No dropboxThere is no doubt Dropbox is popular. Many companies and individuals use Dropbox daily to keep files in sync wherever they access them. Is this the only option out there? Nope.

All kinds of companies out there offer free online storage; you may even be using some of them already. If you are new to cloud storage, here are some ideas to get you started.

 

Something you may already be using

Many email programs offer different options for the storage of files, pictures and other digital goodies besides your emails.

Windows Live (Hotmail)

Hotmail is making a strong comeback with some really useful features, one of them being 25gb of online storage for each Live account. If you have a Hotmail email, you are ready to use this. When you are on the main page after you login, you will see several options near the top.

Hotmail, Messenger and Skydrive. Skydrive is where you store stuff.

Microsoft Live Cloud Storage - Skydrive

 

When you are in your Skydrive, you can create a new folder. In this folder you can simply drag and drop your photos and documents.

Microsoft Live Skydrive Upload

Google Docs

Google Docs works in a similar way to Skydrive. You are allowed to upload more files than just documents. If you have a Google or Google Apps account, you are all set up to start.

Log into your Google or Google Apps account and go to Documents. You will see an option to Upload in the top left corner.

Google Docs Upload Files or Folders

 

Clicking on “Upload will bring up a window asking you want you want to upload. Here is a list of supported file types you can upload:

These are the file types that can be converted to Google Docs:

  • For spreadsheets: .xls, .xlsx, .ods, .csv, .tsv, .txt, .tab
  • For documents: .doc, .docx, .html, plain text (.txt), .rtf
  • For presentations: .ppt, .pps, .pptx
  • For drawings: .wmf
  • For OCR: .jpg, .gif, .png, .pdf

If you are looking to store MP3 files, you can store these as well. You cannot play them, but you can save a copy online.

Google Docs Upload MP3 Files

What you may not be using

There are a few dedicated services for uploading and storing your data in the cloud.

Sugar sync

Sugar Sync is a good alternative to Dropbox. If you sign up for the free account, you will get 5gb of storage. This is far more than what Dropbox. Like other cloud storage options, you have an application to download to your computer to keep everything in sync.

GoAruna

GoAruna gives you the same amount of space as Dropbox, 2gb for free. What is different about GoAruna is you do not even need to sign up to share (smaller) files. Normally, with most cloud storage apps, you need to sign up and upload the file before you can share it.

This isn’t the case with GoAruna. Right from the homepage, you can share a 250mb file with anyone who has an email account.

GoAruna Share Files

Wuala

While you are getting less storage for free with Wuala, what you get in return is bank level security on your files. You may consider using Wuala for more sensitive files and information. Here is a quote from their site talking about the security they use.

Update: Wuala service is currently discontinued. Alternative to this is SpiderOak

Privacy and Security

Wuala protects your privacy: In stark contrast to most other online storage services, all your files get encrypted on your computer, so that no one – including the employees at Wuala and LaCie – can access your private files. Your password never leaves your computer.

Wuala employs the 128 bit AES, 2048 bit RSA and SHA-256 algorithms for encryption, signatures and integrity checks.

iDrive Sync

There are two immediate benefits to iDriveSync. The free version gives you 5gb and for a mere 4.95 a month, you can have unlimited storage. Most of the other options cost an arm and a leg for unlimited storage.

 

idrive sync process

Conclusion

As you can see, you have numerous other cloud storage options besides the very popular Dropbox. The deciding factor is how it integrates into your daily life. Some questions that you should ask yourself before you decide to start using any of the above listed services:

Do you want to use a totally separate software?

Do you need more security?

Do you want to keep everything in one place: documents, pictures, videos and music?

What is important to you when choosing cloud storage?

Once you answer these questions, you can choose the appropriate service to suit your needs.

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