The Cloud Storage Showdown: iCloud vs Dropbox

Apple's newest iCloud may be lacking in a creative name, but its promise to simplify the process of backing up once and for all certainly has our attention. But how does the service compare to one of our all-time favorite services, Dropbox? We've covered 5 general reasons not to transition over, but today we'll take a hard look at what both services have to offer, weighing in the pluses and minuses to help find the service that's right for you.

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PRICING:

The 50GB Sweet Spot: In today's day in age, 50GB will cover the most basic needs for cloud storage. This means all your documents and photos, a couple of short films, and all that data on your iDevice. It also seems everyone's in agreement that $10 is a reasonable price to pay per month to have your bare essentials backed up to the cloud. For the price of a gourmet burger, you get the peace of mind that even if your phone flies out of an airplane, your files will be safe somewhere.

Between the iCloud and Dropbox, both services are equally competitive. If you've spent lots of time investing in expanding your Dropbox by referring obnoxiously pestering all your friends, you may have access up to 70GB available for $99 per year.

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SOFTWARE:

The Dated Folder Paradigm: Dropbox has been a veteran in the desktop client realm, used widely in home offices to larger tech startups, but many will agree the company caters to more power users than your everyday user. After all, the idea of keeping all your files specifically curated folders is such an early 90's concept, no?

iCloud hopes to eliminate the barriers of entry and make it dead simple. "Set up the iCloud once and all your email and multimedia will automatically sync with your account from here on out." We love the simplicity of that idea.

Redundancy, Much?: However, being a little tech'd out ourselves, most of us in the Unplggd office have made the move to the 'cloud' a long time ago. We did this by investing time in our Gmail accounts, syncing the necessary stuff up with Google Contacts and Google Calendar. We used Dropbox to hold all our important files and to collaborate with co-workers. For some of us, iCloud feels a bit redundant and unnecessary since we already have all of these services set up.

"Not exactly," says the iCloud. The iCloud is about allowing for easy and aesthetically appealing ways to access that information on all your iDevices. It does away with the idea of folders and creates a simple 'place' for all your files to go.

Additionally, if you've already invested time using Apple's Address Book to store contacts, are a previous MobileMe account holder, and store your files on iPhoto, the tight integration with Apple's iCloud is the service dreams are made of.

The Problem of Apple-Only: Our biggest qualm with the iCloud, however, is how closed off it is. Unless you have a household full of Macs, having Apple hold all of your content doesn't make much sense. We've already run into issues trying to get Apple's iCloud Calendar to work with Mozilla Thunderbird on our PC systems and there's so many hoops to jump through in order to get it to work that we would highly recommend against it. Also, you can't get iCloud photos to sync anywhere other than Apple-based applications such as iPhoto or iPad hardware.

Unless Apple plans to open it up to both Mac and PC users alike, with no bias as to which software folks use to access their data, we'd suggest proceeding with caution. iCloud is a big time and brand investment, even if it feels like a minor transition.

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OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

iTunes Match: We're still hearing the finalized details on this hot new service that allows you to upload your entire collection (up to 25,000 songs) into the iCloud and sync it up to 10 devices for a mere $25/year, but from what we've heard, we are seriously in love.

Not only is it very pro-consumer, but it attracts folks both in the camps of Spotify and CD rippers who have already spent countless man hours digitizing their collections. iTunes Match, if it works as described, may just be what the doctor ordered.

Oh, and apparently the songs don't count towards your iCloud 5GB limit. Very awesome.

Mixing It Up: For me, I've chosen to go the mixed route because my lifestyle requires both the reliability of Dropbox's version control for work and iCloud to hold my contacts, calendars, music(via iTunes Match), and photos. The way I see it, iCloud is merely another convenient option for those of us who wish to integrate data into our lifestyles, but having it a bit more open so PC users wouldn't hurt either.

Which cloud service do you prefer? Does iCloud have enough to make you switch from Dropbox? Why or why not?

(Image: The iPhone Spot)