Five Best Online File Storage Services

Working with the same files in multiple places used to be a hassle. You'd have to make sure to bring the file with you, email it to yourself, or save it in a place you could get to it later. Now, there are a number of online file storage and syncing services that will make your data available on as many computers as you like. Here's a look at five of the best of those services.

Dropbox

Dropbox is clearly the juggernaut of the file storage and syncing service. Its combination of 2GB of free storage just for signing up and huge bonuses for referring friends to sign up as well makes for an attractive and useful file syncing service that gets the job done and encourages you to spread the word about it. Dropbox will deliver your files to you on your Mac, Windows, or Linux system or your BlackBerry, iOS, or Android device with little hassle, and the service offers public and photo folders you can use to store and share galleries or other files with select individuals you share them with or with the world. Dropbox is also host to a wealth of third-party plug-ins and services that integrate with it to extend its features (thanks to its wide open API), and has great LAN support so you can change your files on one computer on your home network and have it instantly on another.

Box.net

Box.net starts you off with 5GB for free. Install the Box Sync app to sync your files with the web, and install the mobile apps to get access to your files on your iOS device, Android device, Blackberry, Touchpad, or Playbook. Otherwise, you can upload your files to your Box.net account and access them via the web. Download them whenever you like, or use the service as a replacement for (or supplement to) other cloud-based services like Google Apps. Box.net combines the best things about a file syncing service with the best things about a web-based productivity suite.

Windows Live SkyDrive

Windows Live SkyDrive starts you out with 5GB for free, and with Live Mesh you can sync your local files and folders with your SkyDrive account. If you have a Windows Live account, you already have a SkyDrive account that you can make use of. SkyDrive is especially useful for Windows users, who can configure it to automatically sync any folder on their system (like your My Documents folder, for example) to the cloud for safe keeping, or automatically upload any Microsoft Office documents you create. You can also use SkyDrive and Live Mesh as a remote access utilty, so you can get to files even if they're not being synced.

SugarSync

SugarSync is probably Dropbox's leading competition. The service gives you 5GB for free. The service works just as well (if not better) than Dropbox, and will sync your files and folders from your desktop to the cloud with ease. You can access your data on the go via the web or on your mobile device with the SugarSync apps for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and even Symbian devices. SugarSync even aggressively keeps revision histories of your files so you can get old versions of files you may have accidentally changed. SugarSync also makes it very easy to stream music, video, or other media from your account on the web or other devices so you can enjoy it anywhere you go. SugarSync also gives you more control over your files on the web, allows you to open and edit files directly, or password protect individual files or folders.

SpiderOak

Spideroak is probably one of the most versatile and flexible file syncing and storage solutions available. The service gets you started with 2GB of space, and then puts it to the test by allowing you to sync not only your desktop, but files on your mobile device (not just access via your mobile device, but sync from your device as well), even files on network shares and external hard drives. Refer your friends, and you get an incredible 1GB referral each, which is more than any of the other services offer. Connect SpiderOak with your Mac, Windows, or Linux system, and download the mobile apps for your iOS or Android device, and leave the rest to the service. SpiderOak also keeps revision histories, and metadata for all of your files so you can see when they were created, uploaded and modified.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Wuala, LaCie's file sync and storage service available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and mobile devices. Free users get 2GB of storage. Also among the runners up is Minus, a service that used to be a simple image host (and most of its users still use it that way), but has grown to a full-fledged drag-and-drop file storage and sharing service that's completely free and gives its users 10GB of storage to play with.

Have something to say about one of the competitors? Did your favourite miss the cut and you want to tell the world about it? Let's hear it in the comments below.


Comments

    Skydrive gives you 25GB of storage, plus an additional 5GB of storage for Live Mesh.

      I was reading that and was like "I swear it was 25GB"

    Agree entirely that Sugarsync is far better than Dropbox, but Dropbox has market share.

    I used Spideroak for a while, but ditched it in favour of Crashplan, which leaves it for dead in numerous ways. And Spideroak tried to bill me again MONTHS after I'd left them (but fortunately had changed credit cards so they failed).

      +1 for Crashplan - switched to it from Carbonite - half the price and twice the functionality.

    For something just simple would be ge.tt

    I suppose Dropbox always wins out for me because so many applications have support for it.

    I guess, though, that doesn't give the other (potentially better) ones a decent chance?

    you cant really expect to get profession market share with the name like "SugarSync" sounds like porn site

      Ahhhh, yeah. Right.

      Tell that to Microsoft.

    Does anybody know of an online service that you can mount as a network drive on win/mac/linux? Sometimes I like a bit more control over how sync happens.

      Yup, ownCloud.

      You can install that on your own web host and map a drive via WebDAV to your Windows / Mac / Linux box.

      That would be CloudMe.

      https://www.cloudme.com/en/webdav

    box.net was offering 50GB free for iOS users. All I did to get that was download the app and create an account from there.

    I don't know if the offer is still on the table or not though.

    Definitely worth a look for anyone who needs a monster amount of storage!

      Thanks for that. The offer is on until the 2nd of December and the 50GB is lifetime offer. Nice.

        On thing to note on the 50gb box.net offering is that it has a max file size of 100mb.

    I used sugarsync for a bit, but on trying to sync some large files it kept failing and restarting...it just wouldn't sync the multi-gb files.

    Memopal is also good...you get 3.5 gigs free if invited. I've got the paid version and its only 49 euros per year for 200 gigs. I use it for backing up important docs, photos and music. I also use Dropbox for sharing notes and assignments with uni friends.

    Does anyone know a site that offers multiple gig per file upload? When I reformat my pc I hate having to search for my drivers and programs again. Would be great to have it all online. Tried box.net 50gb but as mentioned, there is a file size limit unless you subscribe. Does skydrive let you sync large files?

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