Amazon Cloud Drive, Free Online Storage

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 29, 2011
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Amazon, Companies, Internet

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.

cloud drive upload

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.

amazon 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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  1. Lancer said on June 24, 2015 at 8:47 am

    “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”

    The above two terms make me feel uncomfortable by leaving my backup photos, files there. To me, it’s important to encrypt cloud data. I am currently using cloudbacko to backup data into Onedrive. It not only encrypt the data but also the filename. So, this avoid people from searching my files and this makes me feel more comfortable to put my data there.

    So, I do feel skeptical to move to amazon even if it provide unlimited storage. Any suggestions or am I interpreting it in a wrong way?

  2. SecurityGuy said on April 25, 2011 at 3:00 am

    This is where a developer steps in to make some money…

    Make a utility to let you select files to upload to the cloud drive. Then before it uploads, it catalogs the information, segments the files, encrypts with 256 AES, then it sends it to Amazon’s cloud. Now nobody can access the information except you. Even the catalog/db file is encrypted with your phrase.

    The same utility should have a Player client app that lets you view your library and stream by using your pass phrase to decode the AES. The end user never sees the process of caching chunks/decoding/streaming. Only the sound of sweet, sweet, encrypted music.

  3. Richard Tubb said on April 6, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Thanks Charles – Gladinet looks very cool, I’ll investigate further!

  4. charles said on April 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Gladinet seems to work well to map the Amazon cloud drive as a windows drive. This takes the cloud drive from useless to useful.

    1. jeremy said on November 25, 2011 at 7:41 am

      I had issues with Gladinet. The worst of which was that for months after using it I had to enter a catchpa before logging into amazon. Whenever I’d click on the “sign in” link, amazon would redirect me to a page that said they were preventing automated access at this time, and that I would need to confirm the crooked-letters-in-the-box before continuing. (I’m paraphrasing.) Besides that, I never coudl get Gladinet to do anything reliably. It just wasn’t stable at all.

      I really don’t get why Amazon doesn’t offer an API for this. It’d be dang simple- just use the same S3 calls.

      PS: “It is just not practicable to upload” — did you mean “practical”?

  5. Dan said on April 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Unable to upload with Google Chrome Beta 11.0.696.28 on Windows 7 32-bit.

    IE 9 works without issue.

  6. David Bradley said on March 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Just looking into Gladinet, which works with Amazon S3, to see whether it can handle Amazon Cloud and allow multiple file and folder uploads

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 30, 2011 at 9:35 am

      David keep me updated on your findings, will you?

  7. keless said on March 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I’ve uploaded in Chrome, no problem.

  8. landon said on March 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I was unable to upload with chrome, but I could with firefox…i’m wondering what the problem is here.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 29, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      That’s almost funny landon ;)

  9. Robert Palmar said on March 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    The ominous terms of service are a deal breaker even
    if it had the added features that competition offers.

  10. Richard Tubb said on March 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Great overview of the service Martin, thanks for sharing.

    I’d agree on the web interface. It’s clean and easy to use, but doesn’t allow large volumes of small files or sub-folders to be uploaded as far as I can tell.

    1. sugarsync fan said on July 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm

      Amazon seems good, but I like the Sugarsync app if you use the below link you get to start with a whopping 5.5GB beating out Amazon, and can pump it up to 6 by taking a couple of tutorials. Also, and this is where it really beats out the competitors in functionality (even ones that may try like Amazon). You can stream all the music nicely on your Iphone etc, directly from the cloud drive!

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on March 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      I think it has lots of potentials, but Amazon should consider adding options for offline usage to make the service more comfortable to use. Unless they want it mainly to be used for mp3 purchases.

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