4 Limits of ‘Unlimited’ Storage with File Synch and Share Solutions

November 02, 2015  By Len DiCostanzo
As you search for a File Sync and Share (FSS) service to meet the needs of your organization, one of the first things you'll notice is headline-grabbing offers of "unlimited" storage. You can’t pass that up, right? 
But it’s important to take a closer look and find out what unlimited storage really means. As people discover only after making a purchase decision, there are several ways FSS service providers typically limit storage to ensure that you don't consume anything near unlimited. Here are four:
  1. The most common limitation is file size which is 2GB per file for some vendors.  Now it's true that 2GB is quite a large file if we were talking about a Microsoft Office file.  However, with database files, this limit suddenly looks a lot less generous.

  2. Then there's bandwidth throttling a concept borrowed from, and perfected by, cell phone carriers around the world.  As the name implies, throttling means turning down the real-time flow of data, or stretching out the sync cycles.  The objective, of course, is to ensure that you don't actually reach unlimited storage Utopia.

  3. The most serious limitation is on the number of files that vendors allow you to actually sync to your computer. That limit is as low as 5,000 files for one FSS service, 20,000 files for another and 40,000 files for yet a third.  If we were to assume an average file size of about 2 Megabytes, then this would limit your local sync to 10GB, 40GB or 80GB, respectively.  Seems a lot lower than unlimited, doesn't it?  Also realize that, even if you have a service where the storage is limited to, let's say, 1TB - you'll never have the opportunity to come anywhere near that limit. Some would counter that, "You can still upload as many files into the service as you want,” but let's be serious - are you really going to manually upload and download Gigabytes upon Gigabytes of data?  And what's the use of a File Sync and Share service if you must deal with these kinds of automatic sync limits?

    4. Lastly, just about all services will count deleted files and old file versions against your quota.  This can inflate your actual usage by as much as a factor of two.  So for those services with seemingly large quotas like 1TB or 5TB, realize that you won't be getting anywhere near that much usage on this point either.

The bottom line is - shop, compare and take these kinds of all-you-can-eat promises with a side of skepticism. Unfortunately, there are very few services that don’t have these limitations in place. With Autotask Workplace™ you get what you pay for. It offers no file size limits, no throttling, no file sync limits and none of the deleted/old file versions will count against your quota. It’s truly unlimited storage

Len DiCostanzo
Senior Vice President, Community & Business Development
Len is one of the most widely-recognized figures in the IT industry with more than 25 years experience in the channel. Len develops and nurtures Autotask’s strategic industry alliances around the world.

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