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Find Ample Storage Online

Anyone who owns a digital camera or an MP3 music collection knows it doesn't take very long at all to fill up a hard drive. If you have a broadband Internet connection, you could save some of the cost of a new hard drive by using one of the many services offering free or dirt-cheap online storage.

My favorite for music and video playback is Streamload, while Online File Folder is the choice for integrating online storage with day-to-day work.

Online File Folder

Godaddy's online storage service is decidedly businesslike. Online File Folder's clean, Explorer-style Web interface makes file management a breeze. But you don't even have to fire up your browser if you map the service as a network place in Windows, which then permits you to transfer files and folders by dragging and dropping them from within Explorer.

This is the only one of the storage-focused services I looked at that lets you zip and encrypt your files and folders via the Web interface. Oddly enough, there's no search feature, although you can use Windows' search function to find files on the mapped network place.

A small downloadable program allows you to sync an online folder with a folder on your desktop, so updating one automatically updates the other.

You have no free option, and you must pay by the year rather than monthly. Still, $10 a year per gigabyte (up to 10GB) isn't bad, considering all the extras you get.

Streamload Mediamax

Stream audio and video files for free, but Streamload limits downloads and sharing.
Stream audio and video files for free, but Streamload limits downloads and sharing.
How does up to 25GB of free storage space sound? The gratis storage alone makes Mediamax worth a look.

As befitting the name, Mediamax emphasizes storing your music, video, and photos. When you upload files, the service automatically sorts them under such tabs as "Photoshare" and "Music Locker." With Streamload's easy streaming options, the service acts as a ready-access library for all your media files. You just select a few songs or whole folders, choose Play, and listen via your favorite media player.

Unfortunately, you can quickly use up the free service's monthly 500MB download maximum. The limit leaps to 25GB (and a whopping 250GB of storage) for the cheapest paid plan ($15 a month).

Streamload Mediamax is a new service, and it has rough edges aplenty. The file-upload features are clunky, particularly if you upload many files at once, since you can't choose the destination folder. And while a new Web interface affords good options for organizing your music, it sometimes balks with strange errors. A stand-alone software program is expected to arrive soon.

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