Amazon Cloud Drive: Backup & Access Anywhere

There are tons of online storage options out there: Dropbox is my personal favorite, but there’s also Windows Skydrive, Mozy and more. Last week, Amazon entered the game with their new service, Amazon Cloud Drive. I’ll tell you why Amazon is making a strong case for file storage in the Cloud and giving other services a run for their money.

Last time you saw me, I was talking about Amazon Cloud Player, a web app that allows you to upload, download, and play your music all from an online interface through Amazon and through an Android app. The underlying technology for Cloud Player is Cloud Drive, which lets you store not only music, but any files you choose to upload. All the files count towards your storage quota, which as I mentioned in the last post, is 5GB for free, then $1/GB/year after that, with plans for 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 GB.

Amazon Cloud Drive Plans

So, how does Amazon Cloud Drive measure up for this loyal Dropbox use? Let’s find out.

The Interface

The Cloud Drive interface, much like Cloud Player, is very intuitive. There are default folders for Documents, Photos, Music, and Videos, and there is no limitations (as far as I’ve seen) on the type of files you can upload.

Amazon Cloud Drive

As you can see there is the main file browser front and center, and to the left, there is the file structure, so you can easily access nested folders without having to reload the page. On the bottom is a meter keeping track of how close you are to reaching your quota.

You upload files via their flash uploader (sorry, iPad users), which seems to be much faster than the desktop app for uploading mp3s. This button is easily accessible, and prominently placed in the top left area of the app.

Handling Files

The way Cloud Drive handles files is pretty much the same way Dropbox does. When you click on a file’s name, the file is opened up in your browser instead of being downloaded. This means however your browser handles that file type is what happens when you click on it. The exception of course is with music files, which automatically open up Amazon’s Cloud Player.

This is something I did not mention in my Cloud Player review, but any music you purchase through Amazon MP3 does not count against your quota!

To download a file, you much check off a file and use the download button. However, Cloud Drive does nto currently support more than one file download at a time. I found this strange because Cloud Player does support multiple song downloads; however this also launches the Amazon MP3 Downloader app on your desktop.

The way Dropbox currently supports multiple file downloads is by creating a .zip file of all of them, though I can see the delay in support for Cloud Drive if Amazon wants to integrate Amazon MP3 Downloader into the download process for all files, not just mp3s.

No Support for Multiple Downloads

The last thing I’ll mention here is for the tech nerds (myself included): Amazon Cloud Drive uses Amazon’s own S3 (Simple Storage Service). This gives you a fast, secure, and reliable service. It also gives me hope that in a year or so, the prices for plans will come down a little bit because S3 makes file storage pretty easily scalable.

Deleting Files

Deleting files is two step process in Cloud Drive, which makes sense to me; it’s a lot like moving a file to your Recycling Bin. When you delete a file for the first time, it goes into “Delete Items” area. From this area, you can only view the title, file type, size, and when it was deleted; you cannot open the file. In order to do that, you much check it off and choose to “Restore” it.

The Deleted Items Area

To do a full delete, from your Deleted Items area, check off the files you want to delete and click on the button labeled, “Delete Permenantly.” Now, you will no longer have any access to the files.

In order for you to get space back, you’ll have to delete a file permenentally. Keeping a file in your Deleted Items area counts against your quota.

Overall Thoughts

Amazon Cloud Drive is off to a great start, especially with the integration of Cloud Player, which is what got me using the service in the first place. I like that it’s easy to use, and it’s more competatively priced than Dropbox (which goes for about $2/GB/year), plus it offers more space for free. The interface is intuitive and easy to use, and more often than not, I don’t need to download a file if I only want to view it thanks to the way I have Chrome set up.

However, the experience on mobile devices is pretty much non-existent, nor is tighter desktop integration. The best part about Dropbox is that it takes no effort on my part to upload or sync files, and I can get those files on my iPad and my Android phone. While you can view files on the iPad (since the uploader is flash, you can’t upload), the user experience isn’t very good on it, and there is no mobile phone interface for smart phones. I think in order for Amazon Cloud Drive to be truly great, we’ll need to see tighter integration on personal devices, with native apps for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android.

Like I said though, for a web app that’s only in its infancy, it’s a great solution for backing up files, and it’s an even better solution for backing up and playing music on the go.


Amazon Cloud Drive is your hard-drive in the cloud. Securely store your music, videos, photos, and documents online and access them from anywhere.