Google, like other companies offering online storage, still faces doubts about the security of cloud computing following last summer's revelations about the reach of the National Security Agency. But it's doing its best to reassure customers and to attract new ones.
Following a declaration this month by Eran Feigenbaum, director of security for Google Apps, that "the cloud can be as safe as -- or in many cases, safer than -- storing data on-premise," Google is making a financial case for the cloud. The company lowered the cost of Google Drive storage substantially Thursday.
"Today, thanks to a number of recent infrastructure improvements, we're able to make it more affordable for you to keep everything safe and easy to reach on any device, from anywhere," Google product management director Scott Johnston wrote in a blog post.
Google Drive now offers 15 GB of storage for free, up from 5 GB. Its paid storage tiers are now 100 GB for $24 a year, down from $60; 1 TB for $120 a year, down from $600; and 10 TB for $1,200 a year, with larger allotments available.
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By comparison, Microsoft OneDrive (previously known as SkyDrive) offers 7 GB for free, 50 GB for $25 a year, 100 GB for $50 a year, and 200 GB for $100 a year.
Apple iCloud offers 5 GB of storage at no cost, a 10-GB upgrade for $20 a year, a 20-GB upgrade for $40 a year, and a 50-GB upgrade for $100 a year.
Dropbox offers 2 GB for free, with 100 GB for $99 a year, 200 GB for $199 a year, and 500 GB for $499 a year.
Amazon Web Services' Glacier archival backup service costs $0.01 per GB a month, or 1 TB for $120 a year. That's the same as the new Google Drive price, excluding the Glacier Archive price of $0.05 per 1,000 requests.
Bitcasa offers up to 20 GB free or 1 TB for $99 a year.
Those who would rather buy a 1-TB SATA hard drive than trust the cloud can do so for about $65 these days. To approximate the redundancy assumed in cloud storage, you might want to buy two. That would be comparable price-wise to Google Drive, but it would also be less secure in the event of on-site disaster or theft.
Storage calculations with these services aren't always straightforward. Apple, for example, lets users store backup, documents, and mail for free. Google does not count docs, sheets, or slides documents toward storage quotas.
But if security matters more than price, take a look at the zero-knowledge backup provider SpiderOak, which offers 2 GB free and increments of 100 GB for $100 a year. "Zero knowledge" means that SpiderOak doesn't keep a copy of the encryption key that unlocks encrypted files. That might not be enough to deter a determined intelligence agency, but it's better protection than you'll get from a provider that can be compelled by court order to decrypt files using its own key.
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