There’s certainly no poverty of choice in cloud computing services these days. In addition to Apple’s iCloud, there is Microsoft’s SkyDrive which just launched a new Mac support app, Google Drive which did likewise a couple of weeks back, and Amazon.com with their new Amazon Cloud Drive application for OS X. Another option you can use with your Mac is SugarSync, whose program for OS X allows you to select any file on your system to upload to the service, and can also actively sync files in specified sync folders.
Then there’s the granddaddy of them all, Dropbox, which Steve Jobs reportedly wanted to buy as a basis for what eventually emerged as iCloud, but was turned down by Dropbox creator Drew Houston. For my purposes, Dropbox has proved near-ideal. I also use Box.net, but for archival storage and access from multiple devices rather than for synching.
Dropbox remains my fave for several reasons, not least that it epitomizes the old Mac ideal of it “just works.” From the time I first downloaded the Dropbox software for my various production machines, Dropbox has pretty much just worked, staying in the background and requiring no attention save for installing occasional software version upgrades.
There has also been a certain default aspect to my affinity for Dropbox and Box.net, which is that they work with all of my production devices, including two old Pismo PowerBooks running OS X 10.4 that I still have in daily general dogsbody service. Both iCloud and SkyDrive require OS X 10.7 Lion, which I don’t have installed on any of my computers, and Amazon Cloud Drive wants an intel processor. Box.net is accessed with a standard Web browser. I prefer data access and archiving solutions that support non-proprietary (or at least multi-platform) access.
The only device I have that’s supported by iCloud and SkyDrive is my iPad 2, so I haven’t bothered establishing an account with either. I could install Lion on my Core 2 Duo MacBook, but I like Snow Leopard and I don’t really like any of the changes Lion has introduced, and my old Pismos would still be unsupported.
As it is, Dropbox keeps all of my work in progress and research notes synchronized among the three Macs and the iPad, and does so elegantly. I haven’t encountered anything that I don’t like about Dropbox, and it’s hard to imagine how I ever got along without it.
The Dropbox Mac client happily supports Power PC Macs running OS X 10.4 Tiger and up, as well as iOS devices, while Apple has chosen not to enable iCloud to support OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which is still the most widely-used OS X version.
Dropbox gives you a basic 2 GB capacity for free, which is less than you get with iCloud or the other free Cloud services, but you can boost your free space allotment by referring others to the Dropbox service. For every referral you invite that installs Dropbox, you’ll get 500 MB of free space up to a maximum of 16 GB. If you need more capacity that that, you can get 50 GB for $9.99 monthly or $99.00 annually.
I currently have 3.5 GB, which has so far proved ample for my purposes, being as the readout says I’m using just 3.6% of my available space.