3 Free (Or Nearly Free) Tools For Sharing Information
Need to share documents with other people? These inexpensive software programs can help
Three of our favorite tools that our team uses all the time to share information are Evernote, Dropbox and Basecamp. They are cheap at worst and free at best, and they make storing, finding and sharing your information surprisingly simple. We asked Paperitis Team Member Floyd to take a closer look at all three services.
Dropbox lets you access your stored files anywhere there's an Internet connection, and sync them across multiple devices. And it shines in terms of how easily you can share your files.
Dropbox isn't entirely Web-based; you'll need to download and run a small software program on each device you want to synchronize. Once it's in place, though, it takes care of things automatically whenever that device connects to the Web.
Here's what I like best about Dropbox: once you connect your working files to the system, you never have to worry about which computer you're working on. Just sync up, and you're instantly connected to the latest version of any document you've uploaded. Anyone you're working with has instant access to the latest version, too.
And if your laptop, handheld, or smartphone gets damaged or destroyed? No worries! The very latest versions of your documents are safely stored in the Cloud, so you don't have to worry about data loss. (Of course, that doesn't mean you don't need to back them up though!)
One warning: before you trust your files even to Dropbox, back them up independently. Nothing is 100% safe, and you don't want to have a problem.
If you've looked at this website for even a moment, you know that we're huge Evernote fans. Like Dropbox, you can get started with Evernote for free, though we highly recommend the higher performing, yet still inexpensive premium upgrade. This is another service where you'll need to download a small program and run it.
Evernote claims compatibility with "nearly every computer, phone, and mobile device out there," and they are probably right.
Like Dropbox, you can easily organize those files across a variety of platforms. Evernote also has a powerful search feature that cuts across formats, allowing you to search by tag, keyword, or even text inside images.
Sharing your info with others is simple. You just right click on any Notebook you wish to share, and then invite others to view or edit the Notes in that Notebook by entering their email addresses for Evernote sharing invitations.
Basecamp was specifically designed for collaborating on group projects. It's a simple, fully-collaborative project management service, ideally suited for team members who are scattered all over the country -- or the world.
One of Basecamp's prime features is centralized messaging, so you don't have to worry about ever-lengthening email threads, or worse, missing messages altogether. It'll even send notifications to your email, so you're doubly sure to receive your messages.
Basecamp also offers substantial planning features, including milestones and to-do lists, as well as reusable templates, handy "writeboards" where you can post key information and directives, and more. And did we mention that you can upload files in a snap?
Our experience is that the biggest downside of Basecamp is that their search function doesn't always work the way you want it to, which can be frustrating. Nonetheless, it's a very good service. It's not free but they do offer a 45-day free trial.
So if you run an office, especially one with multiple locations, you might want to give Basecamp a try. Combined with Dropbox and Evernote, it can make sharing and collaborating a lot easier.
Our Paperitis Team uses all three of these programs.