For users of Amazon's S3 service, freeware CloudBerry Explorer is a utility that connects you with your account and makes managing the files you've stored online as easy as dragging and dropping.

CloudBerry's main interface (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

The interface is set up in FTP-style, with a split screen allowing file navigation on your computer and in your S3 account. Modeled as breadcrumbs and not absolute file locations, users can quickly jump between sub-folders and their parent directories. A pane on the bottom shows the file transfer progress, but there's a stand-out feature that makes this a serious tool for S3 obsessives.

The source drop-down menu is all-powerful here. It lets you create a new S3 account, and you can conduct transfers between S3 accounts. From that same drop-down menu, you can decide which location will be displayed on which side of the split-screen. This means that you can have your local hard drive on the right or the left, and the same for any S3 accounts.

CloudBerry's context menu for files stored on S3 (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

One other killer feature is that the interface supports tabs, so you can set up one tab as your computer to your S3 account, and a second or even third tab as S3 to S3. Right-click on a file or folder in a bucket and you can quickly create a download link, encrypt it, view properties, and adjust distribution settings.

Buckets can be switched on the fly from the US to the EU, and there's a proxy pane under Options for those trapped behind firewalls. Users can initiate registration from within CloudBerry Explorer, and the general layout of the interface in fact mimics Windows Vista's Explorer--a gentle learning curve. In fact, the only problem I noticed was that the F1 Help hot key didn't work.

Keep in mind that not only is the program free, but you're only paying file transfer and storage charges to Amazon. This is different from other S3 third-party services such as JungleDisk that charge you their fees on top of Amazon's. So whether you use S3 for business or personal use, CloudBerry Explorer streamlines getting your files to where you want them to be.