When it comes to free cloud accounts there are plenty out there, and there are plenty that soon disappear. I can only give my opinion on the services that I use, so I will talk about Drop box, Google Drive and One Drive (formally known as Sky Drive).
First let me explain why I think free cloud accounts are useful. In this day and age many of us are using multiple devices such as computers, smartphone and tablets. Cloud accounts allows us to access information between all our devices, and some of these cloud accounts allow us to edit and update documents across our devices.
Another great use of free cloud accounts is to back up those important files that you don’t want to risk losing if your computer ever dies or you lose your smartphone or tablet. The only restriction you may find is the amount of free space you have with these services.
Sharing files and folders with others is also a great feature of cloud accounts. Sometimes files are to big to email as attachments, so you will need to find another way to get your documents to another person. These free cloud accounts will let you share files and folders with other users, no matter what the size.
I have a love hate relationship with Google, but I will admit that Google Drive is my favourite free cloud storage service.
With Google Drive you have 15GB of free storage, of which you can upload pictures and documents. What is great about Google Drive is that you can also create word documents, slide shows and spreadsheets within Google Drive and to make things better, all documents created within Google Drive do not take up any of your 15GB of free storage.
I personally use Google Drive for content creation, mainly written documents and spreadsheets. I use Google Drive for content creation because I can easily access and edit the documents through any computer with an Internet connection, my smartphone (currently an iPhone) or my tablet (current a Samsung with Android).
What makes Google Drive even better is the way you can collaborate on documents at the same time as other users. A good example is when I am co-writing articles. Once I have the bulk of the content written I have the option to call (or Skype) my co-writer and ask for their input. As they make changes to the document I can see the changes being made on my screen as we discuss the article.
How do I get Google Drive?
If you have a current Google or Gmail account then you will already have access to Google Drive. Just head to http://drive.google.com or download the Google Drive app for iOS or Android and login with your existing email login.
If you haven’t got a Gmail account don’t worry, you can still have access to Google Drive without having to have Gmail. In your web browser go to https://accounts.google.com and click ‘create an account‘. Underneath where it asks for a user name click ‘I prefer to use my current email address‘. You can now carry on signing up for a google account without creating a Gmail account.
One Drive (Formally Sky Drive)
One Drive is a cloud service by Microsoft. Microsoft have been a late arrival in the cloud based services, but they have definitely caught up in respect to Google Drive.
One Drive also gives you 15GB of free storage and also allows you to create word documents, slide shows and spreadsheets. One Drive could possibly be better for you, if you are use to the Microsoft 2013 suite of applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as the online editing apps are very similar to their suite of computer based applications.
Like Google Drive you can edit your documents across multiple devices including IOS, Android and on your computers web browser. The only downside I found with One Drive was the lack of collaboration functionality. When I have tried to access a document that is open by another user I can only access the file as ‘read only’ which means whilst the other user has the file open I can not make any alterations. This is a big draw back to me as I do use the collaboration feature in Google Drive frequently.
The reason I still use One Drive is because of the large amount of space I get for free. 15GB is massive in terms of free accounts. I am currently using One Drive to back up my iPhoto Library, although this will only be handy whilst my iPhoto Library stays under 15GB, which believe me will not be for long.
How do I get One Drive?
If you already have a outlook.com or a hotmail email account, then you will already have access to One Drive. Just head to https://onedrive.live.com and sign in with your email login.
If you haven’t got a outlook or hotmail account don’t worry, you can still use One Drive, and you don’t have to have one of their email accounts! Head to https://onedrive.live.com, click the sign up link, then make sure you click ‘or use your favourite email’ when creating your new account. Of course if you would like a new outlook email address then there is no need to click the link.
Dropbox was my first cloud service that I signed up for, and it seems to be the most well known.
Dropbox start you off with 2GB of free storage and able you to ‘earn’ more storage by doing small tasks such as referring friends to Dropbox (500MB per friend up to 16GB), linking your Facebook and Twitter to your Dropbox (125MB each), following Dropbox on Twitter (125MB) and ‘saying something nice’ about Dropbox on the internet (125MB).
I currently have 7.25GB of storage on my Dropbox by carrying out some of the tasks above.
I mainly use my Dropbox account for sharing documents. All my Press Packs consists of Word Documents (press releases), hi-res pictures and videos are placed within a folder in Dropbox. Within my printed Press Packs I have a link to the Dropbox folder which will allow editors direct access to the word documents for editing and all the hi-res photographs and videos without the need to burn discs or buy USB’s.
Dropbox claim you can now edit documents within Dropbox, but from what I figure out and from what I have read online this is impossible with Microsoft documents via Microsoft apps on mobile only. For me, this is a little clunky and pointless when you can have access to a 15GB One Drive account where you can not only edit existing Microsoft documents, but you can also create them. I suppose it may one day come in handy if somebody has shared a .docx or spreadsheet via Dropbox with you and you would like to make some quick alterations, but I don’t think it will be a function I will use anytime soon.
How do I get Dropbox?
Head to https://www.dropbox.com/login and click ‘create an account‘ and fill in all the required information.
I use Google Drive for content creation and collaboration. Why? Because all content I create within Google Drive does not take up any of my valuable 15GB space, plus Google Drive is by far the best for live collaboration.
My One Drive account has a synchronised folder on my computer where my iPhoto Library is located. This is currently keeping all my photographs in iPhoto synced in the cloud. Of course this is only helpful whilst my photograph library stays under 15GB, but I do have the option to increase my storage at a cost if needs be.
I could use One Drive for storing and creating documents, but to be honest I have been using Google Drive for so long and there is nothing wrong with Google’s functionality, therefore there is no need for me to change, so for now I am just making other uses for the free storage space.
I use Dropbox for sharing files and documents that do not need editing or large files that are to big to attach to emails. To be honest I am using Dropbox less and less these days, but my 7GB of space is there when I need it. I have been tempted recently to clear out my Dropbox and turn on the automatic photo upload on the Dropbox iOS app, to backup my photographs from my iPhone rather than use up the limited iCloud storage from apple.