Amazon debuts bottomless storage plans for photos, data

The new consumer-focused storage service could be an alternative to backing up files on an external drive

Amazon CloudDrive allows users to store an unlimited amount of data

Amazon CloudDrive allows users to store an unlimited amount of data

If you've got tons of digital photos and music that are a headache to back up, Amazon wants to interest you in two new storage services designed to ease home backups and archiving.

The company's new Unlimited Everything plan provides what promises to be unlimited storage for US$59.99 per year. The company has also introduced unlimited storage for just photos, at $11.99 a year. Free three-month trials are available for both services, which will replace its heretofore standard free 5GB plan for anyone who bought digital content from Amazon.

Customers can store any sort of digital material on the Unlimited Everything plan, including photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music. The Unlimited Photos allows unlimited storage of photos, and also includes 5GB of additional storage for other files. Amazon Prime members will get the unlimited photo storage service at no cost.

Consumer-focused online storage services have offered a bounty of low-cost options in the past few years, thanks to the plummeting costs of hard drives. Microsoft's OneDrive can store a terabyte of data for $6.99 per month. Some of the more competitive cloud providers have even started offering unlimited options: Box offers unlimited storage for $15 a month.

At such prices, bottomless cloud storage plans are close to rivalling what is probably the most common way people now back up their files, by buying an external hard drive. A commodity two terabyte external drive currently costs about $100, and would have to be replaced every few years to ensure data doesn't get wiped out when the aging drive fails. Cloud storage is good for long-term archiving because you don't have to periodically move the data to new drives, nor make multiple backups.

Amazon has set up the service to be accessible from a wide range of devices. Users can upload and download files through an app available for Windows and Mac computers, iOS and Android devices. Files can also be managed and downloaded from a browser.

With the new Amazon service, users can share their files with other users, and allow third-party applications to access user files as well. The services are accessible through the standard Amazon password-based authentication methods.

Amazon has not established an upper limit to how much data can be stored on the services, which is sometimes done to thwart abusers of such bottomless offers. The services are restricted to personal, non-commercial uses, an Amazon representative said.

One thing Amazon cant help you with if youve already got lots of photos and music stored locally is the considerable time it will take to move data to the cloud: plan on leaving a computer on for at least a few days over even the best home Internet connection if you've got a ton to upload.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
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