File storage in the cloud has always held tremendous promise, and it's finally to the point where it is so useful it should be considered a necessary part of everyday computing. If all you use it for is backing up your files that's great, but you're missing out on a ton of functionality.
Here are just a few of the free options that are out there than can make your life easier.
The most popular cloud storage option and with good reason, Dropbox is now the first thing I download when setting up a new computer, tablet or phone. Place a file in your drop box folder, and that file shows up on every other device you have Dropbox installed on automatically. If that were all it did it would still be the best, but the developers are always adding new features.
My new favorite thing in the world is the ability to open up the Dropbox app on my phone and have it immediately begin to upload any new photos I've taken to my drop box. Now, they're available to me on my home and work computers, tabl and all I had to do was launch the app.
Seriously folks, if you're not using Dropbox you might be suffering from the dreaded ID10T error.
Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage for free, but it's so useful you will feel compelled to pay them for extra storage.
Speaking of extra storage, Box.net starts you out with 5 GB of space for free and also provides collaborative features.
You can send a link to someone to download your file that is too big to email, and you can also invite others to view and edit files, post comments and assign tasks -- an online office cubicle if you will. My favorite thing about Box.net is that they will sometimes run promotions that net you more storage. I'm up to 50 GBs of free space available but again you'll probably just want to pay for it if you use it frequently.
The new kid on the block, Mega is a proverbial "flipping the bird" at the entertainment industry. Launched by well-known hacker and Internet entrepreneur Kim DotCom just a fewes you 50 GB of free space and allows you to purchase up to 8 TBs of storage. Besides the amount of storage, what sets Mega apart is the fact that each file is encrypted before being uploaded to their servers. This way Mega can claim ignorance when the inevitable file-sharing lawsuits from Hollywood come their way. Aside from the politics of copyright and file sharing, such a service could be useful if you're concerned about the security of your documents being placed in the cloud -- however, given the dubious intent of the service, I'd use it only for storing backups you wouldn't mind losing if the feds came and confiscated Mega's servers one day.
GOOGLE DRIVE AND MICROSOFT SKY DRIVE
If you spend a lot of time in the Google ecosystem, Drive is a no-brainer. The home of Google Docs, you are given 5 GBs of storage space for free and can purchase up to 16 TBs if you are so inclined. There is also a drop box-like client for synchronizing files across your various desktop and mobile devices. Microsoftve is basically the same thing (7 GBs of storage) for those more attached to the Windows ecosystem.
Morgan Bonner is pre-press manager and a systems administrator for the Packet and Gazette.