I often get asked by friends and family what services I use to solve problems. I take much pride in evaluating the options in the market, and choosing the best service out there.
I love Dropbox. I’ve been using it for years now, have a paid account, and make sure that every friend and family member has it.
Compared to sugarsync, box.net, egnyte - I believe it is the best consumer and small business oriented file sharing solution out there. Whether you’re sharing a file with somone (public folder, or shareable link) or collaborating on a project (shared folder) - its the perfect solution.
For the geeks out there, it can be an amazingly powerful platform to do interesting projects - Infact this blog is generated based on a script which runs on my server, monitoring my dropbox folder, where I write these blog posts. Once it sees a trigger file created, it generates the site with Jekyll, commits & deploys the newly generated site to github!
Some tips: make sure to visit the Getting Started page to get some extra free storage, along with the Dropbox Free where you can tweet and facebook post for some extra free space. Finally if you’re an academic user you can visit Dropbox edu to double the space you earn for each referral!
I’ve explored Mozy, Jungledisk, and many other backup services over the years. For Linux and Mac - Crashplan is the winner (crashplan is also cross-platform and works on even more operating systems). Why? Here are a few of my highlights:
- The client is not resource hungry, and has options for limiting CPU and Network usage.
- They offer unlimited cloud storage space, not reliant on a third party vendor like AWS.
- Because they rolled their own, their prices are very reasonable, especially for family plans.
- The clients support advanced features like Multiple Backup Sets
- They have a FREE option - just use the software and backup between your own machines, or to a friends - Social Backup! Brilliant!
- Remote monitoring of backup status, and configured settings from the web gui (Jungledisk fail)
- Email alerting for backup failures, and backup summary (Jungledisk fail again)
- Use your own crypto key - WIN!
Stop doing boring powerpoints - They also have special plans for .edu holders. Next presentation – make it a Prezi
I was a HUGE fan of clipperz, but recently switched to 1Password. My only complaint is that 1Password isn’t free, but I did get a great deal on the desktop app as part of a MacUpdate Bundle - so it was hard to resist switching. Why is 1Password the right solution over the competitors?
- It stores your data locally, with an option to use Dropbox - WIN!
- While in dropbox - it can be accessed as 1PasswordAnywhere - their web-based solution
- They have mobile apps (I use iOS), where you can sync/access your 1password credentials through dropbox
- The above options mean that your passwords are stored with YOUR password and YOUR encryption key; AND you get the best functonality, while never compromising the security of your credentials (And this is coming from a security guy)
- Browser extension integration - Chrome, Safari… Works surprisingly well - Much better than xMarks; and I trust it more than Google Sync, and its cross-browser and cross-platform
I do use XMarks for browser bookmarks - because its cross platform; so it ends up being the best way to keep my bookmarks in sync between Chrome (which I use on my laptop) and Mobile Safari on iphone, despite not using safari on my desktop.
I hate desktop products for almost anything – and I particularly dislike Visio (Windows only for starters) - so LucidChart works surprisingly well for a web-based alternative to Visio for flow charting.
GoDaddy is cheap. GoDaddy is crap. They hassle you with offers, their customer service is as useful as talking to a wall, and they have a history of losing domains. Not to mention their support of SOPA. I recently moved most of my domains I plan to keep from GoDaddy to Namecheap. When I have a new idea, and GoDaddy is running a loss-leader domain sale (less than $7), I’ll buy at GoDaddy. I’ll continue to take advantage of their $1 domain offers - I keep a list of domain ideas, and buy them for $1 when the offers come up. Key thing: Remember to disable auto renewal - so you don’t get charged $13 the following year.
However if its a domain I plan to keep, or there’s no <$7 promos running at the time, I’ll buy my domains at NameCheap. (and for domains I plan to keep, I’ll transfer them to NameCheap after the 60 day transfer lock). If a project or idea actually takes off, then I’ll buy a bunch of years cheap at the domain’s current registrar, and then transfer it to IWantMyName - They are a small shop, and I trust my domain there - if I had any problem I could actually contact someone, who would have access to systems and can make the magic happen. They’re even offering a managed domain transfer service!
Zerigo is cheaper, and is geo-disperse DNS solution, with nice APIs - including for dynamic DNS. Its better than your Domain Registrar’s cheap DNS service, in that its more reliable, and allows lower TTLs and faster update times. DNSMadeEasy is the premiere DNS host at a reasonable price - They do Anycast DNS which means the IPs look the same, but depending where in the world you are, your traffic heads to their nearest datacenter. They’re the solution for commercial-grade websites, but you pay a little more (nothing like what you pay dyn or other ridiculous services). So I usually do an ‘escalation strategy’ - When I first get a domain, its with Godaddy DNS. Once I’m using it for something, then it goes to Zerigo. If its something making me money - it goes to DNSMadeEasy.
I do a combination of things for my hosting - For static sites/pages I use Github pages - Such as this site you see, which is generated using Jekyll. Github lets you host an unlimited (within reason) amount of static content. You could even augment your storage with public links to dropbox public folder content.
For dynamic sites I use heroku’s free hosting tier. You can combine it with various cloud DB services which give you cheaper (than Heroku) cloud DB hosting options - including starter free tiers which have more than Heroku’s 5MB.
Finally I handle traffic and performance of these free hosted sites by using some other free services - from Cloudflare. They sit in front of your site and leverage CDNs, and various other optimizations. This works excellent with Heroku’s free tiers, to enable to you to handle far more traffic than you’d think otherwise.
SSL Certs are a commodity ripoff. They cost nearly $0 to create and maintain the revocation lists, yet there’s a racket in charging for SSL cert names, little ‘security’ buttons, and green-bar SSL certs. Unless you’re a multi-million dollar ecommerce site, don’t buy in to the hype. Buy the cheapest SSL cert you can which supports most major browsers. The winner in that category is Comodo, and the cheapest is reseller ComodoSSLStore, which is where I buy all my SSL certs now - Even the wildcards are very inexpensive, comparatively speaking!
ShortSwitch - Hosted URL Shortener
I do a combination of a small free hosted Heroku site and then redirect my URL shortening in to the free ShortSwitch service. At this point in time I generate very few URLs - so the free tier is great - occasionally I go over and fork out $4/mo - with is worth it for the analytics they provide. Why not Bit.ly? Well Bitly is $995 for enterprise, for starters, and they have a horrible limiation: The namespace for URLs is all shared. Even with my own domain, I cannot have /a because /a has been used eons ago by someone else at bit.ly/a or some other domain/a - Seems ridiculous, I know; but read their site!
Blitz.io - Cloud Performance testing
Blitz.io is one of the few services I’ve found for cloud performance testing which is easy to use, gives you a decent usable amount for free, and just works!