10 FREE Online Services: Free E-mail, File Storage, and File Sharing for Students on a Budget

If you’re a college student on a pretty tight budget, you’ve probably already mastered the gourmet Ramen-noodle dinner and the art of interior decorating with crate-box and garage-sale furniture.

But while you’re limiting how much your offline lifestyle eats into your budget, make sure you’re not spending your precious food or rent dollars on online services like e-mail, file storage, or file sharing. You can get every single one of these services for free, with features comparable to or even better than the paid versions.

With all these free options, you should be able to satisfy your online communication and file sharing needs without ever dipping into your wallet. Heck, with the money you’ll save, you might even be able to upgrade to macaroni and cheese.

Top 5 Free E-mail Services

Sure, free e-mail has been available for years, but not with the kind of storage, features, and security you can get these days.

Every one of these five major e-mail providers offers really decent basic service that won’t cost you a single penny. Some of them also feature POP3 or IMAP capability (or both) so you can access and organize your webmail using your favorite desktop e-mail application, like Outlook or Mail.

1.  Gmail

Google’s webmail service, this is probably the best free e-mail out there. It’s super-easy to use, offers good technical support, and comes with great features, awesome spam control, tons of inbox space, and a lot of extras.

  • Inbox Storage: Virtually unlimited (6+ GB and growing every day)
  • File Attachment Max Size: 10 MB
  • POP3/IMAP: Both
  • Extras: Calendar, mobile access, built-in IM/chat with Google Talk, message notifier, language support, no pop-ups or banner ads

2.  AOL Mail

Long the butt of jokes for mass-mailing CDs offering their online service, AOL actually offers pretty decent free e-mail, with super spam protection. But beware: Customer support can be difficult to contact.

  • Inbox Storage: Unlimited
  • File Attachment Max Size: 16 MB
  • POP3/IMAP: Both
  • Extras: Calendar, notes, mobile access, built-in IM/chat with AIM, integrated text messaging, message notifier, language support, personalized domain, games

3.  Yahoo! Mail

A great user interface and e-mail organization make this a strong choice, but no POP3 or IMAP access will be a problem if you want to use your own e-mail application instead of your Web browser.

  • Inbox Storage: Unlimited
  • File Attachment Max Size: 10 MB
  • POP3/IMAP: None
  • Extras: Calendar, news, notes, mobile access, built-in IM/chat with Yahoo! Messenger, integrated text messaging, message notifier, games

4.  Inbox.com

Inbox.com has some pretty standard features, but lacks a phishing filter, which might bother some people.

  • Inbox Storage: 5 GB, or 2 GB if you want POP3 Access
  • File Attachment Max Size: 20 MB
  • POP3/IMAP: POP3
  • Extras: Calendar, news, notes, message notifier, 5GB online data storage, photo sharing, games, e-cards

5.  Windows Live Hotmail

Microsoft’s new-and-improved free webmail (formerly MSN Hotmail) provides some nice integration with your operating system, especially if you’re running Windows Vista. This is a distinct improvement over the old Hotmail.

  • Inbox Storage: 5 GB
  • File Attachment Max Size: 10 MB
  • POP3/IMAP: None
  • Extras: Calendar, mobile access, built-in IM/chat with Windows Live Messenger, message notifier, games

Top 5 Free Online File Storage and Sharing Services

Instead of eating up your hard drive space, you can store some of your bigger files, like videos and MP3s, online with one of these five providers.

Some of these services come with unique interfaces to share specific things, like photos, and even to host videos, websites, blogs, and other stuff. But you’ll need to be running Windows to get all the benefits each provider has to offer — sorry, Mac-heads.

1.  MediaMax

Huge storage, plus lots of extras.

  • Online Storage: 25 GB
  • Extras: Sharing, hosting, backup and sync, browser access, Windows desktop software

2.  Xdrive

Provided by AOL. Small storage, but lots of extras.

  • Online Storage: 5 GB
  • Extras: Sharing, backup, browser access, Windows desktop software

3.  ripway

Lots of storage and good features, including lots of hosting options.

  • Online Storage: 30 GB
  • Extras: Sharing, hosting, backup and sync, browser access

4.  box

Limited storage, but neat extras and awesome Web 2.0 interface.

  • Online Storage: 1 GB
  • Extras: Sharing, browser access, mobile access, desktop widget

5.  OmniDrive

Limited storage, but smooth integration with Windows and the ability to edit spreadsheets and word processing docs.

  • Online Storage: 1 GB
  • Extras: Sharing, backup, browser access, Windows and Mac desktop software, integration with Windows OS and with Zoho office applications

5 Online Tools to Help You Cite Your Research Papers

There’s nothing like MLA or APA citation formatting requirements to add even more tedious hours to your research paper that’s already dragged on for weeks. But with these easy-to-use online tools, you can get picture-perfect bibliographies and Works Cited pages at the click of a button.

1) Citation Machine

Citation Machine offers free, automatic formatting for MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian styles. From the left-hand menu, choose the style manual you’re using, then the type of source you need to cite (book, journal, website, etc.). You’ll get an online form to fill out with information like author name, page number, and publication date. Simply plug in the info, click “Submit,” and your formatted citation pops out, ready for you to copy and paste into your paper.

2) Source Aid

Source Aid works almost the same as Citation Machine. Select the style guide you need, and click “Start Citation Builder.” Choose the type of source you’re citing, then fill out the form with the necessary publication info. Click “Next” to get your fully formatted, rules-compliant citation.

3) Easy Bib

EasyBib is a free MLA citation tool for sources of all kinds. Just select your type of source from a drop-down menu, specify what form you found it in (print or electronic), then click “Next.” Fill out the citation info (just like in Citation Machine and Source Aid), click “Format Citation,” and you’re done! You can even view your formatted citations online or save your Works Cited list in a Word doc format as you go along. For $7.99 a year, you can upgrade to MyBib Pro to get access to APA formatting as well.

4) Knight Cite

This citation tool on the Calvin College website is possibly the simplest tool of the bunch. The entire page is nothing but fields asking for author, title, page numbers, and basic publication info. Type in the info, click “Submit,” and out comes your citation. Choose from MLA, APA, and Chicago styles, and a variety of print or electronic sources.

5) Carmun Easy Bibliography Formatting

This handy tool formats citations for five different standards: MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, and CSE. As with the other tools, all you have to do is fill in specified fields with requested source info. Then click the green “Format Bibliography” button at the bottom of the form, and voilá — a quick, painless, standards-compliant citation for your paper.

As you’re probably noticing, these online citation tools are all very similar. The one you end up using the most will depend on what style guide your professors require, your input and layout preferences, and the interface that you find easiest and quickest to use.