There are a lot of advantages to leaving the desktop behind,
and living your digital life in a largely mobile fashion. Storing your files is
definitely not one of them, however.
When you step out with your Android smartphone or tablet,
you’re often limited to the amount of flash memory sealed inside the device; if
you’re lucky you may be able to use removable MicroSD storage to save extra
files. Either way, there’s no way that compares to the storage on a typical
desktop or laptop.
That’s why “the cloud” is becoming more important all the
time – by placing your documents online, you have access to them anywhere you
have a web connection, without needing to eat up precious storage space on your
Apple has its own iCloud service, which is a turbocharged
version of its old MobileMe. While we’re still waiting for the official launch
of Google’s rumoured cloud drive, there are other options for Android users in
the meantime, each with both free and paid options.
These services keep your files safe with encryption,
allowing you to share data between your desktop computer and other mobile
devices – even competing platforms – without having to worry about your
personal info floating around in cyberspace.
One of the most popular is Dropbox. You can go to
dropbox.com on your Android smartphone and download the app either via download
link or QR code. The free service gives you two gigabytes of storage, but you
can upgrade to the 50 GB service for $9.99/month, or the 100 GB service for
$19.99/month. You can share folders with other Dropbox users, and even recover
items that have mistakenly been deleted or altered. There’s also a downloadable
desktop app that bolts into your operating system, allowing your cloud-based Dropbox
folder to be treated just like another folder on your computer.
Another cloud service that’s been receiving some notice is
Wuala, which is owned by hardware-maker LaCie. You can set up your Wuala
account using the downloadable desktop app, which also allows you to buy extra
storage: you get 2 GB for free, 10 GB is $29/year, 25 GB is $49/year, and 50 GB
is $79/year. (If you’ve bought a qualifying LaCie hardware product, you can
also redeem a code to get the appropriate amount of free storage here). Again,
you can bolt Wuala into the OS but if you have the app running, you can just
drag and drop files right into the cloud-based folder. Some users have
complained that uploads can be a bit slow, but seem generally happy with the
One service you may want to check out quickly is Box: while
you get 5 GB for free with Box’s personal service, Android users who download
and setup the app before March 23, 2012 will get their account upgraded to 50
GB for life. One really nice thing: you don’t need a client installed on your
desktop to use Box, because you can just drag files into a web browser window
to upload them. The big downside: Box limits each file to a maximum of 100
megs, which means Box isn’t ideal for video files. Oops. That might change down
the road, so grab your free 50 GB allotment now, while you can.