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The Cloud: 5 personal services compared

Even just a year ago, when one mentioned the term ‘cloud services’ you were met by a blank stare. Today, cloud is all the rage and there are a plethora of personal cloud services out there.

So the question now becomes, which one is best for you. ITWorld.com’s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols recently compared the five top services of 2011. Here they are:

Amazon Cloud Drive/ Player

Apart from being the biggest online retailer, Amazon also provides the biggest public cloud service.

Cloud Drive gives you 5 GB of free storage which you can use to stream music to as many as eight devices. The best bit: if you buy your music from Amazon, these tunes can be stored inAmazon Cloud Drivewithout using any of your allocated storage space.

In order to upload and download music, you’ll need to use their Web-based Amazon Cloud Player – which also has a version specific to Android devices.

Apple iCloud

Possibly the most advanced personal cloud service available,  iCloud also comes with 5 GB of free storage. Similarly to Amazon’s offering, your Apple-purchased music, apps, books, and TV showsdon’t count against that storage quota.

You also get all of Apple’s wireless services – including contact synchronization, its email service, mobile backup, and location awareness (for finding your missing Apple devices). It does however require a Mac with Lion, a Windows Vista or 7 PC with iTunes 10.5, or an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch running iOS 5 to really use it to its full potential.

Dropbox

Dropbox is the one most people are familiar with and the pioneer of personal IaaS (infrastructure as a service) cloud services. What sets Dropbox apart from other cloud systems is that it doesn’t need a Web browser interface. It can be installed to run on almost any PC or device platform so it can be accessed via your file manager like any other drive.

There are no additional features to it and it only comes with 2GB of free storage. But since it’s primarily for documents and not media – that may be all you need.

Google Music

While it’s a beta service (not at all unusual for Google), Google Music’s cloud service is said to work pretty well. This music storage service doesn’t give you a fixed amount of storage space – rather the ability to store up to 20,000 songs with a counter on the Google Music web page to let you know how close you are to your limit. If taken at about 5 MB a song, that works out to about 20 GB of storage for free. You will also be able to buy music from the new Google Music Store.

You can access Google Music playback via a Web browser on any number of PCs and with the Google Music App on up to eight Android devices Android devices.

Ubuntu One

Contrary to what one might expect, the Ubuntu One service is available on Windows, Android and iOS – not just Linux users. This one also gives you 5 GB of free storage and music streaming, for a fee.

Click here to read the full ITWorld article with cost info for additional features on each of the services.

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