Cost-Effective Cloud Storage

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Remember when clunky external hard drives used to set you back hundreds of dollars? Luckily, the days of paying big bucks for drive space are coming to an end, thanks to cloud storage. But what exactly is cloud storage, and is it really a more cost-effective way of backing-up your files? Let's take a closer look.

In a nutshell, cloud storage is a simply another way of archiving your photos, music and other files, except your files aren't stored in a physical drive in your home. They're stored in remote data centers typically owned and managed by hosting companies, like Google Drive, DropBox or iCloud.

Backing up your data this way has some distinct advantages. First, cloud storage allows you to access your archived files from multiple devices -- anyplace where you have an internet connection. And because your files are being saved remotely, your data will be protected and easily restored in the event your computer breaks down or gets lost.

The good news is, most cloud storage services will get you started with free storage space, with no strings attached. For example, Google Drive and OneDrive both start you off with 15GB of free space, so you can try things out and see if you like it.

If you decide you want more room, you can then sign up and pay a regular storage cost. Prices can vary, but many services will offer up to 1 terrabyte for only $10 a month.

While the advantages of cloud storage are clear, it might not always be ideal for all users. If you're a person who typically needs frequent access to large photo or video files, a newer flash drive with USB 3.0 transfer speed might be the best bet. Since Cloud storage relies on your internet connection, you won't be able to open up those heavy files as quickly.

So, before you can decide what storage option works best for you, determine what your needs are. With a little homework, you can store your files and save a few bucks, as well.

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Cost-Effective Cloud Storage -- Savings Experiment
Whatever you're looking to sell, there's a good chance you can find a buyer for it on online megasites eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN). Both sites offer easy-to-follow guidelines for how to list, ship and get payment for your items. EBay is great for collector and high-value items, such as premium comic books or rare baseball cards, as the bidding system encourages buyers to offer more and more money to snag your item. If you've got something you think is in high demand, like a retro accessory, a bidding war could fetch you a nice price.
Amazon is better for selling traditional retail items like DVDs, books and video games, because the site shows buyers what they'd pay to buy the item new from them vs. what they'd pay to buy it used from you. Price your item fairly, and you could hook buyers looking to save a buck or two.
Have a big item that won't be easy to ship, like a bicycle or a piece of furniture? Try listing it Craigslist, where you can connect with local buyers who are willing to pay cash and pick the item up themselves. Just be smart about meeting up with strangers: never let anyone in your home, but instead stick to meeting in the driveway or, if you can, a neutral location like a coffee shop. (I've often met buyers in the parking lot of Target (TGT) or Starbucks (SBUX) during the middle of the afternoon, when I know there will be hundreds of people –- plus store security -- milling around.)
Want to get rid of a large amount of stuff as fast as possible? A garage sale is a great way to clear out fast, especially if you're smart about how you advertise it. Make sure to place ads in local classifieds (online and print), put up signs in visible locations like heavily trafficked intersections and always have plenty of change on hand. If you really want to get noticed, consider organizing a neighborhood or block sale, which has a special draw for serial bargain-hunters.
Another way to get lots of eyes on your stuff is to set up a table at an area flea market or swap meet. These events are often well-advertised and see plenty of foot traffic, so all you have to do is show up and hope buyers are interested in what you're selling.
Got a lot of gently used clothes to get rid of? Do an online search for consignment shops in your area. You may have a national chain like Plato's Closet, Buffalo Exchange or Once Upon a Child nearby, or there may be some local boutique shops. These places accept clothing, accessories, shoes and more, from current designer brands to rare vintage finds.
If you have any hand-me-downs or heirlooms that look like they might be worth something, take them to a local antique shop for an appraisal. Some offer walk-in appraisals, while others have set days and times when an appraiser is in store. That old lamp your grandmother left you just might be worth big bucks. Of course, once you have the appraisal, you still have to sell it. Maybe to that antiques store?
Lookk for sporting equipment your kids (or you) have grown out of or gotten tired of. Stores like Play It Again Sports will pay you for things like helmets, hockey sticks, padding and more. Just search for "used sporting goods" to find what's in your area.
Got an old Atari lying around, or Super Mario cartridges from the '90s? They may seem like outdated junk to you, but collectors are more than happy to pay for a piece of childhood nostalgia. Call around to local video game stores to see if they buy used systems and games and how much they'd be willing to pay for yours. You may be surprised how much you can get. GameStop (GME) is a national chain that buys games.
If you're the crafty sort, you may be able to upcycle your old stuff into one-of-a-kind products you can sell on arts and crafts website Etsy. There's a strong demand for handmade items these days, so get creative about how to repurpose your old items into clever crafts. Can you tear-and-sew old clothing into a recycled dress or hand-stitched curtains? Can you turn those old floppy disks into drink coasters by coating them with a waterproof layer and gluing felt to the bottom? A little creativity can lead to a handsome payday.
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