There are a lot of advantages to leaving the desktop behind,and living your digital life in a largely mobile fashion. Storing your files isdefinitely 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; ifyou’re lucky you may be able to use removable MicroSD storage to save extrafiles. Either way, there’s no way that compares to the storage on a typicaldesktop or laptop.

That’s why “the cloud” is becoming more important all thetime – by placing your documents online, you have access to them anywhere youhave a web connection, without needing to eat up precious storage space on yourdevice.

Apple has its own iCloud service, which is a turbochargedversion of its old MobileMe. While we’re still waiting for the official launchof Google’s rumoured cloud drive, there are other options for Android users inthe 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 mobiledevices – even competing platforms – without having to worry about yourpersonal info floating around in cyberspace.

One of the most popular is Dropbox. You can go on your Android smartphone and download the app either via downloadlink or QR code. The free service gives you two gigabytes of storage, but youcan 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 recoveritems that have mistakenly been deleted or altered. There’s also a downloadabledesktop app that bolts into your operating system, allowing your cloud-based Dropboxfolder to be treated just like another folder on your computer.

Another cloud service that’s been receiving some notice isWuala, which is owned by hardware-maker LaCie. You can set up your Wualaaccount using the downloadable desktop app, which also allows you to buy extrastorage: you get 2 GB for free, 10 GB is $29/year, 25 GB is $49/year, and 50 GBis $79/year. (If you’ve bought a qualifying LaCie hardware product, you canalso 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 justdrag and drop files right into the cloud-based folder. Some users havecomplained that uploads can be a bit slow, but seem generally happy with theservice otherwise.

One service you may want to check out quickly is Box: whileyou get 5 GB for free with Box’s personal service, Android users who downloadand setup the app before March 23, 2012 will get their account upgraded to 50GB for life. One really nice thing: you don’t need a client installed on yourdesktop to use Box, because you can just drag files into a web browser windowto upload them. The big downside: Box limits each file to a maximum of 100megs, which means Box isn’t ideal for video files. Oops. That might change downthe road, so grab your free 50 GB allotment now, while you can.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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