Data StorageWe store a vast amount of stuff digitally now. That’s a good thing because I can’t imagine how much film it would take to store all the selfies on Facebook now. Think of all the video on YouTube.

For the heaviest users among us, however, even digital storage has space limits. If you find yourself butting up against these, there are some cheap digital storage options available for you.

Who Needs All That Data Storage?

The storage solutions I’m going to talk about aren’t for everyone. These take a little planning in order to be used effectively. That said, they make sense if you have lots and lots of data. They also fill a gap if you have enough storage to be above the free tier of services like Dropbox, but don’t have enough files to make upgrading to the paid version make sense.

The advantage that Dropbox and similar services like Google Drive and Box have is ease of use. If you only have a modest number of files backed up, these may be the most cost-effective options. If you just want to back up your documents, some music and photos, this post will help you find services that are right for you.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some cheap backup services for people with lots of data.

Digital Storage Options

Amazon, Google and Microsoft are big players in several different areas of the tech world, and this space is no exception. Amazon’s S3, Google’s Cloud Storage and Microsoft’s Azure offerings are all among the major services competing for your digital storage and backup dollar.

Amazon S3

Amazon’s S3 service suite offers three different storage options. The cheapest, Glacier, costs one cent per gigabyte. The caveat here is a slower retrieval speed if you need to get your files off the cloud. Amazon’s other storage options are between two and three cents per gigabyte.

S3 offers the additional option of encrypting your data either yourself or when it reaches the server. There’s also the capability to save versions of files in case you mess something up and want to go back to an old one.

Google Cloud Storage

Google offers three different storage options as well. These run anywhere between $0.01–$0.026. (Yes, pricing in this space is done in fractions of cents. The tech industry may be out to drive accountants everywhere crazy.)

If you have the need for speed, Google might be your best option. Like Glacier, Nearline, Google’s solution for long-term storage of infrequently accessed data, costs one cent per gigabyte. Unlike Amazon’s service, which schedules a download job and completes it over a period of hours, Google will make the data available in seconds.

If there is a drawback here, it’s that there’s no built-in support for encryption as you upload files. Google is partnering with companies to make the service an option for encrypted backup devices.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft’s Azure service starts at a price of $0.024 per gigabyte. Although some features are not included in the standard pricing, Microsoft offers a couple of features its competitors don’t.

The first feature is the option to have your files stored in different locations, geographically. This means that if one data center storing your data were to burn down, you’d have another copy stored elsewhere.

The other option is to have your data stored on solid-state drives (SSDs). These SSDs read and write files faster. This should mean faster uploads and downloads of your data.

Storage Service Pricing and Fees

The cost of the storage on these services is by the gigabyte and charged monthly. The cost per gigabyte for storage is anywhere between one and six cents per gigabyte depending on the features you want.

In addition to storage costs, there are a couple of other things you might be charged for:

  • There is most likely going to be a per-gigabyte or per-download fee to retrieve your data. For example, Google charges one cent per gigabyte for its fastest service. You can be charged more either for the amount you download per day or faster speeds.
  • You may also be charged a fee for transferring data between certain continents.

The storage price per gigabyte does tend to go down the more you store.

Example

Storage costs will vary depending on your situation, but let’s say you used Google’s standard service at a cost of $0.026 per gigabyte. It would cost you $3.90 a month to store 150 GB of data. If you downloaded 20 GB of data off the network, it would cost you $2.40. If you saved to the service 2,000 times, that would add two cents. Downloading 10,000 files is one cent. The total bill for the month is $6.33.

Although these services can be some of the cheapest available, you have to be aware of how much you’re downloading in order to keep the cost down. The less expensive tiers of these storage options may not have the fastest download speeds.

Finally, it’s probably best to download a client like this one in order to make file selection easier when uploading and downloading.

Have you used any of these services before? Which one works best for you and why? Share with other readers in the comments section.

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