Network storage has been around for quite a while but system access was limited to a company or possibly a University. In 2007 Dropbox created the first public subscription based cloud service.
At the entry level most cloud storage providers offer you free space. This is in the 5 to 10 GB with the ability to buy more storage for a monthly or yearly fee. Remeber this information is fluid and things change rapidly it is always good to do a search on cloud services to get current information. This information is relevant in January 2014.
Amazon, Apple, DropBox, Google and Microsoft all offer free space so if you have an account with one of these services you already have access to at least 5 GB of free space.
For $60 to $100 a year some companies offer unlimited storage. As of this writing JustCloud, YouSendit, OpenDrive, Carbonite and Online Storage all offer unlimited plans for those that need a lot of space. If you work digitally, or use video as well as photography these plans might be for you. Personally I can get by with about 1TB of space a year but as image file resolution increases so will our needs for more space.
You should know that keeping things with a cloud service can forfeit your exclusive right to that data. Many of the contracts state this in their EULA (end user license agreement) be sure to read and understand what you are giving away before you just click through that contract.
Most of these companies have basic security but the problem with services is you are pooling a lot of information into a few places. While their security is probably better than your home computer security, your home computer isn’t as likely to be hacked and information stolen just because an individual isn’t as big of a target for criminals. The other problem is when things are hacked you run a greater risk because most likely all your devices are connected to your cloud service. I have heard stories of people being locked out of all of their devices, (phone pad, laptop,) once their cloud account was hacked. Connectivity has its downside so be aware. Companies also come and go so beware just because you are with a company doesn’t mean that company can’t or won’t go out of business.
Cloud storage is cheap and easy to use but I would not depend on it as an only means of archiving my work. The threats I mentioned are lessened when you archive your work in multiple places. Personally I only use cloud storage to move and store current work and I keep that same work on magnetic drives in my studio. I do not link to my cloud storage so that if the information is compromised it doesn’t spread to everything I own. All retired work for permanent archiving is kept on physical media like Optical storage.
I use dropbox more than any other cloud storage service. If you join them, please use this link so I can get some more free space, thanks.