Short answer: no, not really. Look, even if Google had to stop offering unlimited storage space, then nobody really has an infrastructure for that. Cloud storage might seem infinite and “out there” but the cloud is not in the sky. It’s somewhere in Sacramento, California and somebody has to maintain and run these servers.
The long answer? I can argue that there’s such a thing as effectively unlimited cloud storage. What does that mean? Well, let’s dig in and find out.
What is Effectively Unlimited Cloud Storage?
Well, to answer that question, think about how much storage space an average person ends up using on average.
Acronis, a cloud storage provider, claims that their clients end up using only up to 30% of their storage space and that for most people 100 GB usually suffices. Why?
If we look at GoodFirms’ survey on what people use their cloud storage for, the overwhelming majority need cloud space for office data. Documents, texts, some images here and there - things like that.
So, if a couple of TB of storage isn’t literally unlimited, it is effectively so. Because you will never run out of space. You know, like these Italian restaurants that offer unlimited breadsticks? I mean, yes, they don’t have a black hole dimension to grab ∞ breadsticks from there. It’s just most people will end up having their fill long before they actually end.
But what about cloud storage for images?
High-resolution images tend to be a lot larger in size than text documents, it’s true. But can the size make the difference here? I honestly didn’t know, so I’ve decided to check.
So, our company’s storage has precisely 1831 images here, with the average size (rounding up) of each one at 6 MBs. Multiplying the two, we end up with 10,986 MBs of storage, or ~11 GBs. And how many GBs in TB? 1000!
So, yes, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to end up running out of our cloud storage any time soon, even though we’re using visuals virtually everywhere in our development, marketing, and sales. Using our storage use, we’d have to have whooping 183,100 images stored before we break the 10TB threshold.
What about…storage for videos?
Yes, high-definition videos are notorious storage hogs. We mostly use our storage for internal recordings (so, no 4K) and even we tally up quite a number. With 1400 videos, the average size of each is ~150, that’s 210 GB. Which - still - is a lot… but with our images and videos together and we’ve yet to reach a terabyte!
Of course, not videos are made equal. For a video production company, one reel of RAW footage can be north of 100 GBs. However, I legitimately doubt that many video companies use their cloud storage for handling their RAW footage.
For one, cloud storage is not a video editor and RAW footage’s entire purpose is to be edited. Once edit and recoded into a more appropriate video format, it significantly shrinks down.
Secondly, even if someone wanted to use cloud storage just to store such footage and pull it down to the local machine whenever they wanted to work on it…that would be a very fringe scenario, and I doubt that anybody besides some insanely huge corporations can even entertain the such idea.
The reason? Well, besides storage cost, you would actually need to download videos from the cloud before you can do anything with them…each time. And then if you wanted to re-upload HD footage back to the cloud, you’d have to do it again…and again, over and over. Considering how many iterations a single video can go through, and how lengthy the process of the upload actually is, you’d end up spending the rest of your day ferrying files from here to there.
Most of the time, video cloud storage is used for proofing. Lower resolution videos that you upload to share with clients or other third parties to gather feedback. Storing ready-for-release versions (like for YouTube or Vimeo) is another good option. As these platforms are significantly smaller, they would not be taking as much space on the cloud if cloud storage is something you are dead set on.
What’s up with cloud storage providers that offer unlimited storage?
Many companies did offer unlimited cloud storage in the past. We’ve already mentioned Google, but other tech giants (like Microsoft) have initially launched their services with the promise of unlimited storage but slowly scaled down their offering to something more sensible. This is what we call a foot-in-the-door trick where they lure new users with too good to be true offering and then ramp up the price/reduce features/do both when the user base grows large enough.
It’s not just a cloud storage trick, mind. Many subscription services, like once beloved now notorious Netflix, have done the same thing. First, slowly ramping up the price and now introducing ads to their premium service.
Is it kind of a bad thing to do? I mean, it does not feel fair. But there are also legitimate reasons. The costs of maintaining a large cloud infrastructure are extreme. That’s one of the reasons why we are yet to see (and undoubtedly won’t ever) a fully-fledged competitor for YouTube. It’s hard to compete with Google on that front and the established companies that can do that (Amazon, Microsoft, Apple), seemingly prefer not to bother…
…back to the cloud storage topic.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that the cloud hosting company that you’re working with has one large server. Because everything is finite, this server has a limited capacity for processing requests it receives, limited either by their number or by the size of the files that you’re trying to get from it. If the server gives too much priority to only one user, everyone else’s experience is gonna suffer.
In such a scenario, it’s best to limit the exceptionally demanding users by some stipulations. Perhaps, a cloud storage provider might say that you cannot store files larger than X GBs. Or, maybe, it will say that you cannot upload files in specific formats known for their traditionally large sizes.
Some might go as far as to throttle your download/upload speeds, thus effectively limiting the amount of your storage that you can access at any point in time.
So, this kind of storage is effectively limited, despite stating otherwise. Granted, most of the reputable providers shy away from these fine print stipulations, and either do not claim to offer unlimited storage at all or provide it under a fair use policy.
What is a fair use policy for cloud storage?
The fair use policy means that the provider does not limit how much you can upload as long as you are being nice about how you use that privilege. Which essentially means “Please, don’t pump petabytes of data through our servers, thank you very much, xoxo.”
That reminds me of Steve Rothstein, a man who bought an unlimited airplane ticket for $250,000 in 1987. The man enjoyed his privilege for a couple of decades, even using his flights to just eat breakfast in different countries. Eventually, he lost his insane privilege because he started to abuse the system. Booking first-class flights and not showing up, getting extra setas, and just offering them to random strangers… that kind of thing. So, American Airlines got fed up with his antics and voided his free flight privilege.
The lesson is: don’t try to abuse the system, because it won’t…fly
That’s how we approach things at Pics.io, by the way. One of the things that you get when you sign up for our digital asset management is websites. Websites are what we call online branded portals that you create out of any folder (collection) in Pics.io. So, you can simply load up as many videos, images, and documents to one folder and publish them to the web with one click. Doing so means that anyone (even someone who is not your team member in Pics.io) can view, comment on, and download assets straight from your media library as long as you let them.
You can see the video demonstration of how websites in the video below:
Because we’re hosting them on our end, it’s an infrastructure cost that we are paying but we don’t pass it on to our users (meaning, that you won’t have to pay twice for the same assets if you decide to host them with Websites). The only thing we ask is that you don’t just upload the entire Internet there. I think it’s only fair ;)
Does Pics.io DAM have unlimited cloud storage?
I can say with certainty that even though there are actual limits on our storage, it is, by definition, effectively unlimited. We have multiple clients - from SMEs to giant media holdings and the overwhelming majority of them are yet to touch the upper bounds of the storage limits that we have. And these are companies that process and use hundreds of photos daily, so it’s not as if it’s just a bunch of text documents collecting digital dust there.
What’s more, Pics.io is the only DAM solution on the market with fully-fledged Google Drive and Amazon S3 integrations. This means that you can keep your files there while using Pics.io essentially as a powerful and convenient interface to manage your collection. And if you know anything about how Google and S3 prices their storage, you know they don’t joke around.
Google Workspace offers 2 TB storage per user ($12/mo) for example. If my calculations about how much storage a medium-sized company uses, even with 5 teammates, you’ll have more terabytes than inklings about what to do with them.
By the way, if you’re curious about which one is better, we have a neat article comparing Google Workspace vs Amazon S3 pricing to get you a rough idea of which one is best. (Hint: it depends).
So, whether you’re going to opt for Amazon S3, Google Drive, or Pics.io’s storage, you’ll get more cloud space than you can wish for. Not to mention that storage isn’t the only thing you get when you roll with us. You will find your assets faster, share them easier, and manage your team in just a few clicks. It’s that easy.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just take Pics.io out for a spin, 7-days for free, and see for yourself how great it is (a large yellow button should not be far).
If you would prefer a more curated experience, you can also book a demo with us, and we’ll answer all questions that you have. Hope to see you there ;)
- Unlimited cloud storage is essentially a myth.
- Large companies (Google, and Microsoft) can offer unlimited storage at the start but will soon impose limits.
- Other companies might offer unlimited storage but with fine print stipulations (files of only a certain size, throttling download speeds, etc.). These make claims about unlimited storage effectively false.
- Sometimes, unlimited storage might be offered under the fair use policy. This means that it’s gonna be unlimited as long as you don’t abuse the system (e.g. don’t upload terabytes of data).
- Despite those factors, there is such thing as effectively unlimited storage. It means that there is more cloud space than users can realistically use without deliberately trying to use up as much space as possible.
- Using Pics.io (us!) as an example, our combined total of 1,831 images and 1,400 videos is 250 gigabytes. Which is barely a fraction of one terabyte.
- In our experience, our users (even the largest ones) barely used up the allotted amount of storage, and these companies process image and video files as their main business.