It’s beginning to seem like we won’t have hard drives in a few years.

The cloud has arrived — it offers low price, secure storage that can quickly be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection. And with companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Google, DropBox, Flickr (Yahoo) and Amazon, just to name a few, competing for users’ attention for their cloud-based products, it’s hard not to find free offers for cloud storage space around the web.

If you find yourself with a surplus of cloud storage, here are some quick ideas to make use of the extra space. (Tip: Make sure to understand the terms and conditions of a “free” service and don’t spread yourself across so many services that you lose track of where you’ve backed up what.)

Back up your files. 


Backing up your data has never been easier than in the age of cloud storage. Good backup practices require that at least three copies of data are made, to protect against both hardware problems (a hard drive failure) and natural disasters or theft. It used to be that people would burn discs of data and take them to another location to keep them safe; now the entire process can be simplified by simply syncing your data to a cloud service.

Free up space on your hard drive. 


Even if you’re not concerned about backing up data, moving files that you don’t use very often to the cloud can help free up space on your hard drive, making your computer run faster.

Share files with coworkers and clients.


Emailing files back and forth is often not the best way to collaborate, especially on larger projects. Most cloud services have a sharing option on files and folders; keep things centralized by sharing a single folder with your client or coworkers, and refer back to that folder throughout the project for a list of relevant files.

Sync your own files between different devices.


Perhaps the most convenient use of cloud storage is to sync your own working documents between different computers and devices. Say you have a desktop you use in the office, and a tablet you use to review documents on the go – put all your working files in a cloud storage folder that’s automatically synced, and you never have to worry about not having access to your files again.

Services that have a web interface make this particularly beneficial, as you can log on to any computer and use the browser to navigate to your cloud storage, downloading or viewing any file that you need.

Play music without keeping it on your phone


Some cloud services, like Google Play, allow you to stream music from your cloud storage – meaning you can go with a lower capacity iPhone or Android and still have access to your large collection of music.

(Photos: Rex Hammock via Flickr)

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