Apple's iCloud service made progress where it was badly needed: powering reliable cloud-based synchronization for email, bookmarks, files, calendars, contacts, notes, and more. While it wasn't perfect, iCloud improved upon previous efforts and provided Apple business users with a legitimate, low-cost synchronization option. With the introduction of iCloud Drive, Apple is deepening its cloud services commitment and expanding its cloud-services reach.
What's iCloud Drive do?
iCloud Drive expands the old iCloud service's capabilities. The new iCloud Drive enables storing and accessing files — PDFs, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, in one place from any compatible iOS device or Mac and Windows PC. iCloud Drive synchronizes changes that are made to a file; because the files are kept on iCloud Drive, changes remain synchronized. Files can also now be accessed from multiple applications.
What's required to use iCloud Drive?
Business users require iOS 8 on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to use iCloud Drive. Mac users require OS X Yosemite. Windows PC users, or Mac users who also use a Windows PC, require Windows 7 or later and iCloud for Windows 4.0.
There are other requirements, too, to be fair. Safari 6 or later, Firefox 22 or later, or Google Chrome 28 or later are required for the web browser component. An active internet connection is also a dependency. Just as with other cloud-based services, access to the cloud, or internet, is required.
You can't go back
Note that, to leverage iCloud Drive, you must upgrade from the older iCloud platform. You can't go back. Although you can disable iCloud Drive on iOS and OS X Yosemite devices once you upgrade, there's no downgrading if you change your mind.
Pages, Numbers, and Keynote users should understand the changes that will occur, too, before committing to the new platform. Apple maintains a web page that tracks the productivity app changes users should expect, based upon the user's iOS and Mac platform. I recommend business users visit and review the site before upgrading their Apple technologies just to ensure there are no surprises, which everyone knows are typically exciting as a child but usually bad as an adult.
How large a file can you store on iCloud Drive?
Apple states users can store any file less than 15 GB in size.
What's iCloud Drive cost?
Apple's iCloud Drive provides 5 GB of storage for free. Because the service can be used to store a wide variety of files, backups, and photos, many business users will require additional storage. Fortunately, Apple's pricing is quite reasonable. An additional 20 GB of storage, for example, costs only $0.99 per month in the United States. An additional 200 GB of storage costs $3.99 per month. Apple maintains a pricing matrix online, where complete pricing details are available by country.
Do you use iCloud Drive for your business needs? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.