7 cloud services that make great gifts

Not every great present comes wrapped in a box. These cloud-based gift ideas for the digital denizen in your life will add a little premium-level pizzazz to the party.

cloud services gift guide intro
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Get your head in the clouds

Got a loved one just starting out in his first job? Or perhaps you’re looking to gain an extra edge to help bolster your own career? Gadgets and productivity tips are great, but there are also a variety of Web services that can help us get organized, track stuff or simply get things done faster and better. 

The following cloud services can help improve your productivity and reduce your stress levels … and while all of them can be used in some capacity for free, the paid versions offer so much more. So while there might not be a box to open, these cloud services still make great gifts.

cloud services gift guide lastpass
LastPass

Using a password manager is instrumental to reducing stress over hacked accounts, especially since most of us have problems remembering the complex passwords that security experts say we need. On this front, LastPass makes things easier by serving as a portable digital repository for all your passwords. 

The basic LastPass service is free, though a premium tier available for $12 a year lets you add an unlimited number of devices to keep in sync, as well as support for more multifactor authentication options such as the YubiKey security dongle, and more.

cloud services gift guide todoist
Todoist

There is nothing like keeping a good old “to do” list when it comes to ensuring that you don’t forget important tasks. It can also help you prioritize a laundry list of things to do accordingly. If this is your cup of tea, Todoist is the souped-up digital version that works on all your devices, including Android, iOS, Windows, OS X and even as a browser plug-in for Chrome and Firefox. 

The basic free tier gives you an opportunity to test out the service, while ToDoist Premium costs $29/year and adds a long list of features including attachments, location alerts, reminders and automatic backups, among others. And existing Todoist users get three months free for buying someone a ToDoist Premium subscription as a gift.

cloud services gift guide pocket
Pocket

Pocket is a digital docket for filing all the interesting articles that you encounter online. Widespread support for Pocket in the form of browser plug-ins or as share/save buttons on websites means that it’s easy to save an interesting article for reading at a more convenient time. As you can imagine, cutting down on intra-day interruptions by fascinating yet ultimately distracting articles to read can do wonders to productivity. 

Signing up will see Pocket creating a personal backup of all the URLs in your list, the ability to add tags for better organization, as well as more advanced search capabilities to better leverage this archived treasure trove of information. Pocket Premium costs $4.99/month, or $44.99/year (an almost 25 percent savings) if you opt for annual payment.

cloud services gift guide trello
Trello

Trello is a collaborative service that’s hard to define, yet infinitely flexible. The service essentially allows you to create unlimited lists and “cards” that you can drag and drop on a digital corkboard. Use it as a to-do list, a notebook for your whacky business ideas, a packing list or even a graphical calendar – how you use it is really only limited by your imagination. 

A paid Trello Gold account bumps up the attachment limit for each card from 10MB to a whopping 250MB, plus opens the door to greater customization in the form of backgrounds, and graphical stickers you can add to your digital cards. Trello Gold costs $5 monthly, or $45 for an annual subscription.

cloud services gift guide evernote
Evernote

Evernote makes it easy to keep digital copies of all your documents, notes and Web clippings across all your devices. Evernote Basic is free, though paying for the service gives you offline access and enables a passcode lock feature on mobile apps, increases the default upload limits, and enables a “save email to Evernote” feature. 

Evernote Plus costs $31.98/year, and Evernote Premium costs $57.98/year; the latter offers significantly more features, including the capability to search within Office documents, PDF files and scanned images. Notably, Evernote Premium also saves all previous versions of notes to help ensure that no data is ever lost.

cloud services gift guide rescuetime
RescueTime

If you often have trouble figuring out just where your time whenever you’re on the computer, then RescueTime may be the app for you. The service tracks your computer usage by means of a small app installed on every device that you use, and even set alerts if you spend beyond a predefined amount of time on a certain activity (Facebook, ahem). 

The paid RescueTime Premium plan offers much more granular tracking and costs $9 per month or $72 for the entire year. Note that a 14-day free trial of RescueTime Premium is offered by default for new sign-ups, and your credit card won’t be billed until the end of the trial period.

cloud services gift guide dropbox
Dropbox

With so many cloud storage services options today, the primary strength of Dropbox for consumers lies in its ease of use and the sheer number of apps that either work with or support it. If you need more cloud storage, Dropbox Pro bumps up the puny 2GB of storage space in the free Dropbox Basic to 1TB. 

Dropbox Pro costs $9.99 on a monthly basis or $99 on an annual basis. Remember to opt for the “Extended Version History” option for $3.99 per month (or $39 per year) if you would like Dropbox to keep a copy of all file versions and deleted files for a year.