I’ve found myself breaking free of hard drives and flash drives as more and more cloud based storage and software options have become available. For those not in the know, cloud software/services basically refers to storing or working in online environments where your data is stored “in the cloud” and not on your machine or external hard drives. If you have an old laptop you can use cloudready install and update your laptop. Many old schoolers still scoff at the security implications, of not having your data stored locally, but the fact is with the growth of this industry and the security that has followed, I would guess it’s just as likely that some masked gunman could could physically steal your goods as much as someone stealing it online. As long as you take the necessary steps through these services to protect and backup your data, you’re going to be just fine.
That being said, there are 3 distinct services that I find invaluable that I use daily that are fantastic and all offer robust, free versions (in addition to paid versions with a few more bells and whistles). You owe it to yourself to check out these winners.
- Dropbox – I’ve written about Dropbox before, but I can’t get enough of singing their praises. Just an awesome, easy to use interface that makes having access to my most important files so quick and easy from any computer or any mobile device. No matter where I am, or what I have access to, I have what I need, when I need it. 2 GB free, and an extra 250MB for every friend you invite that signs up.
- Xmarks – What a relief it is to have all my bookmarks cloud based. Whenever I set up a new computer to use, I simply install Xmarks and I can sync my bookmarks as they were on any other machine. In addition, if I’m remote on an unfamiliar machine, I can simply login on their website and access my bookmarks there as well. Very useful when you need access to the places you frequent often regardless of where or what machine you are on.
- Lastpass – These folks actually purchased Xmarks, and offer a terrific password management offering. With so many different username/passwords across the web, it gets crazy trying to remember everything, and when you buy a new computer, it’s invaluable to be able to simply sync with your Lastpass account to ensure your new machine is ready to rock with all your usernames/passwords at your disposal.
These are the services that I’ve found most valuable. Would love to hear from you on any additional cloud based services you’ve found useful.