How to Determine How Much Cloud Storage You Need

When it comes to online storage and service providers a critical question you should ask yourself is how much storage do you actually need? The great thing about cloud services is their plans are typically scaling which means you can pick a plan that suits you; unlike physical hardware where you have to buy a whole new drive if you need more space, you can just upgrade your plan. Very often, you need far less than 1TB of disk space to start with.

There’s a couple things you need to keep in mind when it comes to selecting how much storage you need. Business users may not need much space versus collaboration and file versioning tools for sharing across work teams, or vice-versa they may require tons of space for disk image and server backups. Home users will usually store music and picture collections, important documents, home movies and such, but techy users also benefit from storing disk images and full computer backups for easy restoring and cloning of their machines in case of failure.

How to Calculate How Much Storage Space You Need

Get an idea based on your use on your current drive:

A great way to get an idea of how much storage you need to backup is to see how much you’re currently using. Going into your PC or Mac and seeing how much of your drive is currently filled gives you a rough idea of how much storage you’ll need. The most efficient way to find out exactly how much space you need, is to make a list of all the data you want to backup or store online. Next, you need to verify the amount of data of each folder containing files you want to upload, and add all the numbers in order to get your sum. It helps to have a calculator open, and a notepad to ensure you don’t make a mistake. Once you have this sum, you know almost exactly how much space you need to store your current files, making it a great starting point for selecting a cloud storage plan.

This is also a great time to clean and dust off your drives and files. Delete what you truly don’t need or want, and re-organize your folders to your liking. If you’re like me or many others, this may be a huge task if all your data is scatterred. But, if you go through with cleaning that mess up, I can promise that a feeling of serenity will come knowing that you can now find all your important files.

Should You Get Extra Storage Space From The Start?

Not always, since you can change and scale your plan to fit your needs with most providers. This way you can select a plan with just a bit of extra space and you never have to pay for unused storage. However, this really depends on your needs and how fast you plan on using up the extra space. If you constantly download new content and media, it may be a good idea to opt for a bigger plan from the beginning. Providers usually have better value on large amounts of data storage, meaning that it will cost less money per gigabyte on a 200GB plan versus a 50GB plan, but in the end you’re still spending more so the choice should reflect the benefits you wish to gain from the cloud storage and backup services you pick.

What type of data do you plan to store on your cloud drive?

What does your data consist of? This is also an important factor, as different types of files require much more space than others. Are you backing up just photos, documents, and some home videos or are you using it in a professional capacity. Are you looking to backup just files or do you need full hard disk image backups. These are all factor you need to take into account when considering the amount of storage you require.


Video files are obviously the largest, and with the expectancy of 4k content, the amount of storage needed will significantly increase. 1080p quality full lenght movies can range anywhere from 6-45GB depending on quality of encoding and source such as a DVD or BluRay. Unless you encode full lenght movies with special compression tools, it can quickly become expensive to store them using cloud services. It would require on average 1 to 2TB for 100-150+ movies, so opting for a a couple of hard drives for redundancy is a slightly costly investment, but not a recurring one. With that said, if you can afford a larger cloud storage plan, the benefits are spectacular as some services provide direct streaming essentially allowing you to access your collection from anywhere online.

Professional video editors are also in need of a ton of space, and cloud storage becomes an efficient backup solution for important archives as a supplement to physical drives.


For the mostpart, MP3 is still the dominant digital format for digital music collectors. Size can vary a little depending on bitrate, but files rarely surpass 20MB. On the other side of the spectrum, uncompressed lossless files such as Wave or FLAC are much much larger in size, but mostly used by professionals and music and acoustic aficionados as they offer an unparallelled perfect and crystal clear sound. Again, by calculating the size of your current collection, you can quickly determine how much space you need.

If you work in audio production, mixing or engineering, cloud storage solutions are the ideal way to backup your projects as oppossed to storing them solely on drives. You can quickly access your files from any workspace and never have to worry about lost data again with an additional layer of redundancy.


Although images are much smaller than video files, they can also range in quality and size and be comparable to audio files. Photographers and graphic designer artists will often work with large images and depending on how many pictures they constantly upload, cloud storage becomes a perfect solution as they can scale the plan as they go. In most cases, family photos will not require very large amounts of storage space.


Documents usually require little to no space, such as outlook files from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Unless extremely large, even Acrobat Reader documents are not much to consider space wise, but you have to watch out for specific software files. For example, a graphic designer or video editor will have much greater need for higher level storage plans compared to a writer. If you’re working with professional applications for work purposes, it’s very important to verify the average size of your project files to give you an idea.

If you have very large banks of documents and saved files, ensure to compile the space they take to have a precise sum of how much you need now, and how much you may need in the future.

Why Online Storage matters:

One of the major benefits of cloud storage aside from offsite storage and security is the idea that your online storage is scalable. Physical external drives require the need of an upgrade when you backup all your data or if it ever is damaged or stolen. This leaves your data not only vulnerable; it also leaves you with the hassle of replacing your drive, one of the major benefits of cloud storage is that if you need more storage, you can always purchase a bigger plan. In some cases there are cloud storage services that even offer you unlimited storage, this means that you can back up as much as you want whenever you want. Learn more about the advantages of cloud storage here.


Aside from just pure storage needs it’s a good idea to take a look at what providers offer on top of that. Some offer automated software, full image backups, versioning and much more. When making your decision you should definitely factor in the different features each cloud service provides to see which set suits your requirements all while saving you time and headaches. Both home and professional users can opt for automated and scheduled backups while retaining the benefits of drag and drop cloud drives from anywhere. Nowadays, the list of features from various cloud storage providers is vast and ever growing, meeting a much wider range of applications.


Having physical backups is very important. Do not store your important data on a single hard drive, ensuring a regularly second copy at minimum is crucial to safeguard your files in case of a bad mishap with one of your drives. Once you add cloud storage copies, you can consider your data safely and securely backed up. Cloud storage in itself is already redundant in most cases, and the best cloud backup providers ensure data loss protection measures as well, but using a combination of both physical and cloud backups is the ultimate way to ensure you never have to go through any more data losses.


Support and customer service is another factor you should take into account. When issues arise or when you need to scale your storage plan make sure the service you choose offers a great level of support; that may be by 24/7 chat, e-mail, or a phone line. A provider that has a great support team can be hugely influential when making your decision.


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