Apple's iCloud Drive will launch this fall.
This week, Apple announced iCloud Drive, a major upgrade for the company's cloud storage platform that lets you save and sync your files with a simple drag-and-drop interface. The upgrade improves upon the existing iCloud platform, which already lets you back up your contacts, calendars, photos, music and apps to the cloud. The new system is set to debut with the release of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite later this year — but why wait for great cloud storage on iOS? There are already a slew of solid services available for the mobile platform to help you back up your files and access them from anywhere. Read on to learn about the upcoming iCloud Drive, along with four alternatives.
This fall, Apple will launch iCloud Drive, a cross-platform service that will let you access files and documents on your mobile devices. The feature is built right into the Finder in the new version of OS X, Apple's desktop operating system. Just drag and drop a file into your iCloud Drive folder on your MacBook or iMac computer to make it available on any iPhone, iPad, Mac or Windows PC. When you're on an iPhone or iPad, however, there's still no way to view all the files stored in your iCloud Drive folder in one spot. To find files stored in iCloud Drive, you'll need to open a compatible app. For example, when you open the mobile version of Apple's Pages word processor, you'll have access to all the documents you've stored in iCloud Drive. Once it launches, the best reason to pick iCloud Drive could be its integration with both iOS and OS X. That could make this service the obvious choice for Apple devotees.
5 GB: Free
20 GB: $1/month, $12/year
200 GB: $4/month, $48/year
500 GB: $49.99/month
(Options with more storage yet to be announced)
The reliable cloud storage service Dropbox lets you access your files and documents on any Web-connected device. The app also functions as a reliable cloud backup service, since you can recover deleted files and revert to previously saved versions. You can sync files by dragging and dropping them into the Dropbox folder on your desktop computer, then access them on your iPhone or iPad using the Dropbox app. The app also lets you add files to your "favorites" list for offline viewing. The service doesn't offer as much free storage as some other platforms; for individual accounts, it gives you just 2GB of free space to start with. But it does offer affordable group plans for businesses that have at least five users.
2 GB: Free
100 GB: $9.99/month
200 GB: $19.99/month
500 GB: $49.99/month
Unlimited business plan: $15/month (five user minimum)
Box offers good collaboration tools in addition to its solid file-storage system. The service features secure file transfer, as well as the ability to mark up documents with edits and notes on the fly. That could come in handy for work projects, since it lets every member of your team securely view the most up-to-date version of each document. The iOS app also allows you to save files for offline viewing, and share large files by sending a download link. That provides a good workaround when you need to send a file that's too large to attach to an email. For individual business users, Box is also notable for offering more free storage than most other cloud storage services on iOS.
10 GB: Free
100 GB: $5/month
Unlimited: $15 monthly (per user, requires three users)
The Google Drive cloud storage platform comes with solid editing tools built in. The iOS version of Google Drive works seamlessly with the new Docs and Sheets apps, which are full-featured mobile versions of Google's Web-based office tools. With those apps, you can edit documents and spreadsheets from anywhere, using your iPad. The service's other perk is that most Internet users already have a Google account, so there's no additional signup necessary; just sign in using your Google account credentials, and every document you create or edit will automatically be uploaded to the cloud. Install the Google Drive desktop app on your office computer as well to ensure that all your documents are available on all your devices.
15 GB: Free
100 GB: $1.99/month
1 TB: $9.99/month
10 TB (and up): $99.99 monthly
Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage platform stands out among cloud storage apps thanks to its tight integration with the desktop version of Microsoft Office; any documents, spreadsheets or presentations you create on your Mac or Windows PC can be automatically uploaded to your OneDrive account. That's a plus for business users who already use Microsoft's Office suite for work. As an added perk, OneDrive is built right into the file explorer in Windows 8, so you can drag and drop files into your OneDrive folder with ease. Once you upload a file, you can access it anywhere, from any Web-connected device. The service is also a good way to back up important files and documents, since it lets you roll back to a previously saved version of a file at any time.
7 GB: Free
50 GB: $25/year
100 GB: $50/year
200 GB: $100/year
1 TB: $2.50 per user/month