Cloud storage costs have dropped considerably over the last few years but certain professions still require enormous amounts of storage, keeping the overall price high.
Back in 1967, 1 megabyte of local storage cost $1 million. Today, cloud storage providers offer as much as 2 terabytes for less than $100 a year.
But comparing these commodities in these two different time periods isn’t like comparing apples to apples.
Data storage is one of the underpinnings of modern society. Just like electricity and bandwidth, living without cloud storage has become virtually impossible.
As demand grows and technology improves, the price of cloud storage gets cheaper. But is it cheap enough? Whereas 2TB might seem like a lot for the average user, now that mobile phones can take 8K videos — which clock in at 600MB per minute of video — 2TB will only hold 3,333 minutes of video (or 37 videos of 90 minutes). Granted, 90-minute videos aren’t going to be captured on a Samsung Galaxy phone, but it does give an idea of the sheer amount of space that video professionals do need, to store all of the footage they shoot when making a film.
The “shooting ratio” of a film — which means how much footage was shot compared to how much was actually used — varies greatly per film and genre. The shooting ratio for documentaries can be as high as 80:1, meaning that 80 minutes of footage are needed for every minute of film. For a 45 minute documentary, that’s 3,600 minutes of footage — already more than 2TB of data if one minute is 600MB.
But it isn’t. It’s actually much larger.
We’ve been using Samsung Galaxy’s filesize as a yardstick for 8K videos. But a raw 8K file shot on a professional camera will actually come to over 7TB per one hour of footage!
With that in mind, video professionals would be looking at spending tens of thousands of dollars in storage per year if they considered using something like Dropbox because they would quickly need several hundred terabytes of space to store everything on the cloud.
The same is true of many other professions, such as designers, photographers, and musicians.
There is no longer any question that cloud storage beats local storage by miles. High-quality local storage is actually more expensive than cloud storage. And cloud storage offers other benefits such as backups, data redundancy so that files are not lost, regular maintenance, top-tier hardware that is kept up to date, easy access from anywhere, and so on.
So the real question is how to maximize that storage without breaking the bank.
Here are our top tips for getting the cheapest cloud storage possible without sacrificing the quality of the service you use:
1. Use “cold file” storage providers
Cold storage refers to files that do not need to be accessed regularly. There are several cold storage providers around, such as Amazon Glacier, Microsoft Azure Cool Blob Storage, and Google Cloud Storage Nearline.
Generally speaking, storage costs for such services are low while retrieval costs are high.
Unfortunately, understanding the pricing model of these services seems to require a doctorate in calculus. Amazon has an official cost calculator which says the price for storing 2TB for one month is $3.60, less than 40% of what Dropbox charges. But this quote is for storage only. It doesn’t include data transfers which start making these calculations really complicated. Who really knows how much data they’re going to transfer on any given month and how fast they’ll need that data? (Cold Storage Providers typically charge more for faster transfers.) And then there is that cryptic field in the calculator called “Provisioned Capacity Units.” Who even knows what that is?
In short, cold storage providers do offer cheaper storage, but they’re difficult to understand, their pricing is not really transparent, and transferring files isn’t as smooth or easy as with hot storage providers such as Google Drive and OneDrive.
But it is an option to reduce cloud storage costs.
2. Use Web3 storage providers
A recent and exciting breakthrough in the data storage space has been the introduction of Web3 technology, also known as the “Decentralized Web.”
The decentralized web functions mostly on blockchain technology, the same technology that gave us Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This technology is pivotal for:
The decentralized web offers enormous storage space because it leverages a portion of space on the billions of connected hard drives around the world. Instead of having your files stored in a centralized location somewhere and paying for a dedicated server, you are able to have your content spread across the world in multiple locations, greatly reducing the chances of data loss. Both bandwidth and storage are also markedly cheaper.
3. Use Mineral to automatically free up space from your more “expensive” cloud storage packages
The benefit of services such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Wasabi, and other mainstream providers is that they are:
This means that there are an enormous amount of apps available for them, content can be shared easily, uploaded easily, and it is a piece of cake to collaborate on files stored on these cloud storage providers.
Although there are cheaper providers around, these mainstream services still take the top place for “hot storage.”
Therefore, the best way to achieve the cheapest cloud storage possible without sacrificing quality and ease-of-use is to use a tool like Mineral to automatically move “cold files” out of these mainstream storage providers on a regular schedule, and shift those files over to Web3 storage.
This way, your regularly accessed files can stay in your chosen cloud storage provider, while cold files get archived without you having to think about it. Your space just never runs out because Mineral takes care of all of it in the background.
Some people think that Web3 storage will completely overtake traditional cloud storage options. Even if this were the case, it’ll still be a long time before that happens. And large corporations such as Dropbox and Microsoft aren’t going to disappear quickly.
We believe the best way to the cheapest cloud storage is to use storage smartly, and benefiting from what each storage provider does best — mainstream providers for ease-of-use, and Web3 for maximum space and low cost.