 2GB on the file size, which should be plenty big enough. After uploading there is a link near the top which lets you see the upload details, click on that and you have some information on file size and names etc; and a button to upload more if you want to.
Once the files are uploaded I can see more items in the main panel which were not there initially, like a button for New Folder. I was wondering how that was going to work, it seems that you have to have files already sent in to Amazon. Another button entitled More Actions gives a drop down allowing you to move, copy and rename files. It is greyed out unless you have some of the check boxes of the folders or files checked. One of the files I sent in was a .CSV file, I clicked on it and it gave me all that was inside the file, in another Safari tab. It could open in another window if you have your browser set up that way. To use the data I would have to select copy and paste it to the right application to deal with it.
Then I clicked on a file that was a Numbers Spreadsheet file and because it didn’t know how to display that in another tab it downloaded it to the downloads folder. I was then able to click on the downloaded file to open it from that Folder. It all was quite seamless and worked well.
What Else Is There
There is not much else to it really, in the settings all you get is a link to manage your storage plan or send feedback. Right at the top there is a bar in which there is a message inviting you to Launch Cloud Player. I thought it a good idea to upload a music file first, which takes some time as I have a very slow upload connection. Bad news is that the Cloud Player only works in the United States. How completely useless is that?
So Is Amazon Cloud Drive Any Good?
It is good but a little limited in that you have to manually arrange to have files uploaded to the Cloud Drive. I like it with Mozy, DropBox, Zumo Drive, Box.net that I can just set the folders I want to use for that storage and I get automation. All I have to do is to see that the folder in question stays under the size that is given for free for that service. With Cloud Drive you have to make some decisions about it unless you can set up some automation of your own, maybe with AppleScript or Automator. I wonder if I can get in there by using an ftp application like Cyberduck on the Cheap MacBook I use for business?
CloudDrive And Mobile Computing
What is needed is an application for mobile computing. So after a search in iTunes I find one called Save To CloudDrive It is an iPhone application and if you get an email in with an attachment you can have it saved to CloudDrive. It costs €1.59 and looks like it is iPhone app and would have to be 2X in the Amazing iPad. I will wait and see if Amazon come out with a free application later.
5GB is a good amount of free storage space though and 20GB is better which comes at the cost of buying one album a year from Amazon. Overall I would have given it a rating of four out of five, but I have to reduce that to two out of five for the Cloud Player not working internationally.