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Comparing cloud storage services: cost, size, security

Cloud storage features vary widely depending on which option you select for your business, but do you know how secure each one is or isn’t?

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Comparing cloud storage services

By now, most businesses are using some form of cloud storage to either back up files or share documents, be it through the popular Dropbox, Mozy, or Google Drive, but not all cloud storage services are equal – some are more costly, while others are more secure.

Leading consumer and small business resource NextAdvisor.com has rated and reviewed cloud storage services, particularly those that take extra steps to keep confidential data safe and in one centrally located place even if a device is stolen.

NextAdvisor.com Editor Chris Rancourt takes it one step further and gives more detail to AGBeat readers by offering pros and cons of some of the most secure cloud storage options:

1. Spideroak

Pros: Spideroak offers some of the highest encryption security out of all the major cloud storage services. Spideroak takes the extra precautions to encrypt your information and security keys at all times, preventing your information from brute force and pre-computation attacks against your security key. The only way to decipher this information is through your unique password. Spideroak’s zero-knowledge privacy policy insures that not even their employees will have access your password or information, making Spideroak one of the most secure cloud services on the market.

Cons: The drawback to all this extra security is being responsible for all of the encryption keys and passwords. If you are one of those people who constantly forget your password, this may present a problem as the Spideroak staff can not help with password recovery due to their zero knowledge policy. So if you decide to go with Spideroak, make sure that you keep your password somewhere safe.

2. Sugarsync

Pros: Much like other cloud storage services, Sugarsync encrypts all your files to protect them from falling into the wrong hands. When transferring your data, the information goes through transport layer security (TLS) using 256-bit AES encryption. One of the best features of Sugarsync’s security is their remote wipe. The remote wipe is a critical tool to protect your information if your computer, phone or tablet ever gets stolen. With the remote wipe, you can log on from any computer and remotely delete the files from that stolen device. This way you can be in control of your information even when it’s stolen.

Cons: The downside is that if someone steals your device and you are still logged in to Sugarsync, they will have access to those files until you activate the remote wipe. The other drawback is that if someone is able to gain access to your password or account, your files are not stored as encrypted files so they will be easily readable for those who have hacked your account.

3. Mozy

Pros: Mozy’s Titanium Cloud is one of the most sophisticated cloud storage security systems out there and will protect your information from virtually any type of intrusion. Mozy is protected by military-grade AES encryption prior to data transfer, as well as 256-bit AES encryption with SSL-encrypted tunnel for file transfer with an optional 448-bit Blowfish encryption key. Not only will this keep your information safe while your information is stored, but also while it is in transit when uploading or downloading information. Mozy also offers the ability to use your own encryption key for added security as well as a deactivation ability that works much like Sugarsync’s remote wipe.

The drawback to Mozy is that if you decide to use your own encryption key and lose it, it is not possible to decode your encryption. Mozy does not hold itself responsible for your personal encryption key so if you lose it, your information will stay in its encoded format.

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Tech News

Uber has secretly set up tip limits for drivers #classy

(TECH NEWS) Uber has had a shaky year, but their latest move proves that perhaps a new leader doesn’t mean a new culture.

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After frequent requests from drivers, Uber finally added a tipping option to their ride-sharing app this June. But, after a few months to try it out, riders and drivers alike have been disappointed to discover that Uber puts an upper limit on how much a rider can tip.

Lyft has allowed riders to tip for almost five years, but Lyft too has a tipping maximum. In many cases, Lyft and Uber drivers aren’t aware that there’s a limit to tips until they have a generous customer who finds that they can’t tip as much as they’d like.

Initially, these apps were seen as a convenient, tip-free alternative to traditional cab services. However, because fares are calculated in mileage and not time, tips can be especially appreciated when rides take a long time but have low mileage, such as in dense traffic, or when the driver has to make multiple stops. And of course, tipping is always a great way to say thanks to a driver who goes the extra mile (no pun intended) to help out the rider or make the ride especially pleasant.

Unfortunately, some riders have found that they can’t tip as much as they’d like. Uber told CNET that they placed a maximum on tips to help avoid “fat fingers” typos, such as when a customer means to type $10, but accidentally types $100 instead – a problem that could seemingly be solved by adding a secondary confirmation before withdrawing the payment.

Uber limits tips to 200 percent of the cost of the ride, or $100. Lyft also limits to 200 percent of the fare, but also blocks tips above $50. Of course, riders can always tip in cash – but not having to carry cash was one of the perks of ride-sharing apps in the first place.

Generally, drivers for Lyft get more tips than Uber drivers. That’s because Lyft riders receive a prompt to tip upon reaching their destination, whereas Uber drivers have to reopen the app and rate the driver before tipping. Since few Uber riders take the time to rate their driver, even fewer ever make it to the tip screen.

Granted, an extra big tip is a rare and precious thing. But it shouldn’t be up to the company to cap tips if riders feel compelled. Says Denise, a Los Angeles Uber driver, “Generosity should be something that you have no limit on.”

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Tesla to build largest ‘virtual power grid’ on this round Earth

(TECH NEWS) Tesla teams up with Australia to create a virtual power grid, cutting energy costs and preventing blackouts.

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Tesla’s teaming up with Australia to provide an energy efficient solution to blackouts and price surges in the Southern Australian state.

Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill announced a new partnership with Tesla that will provide solar panels and batteries to homes in the southern state. Since the area consistently struggles with adequately powering homes, Weatherill and Tesla hope to create a “virtual” power grid to stabilize electricity infrastructure.

In the extreme wilderness area of South Australia, nearly half of all power comes from wind farms. Last September, issues with wind farms caused a statewide blackout. Sure, tornadoes were to blame too, but backup generators also failed, so the whole system collapsed.

To address this issue, a combination of solar panels and Tesla batteries will eventually be installed in 50,000 homes in the state. Any surplus energy generated by the home’s solar panels can contribute back to the larger grid.

Excess energy can be routed back to a centrally controlled grid to provide energy to the rest of the state as needed.

For the initial test, 1,100 public housing properties will receive the batteries and solar panels free of cost, using the sale of electricity to cover expenses. An additional 24,000 more public houses will get added to the program as well.

If the trial runs succeed, private homes will be included by 2019. Eventually, the plan is to have batteries and panels installed in 50,000 homes, creating a 250MW Virtual Power Plant.

Participating homes will have 5kW solar panels and Tesla Powerwall 2 13.5kWh batteries installed, providing a more reliable source of power, and potentially lowering power bills by thirty percent.

Installation is proposed to take four years, and according to Tesla, the virtual power plant will have as much capacity as a coal plant or large gas turbine.

Funding comes from a $2 million Australian ($1.6 million USD) grant, and a loan from the state’s Renewable Technology Funds for $30 million Australian ($23.8 million USD).

While the plan seems well-meaning, Austalian Prime Minister Malcomlm Turnbull called Weatherill’s previous strategies as “reckless” experiments, leading to excessive energy costs. Partnering with Tesla may give Weatherill some street cred for the upcoming South Australian election, proving he has a game plan for curbing energy costs.

According to the South Australian government, the virtual power plant could provide around twenty percent of the state’s daily average energy requirements. Tesla plans to review all properties to determine if the homes can support their systems and be able to participate.

If you happen to live in South Australia and are reading this, you can register to participate in the program. Registration doesn’t guarantee participation, but if initial interest exceeds original estimates, the government may consider extending the program.

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Tech News

Intel to launch smart glasses we might actually want to wear

(TECH NEWS) Smart glasses have launched and died, to be reborn as warehouse worker tools, but Intel’s giving it a shot, and this design might actually stick.

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Even though Google Glasses and Snap Spectacles totally bombed, tech companies keep trying to make smart glasses a thing.

Intel’s plans to make a go of it, betting on a sort of “less is more” design concept. Previous smart glasses were bulky, didn’t conform to the wearer’s head, and frankly, looked kind of dorky. People also found them invasive, awkward to interact with, and were especially creeped out by the notion that smart glasses wearers could be filming them or taking their picture without consent.

Intel’s smart glasses, called Vaunt, are much more stripped down – no camera, no buttons, no distracting messages or images floating in your vision. Says Itai Vonshak, head of products for Intel’s New Devices Group, “We wanted to make sure somebody puts this on and gets value without any of the negative impact of technology on their head. Everything from the ground up is designed to make the technology disappear.”

Vaunt glasses weight only 50 grams and look totally unassuming, like a regular pair of glasses. They work with prescription or non-prescription lenses. They use a very low-power laser to project messages directly into your eye. In order to get that right, you have to have the distance between your pupils measured so that Vaunt glasses are custom made to fit your eyes.

Intel wants their smart glasses to be helpful, but not invasive. Notification messages only appear if you look slightly down. Looking straight ahead, the messages disappear. Messages can also be scrolled through or dismissed with small nods of the head.

What exactly will Vaunt glasses be used for? Intel is taking a “if you build it they will come” attitude towards this question. They’ll have an early access program to encourage developers to come up with apps and uses for the smart glasses. Some ideas include driving directions, reminders, and recipes.

Will a set of simplified Vaunt smart glasses win over the same consumers that have rejected the bells-and-whistles versions of the past? That remains to be seen, but crazier things have happened.

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