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Cloudy with a chance of data

An overview of providers offering free online storage space

For quite some time now, the “cloud” has been trying to change our day-to-day lives. The term “cloud” refers to the idea of transferring local “control” over data and programs to online servers. This makes it possible to access data that is stored online with any computer that is connected to the Internet or to launch programs directly in web browsers. At first glance, these developments might sound like useless gadgets for “tech addicts”, but on closer inspection they turn out to be quite practical.

“Google Docs and Spreadsheets” is a prototypical example of cloud computing. Not only can you save text documents, spreadsheets and presentations online, you can also edit them directly in the browser. This is especially practical if you’re working on documents in a team with several people – an all too familiar situation for students who often work on projects in groups. Thanks to this online solution, every person can edit his/her part irrespective of location or time. Plus, every group member is up-to-date on the progress of the others, since everyone can monitor the project’s progress. By the way, this Google service is also perfectly suited as a sort of “parking lot” for your files, since any file type can be uploaded. However, you will have to transfer all of your data to Google servers, something that many people feel uncomfortable doing. In essence, however, this is the “fundamental problem” of all cloud applications. You have to transfer your data to a third, often unknown party.

However, since Google is by far not the only online storage service, you can also store your files with other providers in the cloud. Perhaps storing your data with different providers is a good middle ground, allowing you to keep a bit of control over your own information. Without a doubt, all offers have one advantage: Forgetting data at home or loosing data stored on tiny USB sticks is finally a thing of the past and the threat of sudden hard disk failure looses its horror. Since these kinds of services are available a dime a dozen, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a suitable service for every purpose.

By the way, the MAGIX Online Album and MAGIX Website Maker are typical examples of cloud applications. But since they are not conceived as back up or online storage services, they will be mentioned only as a side note. Nevertheless, you can conveniently store your photos, videos or music thanks to the 500 MB of storage space included in the packages for free 😉

Here’s an overview of some well-known and less well-known services where you can store your data in the “cloud” for free. If you register with all services, you can take advantage of a staggering 106 GB of online storage space – for free! :-)

Provider Language Free Online-Storage English 2 GB English 2 GB English 2 GB English 2 GB English 1 GB English 25 GB German 10 GB German 1 GB German 1 GB English 50 GB English 5 GB German 1 GB German 2 GB English 2 GB

By the way: I’d like to recommend taking a look at the free version of the Gladinet software, which allows you to integrate some of the cloud services directly into the operating system so you can use them as regular hard drives. The following services are supported in version 2.0:

  • Amazon S3 (US and Europe)
  • AT&T Synaptic Storage
  • EMC Atmos Online
  • EMC Atmos Storage
  • FTP Server
  • FTP Server (Anonymous)
  • Google Docs
  • Google Docs for Google Apps
  • Google Picasa
  • Network Resource (any UNC path)
  • Nirvanix Storage
  • WebDav Server (Anonymous)
  • WebDav Server (Generic)

Also take a look at this Wikipedia comparison of different online backup services that compares different features with each other:


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