Top 10 Creative Uses For Dropbox Or Other Cloud Storage

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cloud computing   Top 10 Creative Uses For Dropbox Or Other Cloud StorageThe cloud is no longer a technology fad. It is very much mainstream. It is so mainstream now that even enterprise scale applications have flown in droves to the cloud. The agility, flexibility, and low-cost scale ups turn cloud storage options into more than an online vault to back up your documents and files. But cloud storage is more than these important but mundane uses. As users across the world prove, cloud storage gives us so many creative uses to try out.

What’s also attractive is cloud services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, Sugar Sync etc. come with free options. The no-cent big-gain appeal should encourage you to explore your own ways of creatively using Dropbox or other cloud storage services.

Here are some creative uses for cloud storage (Dropbox) we have explored before…

Justin took us through quite a few creative uses for Dropbox like syncing any folder or your entire eBook library; or even monitoring your computer or hosting a website. If you are really interested in the latter, here’s an in-depth guide on how to host a simple website on Dropbox. That should save you a bundle on web hosting charges. Why only a website, you can create a portfolio on Dropbox and listen to music while you are at it. That’s definitely not the end – Justin was at it again as he took his gaming to the cloud along with his BitTorrent downloads.

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Our cloud adventures don’t end there. This article will dish out a few more creative uses you can put your Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive (or any other) account to. Here’s hoping some strike your fancy.

IFTTT & Its Godsend Recipes for Creatively Using Cloud Storage

Talk about sheer laziness. The productivity boosting channel connecting service called IFTTT does all the heavy-lifting for you. If you haven’t heard of IFTTT so far, you have been living in Siberian cave for sure because the service is letting us automate the web like never before. But then, you can follow this briefer article on how to create your own IFTTT recipes.

One of my favorite IFTTT recipes is backing up my favorite articles to any of the cloud storage services. IFTTT recipes cover the three more popular ones – Dropbox, Google Drive, and Skydrive. You can create your own ones of course. To use ready-made recipes, log into IFTTT and click on Browse. Use the search box to search for any recipe tailor made for a specific cloud storage service. Just to illustrate…

Save your favorites from Pocket to Dropbox as PDF files

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The IFTTT recipe takes the URL of an article saved with the Pocket bookmarking service – converts it into PDF and ‘downloads’ it to your Dropbox folder.

Save your favorites from Google Reader to SkyDrive

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Just to illustrate that a similar action can be performed with any other application with an open API, we have this IFTTT recipe that saves starred Google Reader feeds as a PDF into SkyDrive.

You can also use similar recipes if you have a different bookmarking service…like Readability. Tell us about your favorite IFTTT recipe that marries another web app with a cloud storage.

Distraction Free Writing and Automatic Syncing

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Write Box is an absolutely minimalistic writing app that works from your browser. More specifically, it is defined as a simple text editor for your Dropbox data that helps you to concentrate on what you want to write and share your text via the cloud. Write Box can be synced with both Dropbox and Google Drive. You can use it to draft speeches, write notes, and why not even more wordy documents and keep them synced with the cloud.

Dropbox specific text editors are perfect fit for iPad and tablets when you want to create and share something on the go. Some like Plain Text (free) and Elements ($4.99) are worth a look.

Securely Receive Files from Anyone

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Yaara covered 5 different ways to send files to your Dropbox even if the sender does not use Dropbox. JotForms and Drop It To Me seem to be the more elegant solutions. AirDropper is no longer free and now comes with a 7-Day trial.

Use Dropbox to Auto Recover From MS Word Crashes

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Thanks to Redditor v12SPD for this ‘life-saving’ tip. A simple workaround enables you to auto-save your Word documents to the Dropbox folder and have them synced online. In case of a doomsday event, you can always use the version saved in the cloud to manually recover the Word document or allow MS Word to do it automatically from the Dropbox folder on your hard drive. The simple tweak involves changing the auto-recover file location from the default to “Dropbox” in Word Options.

Insurance Claim Redressals

We go back to Reddit and TKC_Panda who has a very useful advice for us in case of a natural calamity:

Take photos and/or video of your possessions within and around your house that are most valuable. Upload them, along with any other important digital files/media into a private photo. This way, in case the worst happens and you lose your home and everything in it (like a computer/HDD), you’ll still have access and it will help with the insurance claim process.

Create Your Menu in the Cloud

I use this quite often when I am travelling and come across a unique dish or a recipe. You can try this out by creating a Recipe folder (or any other name) on Dropbox. Capture the recipe in an image with your smartphone’s camera and sync it to Dropbox when you are online. Your favorite dishes remain available in the cloud and across all devices with Dropbox.

Offline Maps with the Help of Dropbox

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Chrome has a very handy Print to PDF option. If you are navigationally challenged, here is a nice tip – you can find directions on Google Maps and then use the Print to PDF option to send the file to the folder which syncs with Dropbox. You can even sync it with Google Drive from the Print dialog. Even without Chrome, you can turn your maps into PDF files and send them to Dropbox. This enables your mobile devices (or any other with Dropbox installed) to be synced as well. It is a useful backup to have in case you hit a zone without internet and you have to go offline.

Trace a Stolen or Lost Mobile / Laptop

Dropbox’s default behavior is to start up with the computer or the mobile. In the unfortunate event of your laptop or mobile being stolen, you can use the Dropbox web log-in and attempt to recover it. Dropbox records the IP addresses of your devices that have the cloud storage app installed and are logged into it. So, if your computer or mobile is switched on and Dropbox starts up with it, the location can be traced back from the IP address. All you have to do is…

1. Log into Dropbox.com.

2. From the dropdown next to your name on the top-right, click Settings.

3. Click on the Security tab. Under My Devices hover the mouse over the small ‘i’ icon. The most recent activity displays the IP address and it can be presumed that is can be traced back to the source of the theft.

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Of course, this method is bit of a hit and a miss, but it gives you the second best chance to locate your laptop or mobile in case you don’t have any anti-theft application installed.

Do a Survey with Excel and SkyDrive

Excel Surveys was released on SkyDrive last year and by now it should have made it to most computers. Excel Surveys could be a great way to organize a home party or any small event like a coaching your son’s soccer team. Just like any other kind of survey, you can collect information from your friends and family and use it as a decision making tool.

1. Log into SkyDrive. Click the Create button to expand the dropdown and then click on Excel Survey.

2. Excel Survey displays a simple form that you can use to enter the question to be asked in the survey.

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You can preview your survey when it is finished, and then you can share the survey with your family and friends. You can shorten the URL and send it to anyone that you want to collect info from. The recipient receives the simple form to enter in their answers. You can use any of Excel’s powerful features to interpret the answers – for e.g. plot a pie chart.

You can also use a Google Form to do a similar survey and store the responses on Google Drive.

Use Genuine Microsoft Office For Free

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This is not exactly a creative use, but a very intuitive one. Buying a genuine copy of MS Office could set you back by quite a bit. SkyDrive gives you the quickest and cheapest access to create documents on the go with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and even OneNote. The Office Web Apps are good enough for most daily uses. For instance, creating a to-do list on Office 365 using OneNote is a cinch. Then you have your 7 GB of storage for keeping your documents accessible from anywhere.

Different cloud services have different strengths. Dropbox is perhaps the most versatile because of the sheer breadth of apps that use its API. SkyDrive is immensely useful if you work a lot of Microsoft documents. Google Drive is great for storing PDFs because Google can search inside them for you. Whichever cloud storage you pick, you can find a creative use for them. And that’s why I think we will have to keep covering creative uses of cloud storage because it’s impossible to get them all in one go. I am sure you have your own way of using these cloud storage services. Do tell us in the comments. Your tips could be invaluable.

Image Credit: Cloud Symbol via Shutterstock

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31 Comments - Write a Comment

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Jay Stoddard

We use this for our Church announcments, it works great!

Saikat Basu

Thanks Jay; now that’s a really unique one :)

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Rigoberto Garcia

Continuously use Dropbox to share information with my staff. These ideas are great to give more use to the tool. Thank you very much Saikat

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Gary Mundy

Thanks for the great ideas.
Gary

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TarekRam

excellent article thanks

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Darren Shipp

Great article thank you for sharing.

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Cik Amai

Is it safe to store sensitive information?

Rama Moorthy

Yes .. but keep out of Public folder in Dropbox ,and make sure you haven’t shared the file or folder .

dragonmouth

Does FBI and CIA use the cloud store their files? If the answer is NO, then the cloud is not safe for storage of sensitive information, no matter what the pundits and the storage companies tell you.

Saikat Basu

Well, personally I also wouldn’t really store sensitive files online encryption or otherwise. We have so many non-sensitive files also that can well utilize all this free space.

dragonmouth

I’m sorry but I cannot see handing over MY data, sensitive or not, to anybody for any reason. If I want off-site storage for my backups, I will put the backup HD in my safety deposit box.

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John B Lontz

Thanks, I will definitely try some of these!

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Richard Borkovec

I use Dropbox to store my eBooks, that way I always have them on any device, and they don’t take up physical space unless I download them. The only part that sucks is that it can’t sync where I’m at on all devices.

Saikat Basu

Yes, that’s my usual use to. I have a bunch of photography and Photoshop tutorials archived online. It’s my library in the clouds.

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Bart Miller

Joliprint is no longer active as of January.

Saikat Basu

Thanks for the update Bart. That was for illustrative purposes to show a similar action can be performed with any other application with an open API.

thanos23

Does anyone have an alternative recipe that still works for saving as pdfs to drop box or similar please?

Saikat Basu

You can check out the IFTTT site…there are quite a few and for all sorts of combos with apps that have Open APIs.

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James Lewis

long term SkyDrive user and i never knew of Excel Survey, great post!

Saikat Basu

Yes, it is pretty neat isn’t it. I like it better that Google’s version.

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Maxi3w

There was an article here at MUO about keeping a journal that sparked me onto using Google Drive and its Docs to write my memoir entries. It’s practically effortless!

Saikat Basu

That’s a nice idea…safe, secure, and you don’t have to depend on another third party. You can even write from Gmail, convert it to a Doc and share it with anyone you want.

Maxi3w

Cool, thanx.. I love GDocs simplicity. I was even able to get the doc down to its bare minimum making it as distraction-free as possible. Very handy plus I love the 5GB of free storage and if you want more it is really cheap. I just wish it could be the same with Dropbox coz their storage is quite pricey but I’ve read so many good things that you can do with it and it’s just a shame. It would be great to see an article on creative uses for Google Drive too. One day :)

Maxi3w

Oh yes please put that down on your list!! Maybe then we can see similar uses for GD like DropBox – that would be great :)

Thanks very much indeed for the article link. It’s got some really good tips that I’ve put in place. Plus it has more links to the ToS for the various cloud services which sounds interesting, dubious and essential to know.

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Nevzat A

Great use-cases, thank you Saikat!

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Kannon Yamada

Awesome article!

I’ve been looking for more ways to get more use out of my Dropbox. The IFTTT tie-in is a super useful feature.

Unfortunately, the Google Reader/SkyDrive to PDF combo is not going to be available past July. :-(

I’ve been using Dropbox to sideload apps onto my Android phone. I know a lot of folk also use the same method, but it’s worth mentioning.

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Pooky Joralyn

And don’t forget the simple thing: share files! ;)

Saikat Basu

All these things originate from that!

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Onaje Asheber

Jay! Info to use right away! Thank you…

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