Free online storage; every company and their mother seem to be offering cloud based storage these days. Amazon has joined the fray with Amazon Cloud Drive, offering five Gigabytes of free online storage to Amazon customers. It has been designed specifically for music, photos and documents, but it is possible to upload other files to the cloud servers as well. The service utilizes Amazons' own Simple Storage Service (S3) that Amazon uses to run all of its web properties.
Every Amazon customer, even new customers without purchases, gets 5 Gigabytes of online storage. US customers who have purchased at least one digital music album on Amazon get 20 Gigabytes of extra space for the first year.
Mp3 files that are purchased on Amazon can be transferred to the cloud drive where they do not count against the storage limitations.
Paid plans are available starting at 20 Gigabytes and up to 1000 Gigabytes. Each Gigabyte sets you back $1 per year with no additional costs (which means no data transfer rates).
Amazon Cloud Drive appears to be browser based at this point in time, with no option to map the storage or access it via third party tools. Upload and download of data is handled via the browser interface. All data transfers make use of HTTPS and authentication.
The cloud storage is folder based with folders for documents, music, pictures and videos available by default. Users can create folders or subfolders to sort and organize files. I was not able to upload using Firefox, switched to Google Chrome and it worked without problems in the browser.
The uploads are handled in the background, it is possible to switch pages on Amazon Cloud Drive without interrupting the uploading or downloading of files.
Files can be moved, copied, renamed, downloaded or deleted once they have been uploaded to Amazon's online storage.
US users can install Amazon's Cloud Player for Web or Cloud Player for Android to play the music they have uploaded to the cloud. The web player supports all popular web browsers with the exception of Opera (officially). Both players can play mp3 and aac music files as long as they have no drm. Basic controls are available to select songs based on artist, title or album. It is furthermore possible to create playlists.
5 Gigabytes seems to be the standard free storage size that most cloud based storage services offer. Amazon Cloud Drive looks solid on paper, especially the pricing is attractive when compared to solutions such as Dropbox. Dropbox on the other hand is more flexible when it comes to accessing the storage space and transferring data. It is just not practicable to upload thousands of files, stored in multiple folders to Amazon Cloud Drive. Another missing feature is a file sharing option.
Amazon customers from the US, who purchase mp3 albums regularly are most likely to use Cloud Drive extensively, especially if they own an Android smartphone as they are then able to use the player on the Android phone to listen to music stored online. Plus they can use the Amazon Cloud Player to upload music from their computer more comfortably.
Everyone else is severely limited by the web-only interface. The Terms of Service contain several passages that could convince users not to upload files to the Amazon Cloud Drive.
You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files
We may also restrict your access to the Service if we determine that your use of the Service violates this Agreement or substantially exceeds normal use by other users
While those appear to be common phrases in Terms of Services it is still scary to know that Amazon may access and use the files that you upload.
Here is the link if you want to try out Amazon Cloud Drive.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.