Monday, January 25

My Frugal Miser - Cut Digital Clutter with Free Online Storage

There are several websites offering free remote storage of your electronic files. I am much more comfortable storing my data offsite for a couple of reasons:
  1. Security. If my laptop gets stolen, I know my files have not been compromised.
  2. Convenience. Often I am at work when I realize I need a file from home. Or I'm going on vacation and don't want to bring my computer. Storing files online means I can access them anywhere.
  3. Performance. I'm not a computing expert, but generally the computers I have had have worked better when there are fewer files taking up space.
As a frugal miser, I don't see the need to pay for online storage (even though I'd be willing to pay a nominal amount as this is an invaluable service to me). Fortunately, there are a few places that will store your files for free:
  • Microsoft's Sky Drive. I have been using Sky Drive for a couple of years, and I can personally vouch for its ease of use. Since it's from Microsoft, I am comfortable that the service won't just disappear one day, taking my files with it! They give you 25 GB free. It uses the familiar folder structure for managing your files. The only downside I have found is that you can't move or download multiple files at once.
  • MediaFire. I haven't used this service, but according to the website, the free version allows you to store an unlimited amount of information. The difference between the free version and the one you pay for seems to be that you can store files larger than 200 MB, your storage page is ad-free, and you can do bulk downloads.
  • ADrive. Their "basic" (free) plan includes 50 GB free space. Upgrading gives you similar benefits as MediaFire (no ads). One feature that caught my eye was the search tool. With Sky Drive, I haven't found an easy way to search for files, so it is especially important to keep my files organized, both by carefully using folders and in the way I name my files.
  • Photo Sites. You can store your photos with each of the above solutions, but if that's all you plan to store, there are a few free places to park your pics. Since most people like to share their photos, this might be a good venue for you to do that. The major sites I am aware of include Flickr, Google's Picasa, and Shutterfly.
Keeping your files offsite offers many benefits. Since one of my goals in 2010 is to be paperless, this helps me do that while having the peace of mind knowing my important documents won't be stolen. Besides that, I like the portability of accessing my information from anywhere.

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