Does Insync Have Dropbox On The Run?

Have you heard about this new player in the cheap cloud storage / sync field called Insync? You might want to take a look at it, particularly if you are a fan or user of Google Docs. Insync, which has been in closed beta for more than a year, has now opened its doors to the general public with a claimed better feature set and lower cost (through Google storage) than Dropbox. Insync is trying to differentiate from Dropbox with more granularity and control over sharing and organizing files and its cost structure (free, with Google providing the paid storage in the background). Unlike Dropbox, you can set sharing conditions with read only or read write access and can revoke sharing permissions without moving or deleting the shared file entirely. You can share all or part of a folder structure and specify whether or not those you share with can reshare. You can tie multiple Google accounts to an Insync account too – which is GREAT for me and my many Google accounts. And, although the storage is via Google Docs, Insync doesn’t limit you to the supported Google Docs file types – you are only limited by the amount of storage you purchase from Google which is pretty darn cheap – $5 per year for 20 GB and just over $4,000 for 16 TB and by the 10GB per file size limit. Sign up is incredibly easy – just connect your Google account, download the local program, and link your machines to your Insync account.

Downside? No mobile apps yet. I have seen some complaints on Mac fora to the effect that it duplicates files with multiple labels, making organization difficult. However, at the price point, a little extra organization effort seems a reasonable trade-off. No problems here from this Mac user. As in the early days of Dropbox, there may be a few kinks to work out but this application seems promising indeed to heavy Google Docs users.

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Tap Gmail for Storage with Gmail Drive

There is about 7.5 gb of storage space in your Gmail account. Presumably for emails. Even voracious emailers, however, are unlike to put a major dent into that kind of space. It bothers me when an untapped resource remains essentially untapped, so I was pretty excited to happen upon MakeUseOf’s piece on Gmail Drive.

GMail Drive is a Windows only application that allows you to create a virtual file system in your Gmail account and permit direct access to that system through Windows Explorer. After installation and set up, you will see Gmail Drive in your list of storage spaces in Explorer.

The way it works is via the email process – dragging and dropping files into Gmail Drive creates an email with the file as an attachment. Depending on how you manage your mail, this may or may not work for you. At the least, you can create a filter that sends these emails into an archived location, so you don’t need to deal with them regularly in your inbox. Or, set up an additional Gmail account to simply hold your Gmail Drive documents.

When you select Gmail drive in Explorer, you will be prompted to log into the Gmail account with your credentials and then you can execute whatever action you need:

Access Gmail Drive docs from the browser on any computer – you can work via the Web and your Gmail account or you can install Gmail Drive on another computer and work with documents from there. There are some limitations – file size for Gmail hovers around 25gb and it isn’t practical to share docs with others via Gmail – you would need to give invitees your Gmail log in. But, still, what do you want for nothing? Put that empty space to work for you!

Zukmo Is Your Cloud-Based Filing System

Sometimes browsing the Web feels a little like a game of “catch and release.” You happen upon interesting content, you consume it, and then you release it back into the wild. Invariably, at some point in the future, you may find yourself vaguely remembering having seen something once that might pertain to something you need to know right now, but you can’t quite put your finger on it ….

If you aren’t too fond of the circular file-like cycle of information consumption on the Web, then Zukmo might be your new best friend. At it’s heart, its a bookmarking system. But it’s clever-simple interface and deep functionality make it worth a look. The key functions of Zukmo are the ability to store, access, and share content. Content is culled from various sources around the Web to be stored in Zukmo’s one, centralized location. Create your account for free, drag the bookmarklet up into your browser bar, click it when you are on a page you want to keep and you can then retrieve it at your “My Zukmo” page, either via the bookmarklet link or at their website.  A very nice feature is the ability to import bookmarks from your browser and Google and sync with Delicious and other sources so that you can keep everything centralized. A very, very nice feature is the ability to add the bookmarklet to your mobile browser on your iPhone and iPad – where I do most of my reading anyway.

But it isn’t just about your Web bookmarks. You can also bookmark and upload local documents to My Zukmo, which then become part of the search universe within Zukmo. You can pull content from your Twitter stream, from Google Docs, from YouTube and Vimeo and from Slideshare and view them within Zukmo. The search function offers full text and attribute search across all of the stored content and streams and get back highlighted results, like a Google search. You can distribute out of Zukmo to Facebook and Twitter, by email, or all three at the same time.

When you save in Zukmo, the app uses a simplification process to improve readability, showing only the key content, without the usual Web page gobbledy gook. There is also an Easy Reader button on each entry, which essentially shows the substance in a printer-friendly format. Finally, you can use Zukmo as an automatic sharing hub to Facebook and Twitter, and access your content from any device, anywhere. Check out the sample screenshot of your My Zukmo page. Nice and clean:

Zukmo really offers an incredibly amount of storage service for free. Besides considering it for your bookmarking needs, the document add feature brings Zukmo closer to a cloud backup solution for a large segment of your own personal data. Not a bad deal for the price.

Cloud Experience For Online, Real Time Backups

I have had people ask me about the best options for backing up data and media. Invariably, the discussion centers around local storage versus cloud storage and some combination thereof. Studio readers know I am a big fan of cloud storage (particularly if it is free), and that I use DropBox quite a bit to manipulate my content in the cloud. But I don’t really use DropBox for online backup – I tend to use it more as a way station and sharing option when I need to use certain files across devices or work with someone else on something. The free limit is rather small to be used to backup tons of data.

Cloud Experience is a great cloud option for online backup. The service starts at 10gb for free for both consumers and developers, as well as quite reasonably priced for added storage if the 10gb is insufficient. You can sync documents, photos, calendars, contacts – pretty much any data worth saving in multiple locales. You can sync these backups across a plethora of devices, so you need not wring your hands when your trusty smartphone bites the dust or you find yourself remote from your main address book needing to call that contact whose number you haven’t memorized. Files can also be shared with lots of networks, including the social ones.

There is no harm in adding a layer of protection to 10gb of your content when the price is free. Check out Cloud Experience – you may find yourself thanking me.

When Your Front-end Cloud Needs Back Up

One of the most frequently-spouted objections to playing with your data in the cloud is the fear that all that data, once flying around in the ether and out of your control, might be lost forever on the wings of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The big news over the past week about Google’s loss of Gmail data for a number of accouts (link here) painfully reinforces the point.

But common sense should prevail in the cloud, as it does on the ground. If you don’t back up your data, be it residing on your hard drive or elsewhere, you are standing squarely in harm’s way.

So, given the situation, what can the average person do to ensure that their important information does not get lost in a software update, computer glitch, or malicious viral wave?

You can set up an auto-forward within Gmail, using POP configuration, to send mail to your chosen client – simply click on your account settings and the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab to enable POP. This will load all your Gmail into your client email program, creating a copy on the web and a local copy.  

For what it is worth, you can add multiple internet email services to your local Outlook client (not just Gmail), and archive locally from there.

You also can backup your Gmail, Twitter, Facebook (profile and pages), Google Calendar, Contacts, Docs and Sites, Blogger, LinkedIn, Picasa, Zoho, and Flickr accounts with an online service called Backupify. The free version gives you 2GB of storage, or you can purchase 100GB of storage for $4.99 per month – pretty darn cheap. The site offers automatic archiving and search of backups with extreme simplicity – there really is no downside to signing up for a free account and setting up your various data feeds to be sent automatically to Backupify, even as a redundant + redundant system.

For Gmail only, you also can use the Gmail Backup Tool. Download the app, set up your account and your backups will be automatically generated and stored locally, with an auto-restore option for your online Gmail account.

While Gmail is in the limelight right now, it never hurts to put methods in place to save your treasured data. For eample, I have enabled my Twitter RSS feed to flow into my Google Reader account, providing me with a means of storing my tweets and searching the entire history of my existence on Twitter. I have enabled a plug-in on my WordPress blog to facilitate easy backup prior to upgrading to new versions of WordPress, which seem to come out almost every other month.

For every reason, there is a method. Find one that works and get going!