The advantage, of course, is that these applications store information on servers accessed via the Internet, so that information is available to you anywhere you go, from any computer you have access to. This is huge for any Mac user who’s lucky enough to have a desktop and a laptop, or splits their time between their office and home computers. The three apps below can, and for many people have, killed the need for transferring files via physical media such as CD or USB thumb drives, and made accessing and sharing information dead simple.
DropBox wasn’t the first cloud-based file sharing service out there, but they’ve pretty much locked-up the market, particularly for Mac users. It’s simple, reliable, feature-rich, and for most users is completely free.
A menubar icon offers access to a folder on your hard drive that automatically syncs with a server in the cloud, which you can access from any Mac or Windows computer that has the free DropBox app installed. Drop a file into the folder, and once it finished syncing to the cloud, you can access or share those files with anyone you would like.
Some of the extra features of DropBox include the ability to password protect folders for sharing with select invited users. You can also drop a folder full of photos into DropBox and have it automatically build a nice web page with preview images, etc.
Perhaps the most useful feature of DropBox is that it keeps track of all the files you’ve uploaded and removed from your DropBox account, even allowing you to recover recently deleted files. This is particularly useful when you’re sharing files with other users working on the same project. Your own personal DropBox web page is available for to make things easy.
Signing up for the free account gets you 2GB of free storage. Use this link and you’ll get an extra 250MB of storage for free. There are paid upgrades that get you 50GB for $9.99 per month or $99 per year.
CloudApp is another file storage and sharing service, similar to DropBox in that you access it through an icon in the menubar, but different in that there is no folder that gets synced. When you drag a file to the CloudApp icon in the menubar, the file immediately gets uploaded to the server, and a link to the file gets copied to your clipboard. This makes it extremely easy for sharing with people via email or on web discussion boards.
Each file you upload gets its own short URL link, which you can also view on your own CloudApp web page. You can view and delete your files on this page, and they’re conveniently categorized upon upload.
Another nice feature of CloudApp is that recently uploaded files are listed in the menubar for quick access. You can also set a custom keyboard shortcut to capture screenshots, web addresses and text and have it uploaded quickly.
CloudApp is relatively new on the scene, but I’ve been using it for a week or two and found it to be reliable thus far. It’s free, and easy to use.
Evernote is a great way to collect notes and files with the simplicity of a keyboard shortcut and have them stored in the cloud where you can access them from any computer with web access, either from your personal web page, or the free Evernote desktop or iPhone application. I’ve been using Evernote for a few years now and find it incredibly useful and 100% reliable. Because the basic features are free, I’ve not been forced to pay for similar applications and services which offer syncing to the web.
Evernote fits right in to any type of workflow because you not only have access to the desktop app via keyboard shortcut and menubar icon, but Evernote offers a Firefox, Safari and Chrome browser extension which offers quick access to your Evernote web page. There is a pro version upgrade available, adding storage and a few other capabilities available, but the free version is more than enough for the average note taking duties.