Amazon Cloud Drive: Why You Should or Should Not Use It

Khamosh Pathak

When it comes to cloud backup, Amazon knows its stuff. AWS and S3 are some of the most reliable names out there. But till now, its cloud prowess has mostly been limited to developers and companies. Amazon never really had a compelling cloud backup product for consumers.

Amazon Cloud Drive

With the newly launched Amazon Cloud Drive, it plans on changing that. But don’t let the “Drive” and “Cloud” in the name fool you. It’s not like Google Drive or iCloud Drive. It doesn’t have collaboration tools or even two-way sync.

So what is it exactly? And why is it so cheap? Are we looking at another case of too cheap to be any good? Read on to find out.

What Exactly Is Amazon Cloud Drive?

I’ve said this many times at Guiding Tech: “The cloud is a mystery”. It’s kind of becoming my catch phrase.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon Cloud Drive is no different. Cloud Drive has two plans – “Unlimited Photos” and “Unlimited Everything” (both come with a gracious 3-month trial period). The problem is that the website doesn’t do a good job of conveying what exactly it is that you get. And the language they use makes you believe it’s just like any other cloud storage service. It’s not.

Unlike Dropbox or Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive doesn’t have two-way sync or a full-fledged desktop client. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of version control.

And here’s the biggie – you can’t assign a folder to Amazon Cloud Drive on your Mac/Windows and have everything in that folder sync seamlessly to the cloud and to your other device. Come on guys – this is cloud sync 101.

What it Can Do

So the Unlimited Plans actually are unlimited. For a dollar a month, you can get the Unlimited Photos plan. This allows you to automatically back up any photo from your phone to Amazon Cloud Drive. Plus any photo you choose to upload using desktop apps or the website.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Unlimited photo backup for just a dollar a month is an awesome deal – I’ll give you that.

Unlimited Everything is the tricky part. It’s 60 dollars a year – or 5 dollars a month where you can upload any kind of file – music, video, documents – anything you want.

Amazon Cloud DriveAmazon Cloud Drive

But it doesn’t have a large app library like Dropbox (here’s Cloud Drive’s meager app library). It doesn’t have a document suite like Google Drive, nor does it have awesome plugins support.

Should You Use It?

The problem with Cloud Drive is that it’s just not good enough. It can’t replace Google Drive or Dropbox for you. The most it can do is be the place where you dump all your files for safe keeping. And it can’t even do that well.

Services like Backblaze offer unlimited backup for $5 a month and they have awesome Mac and mobile apps where they automatically backup all your files, keep an eye on changes, upload them, let you restore any file from anywhere, and more. There’s nothing of the sort with Cloud Drive. If you want to upload files, you’ll need to do it manually – every time.

Jeremy Clarkson Manual Labor
Amazon Cloud Drive’s not for you, Jeremy.

I think the dollar a month photo backup service is really good. Yes, Flickr gives you kind of the same features but it’s limited to 1 TB for free – honestly, that’s more than enough for most people. Cloud Drive does have a web interface where you can edit files, move them around and more. This can help you manage your photo storage better.

I can’t recommend Amazon’s Unlimited Everything plan to anyone in good conscience. Yes, it’s cheap but then so is Backblaze, which is better.

Amazon Cloud Drive

And I’m sure most of what’s eating your Dropbox storage is photos. If you effectively take that out of the equation, you can use Dropbox/Google Drive/iCloud Drive for documents without any problems. Think about it.

Do You Think Amazon Has a Shot?

I think Amazon’s cloud infrastructure is epic. Yet they’re lacking in consumer-facing products. They don’t even seem to know what the people want and how to deliver it to them. It’s a basic thing and without doing that, they’re not going anywhere.

Will Amazon realize its mistake? Will Dropbox/Google drop their cloud storage prices in response? Is “the cloud” just a fad that’s not going to last for more than 18 months?

All this and more next time, on Guiding Tech.

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