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

Saving Money: 50 Tips for College Students

Being a college student usually means living and surviving on a cheap budget. Some of you may be pretty good at pinching your pennies and getting by, while others take out student loans and get themselves further into debt. Either way, all of us could use some additional advice and ideas on stretching our dollar just a bit further.

Check out these 50 ideas on ways to save money:

    FOOD & DRINK

  1. Learn how to cook your own meals, it’s healthier and you’ll save money.
  2. Don’t get a meal plan, the cafeteria food isn’t usually that great anyways.
  3. Bring your own snacks/water to class instead of buying them on campus. Stay away from vending machines.
  4. Bring your own lunch to school. If you do it right, you can usually make it a healthier lunch than what is offered in the cafeteria.
  5. If you have a meal plan, actually use it.
  6. Eat Ramen Noodles.
  7. Don’t get soda when you go out to eat.
  8. Don’t go to Starbucks.
  9. Buy food in bulk. Get a Costco card with your roommates and get bulk discounts.
  10. Find events on campus that offer free food for attending. Follow those “Free Pizza” signs!
  11. HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES

  12. Have a roommate (so you can split expenses).
  13. Shop at Walmart, Dollar Stores, and thift stores.
  14. Shop at garage sales on the weekends for any household items you may need.
  15. Put on more layers of clothing instead of turning up the heat.
  16. Buy generic brand items.
  17. TEXTBOOKS

  18. Buy used textbooks.
  19. Buy textbooks online. Maybe even consider buying the e-book version of the textbook.
  20. Check the library for your required books, you may get lucky!
  21. Sell back your textbooks.
  22. TRANSPORTATION

  23. Use public transportation. Being a college student, you can usually ride for free or at a reduced rate.
  24. Don’t get a car. They are a huge expense and cost a lot in insurance and gas.
  25. Ride your bike. Except for commuter students, no one needs a car on campus for daily use.
  26. Live close to campus and use the campus shuttles to save on gas.
  27. ENTERTAINMENT

  28. Instead of hitting the clubs, try and find house parties.
  29. Keep an eye out for free activities on campus. Most college campuses have free entertainment almost every night. For example: some colleges have a weekly movie night that is free to all students.
  30. Borrow movies from the library. The library has a large collection of movies for students to check out.
  31. COLLEGE EXPENSES

  32. Fill out the FAFSA every year.
  33. Take a look at your college bill. Certain fees are optional. If you won’t be using your college’s fitness center, remove the fee.
  34. Depending on dorm prices, it may be cheaper just to get an apartment. (See: Most Expensive College Dorms)
  35. Don’t buy anything from the school’s bookstore. Some of the prices they charge are outrageous.
  36. Go to a community college and get your core classes completed, then transfer to a 4-year college for required classes for your degree. Make sure all your credits will transfer.
  37. Do not use student loans for anything that is not school related. It’s tempting to rack up your credit and loans, knowing you’ll eventually pay it back. However, you have no idea how the economy will look when you graduate and you don’t want to be in massive debt while job searching.
  38. Test out of classes. For a small fee you can usually take a test to fulfill certain class requirements. Think of the cost you’ll save on tuition.
  39. Finish in three years if you can.
  40. Apply for financial aid early.
  41. Get good grades so you qualify for certain (typically merit-based) grants and scholarships.
  42. Work as a Resident Advisor and get free room and board.
  43. Take as many credits as allowed every term.
  44. Research your school for scholarships. That means taking a look at the website, contacting the admissions office, scholarship office, and faculty to see what’s available. Use every resource you have to get the big scholarships while keeping your eyes open for smaller, but still substantial ones. Look for scholarships in the area of your major. Most professional organizations will have scholarships to encourage students to stay in that field.
  45. Take advantage of student services. There are plenty of free programs that assist you while going to school. From health care to transportation, there are many different ways to save money.
  46. Take advantage of things that are already paid for, such as on-campus meals and library services.
  47. Get a job first and have your employer pay for your schooling.
  48. Don’t go to these colleges.
  49. MONEY TIPS

  50. Only buy what you need. Don’t buy on impulse.
  51. Don’t get a credit card. It’s not necessary and you’ll end up paying a high interest rate.
  52. If you do decide to keep a credit card on hand, pay for things with cash as much as you can. Don’t run up credit card bills for trivial things.
  53. Open up a savings account that earns interest.
  54. Keep track of everything you spend. It really helps to know what you have coming in and going out.
  55. Take advantage of student discounts.
  56. Not only should you try to save money, but you should also try to make money! Get a campus job. There are several jobs that have very little responsibility, believe it or not, and many times you can do your homework during this time. There are typically many jobs available on campus and most are pretty flexible with your class schedule.