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Free cloud computing applications

There are a large number of interesting cloud computing applications that are completely free. In these Software as a Service (SaaS) applications processing happens on the data centers hosted by these organizations. Unlike standard desktop applications, no processing happens on the desktops. Here we take a look at the cloud computing applications that are available for free. The sites have been categorized into the following types
  1. Photo editing software
  2. Online file storage
  3. Twitter related applications
  4. Digital Video
  5. Creating your image album
  6. Photo editing software
  7. Anti-virus applications on the web
  8. Editing documents, spreadsheets and powerpoints
  9. Finding your way on a map
  10. e-commerce software
  11. Miscellaneous applications

Photo editing software

Picnik is a popular free online photo editing software. It has features like cropping, resizing and rotation of images, addition of special effects. A premium version of Picnik with advanced features is available for $24.95 a year.

Pixlr is a free online photo editing software. Pixlr combines image design and paint tools with photo editing and adjustment features. It lets users edit brightness/contrast, and has the ability to crop and layer photos. Even though Pixlr has many complex features, the software is relatively simple to use.

Online file storage

MediaFire is a leading online file storage site. MediaFire may be used to host, share any files including documents, images, presentations, videos. The interface is easy to use. The free version of MediaFire includes unlimited disk space and unlimited uploads/downloads. The only limit in the free version is on the file size - the maximum file size allowed is 200 MB. The files may be organized into folders.

Megaupload is another popular file storage site. The feature set is similar to mediafire. There is a limit of 200 GB disk space and 2 GB limit on file size in the free account. There is also a waiting time of 25 secs before each download begins in the free version. The premium version has none of the above limitations in addition to better download speed and unlimited disk speed. The charges for premium version is $9.99 per month.

hotfile offers a free version of online file sharing application with a maximum file size of 400Mb. Monthly charges for premium version are $9 per month. The premium version includes higher speed on downloads, unlimited parallel downloads and downloading without waiting time and advertising.

4Shared is yet another popular online file sharing software. The free version provides a maximum file download size of 200MB and over all disk space of 10 GB. Premium version provides 100GB of disk space, and a maximum file size of 5GB.

Other popular online file sharing applications are Rapidshare, depositfiles, Yourfilehost, zshare, NowDownloadAll, easy-share, Imgur and Uploading.

Twitter related applications

bit.ly converts any URL into a unique short URL. When a user visits the newURL, bit.ly redirects the browser to the real web site. Bit.ly has parternered with Twitter, to allow twitter users to use shortened URLs. This has led to exponential growth of bit.ly URLs. As an example the URL for thecloudtutorial is http://bit.ly/4siQfX .

Twitpic is an application that allows user to upload pictures to be linked from twitter. It uses twitters login, creates shorterened URLs, that can be invoked from twitters microblogging.

Digital Video

Hulu offers videos online for free. Users can download popular movies, TV shows and documentaries and view them on the browser. Hulu allows websites to embed content on their web sites also. Hulu is a joint venture of NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment Group and ABC Inc. At present Hulu's contents can only be viewed in the USA. Other popular online video sites are youtube, WatchMoviesOnline, break.com and Google Video.

Creating your image album

A large number of wonderful sites are available for hosting images on the web. The best ones are flickr, Fotolog, photobucket, webshots, imagebam and ziddu. . These sites allow users to organize images into albums, tag them and create slideshows.

Anti-virus applications on the web

Cloud Antivirus is an anti virus application on the cloud by a Spanish company Panda Security. It provides functionality to keep virus away from a clean system and also detect and fix a system infested with malware. PC World rates it as the best free anti-virus software. The antivirus can be downloaded onto the machine. The locally installed Cloud Anitvirus sends information about files to the data center on the cloud which checks for malware in the files.

Editing documents, spreadsheets and powerpoints

SlideRocket is an online application that allows users to create presentation. The free version has a disk space storage of 250 MB. It allows importing of PowerPoint presentations. Since it is a web based application, the presentations can be accessed from any location.The free version does not allow users to edit presentations offline.

writeboard is an online free document editor from 37signals. Multiple users can edit the same document, and versions of documents are saved. Writeboard allows users to compare different versions of documents. One limitation of WriteBoard is that it does not support importing Word files.

Slideshare allows users to upload presentations. The site has a huge repository of presentations and is a leading source of free presentations on the web. Documents are available on virtally any topic that one may be able to think off.

Finding your way on a map

Another area where web applications became popular in Web 1.0 was finding directions on the web. The leading sites are mapquest, Google Maps and Yahoo Maps. These have provided million of people maps and directions and helped people get to their destinations over the last decade.

Miscellaneous free Software as a Service applications

XE provides foreign exchange tools and services online. Functionality provided includes trading currency and checking exchange rates.

One of the first usages of free software as service applications is checking the status of letters and packages. United States Postal Service, UPS and Fedex all provide free online tracking of packages.