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Battle for the Cloud: iCloud vs Dropbox

Written by Ross Newman. Posted in iHospital iV

iCloud vs DropBoxAfter an exchange between iHospital and WIRED on Twitter discussing how the emergence of iCloud has changed the file sharing market, I realized Dropbox better watch their back because heavy weight, iCloud, has taken the ring by storm. The winner will be whoever can give their customers the most value, and from my experience, iCloud is taking the lead.

Since founding iHospital two years ago, I have encountered thousands of customers who have lost all of their data on their Macs/iDevices due to failed hard drives, water damage, data corruption, theft, etc. with NO back up of any kind. I have always been a huge advocate of constantly backing up your devices by setting up Time Machine on your Mac at home and plugging in your iPhone every night to let it sync with iTunes. But as easy as I make it sound, I don’t always do it either. I’m also guilty of backing up my iPhone no more than once every 3 months. That’s a lot of data to be lost between syncs!

My iPhone is my life – it has more data on it than on my computers at home or in the office combined. I run the entire daily operations of all of my stores from my iPhone. For example, I watch my stores remotely through Safari, keep in touch with every project on Basecamp via Outpost, monitor and respond to hundreds of emails daily from 13 email accounts, track all of our inventory and new orders, store databases of photos of every store. The list goes on and on but the story is still the same, my iPhone keeps me connected to my business and is my number one assistant.

This past July misfortune hit. While walking to the iHospital Manhattan store for the day, I realized my phone had shut itself off – permanently. I tried every method I could think of – including a complete tear down of my iPhone 4 and plugging the logic board into a diagnostic unit to regain access to my iPhone data – to no avail. Once I received my new phone, I soon realized my last backup was over 7 months ago! My data was lost forever.

When iOS5 was released in October, I immediately transitioned my existing MobileMe account to the new iCloud. Since I was a previous MobileMe subscriber, I was allotted 25GB of storage space on iCloud. In the settings menu of my iPhone, my MacBook Air, and my iPad, I set all of the storage options for every app to ON. I did not notice the difference in the way I was using my devices with iCloud for several days until a week later when I realized that all of the photos on my iPhone were miraculously in my iPhoto on my Mac and iPad. I downloaded some new Apps on my iPad that night and when I awoke the next morning all of the iPads that I had just downloaded on the iPad were also on my iPhone. I thought it was very handy and brushed it off.

Last week, my heart dropped when I saw my iPhone displaying the message “Your must restore this device”. This couldn’t be happening again. I cursed myself for not plugging my iPhone into my computer since I updated to iOS5 – I hadn’t found a need to. iCloud had been backing up my photos and my apps and music were magically downloading themselves on every Apple device I owned so why would I plug it in?

Bummed, I restored my iPhone to a new iPhone again and braced myself for another work day lost trying to get it back to its former glory. This time something close to a miracle happened. Once my iPhone had restarted after the initial restore, I was greeted with the welcome screen asking if I wanted to restore my iPhone from my latest iCloud backup. YES! The transformation took less than 3 minutes – I watched as every single App downloaded itself back onto my iPhone and placed itself nicely inside the folders I created 3 months ago. I opened my Photos App and watched one by one as every photo downloaded and my albums began to appear with the photos inside exactly how I placed them. I quickly opened my Messages App where I discovered every single text message was there from earlier today. Even when I opened my Mail app, there was a half written email that I began writing at noon that day. I was blown away.

What I hadn’t realized is that every day when my iPhone was connected to wifi and plugged into the (wall) charger, my iPhone was backing itself up to iCloud. Yeah, I had files stored on Basecamp and on DropBox, but that didn’t keep my entire iPhone backed up like iCloud did. I know what is like to lose all of your information and beat yourself up about not backing up your device, but that is now a thing of the past thanks to iCloud on all of my devices.

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