Cubby: a simple way to share files across multiple devices

When I first heard about Cubby’s unlimited storage, my immediate reaction was “I must have it.” When I found out that “unlimited storage” meant computer-to-computer syncing I was less enthused. I forgave them, however, because I concede that offering unlimited cloud storage through a free service is foolish at best. And it wasn’t long before I found new reasons to love Cubby.

Unlimited computer-to-computer storage

I soon realized Cubby’s true potential as a power user’s best friend. Basically, with Cubby, you can sync an unlimited amount of date (regardless of file type) between two computers as long as both devices are connected to the internet.

File sync can happen in a couple of ways. Firstly, there is the option to create brand new “Cubbies” and label each one as you please before filling them with files. A second option is to merge the Cubbies with folders that already exist on your Mac or PC, so instead of having to curate two Music folders you could simply merge your Music folder with a Cubby labelled Music to share files more seamlessly between your desktop and/or laptop.

I have been using Cubby to keep files organized between my personal MacBook Pro and my less-used (and ancient) HP laptop. The only annoyance so far has been keeping both computers turned on and connected to the internet. And even that seems a small price to pay for easily accessing my files on both devices.

5GB of free cloud storage

There’s more to Cubby than just syncing between computers. Cubby has a feature set similar to other cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox: 5GB of free cloud storage and a home folder – called “My Cubby” in this instance – to hold all those files you’ll inevitably save there.

As for uploading, I found that Cubby synced my files fairly fast and when put head-to-head against Dropbox there was little difference in speed. However, Dropbox places a helpful syncing icon on files that are in the process of uploading and replaces it with a checkmark once the sync is completed. Cubby has no indication of syncing progress when viewed in the Finder or Windows Explorer window and can only be shown through the desktop application.

Since Cubby is still in its beta phase, it’s hard to tell what improvements (if any) they will make in this regard. After all, we’re talking about a brand new piece of software competing with a fairly senior product. That being said, however, it seems like a fairly standard feature to include. Yeah we’re talking to you, Cubby makers.

Cubby is still “invite only” during its beta phase, but you can request an invite if you’re interested in checking it out. There are apps available for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS (and screenshots below).

What do you think? Would you use Cubby over alternatives like Google Drive or Dropbox?

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Share, Organize, and Store Your Digital Files Online with Quanp

The world of online storage is a growing one, with different services and new features coming out all the time. Quanp, pronounced “Quan-Pah”, is one which I’ve found to be quite useful not only for its online storage, but the way in which it organizes and displays your files on your desktop.

Quanp Home
This is the home screen for the Quanp Desktop Software

Quanp, short for Quantum Papers, couples its online storage features with an easy to use and visually appealing desktop software. This software enables you to store files in a folders called “Places”. After creating a Place, you can simply drag and drop files into it and view/sort them with 3D thumbnails. While loading your files into a Place you’re given the opportunity to add tags and descriptions to them.

Picture Info
Clicking on a picture brings up a larger view with information

I found especially convenient that Quanp doesn’t require the physical files to be moved or copied when you load them into a Place. For example, I have a lot of pictures stored on my computer. When I load them from my camera, they are automatically sorted into folders by date. This is semi-useful if I can remember when I took whatever picture I happen to be looking for, but it doesn’t really do me any good if I want to search through only pictures of family, or landscapes.  If I load all of my pictures into the Quanp desktop software, however, I can sort my pictures in a number of different ways while keeping my files and folders neat on my computer.

What I find to be the easiest and  most useful option is tagging. When I’m loading my pictures onto Quanp I can tag pictures/files based on what they contain. After they are tagged, I can use the included search options to search for pictures I’ve tagged as landscape, family, or landscape and family. The results are then brought up as thumbnails in 3D space which makes them easy to quickly browse through.

Inside a Place
Quanp shows files within a Place

If you find yourself searching for a specific tag or groups of tags often, it might be more convenient to make a different Place for those files.  For example, I take all my pictures tagged Landscape and put them in a Place called Landscapes. I can then simply click on the Place when I start Quanp to view all my landscape pictures. Even though a file my be stored in two or more Places in the Quanp software, the actual file remains unmoved from its original location.

All of this so far has been only what happens on your computer. Along with all of the aforementioned awesome features, Quanp is an online storage solution as well (similar to previously covered Dropbox). Quanp will upload any files you load to the desktop software onto the service’s website. You can do this by manually pushing the upload button or you can set up and automatic uploader that will check for newly added files every so often (you can change the how often in the settings).

Refresh Button
You may have to push this button to recently loaded files to appear

Quanp’s Microsoft Office Add-in

Quanp has recently released an Add-in for Microsoft Office which can be downloaded at http://us.quanp.com/about/addin. I’ve never used an add in for before so I was a little wary about how it was going to work.

Run the installation file and follow the install instructions. Once the add in is installed, it will appear on the right hand side of the Home Ribbon.  In this article, I’m using Office 2007 on Windows Vista, so it’s location may be different depending on the Microsoft Office you use.

Clicking the Quanp button will bring up a list of actions such as upload and download. Clicking download will prompt a log in box for Quanp. After entering your information, a box pops up asking you what Place your file is stored in. When you select the appropriate Place from the drop down menu, all the Office documents in the Place are displayed. Double clicking a document will open it up in Microsoft Office. You can also save and upload documents from Office directly to your Quanp account.

Quanp Send for Windows

Quanp Send is a widget for Windows. It allows for quick sending of large file (500MB max) to other Quanp members and to email. To use it, simply drag a file and drop it on Quanp Send and a dialog box will pop up asking you who you want to send it to. You can also assign tags and descriptions to the file before you send it off.

Quanp Send Dialogue
Fill out who you are sending it to and add tags or a description

Conclusion

All in all, I really like Quanp. I’ve always been a big fan of online storage services, and up until using Quanp, the problem has been that I had to move or copy the file I wanted from its original place on my computer to a dedicated shared folder. I enjoy using Quanp’s desktop software for its easy-to-use search options and quick browsing.

The only problem I had with Quanp was at first when I loaded files with the software, I couldn’t get them to show up.  Here’s the fix: there is a refresh button on the left side you may have to push to get recently files to appear on the software.

How to Let Your WordPress Blog Visitors Upload Files To Your Dropbox

Dropbox is one of our favorite pieces of software here at Techerator.  Every day, people are coming up with new ways to use the free online file backup and syncing service.  When used with other software, Dropbox can be utilized for just about anything.

The Dropbox Upload Form plugin for WordPress is a small plugin that adds a file upload form to a WordPress Post or Page and adds the uploaded file to your personal Dropbox.

Start by downloading and installing the Dropbox Upload Form plugin to your WordPress blog.  Activate the plugin once it is installed.  You can then navigate to Settings -> WP-Dropbox to configure the plugin.

Fill in the requested information to connect your Dropbox to the form.  Once the plugin has been configured properly, click Save options.

Now you need to add the proper code to your Page or Post to show the upload form.  Add [wp-dropbox] to a post or page to show the upload form in that part of the post and save when finished.

Below is how the upload form will look in your WordPress site.  Any files submitted through this form will appear in the Dropbox folder you specified in the settings above.  The date of submission is added to the end of the file name.

One thing you should be aware of when using this plugin is that the size of the upload file is limited by the PHP configuration of your web host.  You can check with your host to find out the maximum file upload size limit.

Know of any other ways to integrate Dropbox with WordPress?  Let us know by commenting below!

Review: Dropbox For iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad

If you don’t already have a free Dropbox account, this is something you need to do. Essentially, Dropbox is online storage that syncs to a folder on whatever computer you have it installed on. The program places a Dropbox folder on your computer, and whatever files you put in it are automatically uploaded to the Dropbox website and downloaded/updated in the Dropbox folder of any other computers you have it installed on.

The Dropbox app for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad works along with your existing account. Just download the app (it’s free) and log into your account. You are first shown a getting started PDF which tells you everything you need to know.

Using the Dropbox App

With the Dropbox app, you are able to view and share files that are in your Dropbox, as well as upload new files. The app supports a surprising amount of file types that can be viewed for images, music, Microsoft documents, PDFs, and a few more obscure file types. For a complete list see the image below.

I was very impressed with how the Dropbox app handled viewing files. In particular, the image quality of PDFs was not downgraded, making even small text perfectly legible. Viewing image files is much the same with no loss of quality. I was surprised to find that I could actually stream an .mp3 directly to my iPod without having to download it. It’s also possible to play movies, but they have to be encoded with some pretty specific settings and filetypes to play through the app.

One way the Dropbox app is different from the normal Dropbox is that you have to pick what files you want to sync to you device with the “Favorite” option. This is done because of the relatively limited space available on and iPhone or iPod, since automatically syncing and downloading your entire Dropbox could fill your device with unwanted files and strain your data plan if you have an iPhone.

To favorite a file and download it for offline viewing, simply select the file from your Dropbox App. When you’re viewing your file, click the star icon at the bottom of the screen to add the file to your favorites.

Back at the Dropbox home screen, click the Favorites button on the bottom left which will bring up the files you selected. If there is a yellow (!) icon next to the file, it means the file has been updated and needs to be re-synced to get the current version. To the right of the file will be a green circle with a down pointing arrow. Clicking this will download/update the file on your device.

Here the file is favorited but not yet downloaded to the iPod.
The file is now updated and downloaded to the iPod

Easily transfer files from your device to Dropbox

As I was writing this article, I was trying to figure out the best way to get the screen captures from my iPod to my computer and, lo and behold, the answer was my Dropbox app. By clicking the + symbol at the top right of the main Dropbox screen, you can upload any files currently in your photo/video album into your Dropbox account. From there they will be placed into your online storage and any computers you’ve installed Dropbox on.

You can also share the link to any of your files by clicking the bottom left button while viewing a file.

Conclusion

All in all, this is a fairly useful app if you already use Dropbox (which, as I said before, you should).  If your iPhone/iPod Touch has limited memory capacity and you find yourself low on space, you can use this app to easily unload any pictures you might have taking up space while still being able to view them just as easily.

Make sure to check out the rest of our great articles about Dropbox!

New Dropbox Feature Lets You Pick Which Folders Sync

I sometimes get asked, “What size USB flash drive do you have?”, especially when people are looking for a way to keep their documents with them between home/work/school.  Well, if you haven’t heard of Dropbox, you’re in for a wonderful revelation – you don’t need flash drives anymore!

Instead of keeping your files on USB flash drives or CDs, you can install Dropbox (it’s completely free for 2 GB of storage), put your files in a special folder, and poof – they’re automatically synchronized with any computers that have Dropbox installed.

What if you’re on someone else’s computer and you don’t want to install the software?  No problem, you can access all of your files through a useful web interface.  Dropbox also has great applications for iPhone and Android so you can access your files with your phone.

My only complaint about Dropbox was that you couldn’t choose which folders you wanted to sync (or, more importantly, didn’t want to sync) to your specific computers.  If I’m traveling and using my netbook on a tethered connection to my phone, I don’t want a gigabyte of graduation pictures to start downloading in the background.

I can complain no more, however, since Dropbox just released a feature that allows you to pick exactly which folders synchronize to your computer.

How to Use Selective Sync in Dropbox

Step 0: If you don’t already have one, you need to create a Dropbox account.  Dropbox is free for 2 gigabytes of space, and it can be upgraded up to 8 gigabytes by referring your friends.  If you need more space than that, you can purchase 50 and 100 gigabytes of space.

Step 1: This feature hasn’t been rolled out to the main client yet, so you need to install the newest version of Dropbox (currently 0.8.64).  The client is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Step 2: Right click the Dropbox icon in your system tray and select Preferences.

Step 3: Click the Advanced tab and click the Selective Sync… button.

Step 4: Choose which folders you want to synchronize to the computer you’re using.  In my case, I no longer wanted my netbook to synchronize my Music and Photos folders, so I unchecked those.

You can gain even more control over which subfolders synchronize by clicking the Switch to Advanced View button.

Conclusion

If you asked me what my favorite application is (or even the application I use the most), it would be Dropbox.  During my last year of college I kept all of my homework and projects stored in my Dropbox, making it available to my netbook, lab computer, and work computer.  When you store your files on Dropbox, you don’t need to worry about having the most recent version of your document anymore – it’s always up-to-date.

Selective folder synchronization was the last thing I really needed in Dropbox, mainly because I couldn’t always get a fast connection while traveling with my netbook.  Now that this is available, I might be able to call Dropbox… perfect?

Dropbox: Take Your Files Everywhere

dropbox-large-iconMethods of transferring and sharing files have come a long way from the days of 3.5″ floppy disks.  Once limited to 1.44 MB at a time, we are now able to use flash drives to easily transfer around 32 GB (approximately 22000 times as much data) at greater transfer speeds than before.  Although physical media allows for large data transfers, the internet itself offers great file sharing services such as Dropbox.

Dropbox offers the next generation of file transfer and sharing with a multi-platform software that is available in both free and paid versions.  The different pricing options are show below.

dropbox-pricing

Dropbox is available for many different platforms including:

  • Windows
  • OS X
  • Linux
  • iPhone
  • Web interface

Multiple platforms can be added to a single Dropbox account.

How it Works

dropbox-privateWhen files are added to any of the Dropbox folders, they are automatically transferred any other device that is joined to the Dropbox account.  Users are then able to open their Dropbox folder on another computer and see the same files.  Dropbox also keeps previous versions of files.  To restore a previous version of a file, simply right-click a file and select Previous Versions from the Dropbox menu.

Public Folder

dropbox-publicAutomatically included with your Dropbox is a Public folder.  Anything place within the public folder has the ability to be shared with anyone across the internet.  To share a file in the Public folder, right-click the file and select Copy Public Link from the Dropbox menu.  Paste the link into an email, instant message, or website and your file will be publicly available.

Shared Folders

dropbox-sharedOne of the most useful features of Dropbox is the ability to have Shared folders with other Dropbox users.  Shared folders works just like the rest of Dropbox.  Any files placed within the shared folder are updated on all of your Dropbox connected devices along with all of the Shared folder users’ connected devices.

Dropbox Tips

So now that you know about the file sharing capabilities of Dropbox, you may be interested in some of the other creative ways people are using their Dropbox:

  • Host an HTML website
  • Sync your passwords with KeyPass
  • Sync your Firefox profile
  • Sync your Pidgin Profile

Above are just a few of the ways that you can use Dropbox.  Checkout the Dropbox Wiki for a list of tips and tricks.

How has Dropbox helped you?  Do you use Dropbox in any creative ways?  Let us know by commenting below.

How To: Use Your iPhone/iPod Touch as a Wireless Flash Drive

airsharingOne of the most useful applications I’ve used for the iPhone/iPod Touch is Airsharing ($4.99, app store), which allows you to use your device as a wireless flash drive.  Not only can it store (and view!) files wirelessly, it also works on Windows, Mac, Linux and even through a web browser.  If that wasn’t enough – Airsharing also includes helpful instructions on how to setup and connect to your device for your specific operating system.

Airsharing Initial ScreenThe initial screen in Airsharing displays a list of files and folders on the device, as well as the IP address of your device which can be used to view and upload files through your web browser.  Airsharing is capable of viewing many different types of files, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDFs, and images which is extremely useful for viewing files on the go.

To protect your data, Airsharing comes equipped with security options such as password protection as well as sleeping after a period of inactivity.  Airsharing also offers the option of keeping your device password-free, which is convenient if you’re using it exclusively on a secure private network.

Connecting to your device via a web browser is as easy as entering the provided IP address into your location bar, but for a more permanent connection method you can use the included instructions (accessible via the ? button) to mount the device as a network drive.  I found this very to be very practical when transferring multiple files because the browser-based uairsharing31ploader only allows one file transfer at a time.

Do you have any suggestions for expanding the storage uses of your iPhone/iPod Touch?  Share them in the comments!