So you’ve got data and files scattered across your computer at work, your laptop at home, your tablet, and your smartphone. You decide it’s time to upload everything to the cloud and get it all in one place yet accessible from all your devices. Your first question is where to start? There are so many cloud services out there it’s hard to figure out which one will work for you and which one will give you the most.
Here at TecWhat, we have several favorites that allow us to upload, download, share, exchange, and sync files. When choosing a cloud service, we look for integration to all our devices and operating systems, how much storage is free, and which offers the best and easiest desktop solution and smartphone app. Additionally, other considerations are complete accessibility from anywhere, the ability to share our files with others, and ease of use.
4shared– 10GB Free with the ability to go to 15GB with email verification. For the storage allotment, this is the best we’ve found. A free 15GB is hard to come by. In addition to the desktop app which allows you to upload and download files in batch, you can configure various folder locations to access from Windows Explorer, where you can add files that are synced immediately. This integration with Windows Explorer makes things simple without the need to open the desktop app.
The web app looks a little clunky, but is easy to use because of this. You can upload and download, in batch if needed, from the web app so you don’t need the desktop app installed on every computer you use.
The iPhone app is simple and easy to navigate. Files and photos can be uploaded but only one at a time. On the iPhone, 4share offers a secondary app called 4photo that allows you to manage your photos.
üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Symbian
CX– 10GB Free with up to 16GB with friend referral. I have just recently started using CX and have found it to be quite user friendly. When installing the desktop version, it places a folder, CX Sync, on your desktop by default and you add files or folders to it as you would any other folder in Windows Explorer. Sync is automatic.
The CX website seems more Web2.0, including a dashboard to gloss over all your latest activity and a social profile to paste your picture and your top social media sites.
The iPhone app is easy to navigate and allows for tagging and favorites. Unfortunately, you can only upload one file or photo at a time.
üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, and coming soon for Android
Dropbox – 2GB Free with the ability to go to 8GB with friend referral. Dropbox is one of my favorites; it integrates seamlessly into my everyday life on my Windows PCs and my iPhone. I have a single Dropbox folder that I can fill with countless folders and files, at least until I’ve reached my storage capacity. Like CX, it’s just like working with files and folders in Windows Explorer. It’s this kind of ease that make is so wonderful and popular.
On the web, Dropbox is simplistic yet elegant. The clean look of it makes it easy to use and share your files.
What sets Dropbox apart from the others it that it readily integrates with other iPhone apps allowing you to add files from those apps directly to your Dropbox account. Additionally, you can upload multiple photos in one batch.
üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry.
Windows Live Mesh & SkyDrive – 5GB of synced storage on the 25GB SkyDrive. Even though these are actually two products, I only count it as one because they work together. Now, I miss the original Windows Live Mesh beta, which gave you an astounding 50GB free (If I remember correctly,) and would sync between any Windows PC and the Mesh cloud. Windows Live Mesh 2011 will sync any folder or set of folders of your choice, on your computer up to 5GB and store it on your SkyDrive. I like this because it offers a good backup of my files and I can easily edit my Microsoft Office files online. Unfortunately, this is primarily a service for computers, not smartphones or tablets.
GoAruna – 2GB Free with ability to earn bonus storage via friend referral. The only reason GoAruna did not make it into our top 4 is because it has desktop app that reminds us of the File Explorer from Windows 3.11. It doesn’t have the same integrations into Windows Explorer that the above services have. It does offer integrations with more devices though.
üWindows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Palm, WindowsPhone, Nokia
üMaximum file size: 100MB
- The top 5 Amazon Cloud Drive Alternatives – All Free! (netbooknews.com)
- Five Best Online File Storage Services [Hive Five] (lifehacker.com)
- David Pogue: Dropbox Will Simplify Your Life (pogue.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Sync Folders between Computer with Windows Live Mesh (onetechtip.com)