Just a few short years ago, cloud storage services that synced files and folders across multiple PCs and mobile devices were just a dream. But thanks to the rapid rise of entities like Dropbox, SugarSync, and Google Drive, cloud storage and syncing services are nearly ubiquitous today, acting as hard drives in the sky that help you do all kinds of things--such as creating a bulletproof (almost) backup system or turbocharging your productivity to blistering new levels--no matter where you are.
If you have the space, that is. Truly wondrous setups require robust cloud storage capabilities, but that doesn't mean you have to drop dollars for extra gigs.
Most services offer free accounts with modest quantities of complimentary cloud storage. In isolation, these pittances don't amount to much, but merged into Voltron-like unity, the free storage from several services can achieve mammoth totals. With some patience, you can build your own supercloud with more than 100GB of free storage. With a lot of patience (and pestering of your pals), you can nab more than 225GB. And all that online storage is free-as-in-free-beer free.
Here's how to do it, along with some tips on how to manage your storage hoard to take advantage of each service's unique properties.
Setting up a personal supercloud can be tedious, depending on how many such services you already use. Your first step should be to grab all of the services that install dedicated areas in the Favorites column of Windows Explorer.
Amazon Cloud Drive: 5GB
Box: 5GB (but read "Beyond referrals" below before installing Box, as you may want to postpone installing this one)
Google Drive: 5GB
MiMedia (m)Drive: 7GB
SkyDrive: 7GB (longtime SkyDrive users may be eligible for 25GB free)
Storage subtotal to this point: 33GB
Now install SugarSync, which assigns itself a virtual drive letter--à la the C: or D: drive--instead of a customized folder. SugarSync offers 5GB free to start.
Next, install the two cloud services that use a desktop app to sync and store files instead of creating a folder in Windows.
Ubuntu One: 5GB
Storage subtotal to this point: 53GB
Finally, open an account at the notorious Mega.co.nz to grab a whopping 50GB of free online cloud storage. Mega doesn't offer multiple device syncing. Instead, it functions more as an in-browser, Box-like storage locker. The service expects to add mobile apps and accompanying device syncing at some future date, but those options aren't available today.
Tip: Both SpiderOak and Mega currently use encryption schemes that make recovering your password impossible. If you forget your password for either service, you'll lose access to your files permanently. We strongly recommend that if you have a hard time remembering passwords, you give the LastPass password manager a whirl.
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