Carbonite's simple and automated backup service has made it a go-to storage solution since 2005. There's a basic charge of $59 per computer annually, which gains you unlimited storage of photos, documents, email, settings and video (which needs to be backed up manually, as do any files that are larger than 4 GB). Bumping up to the HomePlus ($99 a year) and HomePremier ($149 a year) plans also gives you redundancy for an external hard drive, your operating system and any installed software. Windows users also can set customized backup schedules, and 128-bit Blowfish encryption offers e-commerce levels of security over file access. There are also apps available for iOS, BlackBerry and Android devices.
GoodSync is unusual in that it connects multiple computers directly via peer-to-peer (P2P) rather than using online resources, which can be far more secure than the cloud because you're effectively building your own network. Known as GoodSync Connect, this results in direct file transfers at roughly the same rate as your Internet service, while cloud services often can throttle uploads or downloads to save on bandwidth during peak usage times. Files are encrypted during transfer. The service works between both Macs and PCs, and it also can sync with many of the other services covered in this article. Each computer requires a GoodSync Desktop license at $29.95 for Windows and $39.95 for Macs. GoodSync2Go for Mac and Windows is also available at $39.95 (or $29.95 if you have a GoodSync Pro license) for installing to external hard drives or USB flash drives. This allows them to be used for syncing purposes rather than using a P2P connection.
Google Drive can be installed on several devices, including computers, smartphones and tablets. Changes made to files automatically update on each device, and you also can set up offline access for doing basic work without an Internet connection. Google Drive works interactively with the Picasa Web Albums service (which Google+ uses to host images), and it includes 5 GB of capacity with sign-up.
Basic plans include 25 GB for Drive and Picasa at $2.49 a month, while $4.99 a month extends the capacity to 100 GB. Pricing increases at roughly the same rate from there all the way up to a massive 16 TB of possible storage at $799 a month. If you have a Gmail account (or want to start one), combining these services also will gain you 25 GB of Gmail storage. (Typical Gmail accounts offer 10 GB of storage for mail and attachments.) Google also offers business storage plans as well as direct Google Cloud Storage that starts at $0.12 per GB for the first terabyte of storage; however, you must start an API project with the service in order to use it, which requires some basic website development knowledge.
Microsoft ups the capacity ante with a free 7 GB of starting capacity with the SkyDrive service and SkyDrive app for Windows, Apple iOS and Android phones. It also offers a better rate of storage if you need more space, with annual pricing of $10 for an extra 20 GB, $25 for an additional 50 GB and $50 for 100 GB. Photos and files that are housed in the SkyDrive folder on your computer automatically sync to the SkyDrive online drive. Browser-based uploads are restricted to 300 MB, however, and the maximum file size on any upload is only 2 GB as compared to the more standard 4 GB maximum with other services.
Targeted directly at photographers, Mosaic Archive for the Mac operating system offers plans up to a huge 11 TB at $174 a month. At 400 GB with a monthly charge of only $12, even the beginning Enthusiast level offers more storage than most other services. For large amounts of data, Mosaic also will allow you to upload files to a free drive that you then mail back in order to expedite uploading times. (There's a one-time $30 fee for the Enthusiast plan while the drive and shipping are free with the other tiers.) Mosaic Archive supports unlimited file sizes, automatic sync, Finder access for Mac users, external drive backup and direct connection to the Mosaic Archive right from Lightroom or Aperture.
Mosaic View is a separate cloud service that allows you to view and sync Lightroom images and edits on the web or your iOS device through a Lightroom plug-in and companion app. A free account offers up to 2,000 images (twice the number of supported streaming images in Apple's iCloud), while charges of $7, $15 or $24 a month gain you access to tens of thousands of images.