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All Things Appy: Top 5 Cloud Storage Apps for Windows 8

By Patrick Nelson
Jan 3, 2014 5:00 AM PT

Cloud storage is a fast-moving arena, with advancements including the ability to store files and folders in the cloud along with metadata on your PC replicating the actual file. The file isn't there and isn't taking up space, but you can see relevant attributes.

All Things Appy: Top 5 Cloud Storage Apps for Windows 8

Other cloud techniques include the ability to sync files only as you need them.

In this week's All Things Appy, we take a look at the top five, free, must-have Windows desktop apps in the cloud storage category.

Note: Google's Drive, a solid PC performer with 15 GB of free space, doesn't provide a Windows 8 app, so it's excluded from this list.

About the Platform: Windows apps can be found in the Windows 8 Store. Click or touch the Start page Store tile and search by placing your mouse pointer or finger in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Then choose the Search charm's icon.

No. 1: SkyDrive

The SkyDrive app has an average rating of 3.7 stars out of a possible 5 with 795 ratings in the Windows 8 Store.

Bing Smart Search and native Microsoft Windows integration are the killer features in this Microsoft cloud storage add-on app offering. A basic version is included in the operating system natively, and this add-on is available in the Store.

(click to enlarge)

Bing Smart Search is a new feature in the free Windows 8.1 update that lets you see and search for both local and cloud files at the same time by just starting to type on the Start page. No browser or Windows Explorer window is required.

No. 2: All My Storage

All My Storage has an average rating of 3 stars out of a possible 5 with 155 ratings in the Windows 8 Store.

Here's an aggregator app that lets you merge your cloud and local files. It handles multiple SkyDrive accounts plus Box and the classic Dropbox, and it allows you to move files around among the disparate cloud systems.

A paid version integrates other cloud services like SugarSync and Google Drive.

No. 3: Box

Box has an average rating of 3.6 stars out of a possible 5 with 1,228 ratings in the Windows 8 Store.

Ten gigs of storage and a Windows 8 app beats Microsoft's SkyDrive with its 7 GB and places Box in the lead when it comes to free cloud space along with app. Promotions available with certain hardware purchases can increase free storage limits further.

Box file management is slightly less sophisticated than SkyDrive, which is why it's in one of our runners' up positions -- it doesn't use the equivalent metadata-style indexing.

No. 4: Dropbox

Dropbox has an average rating of 2.9 stars out of a possible 5 with 2,738 ratings in the Windows 8 Store.

Dropbox is the granddaddy of cloud file storage, and although it offers just a puny 2 GB of initial free storage, it is a widely used cloud product for sharing files.

Awkward, slow file scrolling in this app adds to a dull experience.

It's a runner-up, but there's a good chance you'll use it someday to share print-ready files or large media with colleagues or buddies, so get used to it.

No. 5: File Brick

File Brick has an average rating of 3.9 stars out of a possible 5 with 174 ratings in the Windows 8 Store.

We've written about File Brick before and love its gorgeous, elegant simplicity and logical file classifications. If you're used to creaky file management with Windows Explorer windows, do your eyes a favor and demo File Brick.

Then delete it, because unfortunately we're beginning to see some unpleasant blackmail-like feature unlocks -- where you can share a File Brick app comment to your Facebook wall to unlock certain cloud services.

What's wrong with add-support? A bottom position in our top five because of that.

Want to Suggest an Apps Collection?

Is there a batch of apps you'd like to suggest for review? Remember, they must all be for the same platform, and they must all be geared toward the same general purpose. Please send the names of five or more apps to me, and I'll consider them for a future All Things Appy column.

Don't forget to use the Talkback feature below to add your comments.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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