12 Free Tools you can Use in the Cloud
How great would it be if we got something for free that we actually like to use? In a world of "you get what you pay for," these tools are the exception. They cost zero dollars and can actually make life a lot easier, especially when you're on the move.
The idea of the Cloud has been around for some time, but it hasn’t been until recently that Cloud-based services have started to catch on in a big way. Often known as SaaS, or Software as a Service, these provide subscription-based access to software that is hosted on the Internet.
You don't install the software on your computer, but access it through your browser by logging into your account. You are able to save your documents and information, which you can later access from any computer or device that is connected to the Internet.
This can be incredibly convenient, especially if you need the information when you're not in the office.
Here are 12 free services and tools that can make life a lot easier:
- Google docs. Free word processing and spreadsheets. Google’s suite of office-related products makes it easy to have an office in the Cloud. The documents you can create include word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and even forms.
- Google calendar. Free shared calendar. Google Calendar allows you to share your schedule with others so that organizing a meeting can be really easy. You can also send out meeting invitations and keep track of who is attending.
- Google analytics. Free website statistics. Do you want to know how many visitors are coming to your site, or where they’re from? What keywords did they use to find your site, and what pages they viewed? You can find out all that and more by adding a little code to each page of your site. Google will track the activity on your site which you can view at any time by logging in to your account.
- Gmail. Free email. When you’re traveling or on the go, it’s nice to be able to check your email from any available computer without having to lug your own computer around. Google gives you tons of storage so you never have to delete your emails. You can also add Google Calendar and Google Voice (it allows you to make free phone calls from your computer), making this a rich contact system.
- Wave Accounting. Free bookkeeping. Wave is a Canadian company with a mission to make accounting simple for business owners. The software doesn't replace your accountant. It just makes it easier to track what's coming in, what's going out, and, more importantly, what's staying in the company. And, since they are Canadian, setting up was easy because they know how we do things here.
- Expensify. Free expense tracking. Expensify allows you to track your mileage and re-imbursable expenses on the go. If you download their free app to your mobile phone, you can enter expenses automatically. Just snap a picture of your receipt and upload it to your account. The system will scan it and automatically add the details. You can easily run a report to send to your accountant.
- Zoho CRM. Free customer relationship management. Zoho allows you to keep track of everything related to your sales cycle - that means your leads, contacts, accounts, estimates, emails, and forms. There is a low-cost paid version that can even keep track of inventory.
- We Transfer. Free file transfer. If you need to send high resolution pictures or videos over the Internet, email just doesn't do it. We transfer allows you to send files up to 2GB each. That's a very big file. And it's easy to use. Just drag the file over, enter the email address, and click Transfer.
- Tumblr. Free blogging. If you always wanted to try blogging but wanted a hassle-free way to do it, this would be it. It allows you to post text images, videos, quotes, and links. Don't worry if you're not a designer because it comes with pre-made themes that are super easy to use.
- Flikr. Free photo gallery. Flikr allows you to upload your photos, organize them into sets and collections, tag and label them, and share them with just a few people or with the world. You can also link them to your blog, Twitter, or Facebook account.
- Jing. Free screencasts. With Jing, you can record the action on your computer screen and save it as a video. This is great if you want to create a demo or capture an image and add commentary or explanations. You can even upload this to screencast.com, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.
- YouTube. Free video hosting. Do you have product demonstrations or some how-to videos that your customers would find useful? As long as you own the rights to them, this would be the perfect place to post those videos. YouTube allows you to create a company channel where you can upload all related videos. You can even post these videos to your website without having to worry about video players by simply using the embed code that YouTube automatically provides.
Photo credits: Till Krech