Personal cloud-based storage: Dropbox and Skydrive get updates. Zumodrive closes shop

There've been a lot of rumors about the pending launch of a "Google Drive" cloud-based storage service lately. Maybe these rumors have lit a fire under Dropbox and Microsoft's Skydrive team, since both of those services rolled out updates yesterday.

Dropbox announced a new, easy way to share files from your account, even if the person you want to share with doesn't have a Dropbox account. It's as simple as can be. From the Dropbox site just click on the chain-link icon next to the file you want to share and you'll open the file in a new window with a url like this:

(That's a video of my silly dog misinterpreting signals being given off by an angry swan.) On the Dropbox Android app you get the link by choosing Share and it's the first option on the list. My only request to the Dropbox folks would be that they provide some kind of URL shortening service; that's a pretty unweildy URL up there.

You can read the full press release for more info.

Not to be left out in the cold, Microsoft announced some big changes for Skydrive. You can now get Skydrive apps for Windows, OSX Lion, Windows Phone & iOS. (One would think if Microsoft wants to go head-to-head with Google they'd offer an Android app.) Anyway, the upshot of all this is that you can use your Skydrive as a virtual folder and sync it between machines, putting it in more direct competition with Dropbox.

The downside is that you no longer get 25 GB of free storage. Now you get 7 GB, though apparently established users are grandfathered in with the free 25. If you need to pay for more storage, $10/year gets you 20 GB, $25 gets you 50 GB and $50 gets you 100 GB.

Maybe it's just me, but I think the dirty little secret of us end users is that we don't have any kind of real brand loyalty when it comes to cloud storage. When I run out of room on my free Dropbox account I'll just open a free Skydrive account, and if I fill that up too, I'll get a account. Am I the only one that cheap??

Oh, and speaking of virtual storage, this isn't new info but in case you haven't heard, ZumoDrive is going away as of June 1st. If you have anything stored on a ZumoDrive, now's the time to download it and store it elsewhere. here's the announcement they sent to active users, in case you missed it:

This is an important ZumoDrive service announcement. You are receiving this email because you have an activeZumoDrive account.Motorola is excited to announce that we’ll be moving over to MotoCast to continue delivering innovative, cost effective solutions for accessing, asharing, and consuming your digital content. MotoCast provide seamless, instant access to all your computer's content from your smartphone, tablet or even another computer safely and securely. Stream your own music, videos, photos and files without the burden and cost of uploading to a public cloud. For more information or to download the free MotoCast application please visit part of this transition to MotoCast, Motorola will be shutting down ZumoDrive. After June 1, 2012, ZumoDriveusers will no longer be able to use the service. Any content remaining in your ZumoDrive account beyond June 1, 2012 will be securely deleted along with all account records.

People seem really excited about the idea of a Google Drive, but I'm not sure how Google will be able to differentiate its service from existing contenders like Dropbox, Skydrive or I guess we'll see.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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