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New "cloud" storage service offers up to 10GB free

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Amazon, Google Drive, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Box, SugarSync -- does the world really need more cloud storage products? Cubby thinks so, and they're giving away 10GB of free storage to convince you that they deserve your cloud-storage and file-sharing business.

So how is Cubby different? Unlike most cloud tools, which syncs your online storage with a specific folder on your PC, you can designate any folder on your computer as a "cubby," which is then synchronized with the cloud. That also sychronizes any other PCs you have that also use Cubby.

Here's an example of how the technology works. When you install the software, you automatically get a standard Cubby folder, not unlike Dropbox. Drag files to your Cubby folder and they are automatically stored online as well. But suppose you also have a folder full of spreadsheets buried in the Documents folder. You don't want to move or copy the folder to a new location, but you want to make it available online. Easy: Just right-click the folder and choose "Make this folder a cubby." A few moments later, that obscure subfolder is in sync with the cloud.

You can do that all over your hard drive, syncing various important folders in an ad-hoc manner. And you can't lose track of which folders are cubbies, since you can always see the list in the Cubby client app.

This is a phenomenal step forward for cloud storage, and one that fits in perfectly with the way I manage files. I have hundreds of folders in Documents, for example, but only need constant access to about a half dozen of them. Cubby makes it easy for me to sync these business critical folders with the cloud.

Cubby makes it easy to share, as well -- from the Cubby client, you can give other users "read-only" access to a folder, or add them as collaborators who can use the folder however they want.

You get 5GB for free when you install Cubby, and you get an extra gigabyte for every person you successfully recruit into the Cubby army. You get a total of five invites, so that's a max of 10GB. That's not bad -- it's taken me a couple of years of bonus offers and promotions to get that much space in Dropbox.

Cubby is a smart and elegantly designed cloud storage tool. Right out of the gate, it rivals the established clouds for features and ease of use, not to mention storage capacity. And the "cubby" twist makes it a compelling offering among a number of overly similar competitors.

Unfortunately, Cubby is still being beta tested, and access is restricted. To get in, visit and request an invite. It might take a few weeks, but eventually you'll get your day. And you'll be glad you did.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Angie Harms

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