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by JB Burke

Q. I have scanned a bunch of old photos into my PC, and I'd like to be able to share them with my sister, who lives in the Midwest. What's the best way to do that?

A. There are several ways to do what you want to do. You could copy them onto a CD or DVD, or onto or a flash drive (memory key or USB key), and mail it. CD's and DVD's are cheap, while a flash drive, can be reused over and over.

Another way to share the photos, or any other files for that matter, is via "the cloud". The cloud is just another name for disk storage that exists somewhere on the internet, and is often available for free – at least for a few GBs. Some popular cloud services are iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive and Dropbox. A good article on cloud computing is here. After you fill your free allotment they will charge you for additional capacity.

I haven't compared them all, but I use Dropbox. Here is what it does for me. I have it installed on my smartphone, my Android tablet, my laptop and my desktop. It looks like a file folder to each system. When I drag a file or a folder to Dropbox on any of my devices, it quickly shows up in the Dropbox folder on all my other devices. Photos I take with my smartphone automatically show up on my desktop, for instance.

When I want to share files with someone else, I put them into a folder and drag it to Dropbox. Then I right-click on the folder as it appears in Dropbox, and click on "Share Dropbox link". I go straight to my email, open a new outgoing message and click paste in the body of the message. Magically a URL (internet address) will appear. Send the tiny email, and shortly the recipient can view and download those photos as they see fit. Note – you can't currently put limits on their use of the files you share, so be cautious with valuable photos or files.

Published: Courier 10/20/13 - Page 3C