I don’t know about you – but I am almost drowning in all the free online cloud storage space. Here are some ideas on what to do with it all – from Lifehacker:
With all the cloud services handing out free space like it’s candy, it’s easy to end up with a lot of unused space just waiting to be filled. Unfortunately, there’s no way to consolidate all that storage space spread out across your accounts (though you can use services like previously mentioned Otixo and Primadesk to see all your online drives at once). One way to make use of all of these services without too much confusion is to separate the types of files you store across services, and in fact, you can do so in a way that takes advantage of the strengths of each.
For example, you can dedicate Dropbox to your active projects, because it’s the syncing service where you have the most storage space. Use other services for backing up your photos, music, and other data.
These services all have unique strengths that can help you decide what to use them for. You don’t need to use every single one of these services, but if you want to mix and match, here’s an overview of what they’re best for:
Best Uses for Different Cloud Services
Neither Amazon Cloud Drive nor Google Play Music sync your files, so they’re not useful for storing stuff that needs to always be up-to-date. They are, however, ideal for your music files.
If you buy your MP3s from Amazon, they’re automatically stored to your Amazon Cloud Drive and don’t count against your storage space. Even better, if you’re on a paid plan (starting at $20/year for 20GB), you get unlimitedstorage space for all music, regardless of where you bought it. Amazon can stream your music on the web and on Android and iOS devices.
Google Play Music now incorporates the former Google Music service into Google’s Play marketplace to store your songs—and books—online and stream them on the web and your Android phone. Play’s limit for music is 20,000 songs, rather than a set amount of space in gigabytes. (You get unlimited space for ebooks and can use Play to rent movies but not store them in the cloud). Plus, Adam Pash’s Music Plus Chrome extension makes Play Music even more awesome.
Learn more about the differences between Google Play Music and Amazon Cloud Drive in ourcloud music comparison, which also includes iCloud. It’s also worth noting that SugarSync can stream a folder of music to iOS and Android, and gives you 5GB of free space.
Sync Files Instantly Over Your Local Network and Access a Ton of Useful Apps with Dropbox
Dropbox has a couple of advantages over the competition: LAN sync and the incredible breadth of apps that use the Dropbox API.
LAN sync speeds up syncing files over a local area network. Before syncing a file, Dropbox will first check if it resides on another Dropbox folder on a computer on your local network, and if so, syncs the file locally rather than downloading from Dropbox’s remote server. This makes Dropbox perfect for storing things for all your networked computers to share, such as disk images of programs to install, program settings and portable apps, iTunes library, and emails and settings for your desktop email client (Outlook or Thunderbird).
A ton of apps make Dropbox a robust tool that goes beyond syncing and file storage as well. Use Dropbox to host webpages, process files (e.g., automatically send files to Kindle, convert audio, or zip files and email them), request files from others, and more. Many services, such as password-managing 1Password and the Day One journaling app, only sync to Dropbox, so save some space in Dropbox for these kinds of services.
Create and Edit Office Documents and Project Files on Google Drive or SkyDrive
Both Google Drive and SkyDrive excel at creating and editing office docs—text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
Google Drive integrates Google Docs, naturally, and your Google Docs don’t count against your storage limit (which starts at 5GB of free space). Google Drive is also ideal for storing PDFs and image files, because Google Drive can search for text inside of them—so you might use this storage bucket for saving reference files, menus, scanned receipts, and such. Because the Google Drive viewer can open special types of files (Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop files, Autodesk AutoCad files, archive files, some markup/programming code, and more), Google Drive may be great for storing your project files that you want to share with others who don’t have the programs installed to open them. Google Drive’s whopping 10GB max file size means you can upload and share video files and other huge project files without worry. (Google is also addingthird-party apps for Drive, a la Dropbox, such as faxing and document signing. Watch out, Dropbox!)
SkyDrive is your best option if you need to work with Microsoft Office files or share them with others. You can view, edit, and create Microsoft Office documents in your browser, with no need to have the software installed on your computer. SkyDrive would be a natural place to store your OneNote notebooks for syncing across all your devices.(And if you were a SkyDrive user before April 23, you can get 25GB of free storage instead of the default 7GB.)
Securely Collaborate on and Share Files with Box
Box (formerly Box.Net) also doesn’t offer file syncing—unless you’re on a paid Business or Enterprise plan. However, if you grabbed one of Box’s previous promotions for 50GB of free space instead of the typical 5GB free (it sounds like you did), you’ve got an enormous amount of space to play with. Whether you have 5 or 50 gigabytes, you can use this repository to backup those files you don’t need to update often, such as product manuals or your phone’s apk files or Titanium backups. (Keep in mind the 100MB file size limit.)
Box’s key strengths, though, are on the professional side. You can embed your Box files into your professional LinkedIn profile—so perhaps use Box to store your portfolio or other work samples. You can also embed Box files on your website or blog via a widget (nice for distributing eBooks or other things you’ve made).
As the most business-oriented cloud service here, Box has the best collaboration features of the bunch. Share files or folders with a link and get notified when others view them. You can add tasks to files as well as comments/discussion threads and passwords for specific files or folders (even more access controls are available in the business version).
What You Can Do with Any Cloud Storage Space
All of these services (and others like them) serve the same purpose: Providing you with online storage space for whatever you want to store there. Most of them (except Amazon Cloud Drive, Box, and Google Music) also automatically sync your files so they’re always up to date wherever you log in from.
Here are some things you can store on any of them:
- Photos and Videos: Backup your pics and videos and share them on one of these services. Dropbox, Google Drive/Google+, and SugarSync auto-upload your photos and videos—a huge plus for automatically backing up precious moments. Dropbox, SkyDrive, and SugarSync offer a gallery or album view of your photos—great for sharing with others. (Note: SugarSync has no file size limit and Google Drive’s is 10GB, so these might be best for really large media files.)
- General backups: You can backup anything, really, to these services. If you’re storing sensitive information online, though, make sure you encrypt the files first (see this Dropbox example of your options).
- Shared files: Although Box has the best access controls and file sharing features, all of these services are useful for sharing files and folders with others.
- Password manager files: Keep your KeePass or Roboform databases in sync.
- Game saves: Store your game saves in a central, synced location and you can pick up your game where you left off on another computer with that game installed.
- Torrent files: If you use a BitTorrent application that monitors a specific folder for new torrent files, save them to your syncing folder of choice. (See original post for Dropbox)
As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to use all of these services; if you want to simplify things, you could use just a couple (or even just one), based on your needs and how much free space you have on each—as well as platforms availability, max file size, and price per GB should you want to upgrade.
Hopefully, this gives you more ideas for how to divvy up and make use of all that free storage. (For even more ideas, learn how to use Dropbox for more than just file syncing and check out the clever things you can do with Dropbox that you might not be using. These can also work with other services.)
P.S. Some of us have already discussed amongst ourselves how we’re using multiple cloud storage services, but there’s a spot in the comments below for you to share your method.