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NextAdvisor picks its top cloud storage services for consumers

Ease of use, synchronization pushed some to the top over others

Consumer and small business product review site NextAdvisor.com this month launched a new category , with reviews and comparisons of the best cloudstorage services.

NextAdvisor's editors tried out seven services to determine which provided the best value and and features, such as storage capacity and ease of use. Here are the results .

The cloud storage services are a subset of online backup services, which NextAdvisor has already reviewed .

Scores for cloud storage services were based on how many devices they sync, how much storage capacity is available, and how user friendly the interfaces are.

"We also took into account how good of a value each service was," NextAdvisor.com's president, Erik Larson, stated in a news release. "We want to inform consumers on where they can get the most bang for their buck."

SugarSync , with its $4.17 per month price tag for 30GB of capacity and unlimited system backup, came out on top. The review site described SugarSync as "feature-filled," with an intuitive user interface and easy music streaming. It's "best for those who need to do a lot of file syncing," the review stated.

JustCloud came in second place and ZipCloud was third. Both charged fees of $4.95 a month and had identical capacity and use points. They were followed by SpiderOak , MyPCBackup , LiveDrive , and Dropbox .

Dropbox, a popular brand, appeared to take a big hit because it was the only service that doesn't offer backup, meaning it doesn't automatically replicate files to its cloud storage infrastructure. "Therefore [it] falls behind the rest with its lack of features and protection," NextAdvisor states in its review.

Conversely, SugarSync was praised for allowing customers to not only save files in the cloud, but also because it allows users to sync files across an unlimited number of computers. "Thus, you get to make sure that all of your information is always up-to-date and ready for you no matter where you are working from," the review states.

NextAdvisor's editors signed up for each of the cloud storage services and used them as a consumer would -- running online backups, syncing files across multiple computers (both PC and Mac), and editing documents to test update times.

Each reviewer also accessed files through each cloud service's web interface, and tried out mobile apps where applicable.

While cloud storage has a lot in common with online backup services, it has several other useful features. For example, backup services run in the background, storing files for recovery in the case of a system or hard drive failure or theft. Cloud storage services also store files, but they are designed to make the files easy to access and share.

"In addition to ease of access and sharing, cloud storage offers the ability to sync files across multiple devices, ensuring users have the most up-to-date files at all times," Larson said. "As Internet-connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones , continue to proliferate, we believe cloud storage services will play an increasingly important role in how people store, access and share their important information."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com .

Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.


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