Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tech Column: One, Two or Three Cloud File Services?

by Bill Adler

Two years ago Google Drive was born. Google Drive, http://drive.google.com, is a cloud based service, run by Google, that, among other things, lets you park your files in the cloud. It basically acts like a separate drive on your computer.

Google Drive has several competitors, including Dropbox, http://db.tt/lm5HTSj , Sugarsync, www.sugarsync.com, Box, www.box.com, and Microsoft's Skydrive, www.skydrive.com.

These services vary in features and price. It's handy to be able to access your stuff from anywhere, including your smartphone: These services have phone apps, so your files are with you wherever you go. They all offer limited free storage, too, so you can play around with them to see what you like best.

But you don't need to stick to just one cloud service. Browser add-ons and websites enable you to access your files regardless of whether they're on Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other place. Why would you want to use a service like that? Because you might split your files up between Google Drive and Dropbox, for example: using Google Drive for personal and Dropbox for work-related files. Or you might just stick with a free account on Skydrive and Sugarsync; a multi-cloud add-on essentially gives you more space by letting you spread your data among multiple services.

Cloudmagic, www.cloudmagic.com, is a browser extension and website that lets you search your various storage services for exactly what you're looking for. It searches not just files, but your email, calendar and Evernote (if you want) and just about everything you have stored anywhere in the Cloud. With Cloudmagic you don't need to remember where you put a file or note: Cloudmagic will find it. It's soooo handy to have one search box that looks everywhere at once.

Attachments.me is another service that I use a lot and find super helpful. Attachments.me, www.attachments.me, lets you save attachments in the Cloud wherever you want. Just connect your various cloud services to Attachment.me, and when an email arrives you can decide where you want to save the attached file. Attachments.me works in the opposite direction, too: You can attach files from whatever cloud service you use to outgoing Gmail.

Using connection services like Cloudmagic and Attachments.me makes it possible and actually easy to use multiple cloud storage services. Cloudmagic for finding your stuff; Attachments.me for saving or attaching files to Gmail. Connection services make the cloud a powerful place indeed.


Bill Adler is a writer. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft, "Outwitting Squirrels," http://amzn.to/VXuLBh, and a mess of other books. He tweets at @billadler. His tech column is published on Tuesdays.

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