New Year’s Resolution (part 4): A Comparison of Cloud Storage Services for PDF Users

And finally, the last in our series of cloud storage services for PDF users (see part 1, part 2, & part 3).

There are many Cloud Storage Services available to make backups of your PDF files, but we’ve found that some services are better than others based on who you are and what you need in a cloud storage solution.  Some services offer broad mobile access on a variety of platforms, and others do not.  Some offer generous initial storage for free.  Some index the PDF files for better searching.

Here’s a summary of the services, features, and our assessment of who each one is best for:

Service Features Who/What it’s good for…
Microsoft SkyDrive – free account with 7GB initial free storage;
mobile apps availabe for Windows phone, Android, and Apple iOS devices like iPhone and iPad
The nice thing about SkyDrive (aside from the largest initial free storage space) is that it is included with Windows 8, so there isn’t any additional setup required for Windows 8 users.  If you recently acquired a new Windows 8 device, this is an easy place to start.
Google Drive – free account with 5GB initial free storage; mobile apps availabe for Android and Apple iOS devices like iPhone and iPad This is Google’s offering and may be a good choice if you already use Google’s other integrated applications like Gmail and Google Docs.  Google Drive is also the only online service that indexes your PDF files so that they can be searched online.  This means that you can search for content within the PDF files, and not just the file names.  This alone makes it one of our favorites.
Dropbox – free account with 2GB initial free storage; mobile apps available for Blackberry, Android, Kindle Fire, and Apple iOS devices like iPhone and iPad Dropbox was one of the first of the major online cloud storage services, so it has a large user base.  The other major technology companies (Microsoft, Google, Amazon) seem to be catching up with better initial storage, but Dropbox is still widely used, especially among home users.  Also, Dropbox just added an app for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.
Box – free account with 5GB initial free storage; mobile apps available for Windows phone, Android, Blackberry, and Apple iOS devices like iPhone and iPad This service has the most comprehensive mobile offerings. Also, it has more flexibility for IT departments with a larger group of users that need to have centralized control and management of their accounts.  It seems to be a popular choice for enterprise users, whereas some of the others are focused more on an individual user basis.
Mega – free account with 50GB initial free storage; No mobile apps currently available This is the newest entrant into this cloud storage market.  It has a generous initial storage account and touts security and strong encryption as a main advantage.  However, its security claims are controversial and the founder’s prior company was involved in some legal issues.  We don’t recommend this service at the moment until we understand more about the technology and if the business looks both secure and stable.
Gmail * – free email service with over 5GB (and growing) free storage; Android and iOS mobile apps, and also can be accessed with any mobile email client that supports IMAP. Some organizations have firewalls that limit access to the other cloud-based storage solutions listed, but allows emailed PDFs to be sent through firewalls.  Using Win2PDF’s email option and Gmail, you can still archive PDFs by just emailing copies to yourself.  It also provides searchable index of PDF files that can be stored based on filters and labels you create.

* We like Gmail for the features, but other web-based email services (Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, etc.) work similarly.

And of course, there’s always the option to use multiple services for redundancy or particular organizational needs.

New Year’s Resolution (part 3): Email as an alternative cloud storage solution

Our last post gave an overview of several cloud storage solutions for your PDF files. While we generally like all of these services, many users may also find it useful to just use an existing web-based email service (like Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft’s new Outlook.com) to archive and preserve copies of their PDF files.  This is also a viable alternative if your company or organization has a firewall or policy restriction when using the other services; this method just uses email to send PDF files.

Let’s take a look at a simple procedure at how a user with Win2PDF and a basic Gmail account can make a backup PDF file every time to print out a paper copy of a file. [Note: we like Gmail because it indexes PDF files for search.  You can search your Gmail account for any text that resides within the PDF file. In addition, you can automatically label the incoming emails to archive them without filling up your regular inbox. Other web mail accounts will do similar things, but our example uses Gmail for these reasons.]

For this example, make sure you have Win2PDF installed on your computer and have a active Gmail account. Then do the following:

1. Select your paper printer to be the default printer on your computer

2. Print to Win2PDF and select ‘Print file’ and ‘Send file’ (and ‘Delete after sending’ if you don’t want to keep a local copy of the PDF on your PC)

Send and Print file options with Win2PDF
Send and Print file options with win2PDF

The ‘Send file’ option uses the default e-mail client, or the free Win2PDF Mail Helper application (download Win2PDF Mail Helper).

3. A copy of the print will be sent to the default paper printer that you set up in step 1, but you will also create a PDF file that you can email to a Gmail account.

4. In Gmail, create a filter that matches your typical email and way of storing files. For example:

– From “[email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>”

– Subject has the words “pdf” and “invoice”

– check “has attachment”

gmail_filter_sm
Use search criteria to filter emails

and then after filtering, you can

– apply a tag (e.g. “Invoices”)

– mark as read

– skip the inbox

Create filter with Gmail
Create filter with Gmail

And that’s it… This will automatically create a backup of your printed paper documents off-site in your Gmail account. And they won’t clutter up your inbox — they’ll just be archived in with a label that you can reference in the future. And you will be able to use Google’s search features to find these documents in the future — and Gmail allows you to search for text within the PDF files.

Next week we’ll conclude this series by looking at how the different services and methods compare for PDF users…  Stay tuned…

New Year’s Resolution (part 2): Organize and Store your PDFs in the Cloud

Last week we discussed going paperless by creating PDFs and storing them in the cloud, and today we’d like to continue that theme by looking at some of these services in general, and how the process can be automated.

The good news is that there are MANY cloud storage services that you can use to accomplish this type of cloud storage with various levels of free starter accounts.  You just set up an account with the particular service that’s best for you, designate a folder to ‘sync’ on your PC, and then just copy or save PDF files to this folder.  Here are some of the major services we’ve tried:

How do you use these services to back up PDF files?  Easy.  Once you’ve selected and installed your cloud storage service, just use Win2PDF to save your files to your PC’s designated Sync directory.

Cloud Storage Folders in Explorer
Cloud Storage Sync Folders in Explorer

And if you want to automate this even further with Win2PDF, our latest Win2PDF 7.5 release has an automatic naming/saving feature.  If you enable this feature, you can automatically have all of your files saved to the folder without any prompting.

So, which service is best?  It really depends.  Each service has a free option with a starter amount of storage.  We’ll be reviewing these services in the next couple of weeks and post our findings here to help you determine which one may be best for you.

New Year’s Resolution: Exercise, Eat Right, and Go Paperless

The start of a New Year and it’s time for everybody’s resolutions — which, if you’re like me, won’t last until February.  Going to the gym more?  Cutting out that morning muffin or extra cup of coffee each day?  It sounds good now but only time will tell if you can sustain it over the long term.

How about your work?  Have you thought about changing your printing habits, or how you can reduce your ‘paper footprint’?  Google has, and along with other companies, they’re encouraging online users to Go Paperless in 2013.

The idea is simple enough and PDF users probably “get it” more than most.  And with today’s technology it’s never been simpler to create, organize, and store your electronic documents in the cloud without having to resort to paper printing.  Retrieve the information you need, when you need it, on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.

It’s not only more convenient, but it’s also friendlier for the environment.  For example, a while back the World Wildlife Federation introduced a new .WWF file format for paperless files.  This WWF format is basically a PDF that cannot be printed out. It’s a great idea, but the WWF file is also encrypted so you cannot go back and edit the file or print it out at a later date.  If you just use PDF, you’ll be accomplishing this same thing and still give yourself a little more flexibility in the future.

You might want to consider Taking the Pledge to Go Paperless in 2013.  Throughout the year the Paperless Coalition will be promoting Paperless 2013 via an email newsletter.

In future PDFBlog.com articles we’ll also be exploring some cloud storage services that can help you keep this resolution, especially for users of PDF files.

Now, time to get that muffin…

Auto-name and Auto-merge features in Win2PDF 7.5

While the “big feature” in our latest Win2PDF 7.5 release is official support of Windows 8, we also tucked in a few other enhancements.

The first is a new Auto-name feature, which allows the user to automatically save PDF files without prompting.  When this option is enabled, the PDF file is saved immediately after selecting Print from any application.  The file is named using the original document’s base name, along with a unique date and time stamp so you don’t need to worry about overwriting previously saved PDF files.  To enable it, you just need to go to the PDF Options… button and then check “Auto-name Files” on the Document tab, as seen below.

Auto-name Files in Win2PDF 7.5
Auto-name Files in Win2PDF 7.5

To see more information, including instructions for turning off this feature, please visit our Auto-name support page.  And for more advanced features, you can also still use our free Win2PDF Admin Utility for more naming options.

The second feature is Auto-merge.  This feature was created to fix a situation that occurs with some Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, but the feature applies to other applications as well.  When you print a workbook from Excel that has multiple worksheets, and the worksheets have different print areas, Excel splits up the print into several print jobs and sends them to the printer.  Essentially several print jobs are sent in rapid succession with the same file name.  With Win2PDF 7 and earlier versions, this resulted in prompts for a new file name for each print job.  Users had to manually append each print job together to assemble the complete PDF version of the Excel workbook.  If the Excel file had many worksheets, this could be a very tedious process.

With Win2PDF 7.5, this merging is done automatically.  If an application sends multiple print jobs with the same file name and in rapid succession, all files will be merged together without additional prompting.

And, as always, we continue to fix bugs and customer-reported issues.  There are dozens of fixes rolled into Win2PDF 7.5.

Still haven’t updated yet?  Download Win2PDF 7.5 now — it’s a free update for Win2PDF 7 users.  Even if you’re not going to Windows 8 right away, the new features and bug fixes will make it worthwhile.

Win2PDF 7.5 is now available for download!

Windows 8It’s official.  Windows 8 has launched and we’re ready for it.

Today marks the official release of Win2PDF 7.5 — the first version of Win2PDF that officially supports the Windows 8 operating system*.

Win2PDF 7.5 is a free update to registered Win2PDF 7 users and you can download it now.  If you have any questions about Win2PDF 7.5 or our support of Windows 8, please visit our support page and ask a question.

* Windows RT is not supported at this time.

Paul Allen’s take on Windows 8

As a follow up to our post on printing in Windows 8 from last week, Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen recently weighed in with his thoughts on their latest operating system.

“I did encounter some puzzling aspects of Windows 8. The bimodal user experience can introduce confusion… For example, after opening a PDF attachment in Outlook from the desktop, Windows opens the file in Microsoft Reader, an application more suited for use on a tablet, rather than the desktop Acrobat Reader.”

This is specifically referring to the new Microsoft Reader app, which is included in Windows 8.  You will still be able to download and install the free Adobe Reader software (and other PDF viewers), but because Microsoft Reader is the default reader app for PDF files, it may be a little confusing at first.

PDF users will likely run into some of these puzzling aspects (as we did).  If you’re planning on moving to Windows 8, it’s worthwhile to do a little reading on these new interface changes.  Paul’s overview is a good place to start.