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Web Services I Enjoy Paying For



I was having a discussion with a family member over the weekend about paying for services and content on the Internet. He said he couldn’t imagine ‘paying to use the Internet.’ I think his sentiments are pretty common these days. When I was back in college I remember feeling the same way.

My opinion of paid services changed when I interned at and saw how businesses were leveraging web applications to save time, save money and make money.

Of course I enjoy free services and applications as much as the next guy, but I’m more than happy to pay for high quality services.

Most of the services I pay for sound cheap, but they do end up costing quite a bit combined over time. I do realize that several of the services I pay for overlap and I can live with fewer of them, but I find enough value in each of them to continue paying for the time being.

What web apps, services and sites do you spend your hard-eaned money on?

This is a list of some of the paid web services and sites I subscribe to for personal use:

Picture 51.png1) Pandora One:
Pandora offers tons of free music via web browsers, but the ads can get annoying. For $36 per year Pandora One subscribers get higher quality music, an Adobe Air application that keeps my browser from getting bogged down, no time outs, and no annoying ads.

The $3/month is about what a popular single (on cassette tape) used to cost at Tower Records when I was a kid.

2) Evernote: evernotelogo.gifEvernote’s free service is extremely useful on its own. As Sumocat pointed out, Evernote’s premium service offers some advanced features and more bandwidth. Here’s a matrix of Evernote free vs. paid. Evernote’s cross-platform functionality make $45/year money well spent.

flickr_logo.gif3) Flickr: Flickr’s free service is kinda lame in the fact that it only allows users to easily view the 200 most recent images they’ve uploaded. I often shoot more than 200 pictures in a single day, making that kind of account pretty much useless. A Flickr Pro account is $24.99 per year and allows me to upload all the pics and videos I want. The service is far from perfect and my enthusiasm for Flickr isn’t what it once was after hearing too many horror stories of photos being deleted.

sugarsync_150x60_b.gif4) SugarSync: Sugarsync is part sharing, part collaboration, part backup and part synchronization. I ran into a lot of hiccups with this service when I first started using it, but things have run smoothly since I re-installed the Sugarsync applications back in May on several machines. I’ve since added Sugarsync to my standard arsenal of apps I install on new machines. Rather than synching all of my stuff with the service, I limit my synchs to my documents folders. I simply have too much media to store on mobile devices.

Sugarsync starts for free (2GB limit) and the company’s most popular package costs $9.99 per year and offers 60GB of storage.

smugmug_logo.jpg5)SmugMug: SmugMug is one of my favorite photo sharing web sites. Smugmug’s galleries look great and I’m much more confident in their abilities to safe-guard my photos. I can also use SmugVault to upload and view my RAW files, which I regard as priceless digital negatives. SmugMug starts at $39.95 per year, the service I currently subscribes to costs $59.99 per year and there’s a pro service that allows users to sell prints.

skype_logo.png6) Skype: I spend $2.99 per month so that I can call make unlimited calls to U.S. and Canadian numbers. Skype is one of those applications I can’t live without. I’ve found myself using Skype for voice calls a lot since it’s often impossible to get make a phone call with my iPhone 3GS via AT&T’s wireless service. When AT&T is MIA, I use my Spring MiFi 2200 to place calls via the Skype iPhone app.

I regularly use Skype to IM, chat and video conference all the time. My wife and I used Skype to stay in touch with her parents while they were in India for a few months. My wife’s been able to watch her very-pregnant friend’s belly grow over the past few months even though she’s 3,000 miles away.

I almost feel guilty getting all of this value for just $2.99 per month.

Picture 55.png7)Netflix: I canceled my Netflix subscription a few years ago because I kept forgetting to return DVDs in a timely manner. I’ve since rejoined Netflix because I enjoy having access to the service’s Watch Instantly library. For $8.99 I can check out one DVD at a time and watch an unlimited number of movies on my computers or on my flatscreen via a Roku box.

Picture 52.png8) Wall Street Journal: The Wall Street Journal is the only publication media publication I pay for. I can’t remember exactly how much I pay, but it works out to about $100 per year. The WSJ is a great resource for me to stay in tune with the business world and I definitely get a positive return on my $100 investment each year.



  1. Corinne

    08/10/2009 at 4:11 pm

    I’m currently only using Netflix’s $8.99 option because I love Watch Instantly, and they’ve just added seasons 1-4 I believe of Lost, which is great.

    I’m considering signing up for Pandora One because I like to listen to Pandora on my laptop, at work, on my blackberry and my itouch, and now Pandora has the 40hr limit.

  2. Sumocat

    08/10/2009 at 4:55 pm

    Who doesn’t pay to use the Internet? Aside from a few free and limited dial-up services, which use phone lines you pay for, pretty much everyone pays to use the Internet.

    Anyway, aside from home and mobile broadband, I also pay for Evernote, Netflix and web hosting.

  3. Xavier Lanier

    08/10/2009 at 5:46 pm

    @Corinne- I think you’ll enjoy Pandora One if you’re such a heavy user already.

    @Sumocat A lot of younger people don’t pay for the Internet. Their parents and/or schools pay the bill for the ISP and they live and breath on sites/services that don’t cost a dime :-)

    There are also quite a few people who leech of their neighbors’ Wi-Fi or take advantage of free ISPs, such as the lucky residents of Mountain View who can access Google WiFi for free.

  4. Sumocat

    08/10/2009 at 7:31 pm

    Kids. No appreciation for how much things actually cost.

  5. Corinne

    08/10/2009 at 7:32 pm

    @Xavier Thanks.

    I forgot to mention that I sometimes use Skype at work, but I don’t pay for it.

  6. Mozy fan

    08/10/2009 at 7:57 pm

    Sugarsync costs is $9.99 per month not per year. The yearly price is $99.99.

    BTW, Mozy is one of the best backup solution with $4.95/month for unlimited storage.

  7. Xavier Lanier

    08/10/2009 at 10:58 pm

    Sorry for the typo- you’re right, $9.99 per month not per year for Sugarsync.

  8. Virtuous

    08/10/2009 at 11:27 pm

    Paying all of these subscription fees can get expensive.

  9. laura yecies

    08/11/2009 at 3:23 am

    but Mozy prices per computer, with SugarSync you can back up multiple computers to the same account and only pay for the unique data

  10. laura yecies

    08/11/2009 at 3:25 am

    regarding SugarSync on mobile devices, SugarSync doesn’t store the data locally, it is accessed on demand from the “cloud”, so no worries about using too much space with media files, in fact it is a good way to free up space on the phone by streaming music and viewing photos from the cloud

  11. Dan Guy

    08/11/2009 at 6:42 am

    I am unable to parse this sentence: “He noted that just about paid service had I think his sentiments are pretty common these days.” I’m guessing that everything preceding “I think” is an orphan sentence fragment?

    You had me until “SmugMug”. (1) I could never take seriously, or trust the reliability of, a site that uses Comic Sans in its logo. (2) Their galleries “look great”!?! They look like they just stepped out of the time machine from 1997 — strictly amateur. (3) Why in the world would you pay for both SmugMug and Flickr Pro?

  12. Ken

    08/11/2009 at 7:52 am

    Good list, although I don’t pay for any on-line services this is a good list, and something to consider.

    I have a Sugar Sync free account, but not much up there, just some files from my home computer’s My Documents.
    I have a Flickr account with a bunch of home photos.
    I also have a Windows Live account that I store some photos and other backups onto.
    Finally, I use Google Docs for documents (I even have a internet links document so I can access the web pages I visit regularly from any computer).

  13. Xavier Lanier

    08/11/2009 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Laura- So my capacity limitation isn’t with my cell phone, but with my netbooks, notebooks and tablet. It’s ok for my full-sized notebooks to carry hundreds of gigs of photos and videos, but capacity is a premium when it comes to my computers with smaller drives.

    It’s not economical for me to sync or backup TB worth of multimedia to the cloud.

  14. Kupuk

    08/11/2009 at 10:46 pm

    If you are an iPhone and SmugMug user then you might want to check out Blossom which is an iPhone app for rapidly browsing and sharing your SmugMug photos (much faster than using the SmugMug site from Safari on the iPhone).

    I need to check out SugarSync, but in this category I’ve been really happy with Dropbox so far.

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