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Have you Started using Amazon Cloud Services?

We’ve kicked off another blog series — this one’s on web apps, or applications that you run inside a web browser, like Firefox or Chrome, rather than as a standalone application. We’re focusing on ways that web apps can act as replacements for separate apps, in order to save you money, time, and most importantly, performance!

Amazon in the Cloud. Get it?

Many inexpensive PCs, especially netbooks, don’t have all that much storage space to speak of. Especially if your machine has a solid state drive rather than a hard drive, you may be looking at only a few gigabytes of storage for everything you have. Plus, hard drives crash, costing you everything. You’re going to want a place to put stuff away from your computer. Also, it would be nice to be able to access the same versions of the same files from multiple PCs.

Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player were launched the evening of March 28, 2011. Amazon Cloud Drive is cloud-based storage, meaning your files live on the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive. You can upload anything you want to their free 5 gigabytes of storage and access it on any PC with an Internet connection, or any Android device. If you happen to purchase an entire album’s worth of MP3 tracks, your storage is bumped up to 20 GB for a year. Albums go on sale all the time, sometimes as low as $3 USD.

Amazon Cloud Player lets you upload MP3s more easily play your entire uploaded MP3 collection from anywhere you have Internet. Any tracks you buy on Amazon MP3 can be saved directly to the cloud, and if you do this, it won’t count toward your 5 GB or 20 GB limit. (Bigger limits are available for more money.)

That last part is the most extraordinary, as until now, there were few / limited solutions for playing the music you own through an Internet connection anywhere you want. Most music streaming apps required being on the same Wi-Fi network as the music itself. Apple and Google have yet to release cloud apps — Amazon has definitely jumped ahead here.

Unlike Dropbox and other cloud-based storage solutions, Amazon Cloud Drive isn’t designed to be shared with others. Considering their focus on MP3s, they likely don’t want to facilitate trading music illegally with other people. The point is for a single user to get at their files regardless of the computer they’re on.

It’s also notable that Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player support PCs and Android devices, but not iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad. Plus, you can’t use it to stream other files, like movies; these would have to be downloaded off the cloud and played individually. It remains to be seen if Amazon will add support for iOS or movie streaming in the future.

The Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player don’t use Adobe Flash, so the impact on your PC’s performance should be minimal while they’re running. However, the interface for uploading MP3s within Cloud Player does use Adobe Air, and could cause performance issues on netbooks. Your best bet is to upload your collection of tracks overnight while your PC is idle (making sure your machine doesn’t automatically shut off halfway through).

By offloading music files and other important documents to the cloud, you’ll save storage space, keep your file libraries nicely synced up between computers, and gain a measure of protection in case of data loss. All excellent benefits without any cost.

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