When it comes to versatility in the tech industry, few companies have accomplished what Apple has.
Just the mere mention of their name can start rousing debates about everything from computers to mobile devices to software programs.
Though some people have their qualms with the brainchild of Steve Jobs and co., others swear by Apple. The company’s success is hard to deny, especially when you look at sales numbers and market share.
From their popular line of iMac computers and Mac book laptops to the famous iPhone line, this company has its bases covered in all areas of tech. So it should come as no surprise that they’re a player in one of the biggest budding tech markets today – cloud storage.
Storing files on the cloud makes data management easier than ever before. It makes hard drives look like floppy disks in comparison, showing just how fast technology is progressing in the area of information storage and retrieval.
Today, we’ll take a look at Apple cloud storage services, also known as the iCloud.
What makes it unique? What are its best features? And is Apple’s take on this type of service better than the competition?
What is Cloud Storage? Why is it So Popular?
There was a time when storage seemed pretty straightforward as a localized process. Users work on a machine, they save data to that machine, and they retrieve it as needed – simple, right?
However, anyone who has ever tried to work collaboratively across multiple machines or with multiple parties knows that complications can arise. Different locations, various devices, and multiple file formats can make things difficult in certain cases. This is why cloud storage emerged – and why it has become a primary option rather than an alternative.
Cloud storage drives are those drives hosted by a different party in a different location than the user. The user accesses this storage space through their network connection, effectively making the cloud drive an “away” drive, as opposed to being the one the user has access to on their own device.
Cloud storage options have really flourished over the past decade – but why?
Given how the digital age continues to refine the way we work, learn, and collaborate, it stands to reason that the way we manage our data would need to evolve as well.
Cloud drives give users a way to store their data in a central location. Even if they work on multiple devices, retrieving important information is as easy as connecting to a network, accessing the drive via a secure login, and clicking the file in question.
To summarize, the cloud is known for three things above all else:
- Collaboration: The cloud can be accessed by multiple parties, with authorizations being given and removed at the click of a button. This makes a collaborative workflow much easier to achieve.
- Cross-Platform Work: Working with multiple devices such as various computers or phones can be tough, as swapping data between them presents challenges.
- Convenience: The days of carting around external drives or attaching bulky zip files to emails is over thanks to the cloud. This storage option makes managing your files a more convenient process.
As we can see, the cloud has some impressive perks to offer. But what about Apple’s version of this product? Is the iCloud truly a cloud option that lives up to Apple’s high standards? Or is it a subpar option in a field where many competitors exist and constantly refine their offerings?
The iCloud Storage Drive: How Does it Work?
When we’re talking about the way a cloud storage option works, the main question a person has is simple – how can they access it?
The difficulty (or ease) of the setup process coupled with the procedures for accessing files in the drive represents the type of experience a user can expect. The iCloud storage drive opens users up to a simplistic but intuitive operating landscape – mainly through including it standard with all modern Apple products.
That’s right. Order an iMac, Mac laptop, or iPhone, and you’ll also get access to Apple’s patented cloud storage drive. That’s a pretty impressive deal.
It’s not exactly unique, either – at least when we look at Apple’s biggest competitor. Windows has a similar method, offering users access to their own cloud storage service.
Given Apple’s resources and market share, it should come as no surprise their service is very reliable. At least in terms of speed, it is hard to beat the iCloud. That’s a good thing, too, since speed is one of the deciding factors that can determine whether a cloud storage option is worthwhile to use in the long run.
But beyond being fast, what does the iCloud offer that makes it unique? And, more importantly, does it offer anything the competition doesn’t?
What Makes the Apple Cloud Storage Option Different?
The cloud is such a popular option for storage in 2018 that there’s no shortage of competition. Even aside from the big names (Windows, Apple, Dropbox, etc.), there are also plenty of smaller, somewhat lesser-known companies that offer their own impressive cloud services.
As we mentioned, iCloud’s biggest perks on the surface are its speed and automatic integration with all Apple devices. Apple users sometimes feel like they’re in their own bubble (and this is a good thing in some cases), so having storage already set up and ready to go is a nice touch.
Apple’s willingness to push their own cloud option into all their product lines may seem like another attempt to keep their closely managed circle of trusted apps small – and it is.
But there’s a perk to this. Apple engineers know better than anyone the way Apple programs and devices work. They know how programs are viewed by processing units and read by operating systems.
How does this factor into storage?
The answer is optimization – since the iCloud is geared to work with Apple-friendly apps and file types, it can store them while using the least amount of space possible.
Optimization is a tricky practice, but in the context of cloud storage, it works by using space in the most convenient manner possible.
Think of it as packing your own suitcase versus packing someone else’s. You know what belongings you’re taking along and what kind of space you have to work with. You can make room for everything in a more strategic manner, and thus get more room out of the same amount of space.
Examining the iCloud Drive’s Price Structure
Apple also offers some surprisingly competitive rates on the iCloud drive. That’s right – despite being known as a company that features prices as extravagant as their products,
Apple cloud storage is surprisingly cheap. Anyone can get 5GB free, and 50GB will only cost you $0.99 per month. If you want to quadruple your storage options and get the 200GB plan, you can do so for $2.99 per month.
For those who regularly shop cloud storage, one option seems conspicuously absent. What about the classic 1TB option? Given how much people are storing on the cloud these days, even 2TB can be deemed a good solution.
For 2TB, you’ll need to pay $9.99 per month – which is about what it costs for half the same amount of space if you get it from Google or Dropbox. But it isn’t the cheapest, either. So it all depends on the features you look for and how much you need an Apple-compatible cloud drive for in your setup.
What is the iCloud Storage Drive’s Public Perception?
For those who use iCloud, how do they feel about it? We know it is relatively fast and affordable, but what about the overall performance?
Since the iCloud is built directly into the Mac OS, it is very easy to use – for Mac users, at least. The problems can arise when it comes to using it for non-Apple programs. Though not an impossibility, it will present a bit more complexity, and thus, compatibility issues could potentially arise.
While Apple users will click with the iCloud’s set up almost instantly, Windows users may not have the same experience. This is because the Windows client is somewhat dysfunctional – while it works, it is not as straight-forward.
Users may need to sync some files manually rather than automatically if they want to work on the Windows side of things. What’s more, the drive may not be able to optimize Windows files in the same way it does Apple files – meaning Windows users could find they’re running out of space faster than Apple users, even if they both have the same amount of storage space.
And while errors are far more likely on the Windows side of things, the Apple client isn’t perfect, either. Sometimes, users have reported status errors, where synced files show no indicator and vice versa.
It’s also worth noting that Apple cloud storage isn’t the only option – there’s also the IDrive. How do the two compare?
Examining Apple’s iCloud Drive vs. the Competition
We know there are plenty of competitors out there for the IDrive to contend with. Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive all come to mind.
Obviously, company-specific drives will be optimized to work with the files and programs those companies are typically associated with. So for someone who primarily uses the Google Apps toolkit, Google Drive would be the better option. For dedicated Windows users, OneDrive may be their best choice.
But when it comes to Apple, there are a couple of different options including the IDrive. Despite being launched eight years earlier and only amassing less than half the users of iCloud, IDrive is still a popular option for those who use Macs.
The iCloud storage option is geared largely toward iPhones, iPads, and iPods, effectively allowing the crisp syncing of file libraries on the go. But for those who do their desktop computing on Apple devices like Macs, the IDrive could be their go-to solution.
One of the main perks of the IDrive is that it functions like an online backup with options for a cloud storage folder. The difference is that the former simply copies files and file changes from a standard drive, whereas the latter can be used as a customizable storage drive just like your hard drive.
While there are some differences between the two, both offer impressive features and can satisfy Apple users as well as any cloud option on the market.
Final Verdict: Is the iCloud Storage Option Worth It?
When we’re talking about using cloud storage, usually there is an implied purchase in the equation. Sure, the iCloud is like most cloud storage options in that there is a free version available.
But the question is – is it worth it for non-Apple users to invest in?
The truth is that the Apple iCloud is tailor-made for those diehard Apple users who need to stick close with their comfort zone. It just makes sense to go with this option, especially for anyone who is looking to work between multiple Apple devices.
Switching from one Apple iPhone to another or from a device like an iPod to an iPad is much easier when you use cloud options optimized for the Apple architecture. For those who swear by this type of product, it is a wise idea to go for iCloud.
But what about those who don’t necessarily rely on the Apple line of products?
For these people, they may be better served by going with something like Google Drive, or a more flexible storage option such as Dropbox.
Cloud drives are some of the most interesting storage options out there – and they show how much things have evolved in terms of the way we share and store data. There are a lot of options out there, and Apple offers some of the best.
If you’re a dedicated user of their mobile devices, try out the iCloud – it’s tailor-made for Apple lovers who want a fast, simplistic, and affordable cloud storage solution.