So much of your life is now stored in the cloud. Dropbox and Drive have those important documents, Instagram and Google Photos manage your pictures, and other cloud-connected services are full of your data.
These different services make it a problem for the regular user. It’s impossible to quickly find that particular file or photo when you need to, or to make sure whenever a file is updated in work’s Dropbox that it also gets updated in your personal Google Drive.
There are five basic activities you’re looking to do, and we’re here to help with the apps you need for that. They’re all free and get the job done.
To Transfer: MultCloud (Web)
For a long time, Mover.io has been our favorite service to transfer files or whole folders from one cloud storage account to another. But after recently being introduced to MultCloud, that recommendation needs to change.
MultCloud looks and behaves like a simple file manager. Fire it up, safely connect your cloud accounts, and choose what you want to transfer and where you’d like to transfer it to. If it’s between different accounts, use the “Transfer” tab, but if you’re doing operations within one cloud service, use the “File Manager” tab.
The free account works with unlimited services and lets you transfer up to 2TB of data, which is more than the space you’ll probably have on these cloud services anyway.
To Sync: CloudHQ (Web)
CloudHQ has been around for a long time, but it never made it to our list of recommended services for syncing several cloud drives because its free account had limited features. Checking on it recently, that seems to have changed and you can easily sync multiple accounts now.
The difference from MultCloud, of course, is that this is automated. You choose whether you want to keep a file, a folder, or an entire drive synced and choose a destination drive or sub-folder. Hook the two up like an IFTTT recipe to sync drives and it will first carry out the operation, and periodically do it for you automatically.
The ease of use CloudHQ offers is astonishing, as almost anyone could figure out how to set up a sync event and keep it going. You’re free to log back in at any time to edit or delete these events.
To Search: AnyCloud (Web, iOS, Android)
I still think Xendo is the best cross-cloud search tool, but that’s only if you are willing to pay for the premium service. Its free account is limited to searching only the last 30 days’ worth of files across your storage, which makes it meaningless at times.
Instead, if you want a free cross-cloud search tool that doesn’t have a limit on how far back it goes, try out AnyCloud. The app works with a wide variety of third-party services, which includes your cloud accounts but also adds FTP servers, photo-sharing services like Flickr and Picasa/Google Photos, and social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
AnyCloud’s simplified interface should make it easy for anyone to find the file they’re looking for, and it has basic previews for image files and PDF documents too. Previews for word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations didn’t work when we tested it.
Download: AnyCloud for Android (Free) or for iOS (Free) [No longer available]
To Manage, Search, and Play: ZeroPC (Web, iOS, Android)
Plenty of web apps like Jolicloud let you manage all your cloud storage from one place, but no one does as good a job as ZeroPC. Not only is it easy and intuitive, but it also has Android and iOS apps to let you do this no matter which device you’re on.
On the web, ZeroPC is technically an operating system as well. So in your browser window, you can manage all your files, transfer them from one to another, open them in photo editors and word processors, and so on. It’s tremendously useful.
On mobile, ZeroPC acts more like a way to locate your files, but it won’t open all of them. More often than not, it’ll ask you to open the file in a third-party app of your choice.
Still, given how well it works and the fact that it’s completely free, you can’t fault ZeroPC at all.
Download: ZeroPC for Android (Free) [No longer available] | iOS (Free) [No longer available]
To Receive: File Request (Web, Chrome)
Your cloud storage is your personal space, but you can sometimes want others to contribute to it. Whether it’s a folder to collect wedding photos from different attendees to a folder to receive documents about a project from different departments, you want it all under one place.
Among Dropbox’s little-known but awesome features is File Request, which lets you create a publicly shareable folder within your Dropbox, where people can add their files. The contributors are all anonymous and their identity is protected by Dropbox, not to mention the fact that they can’t alter the documents since it’s under your protection.
Google Drive doesn’t have such a feature yet, but there’s a nifty Chrome extension to do this. It’s a third-party extension, which means Google isn’t guaranteeing the data’s privacy and security here, so proceed with caution for sensitive projects.
Download: File Request for Google Drive for Chrome (Free)
How Do You Divide Cloud Storage?
At this point, most users have figured out that the best use of all this free cloud storage is to demarcate different purposes for different accounts. Personally, I store my music on OneDrive, comics and e-books on Dropbox, photos on Google Photos, and work-related files on Google Drive.
What about you? How have you divided your cloud storage to maximize the free space? Any tips or tricks others can learn from?