Apple users are familiar with a common problem, especially as so many professionals deploy more than one Apple device. How do you easily share notes, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and similar files across multiple devices?
Frequently, I encounter clients who leverage three devices — an iPhone, an iPad, and a MacBook or iMac — to perform their jobs. I often witness these users emailing themselves files. Email is simply the easiest method they know for transferring a file from a phone to laptop or vice versa.
Fortunately, several cloud-based services are available for sharing files between Apple devices. Here's the skinny on four of the best services currently available.
Box provides a secure yet scalable cloud-based file sharing service. Among the applications that can leverage Box to share data is Documents To Go, Salesforce CRM, and NetSuite. It works with both Windows and Macs, including 32- and 64-bit platforms.
The Box for iPhone and iPad app includes 50 GB of free storage. A free Personal online account includes 10 GB of file storage, plus desktop synchronization and mobile access. File-locking features and the ability to expire access permissions kick in with the Starter account online, which runs $5.00 (USD) per user, per month.
Most every business user has at least heard of Dropbox. The application is easy to use, provides desktop synchronization, offers 256-bit encryption, and includes 2 GB of storage within the free Basic account. Business users that move up to a Pro account, which costs $9.99 (USD) per month, receive 100 GB of storage.
The application can be configured to automatically back up photos and simplifies the process of sharing files between smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Among the applications for which Dropbox can synchronize data is the mSecure password management platform and the WriteRoom text drafting utility.
Users needing to work with sensitive or protected patient information, however, should note that Dropbox states it does not possess HPIAA or PCI certification.
Apple's iCloud service is integrated within iOS and OS X devices. iCloud makes the process of sharing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and photos exceedingly easy. Simply associate a device (using the iCloud options within Settings on an iOS device or iCloud within OS X's System Preferences) with your iCloud account, and you can begin sharing files across multiple devices immediately with minimal fuss or configuration. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, for example, provide the option of creating and storing files within iCloud vs. On My Mac when using a Mac. By default, iOS devices store new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations within iCloud. The service also includes a web-based component for accessing the same files from a Windows machine. With 5 GB of default storage, iCloud is a no-brainer for modern business professionals needing to share files across multiple Apple devices.
SugarSync is another option for business users seeking to share files across a laptop, desktop, tablet, and/or iPhone. Download and install the application, select the folders you wish to synchronize, and you're in business.
The SugarSync Individual account, which includes 60 GB of storage, costs $7.49 (USD) a month. The cross-platform application (it works with Macs and PCs) enables monitoring file access activity and remotely deleting data, and it automatically synchronizes file changes as they occur. Business users can also use the application to back up photos, video, and music.
Private sharing enables sharing files with selected parties, but files can also be shared with larger public audience.
Documents To Go is among the applications that can leverage SugarSync to share files between devices. The application also integrates with GeekSoft's File Expert file manager, the GoodReader for iPhone PDF sharing utility, and OfficeSuite Pro 6+, which enables viewing, editing, printing, and sharing of Microsoft Office files, among many others.
What cloud-based service(s) do you use to transfer files across multiple Apple devices — or do you prefer a different method? Share your opinion and experience in the discussion thread below.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.