Cloud storage technology was first introduced by both Google (think GoogleApps and GoggleDocs) and Amazon back in 2009. Apple recently introduced its iCloud storage and is pushing to capitalize on the growing needs many companies have for expanding storage capabilities.
As a Realtor or Mortgage Professional, cloud storage offers the freedom to be in the field and instantly access information regarding a transaction. Cloud storage is surprisingly affordable for both large companies as well as the individual. Most cloud storage providers offer either a monthly fee or hour usage fee (or sometimes both) and many offer "free trial periods" as well. Here are just some of the top providers:
(1) www.Egnyte.com -->> offers plans as low as $9.99 with a (no credit card required) Free Trial.$9.99/mo (20GB) $24.99/mo (150GB) or $44.99/mo (1TB)
(2) www.Box.net -->> one of the older online storage companies, allows integration with Gmail, Zoho and scribd. (Free Accounts=1GB storage) with paid accounts starting at $7.95/mo with more advanced features (such as mobile access, 24/7 phone support and 5GB storage).
(3) www.DropBox.com -->> one of the few providers that offer synchronization with your desktop/laptop computer through a small installation on your computer. DropBox uses Amazon's S3 service and provides 2GB FREE storage and for $9.99/mo (or $99.99/year) gives you 50GB storage. DropBox also preserves all revisions for every file and allows 'collaboration' to share files with colleagues.
(4) Amazon's S3 cloud storage-->> the original, allows you to store any type of data and access at anytime. This includes storing an entire static website! Total data volume is virtually unlimited, ranging from 1byte up to 5 TB (terabytes). You can first signup with Amazon for a FREE account with 5GB storage, 20K get requests, 2K put requests and 15GB in/out data each month. Just look for their: AWS Free Usage Tier. Storage prices beyond this go up incrementally with the amount of storage. Think of "get" requests as downloads, and "put" requests as uploads. For more information go here: http://aws.amazon.com/s3/faqs/
While many cloud storage service features may vary slightly, most offer one or more of the following:
•Securely access your files from any PC, MAC or Smart Phone
•Keep a local copy and auto-sync with online storage
•Map online folders on to your desktop
•Automatically back up your computers
•Control access to your files for your employees and clients
•Quick setup and management for multiple users
•Enterprise class security and privacy controls
•FTP service without complexity or additional hardware
As a busy Real Estate professional, cloud storage technology can offer a quick, accessible and cheap solution for data management and storage while on-the-go. Like all services, be sure to shop around for the best prices and features you really need. Start small...you can always expand over time and with your usage needs.