This page reviews various helpful websites for BBCG members. As of now the main categories of reviews are:


FILE SHARING SITES - When you need to send a large file to many people

FILE BACKUP SITES - Absolutely essential if you have files you don't want to lose

YOUTUBE TO MP3 CONVERSION SITES - Good for capturing audio from YouTube

SOFTWARE DOWNLOAD SITES - Sites where it's SAFE to download software, mostly free


We ask for your contributions to this page. If you know of a site that will be useful to members that is not listed here, please post an alert about it on the forum. Better yet, please post a complete review of the site on the forum - include the pros, the cons, any costs associated with it, and why you are recommending (or NOT recommending) it.


NOTE: The line between file sharing sites and backup/sync sites and cloud services is becoming more and more blurry. Many of the sites mentioned here do more than one of these tasks.



The primary purpose of a file sharing site is to allow you to send large files to someone else without having to worry about file size restrictions on email accounts. The sites listed below have various limitations and restrictions. Most of them give you a free basic account, from 2GB up to 100GB, most in the vicinity of 5GB to 15GB. Some of them offer applications you can download to your computer. These applications put a folder on your computer that acts as a portal to the cloud storage - drop a file into that folder and it is automatically synchronized with your space in the cloud (on the company's servers), and then to any other computers or devices (like smartphones or tablets) that have that application installed.


If you need file sharing, you want a service that will allow you to send a link for a specific file or folder to others to allow them to download it.


From Arnie: My MAIN CONCERN is whether or not a file that is posted on one of these sites can be Googled. If so, I want no part of it. Mediafire seems to avoid the dreaded Google curse.


File sharing sites covered on this page:








Google Drive

HighTail (was YouSendIt)








OneDrive (was SkyDrive)

Spider Oak






This site has been upgraded significantly over the last year. (Updated June 2015)


Recently, several members have reported that DropBox gets upset when you share a file with too many people, and their account gets temporarily suspended for "Excessive Use." Because of this, we feel DropBox is NOT a good solution for sharing a file with the entire group. It is fine for sharing with a few people, but not a lot of people.


To use this site, you should have a (free) account with DropBox. When you install DropBox on your computer (PC, Mac, or LINUX machine), it will give you 2 GB of free online storage, and it will install a special folder on your machine. When you drop any file into that special folder, it will automatically synchronize it with your online folder.


If someone shares an online file or folder with you, then that file or folder will appear in your DropBox folder on your computer, and you can access the files natively on your computer.


WATCH OUT! Be very careful, because anyone with whom you share a folder will then have the ability to DELETE files in that folder! So if you use this service, be sure to keep a backup of your shared files somewhere else.


As of June 2012 this site/service allows you to share files or folders with someone who does not have a Dropbox account, by sending them a link to that file or the entire folder. If you share BY LINK, then the person receiving the share can not edit or delete your files. They will have a link (at the top of the page) to download the file(s).


Dropbox keeps (and I think always has) backups of your files. Here's why is this such a wonderful thing: I keep my KeePass data file in DropBox so I can see or update my passwords from any computer or my phone or tablet. Earlier this year, my password data file got corrupted. YIKES! Access to every website and shopping site and piece of software I own was in that file. If I couldn't fix it, I was sunk! Then I remembered DropBox's backups. I logged on to the site, restored yesterday's data file to be the current one, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. All was well again.



(From David) This site is free to use (although they do try to get you to sign up for a premium - i.e., paid - account). Even the free account offers unlimited uploads and unlimited simultaneous downloads.


As of this writing (January 2013), you need to sign up for a free account to use their service.


AMOUNT OF STORAGE: With this free account, you get 50GB of storage, and you can create folders and subfolders. This makes a big difference once you begin storing many different things there.


SHARING: You can share individual files or entire folders, and you can get a link that allows multiple downloads, or you can get a one-time-download link good for 72 hours. This latter is an EXCELLENT way to sell software or arrangements, as it keeps the purchaser from giving their download link away to others.


FILE PERSISTENCE: With the free account, your files will stay on the server as long as you remain active with them, which means access your account at least once a year. If you have a paid account, you don't have to worry about this.


UPLOADS: With the free account, you can upload files as large as 500MB. Paid accounts offer larger file-size uploads.


DOWNLOADING: If you have a free account, your download links will have ads (this is what supports your free account), but unlike many other services listed here, there is absolutely no confusion as to which is the download link. If you'd like to see how this works, click here to see the download link for a public domain version of Sousa's Washington Post march. The link will take you to MediaFire's view PDF page (which is pretty cool, itself), and on that page is an obvious button for download. Click that and you will be taken to the ad-supported download page.


PAID ACCOUNTS: Their paid service is quite reasonable, at $18/yr for a personal account.You can see a comparison of the features of each of their types of accounts here.


DESKTOP, MOBILE, OR INTERNET ACCESS: You can always access your files from any computer via the internet.


They have recently come out with "Mediafire Express" which allows you to drag-and-drop files from your computer screen directly into MediaFire. I haven't tried this yet, so I don't know how they manage getting files into the right folders. This application is available for Windows, Mac OSX, and LINUX. Click here to see their page about this, which includes a demo video.


You can also access your files via your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. I haven't tried this yet, either, so I can't tell you how well it works. Click here to see their page about their mobile apps.


OVERALL RATING: This is my (David's) favorite way to share files, ever since I did research on what was available back in 2005. The main reason I selected them was because of their unlimited downloads. When I wanted to send an MP3 to 80 people in my concert band, I had and still have no worries about limits on downloads. I also am very pleased with how they allow me to create folders and subfolders to categorize my storage. (I wish Kindle did that!) I have had a free account with them for eight years and have been very happy with their service. With their recent major upgrade to their website, they are my favorite all over again.




Offers free file sharing. For free accounts, files will be deleted after 30 days of inactivity.


Free accounts are infected with advertising to the point that it's very difficult to determine which is the download link and which is the advertising. Here's a screenshot of a download screen:



As you can see, there are several huge places that say DOWNLOAD that are all advertising. The true download link is a small text link at the bottom of all the advertising.


Microsoft OneDrive (Formerly SkyDrive)

From DM: (updated May 2016)

Microsoft offers 5 GB of free storage with a free account on their website. It used to be 15GB, but in May of 2016 Microsoft changed their policy and downgraded their storage to just 5GB.


While I have read that you can share files (and folders) uploaded there, I haven't actually tried it. If someone has tried this and can tell me how it works, please let me know. Post a notice on the forum and I'll answer you privately.


Google Drive

From DM: (updated May 2016)

Google offers 15 GB of free storage with a free account on their website.

You can get 100GB for $2/mo, or 1TB for $10/mo.


OFFICE SUITE: Google also has what is currently the best online office suite (according to PC Magazine) that allows you to create and share word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and these documents do not count against your storage quota. The really cool thing about this set of apps is that more than one person can edit the same document at the same time, WITHOUT messing up each other's edits. You can be logged on, and actually watch as someone else makes edit changes to the document.


BACKUP: Google has a DropBox-style application you can install on your computer that lets you drag and drop files to that folder and have them instantly backed up to the cloud - meaning your storage at, from where you can get to them from any other computer. You can also use a browser interface to upload or download files from your storage area.


FILE SHARING: You can send people a link to download a file, you can allow them to view it online with or without edit capability, and you can embed a file/document in a website so anyone can see it. You can also share folders. People with whom you share files or folders are called "collaborators" and they must have a (free) Google account to see them or download them.

From DM: (updated May 2016)

Note: This site, formerly hosted by the Seagate Hard Disk Manufacturing company, has now gone out of business and is no longer available.

From DM: (updated August 2014) offers unlimited storage with an account on their website. But is it free? I don't think so. It's virtually impossible to find the pricing of anything on their website - they want you to sign up for an account before they tell you anything about it.


After digging deep into their help files, I found this:

How much does Zipcloud cost?

Zipcloud offers different plans depending on how much space is required.

We offer 2 year, 1 year, semi-annual and monthly pricing plans. The longer you sign up for though the cheaper it works out in the long run.

Home 75GB plan - 4.49 per month for 2 years (total charge 107.71)
Premium 250GB plan - 4.95 per month for 2 years (total charge 118.85)
Unlimited Plan - 6.95 per month for 2 years (total charge 166.85)

Please contact billing for a full breakdown of prices and any current discounts available.


BACKUPS: Offers fully automated and scheduled backups.


SHARING: Their feature list says they have file and folder sharing, but gives no details.


If you need unlimited backup space and are willing to pay over $80/yr, you might look at this. Then again, you might also look at Carbonite (scroll down).



From DM: (August 2014)

Surdoc offers a whopping 100 GB of free storage with a free account, but read the last paragraph below before you get all excited.


BACKUP: This site offers massive file and folder backup capabilities, with automatic and continuous backups.


SHARING: You can share files or folders by sharing a link or sending an email with the link. Your recipients must have an account with SurDoc (free) to be able to view the file, but when they sign up for the account, they also get 100GB of free storage. A bother, but there it is.


The FREE account gets you 5GB of "Special" file storage (.exe files, database dumps), whereas the $30/yr plan gets you 100GB and the $100/yr plan gets you unlimited special file storage. If all you're going to store is pictures, documents, spreadsheets, and PDFs, then the free plan is the way to go. If you want to back up system files, you'll probably need a paid plan.


Curiously, you have to "renew" your free storage each year by writing about SurDoc on Facebook or Google+ or some other social network, at 10GB per writeup. Sounds like too much hassle to me, but some might not mind this. (I cancelled my account with them because of this.)

From DM:

Offers 5GB of free online storage. Very similar to DropBox in that you can install the app on several computers, tablets, and smartphones, and any documents put into the folders in your account will be available to all the devices that are logged in to your account.


As of a number of months of usage on PCs, an iPhone, and an iPad, there doesn't seem to be any advertising, and no problems sharing files - as long as the Apple apps can SEE the Box folder, which isn't always the case.


Spider Oak

From DM:

Offers 2GB of free online storage. Upgrade to 100MB for $100/yr or $10/mo.


Very similar to DropBox in that you can install their app on several computers, tablets, and smartphones, and any documents put into the folders in your account will be available to all the devices that are logged in to your account.


SHARING: Create password-protected share rooms and share folders and files with whoever you like.


BACKUP: Auto sync, incremental backups.


No limits on file size or bandwidth.




From Arnie:

15Gb storage, files are stored for 180 days from date of last login. (Download the free desktop application for high-speed multiple file upload and download.)
High-security, but badly overpriced.


HIGHTAIL (was YouSendIt)

From David: (updated Sep 2013)

2Gb storage on the free account; Max file size is 50MB. They also offer unlimited storage and 2GB max file size $16.00 a month. No report yet on how well this works, or whether you can share with a list by sending a link. They now have APPS for your Windows or Mac computer or iPhone, so you can sync files on all your computers, manage them, and share them from any device. There is also the standard browser interface.


From Arnie:

Here's a method of sharing files on YouSendIt WITHOUT divulging people's email addresses:

(1) Send a file TO YOURSELF, using YouSendIt
(2) You will receive an email with a link for the download. Ignore this.
(3) You will also receive a confirmation email to show the file was received.
(4) This SECOND email will contain an ALTERNATE link to download the file.
(5) You can send this link to as many people as you want, and YouSendIt will not have a record of these addresses.
(6) Remember that the file will only be available for a limited time.




From David: (updated Sep 2014)

When you go to this service's website, the first thing you see is a rotating ad, either for PLUS or for MOBILE or some other service they want you to pay for. However, there IS a free version with which it seems you can send files of up to 2GB.


You do NOT need to set up an account to use this site. Arnie and Javier both report the site is virus-free.


When you send a file, you select the file, then enter your email address and the recipient's email address. After you send it, you will receive a confirmation email with a download link for the file. Perhaps the best way to share a WeTransfer file with the group would be to send the file to yourself, then share the download link with the group. We haven't yet tested whether this will work with multiple downloads, but there's no reason to think it won't.


The PLUS plan is $10/mo (paid yearly) and gives you 10GB transfers, 50GB storage, personalized transfer URLs, and long-term storage.





This site is now offline, as of September 2012. This action was taken in the backlash of the arrests in conjunction with the MegaUpload raid.



From Arnie:

This site offers fast download speeds w/o those ridiculous queues!
Unlimited Disk Space, no download limits, and up to 200MB per File. Files
are deleted after 30 days of no activity.


This site is good for SENDING files and probably SHARING files - not good for long term storage.


(Info valid as of August 2014)



Site is based in Switzerland.


On a cursory review of their home page (August 2014), I did not see any free options. You can get 300GB for €49.99/mo. They have Windows and Mac apps that allow you to use it as an external hard disk. Allows sharing by sending a link to an uploaded file.

This site (as of August 2014) has a free option (10GB) but it's hard to find. You can get 50GB of storage space for $10 a month or $50 a year. Paid plans offer top transfer speeds and maximum parallel downloads.


From Arnie:

This site offers 10 gb storage, uploading of multiple files up to 2 Gb, but
with limited download speed and a wait queue and 4 months file storage.



This site was shut down in 2012 in the wake of the MegaUpload raids, then reopened in the summer of 2013. It is very difficult to figure out how to sign up. You have to click the UPLOAD button.


They have free uploads and downloads for all users. Anonymous uploads are kept for 30 days, uploads from registered accounts are kept 90 days if they're not used. Free users are limited to 10GB. There is a 512MB size limit for anonymous uploads.


Their blog says that in April 2014, they lost about 200-300 of their users' files due to a power outage.


From Arnie:

Upload Files up to 2GB, 750Gb File Storage (30-90 days), unlimited downloads, but with limited download speed and a wait queue.



From Arnie:

You must register. No charge! (No limits???)

From Al:

This site has a 200MB limit per file upload. No problem for music files.



This is NOT a file sharing site, but a SECURE EMAIL site.


This site allows you to send a secure, encrypted email, with an attachment (up to 10MB total message size), for free. The free account allows up to 20 secure messages per day, with up to 20 recipients each.


The PRO account ($5/mo) allows a message size up to 100MB, 200 messages per day, and 100 recipients per message.



Send files up to 100 MB with no account and no fee. Files from anonymous uploads will be deleted after 7 days.


You can sign up for an account (starting at $7 a month) and files will not be deleted, plus you can upload larger files, from 200MB up to 1GB, depending on what level service you pay for.



From David:

2GB of storage for signing up for a free account. Appears to be no problem with ads or time limits. I haven't used this site much. I don't know if there really are time limits, or limits on the number of (simultaneous or individual) downloads.


Basic account (2GB) is free. The $5/mo account gets you 5GB storage and no ads, although I haven't noticed a problem with ads on the free account. $10/mo gives you 40GB and $20/mo gives you 100GB. EU-based customers are charged a 25% VAT.



From Arnie:

This site has too many restrictions to be practical.



From Arnie:

This site has too many restrictions to be practical



From Arnie:

This site has too many restrictions to be practical.



This site has been shut down by the FBI for copyright violations.



SiteName (future listing added here)

Need A Review of this site.


Please cover pricing, ease of upload, ease of download, how infested are they with ads, do they slow downloads unless you pay, etc.


More to come as we receive well researched and well-written submissions.



If you have ANY files at all that you can't stand to lose, you simply MUST back up your files. If you've been a member of the Big Band Charts group for any length of time at all, you've already seen one or more members anguishing over lost files because their hard disk crashed, or because an elephant stepped on their laptop, or they accidentally dropped their computer off a cliff.


If you have suitable backups, then if you lose all your stuff, while it won't be a picnic, at least you'll be able to get it all back.


There are three basic kinds of backups. I'll discuss them briefly here, then give some sources for each. We will NOT list here any backup methods that have not been tried and tested by a group member, unless we specifically say so, like "Not tested by a group member yet."


The three main locations for backup are in-computer, in-house, and off-site.

Also, there are full-system, partial system, and selected file backups.

Here's some discussion of each of these.


IN-COMPUTER BACKUPS. This is the least secure of all. It consists in making copies of your file(s) to another directory on your hard drive. Use this only when trying something on a file, such as reformatting, cleanup, etc. It protects you against accidental file corruption. It does NOT protect you against hard disk failure.


IN-HOUSE BACKUPS. This means making backups of your files to external media, but still keeping it in your house. This DOES protect you against hard disk failure, but usually does not protect you against major disasters like fire, theft, or vandalism.


OFF-SITE BACKUPS are backups where your files are stored in a different location (a different building, frequently a different state) than your main files. This is the most secure type of backup, and if you are diligent about making backups, will protect you against anything.


FULL-SYSTEM BACKUPS back up everything on your hard drive, including the operating system and all your configuration settings. If you totally lose your computer or hard drive, you can get a new one, restore it from this backup, and within an hour or two be back up and running just as you were before the disaster. The downside of full-system backups is that they usually take a very long time to accomplish. People who do these usually schedule them for a time when they won't be using their computer for several hours.


PARTIAL SYSTEM BACKUPS are also called "incremental" backups, because they only back up the files that have changed since the last backup. hey are usually used in conjunction with full-system backups. Making a full system backup two to four times a year, and an incremental or partial backup once or twice a month in between, is usually sufficent to completely protect you against any disaster.


SELECTED FILE BACKUPS are exactly what the name implies. You pick which files to back up. It's a bit more tedious to do this, but usually goes much quicker.


Now that you've got a basic grounding in the types and locations for backing up your files, we can get into the tools you can use to do it.




This is an OFF-SITE backup service that provides FULL and INCREMENTAL backups, for $59/yr. They have a 15-day free trial, but if you go through all the rigamarole to do these backups, you will probably feel obligated to keep on with it after the trial.


From their site - how it works: You install a program on your computer, tell it what and when to back up, then it does a full backup of your computer to their online data center; whenever you change a file, it does an incremental backup so the new changes are saved. The data it sends over the internet is encrypted. You can do anything from a partial to a full system restore at any time, plus you can get to your files whenever you want to, from any internet-connected computer, or a smartphone or iPad.


From Gary M:

I can also heartily recommend a “cloud” storage option from Carbonite. It’s about $50.00 per year for the peace of mind knowing you can recover lost files. I can tell you first hand after a major computer meltdown that it was a huge relief to know that all of my files were safely stored with Carbonite and other than the time it took to recover them they were perfect.


I was also able to recover critical emails and other files that I thought would be lost.


Give it a look you won’t be sorry. By the way I don’t get reimbursed for this endorsement.

Acronis True-Image

This is mainly BACKUP SOFTWARE intended for on-site backups, but they also offer an (extra-cost) off-site backup service. At (as of March 2012) $50, it's one of the best backup packages available. It will do both full and incremental backups to the location of your choice - external hard disk or off-site cloud location.


From David Miller:

This is the backup solution I use. When I got a brand new computer not long ago, I also bought a 2TB external hard drive. I got the new computer set up the way I wanted it - but with no software installed yet, then I did a full system backup. Next, I installed all my software (Finale, Adobe CS5.5, MS Office, various browsers, games, and viewers), and then did another full-system backup. Since then, I do incremental backups once a month.


This way, if my computer ever crashes or is somehow lost, I've got everything. If my hard disk bogs down and starts running like a snail, I can restore to the clean status I had right after the software installation, and it'll be blazing fast again.


Buffalo CloudStor Pro

This is an external hard drive that works as a direct-connect unit, or even better, as network-attached storage. It has a 2TB hard drive and an empty bay where you can add another if and when you like. It also allows you to access your files from any computer over the internet, and you can share any folder or file with anyone with an email address.

    Hardware description (link)
    Online Storage Interface (link)


From David Miller

I had been looking for this type of solution for YEARS - something where I have total control over my own files (not putting them out on the internet somewhere), yet where I could get to them when I'm on the road. I bought this unit more than a year ago, and except for one negative, I'm very happy with it. When I'm at home and plugged in to my own network, the BCS (Buffalo CloudStor) shows up like any other external drive. I do my on-site backups to this drive - the 2TB it comes with is unimaginably huge. Even Arnie or Jeff would have a hard time filling this puppy up. The one negative I have about this drive is when I access it on the road, via an internet connection - I can download files just fine, but it gives me problems uploading files. I'll try to upload a batch of, say 15 charts to a directory, and it will upload maybe 11 of them. Nothing I can do will get it to upload the others, and I can't figure out why. When I get home, no problems putting the files where they're supposed to go on the drive, then on the road I can download them if I need to. I've also shared folders with various family members, and some of them have reported they have run into the same problem.


Summary: It has 2,000 MB of storage (2TB) and an empty bay so you can add yet another hard drive; network and internet access; and it allows control your own files. (As a comparison, 1,000 MB of storage on will cost you $1,000/yr.)


If you want LOTS of storage room and want to keep all your files in your house, AND don't need to upload a lot of stuff from an internet connection, I highly recommend this drive. The link with the picture above will take you to the product page on Amazon, which has some of the best prices on this unit.


Other Personal Cloud Storage Products/Services

Here's an article from May 2013 from ComputerWorld, reviewing 3 new systems. Click here Just as with the Buffalo CloudStor system above, these systems require you to purchase the hardware - an internet-enabled hard drive - then there are no other ongoing fees to pay.


They range from 1TB to 4TB in storage capacity, and the cost (as of the date of the article) ranges from just over $100 to just over $250.


If you are interested in hosting your own cloud storage, you should read the review.




YouTube - To - MP3 Converters


I have tried a number of sites. Many are infested with advertising and confusing links screaming "DOWNLOAD NOW!" Many sites would not work, claiming such things as "Google does not want this video to be converted. Download our free software to convert this content." I'm suspicious of sites like this, since you never can tell if their downloads contain something that will infect your computer.


The site(s) I've found that work as expected are listed below. Please let us know of others that work well also.

After trying five sites that would not convert a specific video, I found this one would.


There is no registration and no fee. They say "YOU CAN USE OUR YOUTUBE TO MP3 CONVERTOR ONLY FOR YOUR PERSONAL VIDEOS!" It converted the video I wanted it to with no problem. It took about as long to convert the video as it would take to play the video.


After the video was converted, I was able to download the 128kbps MP3 file and play it with no problems.


Website name (to be added)

Need A Review of this product.


Please cover pricing, ease of upload, ease of download, how infested are they with ads, do they slow downloads unless you pay, etc.



In this section, you will find links to SAFE software download sites.


Tech Support Alert

This site originally started out to be a computer advice newsletter, with a side focus on the best free software for windows. Gizmo (the site owner) took a job with the Windows Secrets Newsletter, and the site became totally focused on reviews of the best free Windows software, complete with reviews and evaluations of their recommendations.


This is where I go when I need to find a specific piece of software, because I can trust nothing they recommend will be loaded with malware or adware, and I appreciate their reviews.



This site is dedicated to giving you links to download the latest versions of the best software. They provide download links from their own servers - without the usual irritating popups or stealth bloatware installs or spyware. They guarantee all downloads are free of malware.


They also have older versions of programs, so if you install a newer version and don't like it, you can go back to the older one.


This site does NOT provide reviews or ratings of the software, but they take care to make certain they only list the best software available in each category. If you already know what software you want, this is the place to get it.


Since these are download links, you may get free software, shareware, trialware or product demos, but they do provide filters you can use to show only freeware, and to filter out beta products as well.




Please click on any of the links at the top of the page for more information on any of the listed topics.