Elance Blog

The Best Cloud Apps You Need To Know About

The “cloud” – you’ve heard the term, and chances are, you’ve probably already hit the sky and touched the clouds before. As a matter of fact, if you’ve using the Workroom on Elance to chat, post messages, upload files, and manage revisions of your work, you've been working in the cloud on a regular basis. You’re more cutting edge than you know!

While Elance offers an online platform that allows more than 100,000 active experts and businesses to store work, collaborate in real time, and get work done, there are tons of different cloud-based software applications on the web that satisfy a multitude of varying needs. Here are a few cloud-based services you should keep your eye on that may help you and your business in when in a pinch.

Office Suites
Dying batteries, broken laptops, and forgotten flash drives can make last minute changes to documents, spreadsheets, and presentations a challenge to even the most seasoned road warriors. However, there are a variety of document editors available on the web that you can access from any Internet-connected computer to not only edit but also store your work. Give each one a test drive and see which one fits your needs best.

Google Docs, one of the most popular free online document editors, allows you to create and edit documents online with the added bonus of real-time collaboration with other users and also supports a majority of popular file formats. Unlike its competitors, Google has also created a mobile-friendly version of the app, allowing for pocket-sized editing of documents on the go.

Zoho, a competitor to Google Docs, offers many of the same features, including simultaneous collaboration between users, and also features various plug-ins for Microsoft Word, Excel, and OpenOffice. Additionally, Zoho has additional applications for database management, reporting, project management, customer relationship management, wiki, chat, and more in its suite, making it one of the most robust online office suits available. (Currently free for personal use.)

A new entrant into the arena is Office Web Apps, an online and free version of Microsoft’s mega-popular productivity suite. It features web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and allows you to share documents with others. Currently, you can access Office Web Apps through Windows Live SkyDrive, a cloud storage service by Microsoft.

Storage
While having a robust office suite may sound enticing to some, others may just need a place to put small or large amounts of data in a place that can be quickly accessed by any computer connected to the web.

Box.net, an online storage solution, offers consumer and enterprise-class storage. Depending on if you choose a free or paid subscription, you can allocate anywhere from 1 GB to unlimited web-storage for yourself, mobile app access to your files to share and view, third party widgets and applications, and more.

Windows Live SkyDrive is another free online storage solution for consumers, allowing anyone with a Windows Live ID access to 25 GB of personal storage, and an option to publicly share files to those that do not have a Windows Live ID to access. Also, an Active-X tool can be installed on your machine for the drag-and-drop file management you’re used to on your home PC.

Multimedia
News flash: Adobe Photoshop probably isn’t installed on every single machine in every airport, Internet café, library, and office. Yes, there are free, open-source tools out there that can get the job done, but sometimes you don’t have the time to install image editing software. And when you’re dealing with video, storing it and finding a place with enough bandwidth to stream it can be a total nightmare. Here are a few options.

PicNik, just recently acquired by Google, allows you to have basic image editing tools in the cloud, like rotating, cropping, and resizing, and it also offers sharpening and red-eye removal tools. It also allows you to import your pictures from your favorite online photo storage websites, like Flickr, Facebook, and MySpace, and the free version doesn’t even require registration to use.

Adobe Photoshop Express is similar in nature to PicNik. It can import your pictures from your favorite photo-sharing sites, and it offers a robust set of basic image adjustment tools you can use, like crop and rotate, resizing, exposure, red-eye, saturation, white balance, sharpen, black and white filters, and more.

If video is your thing, Vimeo is a free service that can not only store your video content (even content longer than 10 minutes) but can also stream it to you or anyone else at anytime in glorious high-definition resolution. If you’re a paid member, you can now upload 1080p videos, and for all users, the standard accoutrement, like embedding and preview thumbnail editing, are available.

Again, there are tons of different online cloud applications available today, many of which you can use to help you get your work done. If you have some favorites, be sure to drop us a line in the comments below with your suggestions.

Links:
Elance Blog - Awesome Online Tools And Resources For Writers
Elance Blog - 9 Tools For Multi-Browser Web Development
Elance Blog - The Ultimate SEO Toolbox

Comments

Another great cloud computing tool that I like - and use as a freelancer when working on non-elance projects is Clutterpad. It's a very useful project management tool that like elance's workroom lets you manage projects easily. Anyway, this is a good topic, but there's nothing here that I hadn't heard of already.

One that I recently found for time and project management that I absolutely LOVE:
www.myintervals.com

This handy and very robust app is well worth the $20/month. It's helping me stay on task and track my time more accurately, which in turn helps me be more accurate in my bids. Always good...
RachelWriter

I would like to add a new category - Business Planning, and a new online tool - iPlanner.NET (http://www.iplanner.net)
This web app is intended for consultants and their customers to collaborate on business plan writing.

There is another cloud hosting site name called kodingen.

Google Docs also supports file sharing for any format and if the free space is not enough 20GB is $5 a year!

You're right, cloud applications are quite helpful. I've used Vimeo and Google Docs and had no problems. Now I'm looking for a cloud application to use for small business accounting. I've found some personal money sites, like wesabe, but I'm trying to find a cloud app that also can do simple invoices for a small business. Any suggestions? Thanks!

As for online storage, backup and sharing app, I'm currently using dropbox.com (2GB free) and me.com (paid) which both work well. I'd recommend Dropbox in case of multi OS working environment.