Cloud storage wars: Microsoft, Google, and others want your digital stuff

Microsoft joined the growing movement of major tech companies slashing prices on cloud storage in hopes that bargain prices will entice customers with growing amounts of digital clutter.

Ray Stubblebine/REUTERS
Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at the launch of the company's Office 365 cloud service in New York, June 28, 2011. Office 365 customers now get 1 TB (terabyte) of storage, up from 20 GB before.

The best thing about the cloud storage wars? Consumers are at an all time advantage.

This year, tech companies have scrambled to cut prices on cloud storage in order to bring more customers into their digital ecosystem. Just last week, Amazon announced that its new Fire Phone would come with the Amazon Cloud for unlimited photo storage, and now the most recent company to hawk low prices is Microsoft. The result? If you want cloud storage, now is the time to act. It’s a cloud buyer's market.

First of all, keep in mind that cloud storage is essentially Internet-server based storage. Instead of you storing everything on an expensive external hard drive, a company such as DropBox, Amazon, or Apple will hold onto it for you, often for a cheaper price with more room for your digital things, plus your things will be backed up and protected.

In January, Microsoft included 200 gigabytes of free cloud storage with the release of its Surface 2 device, and now it is upping that offer. Its OneDrive cloud storage system will now come with 15 GB of storage for free accounts and will offer up to a 70 percent price reduction for current subscribers. Office 365 customers now get 1 terabyte of storage. Also, each of the five accounts on Office 365 gets an additional terabyte. So if you have the maximum number of Office 365 accounts, which is five, you essentially can get 5 terabytes of cloud storage for the $9.99 subscription fee.

OneDrive subscribers get 100 gigabytes for $1.99 per month (down from $7.49) and 200 gigabytes for $3.99 per month (down from $11.49). The new pricing starts next month, and automatically kicks in for current customers.

These prices either equal or undercut competitors. For example, Google offers 100 gigs of storage for $1.99 per month, and 1 terabyte of storage for $9.99. Dropbox charges $9.99 per month for just 100 gigs. Apple’s recently released iCloud Drive offers 20 gigabytes of storage for $0.99 per month.

Microsoft is also pushing OneDrive as a multiplatform, cross-operating system cloud storage drive. The company has released iOS and Android apps for OneDrive, meaning people can use Microsoft cloud storage to store mobile data even if they don’t have a Windows phone or tablet. That could be competition for Apple, which includes the iCloud in all its devices precisely so Apple customers can easily share data between an iPad, iPhone, and/or iMac.

With more players jumping in the cloud game, it is likely that prices are only going to continue to drop while the amount of digital stuff people need to store will increase. Keep an eye on these companies and let the bidding war for your cloud storage continue.

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