Top Personal Cloud Sites

Our industry is going through quite a wave of innovation and it’s being powered by a phenomenon which is referred to as the cloud. – Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft
Cloud computing and storage are rapidly changing our concept of the computer and how we store and share information. Whereas we used to rely on local storage and USB flash drives, the cloud has freed us to have our data anywhere and anytime. Why carry around a thumb drive? They break, they get lost, they’re something else you have to remember. The cloud solves these problems, and companies have taken notice. Listed below are some of the top cloud sites that you can sign up for now. All of them are free, and all of them have paid versions to expand their capability.
  1. Box.com – Box has been around since 2005, and was ranked as the 36th Fastest Growing Company in North America in 2011 by Deloitte. Box is a powerful platform geared for business that allows for custom apps, role-based management and more. Box has an iPhone and an iPad application (located here)
  2. Dropbox – Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, your iPhone and iPad and even the Dropbox website! With the Dropbox app, you can take everything that matters to you on the go. Additionally, the web is loaded with Dropbox hacks to make it more useful, such as syncing iTunes libraries, and making a cheap network drive.
  3. Droplr – Droplr is a service for uploading, hosting & sharing stuff. What stuff? Any stuff. You can share images, notes, links and just about any type of file you’d use on your computer. Droplr consists of a desktop application for Mac OS X and the web application for managing your stuff” says the About section of droplr.com. With droplr you can quickly host pictures, screenshots, links, notes, .zip files..pretty much everything you’d like to share with whoever you want. Droplr works by installing a menubar item (nice icon, by the way) together with the usual dock icon and some system-wide hotkeys. Once you’ve picked up something you’d like to share, either drag it onto the menubar / dock icon or hit the shortcut and boom, you have the file hosted and a short link copied to your clipboard. A small popup screen will come down from the menubar item, showing the short link the file has been given and the possibility to export that link to a 3rd party Twitter client [Quote].  Droplr also has an iPhone app.
  4. Google Drive – Google’s free cloud storage is finally here, and it looks pretty darn good. But, Google Drive is far, far, more than just storage. It’s combines free storage and Google Docs into a nearly seamless cloud-based office suite. It’s not just more, free cloud storage, although it is that too. It’s invites businesses to a unified cloud-based way of doing work within the company, with partners, and with customers. And, as Shankland also pointed out, while the 1st 5GBs are free, at Google’s low prices–25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month—he and I can both see individuals paying for additional storage and the services that come tied with it. For the first time, Google is moving beyond “advertising-subsidized services” to a mass-market paid software as a service (SaaS) model. [Quote] [Quote]
  5. SkyDrive – SkyDrive is part of Microsoft’s Windows Live suite, and offers you 25GB of free space to store and share your documents, photos and other files. Although users who registered before 25GB can elect whether to keep the full allocation, new users are now offered only 7GB of free storage. SkyDrive is found in the drop-down menu under Windows Live on your homepage. You need a free Windows Live account to access this, which gives you all the other web apps too, like Hotmail. Unfortunately, like Hotmail, SkyDrive seems to have an identity problem – Not every part of SkyDrive is branded as Skydrive, which makes navigation difficult. For example, if you open SkyDrive then open your document folder, the navigation path will then cease to mention SkyDrive, instead opting for Office > My Documents. Confusing. This is a shame, because if you have Silverlight installed, the SkyDrive uploading and management system is actually smooth and pleasant to use. Sharing and privacy options are clear and easy to set, and uploading files is dead simple and fast too. If you use Windows Live a lot, SkyDrive will be especially useful, but for other users, there are better options, like DropBox. Although they offer less total storage, they are more flexible and much better designed. SkyDrive is really generous with its 25GB of storage space, but is spoiled by poor navigation and file size limits. [Quote] SkyDrive has an iOS app.
  6. iCloud – This is Apple’s cloud. It integrates with Apple devices and iOS software apps. While it doesn’t make sharing files between apps easy (or possible), it does make sharing data between devices simple. If I add a file to GoodReader’s iCloud on my iPad, it is immediately available to GoodReader’s iCloud on my iPhone. It also allows for online backup of iOS devices. Overall, a great addition to iOS.

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