Cloud sharing services are all the rage these days, and there's certainly no shortage of them. But, the best ones are super easy to use and get the job done. We've done the work for you and rounded up the 5 best ways to share files for free. Every service offers something a little different, and we're sure there's one that will work best for your needs.
Do you like adventure? Do you like drinking? Do you like playing with snot? Well, kiddos, this week then is all about you as we've got apps that are all about all three (not at once). But wait, there's more! We've got jazz, cloud storage, words and weirdness all waiting for you under the fold. So get clicking!
Looking after a big iTunes library can be a problem. We started ripping our CDs in the early days of the iPod when disk space was still at a premium, and as a result a good chunk of our library consists of poor quality, low bitrate MP3s. It’s enormous, too, and fear of losing the lot means we’re constantly spending cash on ever larger hard disks. And then there’s syncing.
Judging from the company’s recent moves, Apple’s cloud plans may be even bigger than originally thought. What’s better than one new data center in North Carolina? How about a second one in Prineville, Oregon, just a stone’s throw from a similar Facebook facility?
Of all iCloud’s features, Photo Stream is the closest to being truly magical. No, really. It’s a photo album in the cloud that contains up to 1,000 of your latest photos, storing new ones for 30 days, and it doesn’t count against your standard iCloud storage capacity. Best of all, you only have to keep doing what you’re doing now to use it.
Apple’s first cloud service, iTools, was introduced in 2000 and was available for free. Then came MobileMe, which added powerful features like data syncing and online storage, so Apple bumped the price to $99 a year. But now Apple has reverted a bit, delivering MobileMe’s most useful services at no charge and rebranding it all as iCloud. And that’s not all—this new service links all of your devices with Apple’s North Carolina data centers to keep both your vital files and your iTunes Store purchases at your fingertips whenever you want them.
There haven’t been any truly significant advances with iTunes music since Apple unshackled songs from the FairPlay digital rights management ball and chain in early 2009. That all changed with the recent introduction of iTunes Match, a new scan-and-match subscription service offering access to your entire music library from any Mac, PC, or iOS device which can also upgrade matched tracks to higher quality versions, regardless of where you acquired them.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had access to your entire music library at all times? And what if you could share that library amongst all your Macs and iOS devices? iTunes Match is an optional paid iCloud component that offers exactly that, and while it’s charms are obvious, there are some limitations and usability issues that make Match’s forecast a little cloudy.
Backups to the cloud encrypt and transmit your Mac’s data to online servers that could be anywhere in the world. These backups depend on a fast, reliable internet connection, and may lack the speed of local backups and restores, but they offer important advantages over backing up locally. For starters, most cloud backups offer some storage for free, with additional plans to choose from as your needs grow. Your files are kept far from where thieves could realistically reach them, and they’re protected (again, within reason) from disasters and random acts of clumsiness better than most external drives. We have yet to hear of a server brought down by a spilled iced latte at Starbucks.
OnLive's cloud-streaming gaming service allows folks to experience the latest AAA releases via a high-speed Internet connection, even if you don't have top-of-the-line hardware or a very recent Mac or PC. Following a long lead-up, OnLive is finally knocking on the door to the App Store with its submitted app, which lets iPad owners get in on the fun with either custom touch controls (for select games) or a Bluetooth wireless controller. As the app continues to await Apple's final approval, I've had a chance to try out several of the titles available on the service, and spend more time checking out the touch controls following an initial hands-on at the Penny Arcade Expo in August.