Cloud services are inexorably affecting our daily lives. About 87 percent of consumers with computers and Internet access say they use at least one cloud-based service, according to a survey earlier this year by ABI Research. Consumers access cloud services through the Web, with the information then processed on computers located elsewhere—likely in a far-flung data center. The three most popular cloud services are Microsoft's (MSFT) Hotmail, Google's (GOOG) Gmail, and Yahoo! (YHOO) Messenger. While ABI's survey focused on e-mail, messaging, office apps, and online storage services, we've added popular cloud products in social networking, travel, photos, music, and security. Read on to see if any of these are right for you.
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Cloud services are inexorably affecting our daily lives. About 87 percent of consumers with computers and Internet access say they use at least one cloud-based service, according to a survey earlier this year by ABI Research. Consumers access cloud services through the Web, with the information then processed on computers located elsewhere—likely in a far-flung data center. The three most popular cloud services are Microsoft's (MSFT) Hotmail, Google's (GOOG) Gmail, and Yahoo! (YHOO) Messenger. While ABI's survey focused on e-mail, messaging, office apps, and online storage services, we've added popular cloud products in social networking, travel, photos, music, and security. Read on to see if any of these are right for you.
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Your Life in the Cloud

A Growing Cloud of Services
A Growing Cloud of Services
Cloud services are inexorably affecting our daily lives. About 87 percent of consumers with computers and Internet access say they use at least one cloud-based service, according to a survey earlier this year by ABI Research. Consumers access cloud services through the Web, with the information then processed on computers located elsewhere—likely in a far-flung data center. The three most popular cloud services are Microsoft's (MSFT) Hotmail, Google's (GOOG) Gmail, and Yahoo! (YHOO) Messenger. While ABI's survey focused on e-mail, messaging, office apps, and online storage services, we've added popular cloud products in social networking, travel, photos, music, and security. Read on to see if any of these are right for you.
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Collaboration
Collaboration
A generation of school children is growing up on Google Apps. In April the Oregon Department of Education signed up to give the service to 400,000 teachers, students, and administrators. The states of Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, and New York have followed suit. Other popular collaboration apps include Microsoft Live, DocQ, iWork.com and Zoho.
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E-mail
E-mail
Online e-mail—among the first cloud services—continues to be one of those most used by consumers. About 37 percent of 1,003 U.S. consumers surveyed by ABI Research this year said they use Hotmail, while about 32 percent use Google's Gmail. Yahoo! Mail continues to be popular.
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Internet Voice and Video
Internet Voice and Video
This holiday season many grandparents will see their grandchildren virtually, thanks to Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, and Microsoft's MSN Messenger.
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Music
Music
Online music services such as Pandora, Spotify, and Slacker let Internet listeners build customized radio stations based on music preferences. In the past year, Pandora has grown to 8.4 million unique visitors, from 4.6 million, according to Compete.com.
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Online Storage
Online Storage
As consumers acquire more digital movies, music, and photos, they want a safe place to store them. Growth in DVRs and video downloads will mean that that U.S broadband households will need about 1 terabyte for storage by 2014, according to Parks Associates. Players in online storage include Backblaze, Carbonite, FilesAnywhere, Idrive, Keepit, Memopal, Microsoft Live Mesh, and Norton Online Backup by Symantec (SYMC).
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Photos
Photos
Digital photos have made online photo editing and sharing popular. Photobucket had about 23.3 million visitors in October and Yahoo!'s Flickr had almost 20 million, according to Compete.com. Other popular services include Kodak's (EK) EasyShare, Google's Picasa, Shutterfly, SmugMug, and HP's (HPQ) Snapfish.
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Security
Security
For more than a decade, consumers have protected PCs against viruses with services such as those offered by McAfee (MFE) and Symantec's Norton.
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Social Networking
Social Networking
More than 500 million people keep in touch with friends and family through Facebook. About half of them log on to the site on any given day, according to the company. Other popular social networking sites include Twitter, MySpace (NWS) and LinkedIn.
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Travel
Travel
Trying to find a cheap flight for the holidays? Good luck. Likely, you're turning to any number of online services to make travel reservations including Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Kayak. In October, Expedia pulled in 14.5 million unique visitors, beating Priceline by about 5 million visitors, according to Compete.com.
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