Music may have kicked off the digital media revolution with the rise of the MP3, but in recent years audio has taken a major backseat to video and communications. The more devices we pile up, the more fragmented our music collections become. Some don’t even bother downloading music at all anymore, instead opting for unlimited monthly services or radio alternatives like Pandora. Well, Amazon has taken a step toward changing that. Yesterday, the online retailer unveiled and released its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player, which let you upload music (or other files) to Amazon’s servers and stream them back on your computer or Android device. Apple and Google are both rumored to be launching some sort of streaming service as well.
In the last 24 hours, we’ve tested and played around with Amazon’s new service, which does many things well, but fails to deliver a few basic features that would turn its new Cloud Player from a good tool to a great way for music lovers to store and access their music.
Amazon’s Cloud Drive
How it works
Powering its new music storage service is the Cloud Drive, Amazon’s first consumer attempt at leveraging its massive farms of online storage. It has been selling storage and processing power to businesses for some time, but now you and I can take advantage. All Amazon users with an account get 5GB of storage for free. (This is already better than the 1GB of storage Google gives.) After that, storage costs about $1 per gigabyte per year. 20GB will cost you $20 a year; 50GB will cost you $50 a year; and so on; all the way to a full terabyte.
Files of all kinds can be uploaded and stored on the Cloud Drive, and can be downloaded from any device with an Internet connection and Cloud Drive app. Amazon gets the ball rolling with four default folders: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Video. You can use these folders or make your own; the folder creation process is simple and easy. A box-checking system can be used to copy or move files to new locations on your Cloud Drive.
It works well, uploads use an explorer window, and retrieving files is easy. Anyone who buys an Amazon MP3 automatically gets bumped up to 20GB of online storage. Better still, any new MP3s downloaded directly to the cloud drive on Amazon’s store will not use up your online storage at all. More on this in the next section.
Users who want to get the most of Amazon’s Cloud Drive as a full backup may have trouble., as it isn’t intended for such a purpose. While files can be copied over with ease, I haven’t found a way to copy entire folders onto the Cloud Drive. Everyone has their own organization system, and it may be difficult for more hardcore users to fully utilize Amazon’s drive, even if they have purchased a full terabyte of data storage.