Cloud. Cloud. Cloud. Everything is about the “cloud” these days. Though for as long as there has been the Internet, there’s always been a cloud – it’s just a matter of how it was being used. And when it comes to the Internet, it’s a lot about what one can get for free and what is worth paying for.
First off, I’m a heavy user of Google services. Gmail is my starting point for email management and I’ve been pretty happy with the feature set and the service. Plus I love not having to rely on a specific client or specific machine to send mail and can access it from any computer and my phone. I’m not a big fan of Google Docs, but Google Voice is pretty cool too – and all of Google’s services are free, assuming you don’t mind targeted advertising. Plus the BlackBerry application works pretty well.
And let’s face it, there would be no WWW with web hosting services. There are several fine companies that offer free hosting for small sites if you use them for domain registration and don’t need any of the more involved features, like PHP or dedicated servers. I’ve been happy with DotEasy so far. It does what I need for several small sites I have to keep up and running on the cheap.
For file backup and document access, I use SugarSync. This service is free for the first 2 GB of data, but I’m willing to pay for the 30 GB level. Files are accessible via the web portal and there is an option to email documents to yourself that will then be synced to your registered computers automatically. If you want to check it out, use me as a reference and we’ll all get extra space!
Another cool online tool is Remember The Milk, a task management portal. The web service is free, but the tools to sync to mobile devices requires an annual fee. It’s a bit pricey when compared to what I spend on other services, but there is a two week trial period before needing to commit. The “pro” service also gets you priority email support.
Another cloud related application that I use daily is UberTwitter. This BlackBerry application is my connection to my favorite social media portal and is worth every penny of it’s nominal fee. Sure, Facebook has a free application for the Blackberry, but I find I’m happier the less time I spend there.
Finally, I’d miss the ability to download content onto my Kindle wirelessly over the Internet. Amazon’s service allows me to catch up on the newspaper daily and purchase books without the hassle of having to make extra space in my bag.
It’s easy to get lulled into the idea that everything on the Internet should be free, but I’m willing to put my cash behind web services, features and related applications when they meet my needs. What about you?