5 free online services that store, sync and share your files

You can upload your files to a 'virtual hard drive' and access them from your other devices

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OpenDrive gives you twice as much online storage as Dropbox. Its desktop software is only for Windows, but it includes a feature that enables you to sell your downloads.


OpenDrive Desktop works like an external drive connected to your computer.

How it works: OpenDrive Desktop places a virtual hard drive within your computer's "My Computer/Computer" menu, the icon for which is located on your desktop by default. Like Dropbox, you drag and drop your files and folders into it, and they are immediately uploaded to your account's storage space on the OpenDrive server. Dragging files and folders out from it will download copies of them to your local computer's hard drive. Basically, it works like an external hard drive connected to your computer, except that it exists online.

Syncing a file or folder is done by right-clicking on any file or folder in your local hard drive and choosing "Synchronize with OpenDrive." A copy of the file or folder will be placed in your OpenDrive virtual drive and uploaded to your OpenDrive account online space.

An intriguing feature of OpenDrive, setting it apart from the other services reviewed here, is that it lets you sell downloads of your files to the public. To do this, you right-click on a file stored in your OpenDrive virtual drive and, in the menu prompt, enter a selling price (in U.S. dollars). OpenDrive will create a link that you can post. The person who clicks the link will be required to pay via PayPal to download your file, and the money will be credited to your OpenDrive account.

What's good: OpenDrive gives you a generous 5GB of online storage with a free account.

What needs to be fixed: OpenDrive Desktop requires that you have Java on your computer, and that could be a deal-breaker if you prefer to avoid having this runtime platform installed on your system.

Moreover, there isn't a direct way to exit from the OpenDrive Desktop program. The software has to be fully uninstalled; otherwise, the OpenDrive virtual drive resides as a device permanently connected to your computer.

Also, the program froze up a few times when I tried to drag and drop files that were a couple of megabytes in size from my notebook's hard drive to my account's OpenDrive virtual drive.

Bottom line: You get lots of online storage for free -- but the desktop program in its present form appears to have some stability issues.

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