Tech Review: Apps for cloud storage options

Apps that help users stay connected. Apps that help users stay connected. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

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The cloud is attracting a crowd. Companies big and small are competing fiercely to offer online storage on their servers, where users upload photos, music and documents that can be accessed on numerous computers and mobile devices. The services are similar, but differ in free storage offered or in ease of editing documents on mobile devices. These apps all work in conjunction with programs you install on your main computer.

Dropbox

(iOS, Android; free)

Dropbox offers less free storage than the other services reviewed here (2 gigabytes, or room for about 500 mp3 music files), but it is No. 1 in cloud storage because it excels in speed, ease of use and has numerous helpful features, such as allowing you to restore past versions of files. Editing Microsoft Office files is seamless on mobile devices because many Android and iOS apps have built-in Dropbox functionality. Premium tiers start at a $10 a month for 100GB.

Box

(iOS, Android; free)

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Box, which recently filed for an IPO, is shifting focus from consumers to businesses. Opening and editing MS Office files via the app is trickier than Dropbox, but can be done. Box offers 10GB of free storage, but to restore previous versions of files you must pay for a premium tier ($5 a month, which includes 100GB of storage).

Google Drive

(iOS, Android; free)

Most generous with free storage (15GB), Google also offers lowest premium prices (100GB for $2 a month). But Google makes it difficult to edit MS Office files on Android or iOS devices, probably because it would love you to convert your Office files to Google Docs format before uploading them. If you don't need to edit document or spreadsheet files on mobile devices, Drive's plentiful free storage is a big attraction.

OneDrive

(iOS, Android; free)

Microsoft's cloud service offers 7GB for free, and, like Google, it seems to have an ulterior motive: Sign up for Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium for $99 a year and get 27GB of OneDrive storage for free. Not surprisingly, OneDrive interacts well with Microsoft's Word and Excel. Premium tiers start at $25 a year, which yields 57GB of storage.

 

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Tech bytes

 

Warnings not heeded

Microsoft ends security updates for Windows XP on Tuesday, but many users have ignored warnings to stop using the venerable operating system, especially to surf the Internet. Research firm StatCounter said computers running XP were No. 2 in terms of Internet usage in March, behind only Windows 7. Security experts predict a surge of Internet-related attacks to strike XP machines after Tuesday. -- PETER KING


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Social studies

The conventional wisdom that gamers are antisocial loners has been zapped. A study led by researchers from North Carolina State University found that those who played online games were "highly social people." Researchers studying competitors at gaming events noted that gaming actually supplemented social interaction and that the gamers who are loners is not the norm. -- PETER KING


Bigger iPhone hinted

Apple suppliers may begin mass producing a 4.7-inch screen for the iPhone 6 next month, supply chain sources said. This would be 20 percent bigger than the 4-inch screens on Apple's existing iPhones. Apple may also be considering a 5.5-inch screen. Larger iPhones would mark another incremental tweak as Apple tries to fend off rivals like Samsung. The iPhone 6 is expected to be launched this autumn. -- Reuters

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