Cloud storage isn't just for files and photos. With the right tools and services, you can do much more: organize data, or automate uploads and downloads. Synchronize, of course. Score extra space without paying an extra cent. Run a basic Web site from a cloud service, manage media, or even fax.
Best of all, most of the following cloud secrets have a similar price tag: zero. Read on to learn how to leverage online storage services in ways you never dreamed possible.
ORGANIZE AND AUTOMATE
1. IFTTT is your cloud-data gofer
The amazing trigger service If This Then That was practically designed with cloud storage in mind. Like your own virtual gofer, you can set it to fetch and carry cloud-based data from one service to another. For example, it has a prewritten “recipe” that will automatically upload to SkyDrive any Facebook photos you’ve been tagged in. It has another that archives Gmail messages to your Box account. You can even save all your Instagram photos to Dropbox. Of course, those are just the recipes others have created. IFTTT also lets you cook up your own for just about any action/reaction you can imagine.
2. One cloud service to rule them all
It’s not uncommon to have different files spread across different cloud services. The hassle, of course, is finding the file you’re after. Otixo makes this easier by giving you access to Amazon S3, Box, Dropbox, SugarSync, and other services under one roof. You can search across all your accounts, preview and share documents and photos, and even move or copy files from one cloud to another. Otixo costs $4.99 per month, or $47.90 annually.
3. Email attachments to your cloud drive
Typically, when you want to add a file to your cloud account, you must jump through the hoops of uploading it via a browser or a desktop or mobile app. But there’s another way: email. Evernote and SugarSync, for example, assign you a custom email address where you can forward any attachment. Send to Dropbox is a free service that forwards emailed attachments to your eponymous Dropbox folder. And Drv.io (currently in beta) offers a similar capability for Google Drive users.
4. Migrate your files from one cloud service to another
So you’ve run out of free storage space on Dropbox and want to move to SkyDrive’s roomier digs. Just one problem: How do you get all your files from Cloud A to Cloud B? Try Mover, a free app that helps you transfer data from one storage service to another. It supports Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync, company FTP servers, and just about every other online storage source. There’s a bit of a learning curve, though, so you might need your local IT guru to get started.
5. Make the cloud your default download destination
By default, most Web browsers deposit files in your Downloads folder, and then you turn around and upload those files to a cloud service. You can take out the middleman (i.e., you) by venturing into your browser’s download settings and changing the destination to any folder that’s already set to sync. Now you’ve got an easy, automated way to back up or share your downloads.
6. Autosave Gmail attachments to the cloud
You already know that some online drives let you forward email attachments, but that’s an extra step. Attachments.me, a free browser plug-in for Chrome and Firefox, offers one-click attachment uploading to Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive. You can also set up rules so that future emails from, say, a particular contact get automatically routed to a specific service.