Amazon Cloud Drive Review
- Fast Uploads
- 5GB Free Storage
- Remote access to files
- Web access only
- Download single file only
- 2GB file size limit
Amazon’s Cloud Drive clearly is online storage rather than online backup. Offering 5GB of free storage there is plenty of room to get your files online to access them from anywhere you go. If you need fast storage online you might want to check it out, if you need more than 5GB it is a little expensive, though.
First off, I wouldn’t recommend Amazon Cloud Drive for backup purposes. There just too little options and file upload would be too tedious. The cloud drive should be really considered as a secondary hard drive in the cloud where you upload individual files for accessing them later or on another machine. Amazon Cloud Drive is a perfect solution if you buy your music via Amazon because it gets added automatically to your Cloud Drive without occupying extra storage space. If you are an iTunes and Apple user, Amazon’s Cloud Drive is probably not the right solution for you, as you’re better off using iCloud. Amazon’s Cloud Drive could be a great addition for the quick need when you need to store some data online but have used all your other provider’s free storage space (for example if you’re using Dropbox).
Amazon Cloud Drive Review
Most of the Internet users today think of Amazon as the largest book store in the world. In fact they started with books only, but then expanded quickly into the most successful online store for all sort of goods, allowing third party merchants to sell their products via Amazon’s infrastructure. Few people know, however, that Amazon is one of the largest providers of cloud infrastructures as well. With Amazon S3 they offer a highly scalable cloud storage and backup solution for enterprises for as low as a couple of cents per gigabyte.
Amazon Cloud Drive is a different product than Amazon S3, though it is very likely that it uses S3 as a backend for its Cloud Drive as well. In this review I’ll have a look at what you can do with Amazon Cloud Drive and what its limitations are.
Sign up, plans and pricing
Sign up is really a breeze. I suppose almost anybody reading this review will have an Amazon account already. If you have one the sign up literally takes only seconds as the Cloud Drive directly connects to your Amazon account. If you don’t, creating an account with Amazon is pretty easy as well, and well worth it.
First of all, you get 5GB for free which is on the upper end of free online storage providers. Dropbox only offers 2GB but you’ll be able to sync your files across multiple devices. 5GB is enough for a couple of thousand photos, songs and even some videos. So plenty to test the service out. If you need more space you can upgrade your account to up to 1000GB (1TB). As usual storage is quite cheap with Amazon ($1 per gigabyte per year) but there are cheaper alternative if you are looking for backup. Unlimited services, for example JustCloud, start at $4.95 per month. However, Amazon’s Cloud Drive is more of a locker than a backup solution.
5GB Online Storage for free
How to get your data up
Amazon Cloud Drive is an ‘online only’ solution. Meaning there is no desktop client to download to your PC or Mac. All is done via the web browser. But there is not much of a difference these days with Internet connections being that fast and stable, it seems like everything is moving permanently to the web anyway. There is third party software available, for example Gladinet.
After logging into your account you can see already some precreated folders for you, like ‘Music‘, ‘Documents‘, ‘Pictures‘ etc. But of course you can create folders of your own to customize it your way. As with all online backup services I upload a test folder of around 1GB in size, containing pictures, movies and some audio files. That way I try to emulate a typical backup and storage situation.
Uploading your files
I have to stress the word ‘files’ because I could only upload single or multiple files but not entire folders. I find that a little tedious as I have my files organized in folders and would like to upload those as well. Of course you can just shift click and select a whole bunch of files but I wonder why they ignored this option.
Get Cloud Drive for free
So I go in and select my test files and start the upload.
Amazon’s servers are among the fastest in the industry that’s why it’s no wonder why upload speed is terrifically fast. 1GB is moved to their servers in less than 40 minutes which is pretty good. Other services take way over an hour to perform the same task.
After that your files lie loosely in your new Amazon cloud locker, now you can begin to organize them according to your needs. If you want to upload your files into a specific folder, first you have to create the folder and then enter it. Inside will be an option to upload your files right into it.
Fast server, speedy uploads
If you can’t decide yet where to move your files yet Amazons Web Client gives you plenty of options to reorganize your files later.
Deleting files from your locker
Obviously, you can also delete files from your Amazon Cloud Drive. If you only have the free 5GB version then this might be necessary from time to time. In order to protect your from accidentally deleting files from your drive you’ll have to double delete them, similar to your regular operating system. First they’ll moved to the trash and then you go in and delete them permanently to free up some space.
Amazon Cloud Drive Security and Privacy
One of the major issues with online storage and backup is security and privacy. That’s why it is so important that your files are transferred via a secure SSL connection and, better yet, encryption before sending over the ether. Also, it is highly advisable that the service where you store your data at doesn’t know what kind of data you store.
Amazon’s policy seems to be different. A look into their terms of service proves that:
5.2 Our Right to Access Your Files: You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats; or as we determine is necessary to provide the Service or comply with applicable law.
This makes me feel very, very uneasy about storing important information on Amazon’s Cloud Drive. They grant themselves the right to basically do whatever they want with my data. That is the main reason I would not use it as my main offsite backup or storage.
How to get to your data
As I mentioned before you’ll access all your data via your browser. In the file manager you can select your files and download them onto your hard drive, no matter where you are on the planet.
The download option comes with a severe restriction that is a deal breaker to me: you can download only one file at a time.
Especially, when you just had data loss you’ll desperately want a batch download of your files. But as I said already, I wouldn’t consider Cloud Drive a backup option anyway.
The overall download is quite fast as you would expect it from Amazon servers. So if you have larger files and need to retrieve them this is very convenient as you don’t have to wait that long for your files. Keep in mind, however, that there is a file size limit of 2GB, another restriction that you don’t have with Backblaze, for example.
Amazon’s support has always been superb and fast. So you can expect the same for your cloud drive as well. However, I always feel more comfortable being paying customer as I feel support tends to be better. But this might be a subjective feeling. Overall, I have not found any negative feedback on the support which makes me confident that if there is a problem you get help quickly.
One of the major benefits of the Amazon Cloud Drive is to link it directly with your MP3 downloads via Amazon without taking extra space. With the Amazon Cloud Player you’ll be able to play the music directly from within your browser or any Android device (for example the Kindle Fire). You need to be a US customer, however, as I am based in Berlin, Germany, I cannot access the cloud player, unfortunately.
Store all your MP3′s – free
For your MP3′s there is an upload tool that you can install (you need to download Adobe Air) and scan your system for your MP3′s. Those are then uploaded to your Cloud Drive, accessible and available for streaming from anywhere.
Amazon Cloud Drive Review: Bottom Line
Amazon certainly is a powerful player in the storage industry. However, the Cloud Drive is yet disappointing: no client to download, weak file management options and some serious security and privacy issues dampen the fun using Amazon as my main cloud storage provider.
For US customers the Cloud Player is an interesting alternative to iCloud for managing your music library, however, the user interface seems a little dull in comparison to the well designed and thought out Apple competitor.
I am using Amazon S3 for streaming videos for my website visitors and also save important data to this service but I wouldn’t recommend using Cloud Drive for serious storage needs.
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