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Supersize your free cloud storage to 100GB or more

Ian Paul | May 6, 2013
Just a few short years ago, cloud storage services that synced files and folders across multiple PCs and mobile devices were just a dream. But thanks to the rapid rise of entities like Dropbox, SugarSync, and Google Drive, cloud storage and syncing services are nearly ubiquitous today, acting as hard drives in the sky that help you do all kinds of things--such as creating a bulletproof (almost) backup system or turbocharging your productivity to blistering new levels--no matter where you are.

Not including the offers from Box, Google, and Microsoft, the referral and social media credits listed here could help industrious and methodical gleaners snag another 126GB of free cloud storage. But once you've accumulated all that space, how do you use it effectively? The key to maximizing your use of a vast mound of fractured cloud storage is to match what you commonly do with cloud storage to each service's strengths and weaknesses.

General sharing and sync

Once you've beefed up its storage total, Dropbox should be your service of choice for file syncing, thanks to its unparalleled platform support and widespread use. Box, SpiderOak, SkyDrive, and MediaFire are solid options, too. SugarSync lets you choose specific folders to sync, rather than forcing you to dump all of your files into a central location, and that feature may appeal to some people.

For sensitive documents, you'll want to use SpiderOak, which advertises fully encrypted, zero-knowledge online data backup (and sync). It's rock-solid.

For less sensitive material that nonetheless requires encryption, you could use Mega. Security researchers recently called Mega's encryption scheme into question, and Mega founder Kim Dotcom is not beloved in law enforcement circles, but even so it offers more protection than typical cloud services do. Just make sure that you have backups handy in case Mega goes the way of Megaupload.

Online collaboration

Google Drive is your best bet if you need to edit a document online with one or more people. Google Drive features robust editing features, thanks to its integration with Google Docs, including multiuser, simultaneous editing. Since millions of people rely on Google services, most of the people you need to work with probably use Google Docs. You can edit documents with Google's mobile apps for Drive on Android and iOS.

A second choice would be Microsoft's SkyDrive. Microsoft offers free Web-based versions of its well-known Office suite, including apps for Word, Excel, OneNote, and PowerPoint. Office Web apps often experience technical hiccups, however, and the Word Web app doesn't have an autosave feature--so you risk losing work if you forget to save. The collaboration features aren't as seamless as Google's, either. For example, both writers must save to see the other person's changes when collaborating on a Word doc.

Box offers online document editing as well as Web-based integration with Google Docs.

Media

The natural choice for streaming music is Amazon's Cloud Drive, but the company recently separated its cloud storage and cloud music services. Dropbox offers music streaming through its mobile apps, but it will play only one song at a time. In December, Dropbox acquired Audiogalaxy, a music streaming service, prompting many observers to speculate that a Dropbox-powered music feature is on the way.

 

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