Amazon Cloud Drive
You still access and manage files at the Cloud Drive Web site, but uploading has never been easier. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Amazon announced today that its Cloud Drive storage apps (Windows | Mac) are available for download, so I went ahead and downloaded the apps on both my desktop machines to check them out. The service was already available at the Amazon Cloud Drive Web site, but with a dedicated app you get easy access for storing just about any type of file on the fly.

Amazon Cloud Drive
Click the icon to bring up a menu for quick access to the Web site, upload status, and a few other options. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

After a fairly easy setup (requiring my Amazon account log-in info), a cloud-shaped icon was placed in my system tray (in the menu bar on the Mac) for easy access. Upon first launch, Amazon gives you a quick four-step tour for how to use the Cloud Drive storage app. It shows how to store documents, photos, and videos by either right-clicking a file and choosing "Upload to Cloud Drive" or by dragging and dropping the file to the icon. I found that the "Upload to Cloud Drive" contextual menu option worked only on Windows right away. On my Mac, the icon showed up in the menu bar, and I could drag-and-drop files, but I was only able to use the right-click contextual menu item once I restarted my Mac.

There's little in the way of interface for the new app on either platform beyond a few options in the pop-up menu from the cloud icon. Managing and moving files to appropriate folders will still take place on the Web site, but you can access the site easily from the pop-up menu as well. You also have the option to choose your download folder for files. On the site, the interface is highly intuitive so you shouldn't have much trouble navigating to files and moving them to appropriate folders.

The free Amazon Cloud Drive service, which has been out for some time, comes with 5GB of storage space, but you can upgrade to get more space with several tiered packages, with each tier working out to a dollar a gigabyte. You can choose from 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, or 1,000GB (so a 200GB-per-year subscription will run you $200, working out to $16.75 per month). Most people will probably be able to get away with using the free version, but it will require strict file management the closer you get to your cap.

Amazon Cloud Drive
You'll need to restart to get the Mac contextual menu item shown here. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

In my tests, I drag-and-dropped files to the icon and also tried the right-click to upload method, and both uploaded files quickly and easily. The only improvement I might like to see is the ability to view files already on the Cloud Drive from the contextual menu, but with the Web site only a click away, it's hard to be annoyed that this feature has been left out.

Is it worth your time? If you want to keep files in the cloud so you have easy access from an icon on your computer desktop wherever you are, Amazon Cloud Drive couldn't be easier to use. It's true the Cloud Drive Web site is easily accessible, but for the convenience of drag-and-drop and contextual menu file uploads, grabbing the free desktop app is a no-brainer.

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.