One would think that by now we would have covered all the different ways to put free cloud storage to use. We here at MakeUseOf.com have done our little bit. I put my own brain cells on overdrive and came up with some uses of cloud storage that are creative a few months back. But we all need a constant source of inspiration, and it usually comes from the stories of others all around us.
When we talk about cloud storage, it usually comes down to a showdown between the big three – Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive. You can throw Box.net into it too as a serious player. Or Ubuntu One. Names may change, but the common denominator is that we use them for backup and collaboration. So, let’s try to find some more interesting ways to fill up all the space they give us for free.
As a Family History Vault… Interviews with Grandparents
I found this touching use of cloud storage while browsing through Dropbox – 100 Million Thanks sub-site. While the majority of us use Dropbox and other cloud storage options for backup and collaborative work, someone was inspired to use it as a place to store family “jewels” – interviews with their great-grandparent encapsulating his life story.
Save All Your Gmail Attachments to Google Drive
Aaron gave us a detailed walkthrough on using Attachments.me to save all your Gmail attachments to Google Drive, SkyDrive, Dropbox, and Box. It is one of the better ways to cover four cloud services with a single application. Attachments.me has a and two paid flavors. With Attachments.me, you can also set up rules or filters to redirect specific files to specific folders. You can set up two rules in the free plan.
You can also use simple Google Scripts to set up automated workflows for saving file and image attachments to Google Drive. Digital Inspiration gives you two useful scripts to send your Gmail attachments to Google Drive and also auto-save your Gmail image attachments to Google Drive. The latter is handy because Google Drive can perform OCR on images and PDF files to extract text. Microsoft SkyDrive also has an OCR feature. For instance, if you have a bunch of PDFs on Google Drive, you can easily search through them from the search bar.
Keep Your Voice Memos on Dropbox
DropVox is an appropriately named iOS app that records voice memos and sends it directly to Dropbox. The app is simple in itself. With a single-click you can capture your spoken ideas and reminders in the form of voice memos and auto-upload to Dropbox as compressed M4A file format. The app costs $1.99 in the iTunes Store.
Embed Video with Google Drive
Google Drive is a handy option to go for if you want to upload your own videos and embed them on a website or blog. This is a useful option if you do not want to use YouTube or any other video hosting site.
1. Log into Google Drive. Click on Upload.
2. Select the video and click on the Share button to change viewing access from Private to Public if you want to host it on a blog or website.
3. Right-click on the uploaded video file and select Open with – Google Drive Viewer.
4. On the Google Drive Viewer page, select File – Embed this video. Copy-paste the embed code on your blog.
Use Google Drive as a File Previewer
Google Drive can be used as an impromptu file viewer. Currently it supports 30 file types. That includes code file formats like — .CSS, .HTML, .PHP, .C, .CPP, .H, .HPP, .JS. You can view .ZIP and .RAR formats as well. If you have a file meant for a vector illustration program and it’s not installed, try opening the file in Google Drive. It can open Adobe Illustrator (.AI) and scalable vector graphics (.SVG) files. The same workaround applies for AutoCAD (.DXF) files as well.
Supported file types which are 25 MB or less can be viewed and printed if required. To view a file, click on the file’s title in Google Drive. See the list of supported file types.
Use Dropbox as a Wallpaper Repository
Mark talked about Desktoppr back in 2012 when it was giving out beta-invites. It still is a great tool for controlling the appearance of your desktop wallpaper with the help of Dropbox. As Dropbox is platform-agnostic, Desktoppr works with nearly every OS. You can sign-in and connect Desktoppr to a “Wallpaper” folder in your Dropbox after due authorization. The folder will be updated with the latest wallpapers. You can also upload your own wallpapers to Desktoppr by adding your own images to a Desktoppr wallpaper folder inside Dropbox. The wallpapers will be synced by the web app for public viewing.
Set your Dropbox wallpaper folder as the default Picture Location. On Windows, go to Control Panel – Appearance – Personalization.
Create Video Quizzes On Google Drive
Yes, you can do that now with Forms on Google Drive. In a latest update, you can embed a YouTube video inside a form and create more interactive quizzes and questionnaires.
Send Out Quick Excel Surveys
Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive are ideal for creating and editing documents. Ryan showed one of the best uses for SkyDrive when he talked about using SkyDrive and the OneNote web app for online research. Excel surveys are another strong feature of SkyDrive. You can easily use them to plan events, take a poll, create class quizzes, gather feedback etc.
1. Log into SkyDrive.com
2. Click on the Create button and choose Excel survey.
3. Enter the name of your survey and add questions.
4. Share the survey (you can also shorten the URL).
5. Answers to the survey questions are collated on an Excel spreadsheet.
6. Embed the spreadsheets on a webpage, or create Excel reports out of them.
Newspaper Clippings and Comic Strips
There are still some things which don’t get published online. Newspaper clippings is one such. There are articles which I don’t find any online copies for. The next best thing – use a camera to scan the copy and convert it into a graphic for online safekeeping. For example, our leading national daily has a weekly financial advice column. The sum total of that knowledge goes into a Dropbox folder marked as “Financial Lessons”. Another good thing is that the same newspaper also publishes the exact newspaper copy as an e-paper. That also makes it convenient to take a screenshot of the said articles.
Comic strips are the staple of childhood. My first love for them probably took root from the ones on Page 2 of our newspaper. Thanks to them, I can indulge my love by keeping the best strips from Dilbert to Garfield as JPEG files on a cloud folder.
Where Do You Keep All Your Favorite Infographics
I tend to fall in love with well-done infographics. There are many that revolve around a favorite personal hobby – photography. These photography infographics are not only instructional, but are also cheat-sheets. Cloud storage gives me a place to have them close at hand and all the free space to stock them at leisure. I can also access them from my mobile when I am out and about with my camera.
Let’s review some more tips we covered previously. Justin showed us how to sync an eBook library with Dropbox among other things. He again went back to show how Dropbox can be used to sync calendars and start BitTorrent downloads remotely. Bakari gave us ten more uses of Dropbox we hadn’t thought of then. Some more find mention on our free Dropbox guide.
It seems like Dropbox gets all the attention, but if cloud storage can be seen as a stocking and forwarding space, then are surely many innovative ways to use all of them. I am sure you have some of them in mind. That’s what the comment space is for. Give us your best tips and some more you think should be possible but don’t know how yet. We will figure them out. Also, tell us about your cloud storage of choice.