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5 essential services for living life in the cloud

DropboxStoring your files on a physical drive is a pain. If you have more than one computer, if you’re on-the-go all the time, or you simply don’t have an enormous hard drive in your computer, then having access to all of your important documents can get a little tricky.

The newest trend in file management is cloud storage — “cloud” referring to that magical land known as the Internet. With your life stored in the cloud, all of your stuff is more accessible to you than ever, meaning you’ll never have to live without your music, your files, or even your books.

Check out these five services that it easy and fun to ditch physical storage and live your life in the cloud.

  1. Dropbox
    For a while now, Dropbox has been the gold standard of cloud storage. You start off with 2 GB of free online storage for absolutely any of your files, and you get a whole suite of features, including the ability to access those files from your browser, your smartphone — even your desktop’s built-in file browser, essentially giving you an extra hard drive for easy dragging and dropping from Finder or Windows Explorer. You can also share files and folders with friends and family. In fact, if they have Dropbox installed on their computer, any files you place in your shared folder will automatically show up on their machine.
  2. Wunderlist
    There are tons of task management options out there, but Wunderlist is a new one that stands out. In addition to its glossy, pitch-perfect design, Wunderlist also has a robust set of features that make it a breeze to use, including syncing across devices. No more reminders or lists jotted down on scraps of paper, or grocery lists that go forgotten if you forget your phone. Wunderlist saves all your tasks, lists, and reminders in the cloud, giving you access to them wherever you are. And if you need some help with your lists, Wunderlist lets you share your lists with friends or colleagues via email, Facebook, and Twitter, for easy collaboration.
  3. Amazon Cloud Drive
    Amazon’s cloud storage system made a big splash when it debuted, and for good reason. Sure, you can store all your files on Amazon’s servers (and you start off with a whopping 5 GB of space), but the real draw here is the integration with Amazon MP3. In addition to being able to upload all of your DRM-free tracks and playlists to the cloud and play them on-demand, any songs you purchase from Amazon MP3 can automatically be uploaded to your cloud drive and don’t take up any of your storage space. As an added bonus, buying any whole album on Amazon MP3 will get you 20 GB of free storage for a year. Not bad!
  4. Amazon Kindle
    I know what you’re thinking — The Kindle’s not really a cloud device. But Amazon’s revolutionary e-reader uses the cloud more than you might realize — and in ways that make reading a better experience than ever. For starters, you no longer have to find a bookstore to get a book (and then worry that they’re sold out). Just access the Kindle Store via wifi (or 3G if you have the 3G-capable version) and buy your favorite books wirelessly in less than 60 seconds. But here’s where it gets really good, using the Kindle’s Whispernet technology and multi-platform Kindle apps, you can sync your reading progress and pick up where you left off anywhere, even if you don’t have your Kindle handy.
  5. Google Docs
    Microsoft Office is pretty much a standard software purchase for most people who need word processing capabilities, but Google Docs is on a mission to change that, giving Google users access to free, easy-to-use, cloud-based applications for creating documents, spreadsheets, and more. You’ve probably spent more time than you’d like to admit emailing yourself Word docs, or loading them onto a flash drive every time you make changes, just so you can have them with you wherever you go. But with Google Docs, all your stuff is stored online, and you can download, print, or edit those docs anywhere regardless of software. And the newest features allow users to collaborate on documents in real time, meaning you and your co-workers can work together on that important presentation anywhere, anytime, without even being in the same room.

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