Cross-posted on the Tar River Educator
As much as I like Google Docs for some things (surveys in particular), I get very frustrated at times because it doesn’t work 100% with Microsoft Office files. For example, I have a lot of forms I’ve created with Word for common tasks (evaluations, observations, different data collection stuff), and uploading to Google Docs doesn’t convert everything correctly. I love being able to have the virtual drive that I can upload files to so I can access them at home, but I hate having to go through the step of uploading files every time I leave work so the most recent version is available (if I’m using a document that Google Docs doesn’t support).
So then I looked at Windows Skydrive, which seemed like a great alternative, because once Office 2010 comes out it will most likely have native support to save and open files directly from the Skydrive. This solves the problem of having documents that need Microsoft Office and won’t work in Google Docs.
But it still was clumsy to work with (at least at this stage of development), so I was trying to find something to allow me to easy move files back and forth between my Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive, and/or local computer. That’s when I stumbled upon Gladinet. This wonderful free utility will allow you to mount your online drives as network drives on your computer. So that way I can save and open files directly from Microsoft Office (or any other program I’m using). It’s setup on my computer as the Y: drive. I’ve actually got both my Google Docs and my Skydrive mounted, so when I go to my Y: drive I see a folder for “Google Docs” and a folder for “Skydrive”. This also allows me to copy files and put them on the virtual drives via Windows Explorer (so I don’t need to upload files individually but I can move entire folders).
There are obviously two huge advantages to using Gladinet (or other similar programs) to copy files to your virtual drive. For one, you can save directly to the drive (by choose “Save as..” in a Word/Excel/any program and selecting the destination as the Y: drive). The second, though, is that it provides a great option for backing up files. Since you can copy entire folders it gives you the option of backing up your entire file system by simply copying them over via Windows explorer.
For the record, Skydrive has a storage capacity of 25 GB, which is pretty significant. All three of these “programs” (Google Docs, Windows Skydrive, and Gladinet) are free.