Those that are members of UKAPU will know that one of newsletters monthly articles is a 5 Items You Cant Airsoft Without. I thought I’d add a similar feature to my site.
I toyed with what software but decided to make the first one an article on online services I cant live without. So without further ado, I give you my list of services in no particular order. You might be able to argue that some of these are software services as well, which may well be the case but I’ll class them as online services here!
So everyone should have heard of the excellent Dropbox service by now (if not, have you been hiding under a rock?!).
Dropbox is an excellent, simple syncing tool and it just works. No hassle, no problems. In all the time I’ve been using it (probably nigh on over a year), I’ve not had an issue. Conflict with syncing files? It creates a conflicted copy and tells you and lets you choose the conflict. No internet connection? No problem, Dropbox will reconnect when it can and upload the work.
I’ve briefly paid for a 50GB account but currently I’ve dropped down to the free account. The price is worth it but at the minute, my referrals and extra space mean I have an account that is currently 8GB and I don’t need to sync my music so much that I’m willing to pay (though if they brought in a smaller service or started charging for the space I’m currently using, I’d happily pay as the software is invaluable)
Spideroak is another online hosting/syncing/backup service (well, mainly backup when compared to Dropbox). Initially I tried to run one service or the other but came to the conclusion that I couldn’t. Why? Various reasons.
- Dropbox is primarily syncing – it does it well. However, to keep changes to files for more than 30 days, you need to pay extra. Spideroak does that in it’s price.
- Spideroak’s syncing is a bit hit and miss. It’s difficult to see what has finished syncing and stay on top of what’s been uploaded etc.
- Spideroak gives a lot more space for the money, double what Dropbox offers.
So after trialling Dropbox and Spideroak together, I came to the conclusion that I’d use Spideroak for the excellent and cheap offsite backup – I backup all my documents and my music, as well as some odds and ends, such as my eBooks that I purchase from the Black Library and my GPS tracks recorded when cycling and running.
The lack of being built into mobile applications isn’t really a concern thanks to Dropbox but it’s nice to know that this is constantly updating my offsite backup of my files. Teamed with Dropbox, I’ve got a tool that will sync all my important documents to all my devices and then back them up to the cloud safely.
Evernote is a note taking program. Any notes added to it are synced to the Evernote servers and then to all your devices, be it PC, Mac or phone so you can have access to the notes anywhere, anytime. You can also add images, files and other items to it (if you have a premium account) and can store items for offline use on your phone.
Very quickly I paid for a premium subscription to this. $5 a month is a small price for the indexing, searching mind space that is Evernote. Dropping a thought into Evernote means I can pick it up at a later date and time. It’s a massive help to my PhD and all my notes are stored within it on the papers I’ve read, my thesis plans and ideas and my research notes. Extremely helpful.
iCloud is a new addition to the list and replaces the Google services. As a Mac user, with iPhone, it made sense to move to Apple’s offering, rather than Googles, especially as the new Google themes and updates have basically killed the service for me (the new theme is utter terrible and trying to use Google Reader without the use of desktop software like Reeder is a painful process). As such, it seemed to easy to move over to iCloud.
Since doing so, I’ve had no issues (other than my documented attempt to try and use Sparrow with iCloud here which is still occurring). Being able to sync all my calendars, contacts, reminders, bookmarks and emails to all my devices is a great help and fits nicely into my workflow.
I’ve yet to pay for the service as the current 5GB seems plenty for my current use (I don’t use photostream or the Pages/Numbers/Keynote storage).
Last.fm may seem like an odd one but over the past year, it’s been a fantastic source of insightful information on the music I listen to (I guess I like VNV Nation a lot!! ) and for finding new music based on what music I already like.
This ability to find more of what I’m interested in is great and the ability to listen to a radio station based on similar artists to what I’ve already scrobbled is great for times I don’t have access to my music but do have access to my Last.fm account.
That rounds up the 5 best online services I cant live without. However, there are a few that probably deserve a mention here that didn’t make the top 5 for some reason.
This service is a great phot sharing service. I spent ages considering how I could spend money on some hosting to get a Imgur style site for personal use and decided I’d just pay the Imgur hosting price for the benefits it gives me as it’s so easy to use that I couldn’t replicate it elsewhere. It’s how I host images for this blog!
The host for this blog, Tumblr has been an excellent online service, allowing me to write this drivel and share images of cats. The ease of customisation and the ability to add your own domain name for free is a nice touch. Thanks Tumblr and keep up the awesome work!
Ok, so a competitor to Tumblr that I left for this site. However, it’s main use to me now is that WordPress acts as my OpenID identifying service. Which I use on a fair few sites (normally, all that allow OpenID!) so I have to give a shout out for that.
So there we go, my top 5 online services. Hopefully that’s given people an idea of what’s out there and of the different services.