Run, Don't Walk, To 50GB Free Cloud Storage Via Box

Ever watching out for the free goods, I clapped with delight when I saw this great deal. If you are the lucky owner of an Android device, and you find the idea of free cloud storage and collaboration pretty nifty, then download Box’s mobile storage application for Android, log into your account and, Voila!, you will be gifted with 50GB of free storage. That ain’t no chump change – you can hold a lot of stuff with 50GB.

Box offered a similar incentive for iPhone / iPad users back in the fall. Now Android fans can partake of the free-ness.

Box distinguishes itself from services like DropBox by focusing more on easy collaboration. It most closely resembles Google Docs with file / folder sharing, version tracking and collaboration tools. It bears noting that the per file size limit is 25 MB for free users, which may not be enough for certain of your file types. You can upgrade to 1GB file sizes for $10 / month. Another important limitation: there is no desktop application for the free version like DropBox – you have to download your docs, edit, and then upload and can’t get auto-updates in all places – not quite as handy as Google Doc’s ability to permit edits in the cloud. Nonetheless, free is free and 50GB is 50GB. And, on the plus side, Box integrates with a lot of other services like Gmail, Google Docs, and Microsoft Office, so there are work arounds to be had.

So, grab that storage while its hot. There must be something you can put in the Box.

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Windows Live SkyDrive Offers 25GB On Your iPhone

Want to expand your virtual real estate on your mobile phone? If you haven’t already gotten your free Windows Live account, now is the time to do it. Sneaking under my radar during the holiday crazies was this announcement from the fine folks at Windows Live – you can now access SkyDrive’s 25GB of storage via apps on your iPhone or Windows Phone. Pretty darn cool. Dropbox is nice, but it can’t hold a candle to the size of SkyDrive.

Of course, Microsoft has baked SkyDrive fairly deeply into Windows Phone 7.5. With the Windows Phone app, you can store documents, notes, photos, videos and access them from your phone. Share photos stored on SkyDrive by email, text, or IM, use Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with SkyDrive files, and keep your phone’s camera roll up-to-date on SkyDrive automatically. SkyDrive is integrated directly into the apps as well as core phone functions. Of particular use on mobile, you can browse your entire SkyDrive. share files and manage your storage.

The “extra extra” though is an iPhone app! In addition to their OneNote notebooks, iPhone users can access their files in SkyDrive, create folders, delete files, and share links to folders and files directly using the Mail app. Much of the functionality is the same between the Windows Phone and iPhone apps – tailored to the particular phone’s user experience. This is very very cool indeed – kudos to Microsoft for not leaving us iPhone users hanging!

Read more about these apps and SkyDrive and check out some vids over at the Windows Live site. And get an extra 25GB of useful storage on your mobile device. Thanks Microsoft.

 

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.

Primadesk Offers Another Cloud Management Option

I talked about Joukuu, a local cloud management tool, and how to get a pile of free cloud file storage in a previous post. Another option for the management task is Primadesk. Primadesk is a web-based tool that  operates like a file management system, albeit composed entirely of the contents of various popular cloud file storage sites. In a single window, you can easily drag and drop files between services or from web to desktop and search your entire cloud storage. Access a document by clicking on it, and the appropriate service will open in a new tab, with the document showing. Because it is web-based, it works across platforms and mobile devices. Store all types of files, images, videos and hook up your emails for a single monitoring vantage point. Offers a password manager, with single log-in. And can back up your data to another storage site. There is a Primadesk photo manager app for iPhone, too. Free and beta right now, so why not get in on the action?

Mimedia With 7GB of Free Cloud Backup/Storage

As we look ever skyward, instead of downward at our desktops, for apps and storage, newcomers will have to offer more to compete for attention. Enter Mimedia: an online storage site that offers 7GB free storage (or $9.99 per mo / $99 per year for 250GB or more) within a more interactive environment than the average online storage site. In addition to the usual, secure online storage locker, you can get instant, on demand access to your files from anywhere. This becomes extra useful when you are storing music or video, but still works nicely with files and photo galleries. To avoid the upload hassles, you can use Mimedia’s physical “shuttle drive” – they will send you the drive, you load the media as encrypted files and send it back, and they will upload it for you. New files and changes are backed up automatically in real-time.  Once in the cloud, you can access the information from anywhere with an internet connection. There is a local Mimedia application that is required for interacting with your acccount. The interface on the Web has more visual appeal than some, ahem, more well-known competitors.

All in all, Mimedia offers an affordable package with enough bells and whistles to make you want to take a second look. And, if free is what you are after, 7GB is a whole lot more than 2GB, last time I consulted my math skills.

More Free On-Line Space – Amazon Cloud Drive

Further to last week’s cloud management and storage post, I just happened on this deal this morning. You can 5GB of cloud storage for free from none other than Amazon via their brand new Cloud Drive. While it appears intended for use with Amazon’s music downloads (and uploads), it appears able to store all sorts of media. Purchases of MP-3’s from Amazon’s store are stored for free and don’t count against your 5GB space. You can buy additional space for reasonable change – essentially $1 per GB per year. Get your tunes in the cloud for free and a little extra storage space to boot. Beating Apple and Google to the cloud music-punch, with a freebie on the side. Nicely done, Amazon.

Manage Your Cloud From One Spot + Free Storage Options

I have a collection of free cloud storage accounts and, while not impossible, it is slightly challenging to organize and manage all of them. I stumbled on a local option for handling some of those cloud accounts – Joukuu. Joukuu, which means “cloud” in Japanese,  is a free, Windows-only (Mac version promised soon) download that helps you interact with three of the most popular services: Dropbox; Box.net; and Google Docs. You can pretty much manage your entire process with this app – access your files, sync and open with local applications.

Edit files, and create and sync on the desktop without having to log-in the cloud or open separate windows.

How about one-click backup? Just right click on your selected files, and choose the account, the files will backup to your online accounts automatically.

Move files between accounts in your Joukuu with simple drag and drop.

Joukuu does not copy any files to its own servers, so you need only worry about your own desktop and the various cloud providers it links to as far as security goes.

So, this whole Joukuu got me to thinking – just how much cloud storage can you pull down for free? While I can say for certain this isn’t an exhaustive list, you might be surprised at just how much you can expand your storage space for no cash. Dropbox starts you off with 2GB for free, but you can earn 3GB to 10.25 GB if you get people to sign up via referral from you. Box.net gives you 5GB for free with a personal account. Google Docs gives you 1GB for free. Each provider offers different limits on file sizes and access – definitely check them out. But, right out off the bat, Joukuu can help you manage between 8GB and over 13GB of storage without any investment.

Want more? Check out Windows SkyDrive which offers a whopping 25GB for free (50MB file upload size max). Zumo Drive gives you up to 2GB for free. Or Memopal which gives you 3GB for free. iDrive offers a consumer friendly 2GB free. ADrive offers 50GB of free online backup – wow! 2GB uploads, and ad-supported. With a little finagling you can lay claim to around 90GB of free, on-line storage. Several of these offer mobile apps for file storage on the go, particularly helpful with my iDevices. Not bad, not bad at all.

Dropbox Gets Better

I have been using Dropbox (link here), the online file storage site, for a few months now and I have to say that I really love it. With 2GB of free storage (and up to 100GB paid), it offers seamless integration between desktop, Web and mobile device (for me, iPhone and iPad), with offline edits synced quickly across your systems. You can load most types of media, including text, audio, video and images. You can share a file with someone else without having to resort to email exchanges. Changes they make to the public documents are synced as well, so that you can easily collaborate on a single file.

While none of these abilities alone makes Dropbox the standout killer app among the crowd of on-line file storage tools, the combination of features, plus a few relatively recent additions to the service from third party developers, have made Dropbox even more compelling.

First, a few weeks ago, stellar password manager 1Password (link here) announced the ability to backup your passwords in that app via Dropbox. It used to be that you would have to manually update passwords between your Mac software and your mobile device. Now you can automatically back up all 1Password enabled devices for free via Dropbox and the cloud. Check out 1Password’s user guide on how to do it here.

Next, web app Airdropper (link here) allows you to send a request to Dropbox and non-Dropbox users to upload a file to your Dropbox. Simply connect to Dropbox, send a request to a colleague for the file via the web interface with a link for upload, wait for your colleague to follow the link and upload and receive the file in the spot you designated in your Dropbox.

Finally, if you like to dictate, check out Dictamus (link here), a dictating app that connects to Dropbox for cloud access to your transcripts. The app itself includes many professional dictation features, such as rewind, overwrite, insert and edit functions, and voice activation to avoid pauses. But the ability to sync your dictation to the cloud with Dropbox makes it even more compelling for quick entries and sharing. For the record, Dictamus syncs with MobileMe’s iDisk as well.

It really doesn’t get any simpler than that! I already am loving Dropbox and I applaud their efforts to combine with other developers to offer such great features for free. Can’t wait for the next upgrade to this already great system.

FREE On-Line Business Resources!

Did I say FREE? I most certainly did! PCWorld has a list of 19 free Web resources for real, honest-to-goodness business applications that you would otherwise have to, well, PAY for. To give a sense of the goodness of the goodies, there are suggestions for maknig FREE long distance calls, send and receive FREE faxes, videoconference for FREE, make FREE conference calls, use FREE directory assistance, automatically transcribe voice notes for FREE, turned scanned docs into text for FREE, get FREE copies of e-classics, send FREE text messages, store large files in the cloud for FREE, and download FREE mp-3s. The services highlighted in the article include: Talkster; Qipit,  eFax Free and FaxZero;  TokBox; Rondee; Google 411; reQall; OCR Terminal; Project Gutenberg; txtDrop and Krypton; Drop.io; and, for the free mp3s, try Amazon, Rhapsody, Elbows, RCRD LBL, Stereogum and Internet Archive.

Check them out! And please feel free to post your own favorite FREE resources in the comments! I love me some FREE.