Average cost to provide: $0.10 per gigabyte
It has become a convenient rallying cry to assume that "the cloud" is always a simple, cost-effective way to ditch old-school hardware while getting all of its features, including physical access to storage space. Nowhere is this more clearly untrue than in the realm of cloud-based storage. To pick on just one company, Carbonite's highest-tier storage system costs $600 per year for 500GB of space. So, you can buy into that, or you can pick up a solid 2TB NAS device for all of $130.
Yes, Carbonite adds services like automatic backup of desktops and servers, HIPAA compliance, and other high-end features. But the cost to provide all of this largely comes down to the price of hardware, and hard drives are cheap.
The cost of storage space on a server you buy yourself works out to about $0.10 per gigabyte (TechHive estimate). That's an order of magnitude lower than the fee being charged by many cloud-storage companies to store your data on their servers.
Because the cost of being in that business is so low, it's possible to find good storage deals out there—offering lower costs and/or unlimited storage—but it's up to you to shop smartly for them.
So, how can you avoid getting ripped off when you buy the tech products that you depend on? The simplest solution is to shop around as widely as possible. Do your research and understand the cases where brand names are worth the extra money and where generics will work just as well. Remember that various services come in a variety of forms and flavors. There's no point in paying $50 a month for something when the $25 plan has all you need.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.